A photoshoot is a luxury. Buying designer clothes and shoes is a luxury. Having an expensive car is a luxury but no one will ask a designer store or car dealer why their products are so ridiculously expensive. This statement is not to have a moan because there was a time when I was naïve to the reality of what actually goes in to creating those beautiful images.
As a photographer there was once a time in my career (just like so many other photographers I’m sure) when I embarrassingly undercharged myself because I was scared I wasn’t good enough to charge more or I’d have someone confront me negatively about my prices. But we needed to make a living. So we charge accordingly just to make ends meet. From a clients perspective, we’re just ‘pushing a button’ so unless it’s free, any figure quoted is too much.
Here’s a little breakdown of the costs us photographers incur.
1. A decent camera can start from around £2000, and that doesn’t include the lenses.
2. There are a range of different lenses to do different jobs. I have three lenses, one for newborn sessions, another for portrait and outdoor sessions and the last for events. All of this adds up to almost £5000. They also need regular servicing which is an additional cost.
3. Lighting. Decent studio lights start from around £150-£200.
4. Rent of the studio, electricity and gas. Most studios are rented between £600-£1200PCM depending on where the studio is located.
5. Insurance. We own some very precious possessions so insurance is highly necessary. Not just equipment cover but we also pay for loss of earnings insurance, building insurance and public liability insurance. Insurance is one of the most essential purchases a photographer can have.
6. Business cards, flyers, brochures, Facebook advertising, website. Advertisement is necessary for a photographer, otherwise how would you know that professional exists? Yearly, this all adds up.
7. Editing software. I use Photoshop and Lightroom. There is an option for monthly subscriptions but software can be bought outright for anywhere between £119 to up to £2000. Editing your images professionally comes at a cost.
8. A lot of photographers have a business phone which comes at a cost.
9. I have started doing face to face consultations which includes a slideshow of your images. There is a cost to this. The cost of putting the slideshow together adds up to around £10 a month and the music for additional effect is £5-£10 a month. To display your gallery and for you to share the purchased images to your family and friends adds up to around £12-£15 a month.
10. Accountants and bookkeeping. I pay £780 a year but some photographers can pay up to £1200.
11. Home photo sessions. The cost of driving to and from your home with our equipment all adds up.
12. Cleaning costs and fabric upkeep. I have a lot of fabrics which I use for newborn sessions and most of the time they will get pooped on. Fabrics will need to go in for dry cleaning to get the stains out. In the summer time this is not an issue as I wash the fabric and leave it to hang in the sun which magically makes the stain disappear. A trick I learnt from my mother in law J
But if there is no sun, especially in winter months, a dry cleaner is needed or the fabric needs to be replaced.
13. Most photographers professional photographers will have had some extensive regular training to get to where they are. We don’t just wake up one day knowing everything about our cameras and how to light our subjects. We have to invest in regular training to keep our knowledge and expertise up to date. The cost of a days training can be anything between £350-£1500.
14. Personalised USB’s are around £30. Yes I said that correctly. £30. Photographers only buy the best for their clients.
15. Memberships to the SWPP(Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers), BANPAS, MPA, etc… these memberships can range between £60-£250 a year.
16. PROPS! A newborn photographer will have mountains of props. Probably costing more than the above put together. Buckets, crates, bowls, beds, outfits, headbands, posing pillows, professional posing beanbag and stand and the rest! Over time props may deteriorate or get destroyed so replacing them is necessary. Also doing every session with the same props over again gets boring so updating the props is a must.
17. Backdrops! Whether printed for purpose or a roll of paper they all add up. I have about 13 different colours of paper and about 20-25 printed backdrops for cake smash shoots etc. A new backdrop may be purchased when a parent asks for a specific theme for their shoot which isn’t added to the cost of their session.
These are a few costs I can think of for the photographer to do a shoot. Now let’s go through what it takes to service each client:
1. Communicating before the session. Emails, phone calls and consultation, answering questions and confirmation (1 hour)
2. Preparation of the session. This usually includes deciding which props and outfits to use for clients, background colours and clothing prep if the client is wearing their own clothes. The studio is cleaned and set up ready for the client to arrive. (1-2 hours)
3. After the session. Props and fabrics are cleaned and tidied away. (1-2 hours)
4. Image selection and post production, editing. (3-8 hours)
5. Viewing session (1 hour)
6. Product ordering and product checks (2 hours)
7. Delivering or collection of products (30mins – 1 hour)
And that’s not all. Working on your business is essential for keeping the business alive.
There’s a lot of networking to do, social groups to speak to people and share your business, keeping your social media page active.
Yes, just clicking a button doesn’t cost anything. But if you want high quality and beautiful images, it comes at a cost. A cost you will not regret.