Why do photographers charge SO MUCH?!

Let’s put some things into perspective… why do photographers charge SO MUCH?!

I’ve heard it a couple of times over the years, a lot of people think that photographer prices are pretty outrageous. Some are and some are really quite reasonable! So, let’s break down some basics.

Ontario’s minimum wage is going up so let’s use that as an example. $15 an hour is what we will be paying people who work at places like Tim Horton’s, Subway, McDonald’s, etc. We pay them a decent wage to handle our food and sometimes we aren’t satisfied with what we get – am I right? So it would be unreasonable to imagine paying our photographer $15 hour when they will be preserving cherished memories like weddings, family portraits and newborn photography. Still disagree? Ok let’s break it down even more.

Newborn sessions. A photographer will average 2-3 hours for ONE session. A session is posing your precious new bundle of joy, outfit changes and positioning things just so we can get that special memory for your albums. Capturing your blessing and creation in all their adorableness forever. I certainly would not be bargain hunting for a session like this because I want to make sure my photographer has the experience to handle babies and they are practicing safe practices. I also want to make sure they are a registered business and have all of their insurance policies in place in case of an accident. If you are expecting to pay minimum wage that would be $30-$45 for just the session alone but for their experience and professionalism let’s bum this wage up to $20 per hour (total for 3-hour session would be $60) that’s pretty reasonable, right? Now let’s consider the photographer’s overhead expenses, the adorable props they purchase for your sessions, the high quality professional equipment they use (you wanted to blow that image up to 16×20 on your wall, didn’t you?) and not to mention the studio location costs, hydro costs to power all that equipment up and maybe even some refreshments for mom and dad to enjoy while there. Let’s assume with their experience and all these additional costs we tack on an extra $20 and our session is now $80 – that’s amazing! I haven’t seen a photographer that affordable in a long time… at least not in the quality that I am looking for. Let’s consider a few more things, shall we? This photographer took 200 photos and to sort through those photos to whittle it down to the promised X number of images for your package takes an hour. That would be another $20 for that hour of time. Now we are at $100 for that newborn session. Let’s say your package is 10 professionally edited, high resolution images. Your baby has a bit of jaundice – we’ve got to correct their skin tones to a more warmer appearance. It’s not a simple click – if it were the entire image would look warmer. The photographer has to delicately adjust your baby skin tone only, avoiding their facial features and the image surroundings. The baby also has a few spots of baby acne and so we edit that out as well. The red splotches, the drool, the spot of spit up on their onesie, the dry flaking skin and the list could go on for how many things we have to edit-out-of-each-image. This could potentially be an hour for each image if the edits are extensive but for arguments sake and assuming our photographer has these skills down pat we will go with 30 minutes for each image. Multiply that by 10 and we have 5 hours of post-processing work. $20×5 is another $100 so now our reasonable photographer is up to $200 from beginning to end. This is a usual base line now for newborn photographers, I’d say if you find one cheaper I’d be investigating as to the why they are so underpriced.

Ok, so let’s throw weddings in. Our photographer is $20 an hour and you’ve hired them for a total of 8 hours. (bridal party getting ready, groomsmen getting ready, wedding party, bride and groom private session, family photos, extended family photos, ceremony and some reception) You are looking at a total of $160 for those 8 hours. Now factor in they have to travel between their house to where your parties are getting ready (oh the groomsmen are getting ready at so-and-so’s place across town) so off we go again to photograph them. Now you need to go to the next location to shoot the ceremony, followed by the bridal party and family and the private session is off site at where they met so now you’ve got to travel there… you see what’s happening here? The photographer uses their vehicle for work so there are added expenses there too. Let’s tack on an additional $100 for wear and tear, fuel and equipment costs. $260 we are at now and we haven’t included our post processing expenses. Personally, I learned from the best – bring multiple memory cards in case of technological failure. A wedding photographer’s worst nightmare! I’ve got 8, yes 8, different SD cards for my camera and each one cost roughly $20-$40 depending on their capacity. (1 for getting ready, 1 for bridal party, 1 for private session, 1 for ceremony, 1 for family photos 1 for reception… seems silly but could you image all of those images on ONE card and it going missing or becoming corrupt somehow? Nope!) Ok, so now we’ve got some 1000-2000 images to sort through, it took an hour for 200 images, so let’s say we have 1500 images. It takes 7.5 hours to sort them at $20 an hour is another $150 just to whittle it down to our promised package number, (let’s say for this package we have said a maximum of 500 images). Our wedding photographer total is now up to $410. If we assumed our post processing time of 30 minutes was applicable for each photo that would be some 16 hours to edit the photos at a rate of $20 an hour ($330) and we are now at $740. Wedding editing can be TEDIOUS and it’s a matter of fixing a stray hair (potentially on each member of the bridal party because the photos were taken outside and the wind kicked up) which can tack on another 10 minutes per photo for some 500 photos. It’s crazy how much post processing can go into wedding photos. So, don’t edit all that out you say? Well… try dealing with the brides that wanted absolutely every image to be absolutely perfect because that is what they paid for. Weddings are HARD. Pricing is HARD and it can be expensive. But it’s usually worth it! I’ve seen wedding photography packages starting at the $600 mark and that’s usually for a whole lot less than what I’ve included here. If you are getting married expect to pay over $1000 for your images and don’t bargain shop. You can’t redo the day and I’d hate for you to regret it!

Now factor all I’ve said in this blog post and make it applicable for the shoots you are looking for… family, maternity, engagement, etc!

Photographers aren’t cheap because we put so much effort and work into our images! We do not just click and go. We compose, we position, we nit-pick every detail on your person so you can get the shots you paid us for. We bought the expensive equipment. We bought the expensive post processing software. You trusted us to capture your visions and you paid us to do so, so we set our prices to reflect the quality of our work.

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