So many times, I hear people say that photographers charge too much. Why do I need to pay so much when I only need a few good shots? It is important for me, as a photographer, to clearly articulate to my clients what goes into creating what is ultimately delivered to them.

In order to produce those gorgeous photos that you proudly display on your website, blog, social media, albums, living room wall, here are just a few things that go into the cost of professional photography:

  • Booking the session: Back and forth with my client, arranging a photo session date and time, sending welcome emails and questionnaires so that I understand what the client needs are, answering questions, and reviewing those questionnaires.
  • Planning for the session: Selecting colors, outfits, backdrops, ordering décor or new items (especially for cake smash sessions). For on location sessions, packing my supplies, driving to the location, parking and unloading my gear, hunting for the best light. This may even be done a day or two before the session. For studio sessions, setup the studio, hang backdrops, pull down props and outfits. Newborn and birthday sessions take even longer to pull together.
  • Shooting time: Yes, the actual photo shoot. Each shoot yields about 300 to 500 raw photos. This is really the least time-consuming part of the entire session.
  • Post- Processing: Coming through hundreds of raw photos to pluck out the photos that are completely terrific (eyes open, not squinting closed, no stray hairs or strange angles, lovely smile, the right vibe and attitude, everything coming together to express just what it is we were going for).
  • Sneak Peeks: Fully edit a select number of images to post as social media
  • Proofing Galleries: Going through one by one, each of the “good images” and color correcting, adjusting exposure, possible cropping and uploading to a proofing gallery for the client to review and make final selections.
  • Editing: This is the most time-consuming part of professional photography. Editing isn’t just about fixing the colors of an image, it’s creating a unique memory. Each image is hand edited one by one, correcting skin tone, removing blemishes or pieces of fly away hairs, brightening eyes, softening light, adding an artistic touch.   I can spend up to 30 minutes on one image if needed!
  • Administrative Tasks: Taking photos is about 20% of what I actually do! I spend tons of time sending emails, following up on emails, sending files, reviewing calendars, etc. All of these things take time.
  • Equipment Costs: Camera equipment is EXPENSIVE! Take a look at the price of a good quality DLSR and you will see what I mean. A camera is only one part of the picture ?. We have lenses, SD cards, laptops, editing software, website, file sharing software, hard drives, backup drives, off-site backup, props, lighting…the list goes on and on…
  • License Fees and Insurance: Like any business, photographers are required to have liability insurance as well as coverage for equipment.
  • Education Costs: Just like any job, photographers need to keep up with industry trends. WE want to stay on top of our game, continue to improve the quality of what we deliver to our clients, and stay up to date on the latest technology.
  • Accountant: Enough said.
  • Studio Maintenance: Rent, cleaning fees, electric, internet, coffee, water, etc. You get it…the cost of maintaining any space.

There are probably tons of things I missed, but, the reality is that there are a lot of costs to running a successful photography business. I do hope that this has been helpful and insightful in giving you more perspective into where that session fee goes and that the next time you book a professional photographer, you remember what you read here and realize that maybe the price isn’t as exorbitant as you once thought.