Everyone’s definition of “a lot of money” or not wanting to spend an “arm and a leg” for photography is different. What some people consider a lot of money others may not. But the fact of the matter is that good photography costs money for several reasons. This blog is all about why photographers have to charge what they charge for their services. It will hopefully give you some insight that you may not have known before.
Bills bills bills
Que Destiny’s Child. We have to pay bills. Okay, duh right? But what some people don’t realize is that only a portion of what we charge (for me it’s 40%) actually hits our personal pockets. And with that we have to pay our personal bills and try to have money for savings and all the things we use our paychecks for. So not only does our business have lots of bills it has to pay but we also have to be able to pay ourselves a livable wage. A business’s expenses include but are not limited to taxes, insurance, business licencing, location permits, photography gear and maintenance, editing software, client image storage – delivery – galleries, website hosting, education, marketing, travel, customer relationship management software, and so so much more. Everyone photographer runs their business differently but those are a few basic expenses that most professional photographers incur.
Travel or Studio Overhead
So photographers either travel to you or you travel to their studio. If they have a studio they incur a whole mess of other costs that I didn’t include in the above mentioned. If they travel to you then they need that travel to be covered in their costs. Unless they charge you extra for their travel. Their vehicle will need gas, maintenance, parking etc. But no one likes to be nickeled and dimed so for the most part people include this in their pricing. If their travelling a longer distance for you than this may include their lodging, airfare, and meals.
This comes in a variety of different things but even photographers who mastered in photography in college have to continue their learning throughout their business. In the digital age things are ever changing and we have to keep up with the times. We also have to continue to produce art for our clients and that includes being taught some of the techniques that others have mastered but we can’t quite nail down on our own.
We have to take into account just how many hours we are working and what our hourly wage ends up being. No one wants to work for minimum wage, it’s not a livable wage. So that 40% has to cover my livable hourly wage. Most photographers are not trying to become millionaires. But we do want to live a good life and provide for our families. Our time is valuable just like everyone else’s. We put in time behind the scenes, before and after, the wedding or session we are photographing. It takes time to plan, execute, edit, deliver, and follow up with clients. We spend time marketing, networking, learning, travelling to jobs etc etc etc. The list of how our time is spent on business can literally go on forever. But we have to calculate our hours worked and make sure that we are making a livable wage when it comes down to that hourly $$.
I mentioned a lot of what costs us to be the great artistic producers and amazing service providers but it’s nowhere near all of it. And like I mentioned above, every photographer runs their business differently. Meaning that some photographers have higher costs to cover because of what they offer their clients. And some photography, like wedding photography, can be very high stress. Any other high stress job in the world usually gets paid a higher wage compared to low stress, or easy jobs. Just look at the statistics of high stress jobs if you’re interested. Wedding photography isn’t just high stress mentally but also physically. We carry 20+ lbs of gear around for 10+ hours a day without taking breaks for food and water. We get on the ground, climb things, hike, snowboard, etc for the shot. It’s a mental and physical job. It’s not just the click of a button.