I’m often asked about how much people charge for photography, and then frequently in the context of portrait photography. I guess people really like to get their picture taken. Honestly, I tell them I don’t really know what other people charge since I’m new to the area and only really know the rates in the big cities in the US. A guesstimate I give them is 500 for a session on the high end and that is for professional quality prints and props to boot. If you want your wedding done its gonna cost more in the 3000 dollar range for a days work.




This is, in fact, true – it ain’t cheap to get photographed – but have you ever thought about why that might be? Here are some of the reasons why photography aint cheap.

It goes without saying that weddings are a costly affair. From the venue to the caterer to the wedding favors, the tab just keeps getting higher, and it often seems that wedding photographers are charging a large chunk of that tab. But have you ever though why wedding photography prices are so high? It’s because of the associated costs of being a wedding photographer.

The same can be said about a portrait photographer. He has his studio, insurance, assistants and promotions. Rent is not cheap in this area and you have to display yourself in the most professional manner possible to attract clients.

Being a good photographer is an expensive investment. Sure, you can find cheap photographers out there, but they’re cheap because they’ve possible cut corners on equipment, and insurance. Or they’re just plain stupid (you hired cheap and stupid?) So let’s take a look at what goes into a photographer’s overhead that adds up to the final cost of your photographer.

Equipment

The pieces of equipment a photographer carries around is not your typical point-and-shoot. High-end lenses and bodies average around 2000 each. Photographers also carry back-up equipment in case their primary equipment fails, which adds to the cost of the wedding photography prices. Good photographers easily can bring over 15,000 worth of equipment to a shoot. Add in the prices of computers and editing programs like photoshop ( you did buy it right?) and costs begin to skyrocket.

Education

The more education a photographer has, the better he will be technically when he shoots you. College is not cheap this day in age as we all know. Intangibles such as expertise aren’t easy to measure monetarily, although we try!

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Staff salaries

If you book a photographer that comes with assistants or second photographers, your cost is going to be higher. In return for getting more images from various places on your day, your photographer is going to have the pay those assistants.

Insurance

As I said before a photographer can bring upwards of 15,000 dollars worth of equipment to a shoot. Because cameras and equipment cost so much, photographers are smart to insure them. You never know when something or someone is going to damage your equipment and insurance is vital if you intend on staying in business.

Labor

This one is pretty standard across all industries. A photographer’s work doesn’t end when your wedding does. Photographers spend 5 – 10 hours plus enhancing your images (removing your wrinkles and acne so you like the pictures). This is not fun, but we do it to make you happy and it costs money and our time.

Labor

Web site

In this day and age, a photographer has to market himself with a very high-tech, professional Web site, which can cost a lot to design and maintain if the photographer doesn’t have web design skills. With Google ads and website updates, it’s not uncommon for a photographer to spend upwards of 5,000 a year for the web work and marketing.

Advertising

In that same vein, photographers also have to spend money on other types of advertising such as ads in the newspaper, business cards and brochures.

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Photo extras

Those books your pictures come in are not cheap. A typical album can cost upwards of 100 dollars and that is usually included in the price of the shoot. Not to mention the time it takes to create a well designed album.

Conclusion

So it just goes to show that the seasoned professional out there is going to bring a lot to the table when you hire him over the moonlighting weekend amateur. It’s up to you if it’s worth more to go with a pro or just take a guy off the bench. But who would you rather have shooting the final shot in the NBA championships, Kobe Bryant or me (analogy, but I just might make the shot :D)