In this digital age where everyone has digital cameras, scanners and home “photo printers”, when people upload their photos to a local drug store website and pick them up a few hours later, we hear this all the time – How in the world do Professional Photographers charge $55 for an 8×10 when they cost just $5.50 at the drug store?
Simply put, you’re not just paying for the actual photograph, you’re paying for time and expertise, the equipment it takes to capture the image in the first place, the computer equipment to ensure it is the best it can be, and the professional lab that a professional photographer uses. First, let’s look at the actual time involved. If you don’t read this entire page, at least read this first part.
For a two hour portrait session:
– one hour of travel to and from the session
– two hours of shooting
– 30 minutes of setup, preparation, preparing the client etc.
– 30 minutes to load the photos onto a computer (2 – 4 Gb of data)
– 30 minutes to back up the files on an external drive
– 3 – 4 hours of Photoshop time including cropping, contrast, color, sharpening, saving a copy for print and a copy for the internet and backing up the edited photographs
– 2 – 3 hours to talk to the client, answer questions, receive their order and payment, order their prints, receive and verify prints, package prints, schedule shipment and drop package off at Fed Ex.
-Meeting and travel times averages 2 hours and in many cases more with the amount of flooding and damaged roads this year.
You can see how one two hour session easily turns into more than ten hours of work from start to finish. So when you see a Photographer charging a $300 session fee for a two hour photo shoot, you are not paying them $150 / hour. And that is just spreading the fee over the many hours spent in travel, shooting, post processing. It does not cover the expense of web galleries, professional products and product building and creation, additional editing times, etc.
That is just for a small normal portrait session. Imagine just the TIME invested in your wedding. That’s not taking into account the professional level prints (there is a HUGE difference between a local one hour lab and a professional lab working specifically with a photographer and their color specifications, textures, mounting, protective sprays and more. And there is the graphics artists back in the studio, who is working to ensure your images are the absolute artistic best they can be. And the computers and programs it takes to ensure that the best technology is at hand to work with your images.
– I won’t bore you with the details, but a eight hour wedding typically amounts to at least two to three full 40 hour work weeks worth of time. A quickie shoot and burn amateur service just doesn’t provide you with the professional attention and detail let alone professionally printed prints, albums and other products you deserve for your wedding day.
Now for the expertise.
Shooting professional photography is a skill, acquired through years of experience. Even though a lower cost professional camera now costs around $3,500, taking professional portraits involves much more than a nice camera.
Most Professional Photographers take years to go from buying their first decent camera to making money with their photography. In addition to learning how to use the camera itself, there is a mountain of other equipment involved, as well as numerous software programs used to edit and print photographs, run a website etc. And equipment and programs fail. Computers have to be replaced and upgraded to continue to provide the top quality products and images expected and deserved.
And let’s not forget that you actually have to have people skills, be able to communicate, make people comfortable in front of the camera – and posing people to make them look their best in a photograph is a skill all by itself. And, the ability to help you actually ENJOY your wedding photography! If you’re enjoying yourself, it shows in the images!
Think of it this way – the next time you pay $X to get your hair done, a pair of regular scissors only costs $1.50 (But your professional hair dresser has a more expensive pair!) But you gladly pay a lot more to hire a Professional.
When looking for a wedding photographer, consider the fact that this is one of the top 3 special days of your life…along with the birth of your children and their wedding day. The cake gets eaten, the DJ goes home, but the wedding images are the lasting physical memory to last a lifetime and to pass on to your children and their children. Are you really willing to have a hobbyist or amateur who doesn’t have the experience, the proper equipment (It takes much much more than just a camera!), the knowledge, and the desire to capture your wedding day?
It’s certainly something to think about!