Quality Photography is notoriously expensive. But why?
I’ve been avoiding this subject for a long time because I was taught to never talk about money. But the less we talk about it, the more confusion around it.
A photography business requires a great deal of equipment. A professional camera with a great sensor that renders better photos, with higher resolution, more depth, true colors, higher details, more texture, etc. A backup professional camera is also a must because nobody wants to be in the middle of a session and have a camera malfunction. A minimum of 3-4 lenses for different images., for example, an 85mm for portraits, 70-200mm to capture guests silently and in a non-intrusive way, 50 mm for standard open shots, and a 24-70 mm for macro and versatility.
Professional fast memory cards with plenty of storage, a protective rolling case, a back harness, a fast computer, editing programs, gallery hosting, website domains, business email, business cards, internet, and electricity. Working outfits, traveling expenses, meals while traveling or before/after a session, camera accessories (radios, triggers, cables, filters, lens wipes, remotes, shoe mounts, light stands, light modifiers, tripods, bouncers, etc.), batteries and chargers.
Education, memberships, self-employment taxes, registrations, bank fees, printing (proof prints, fine art print, and photo books), and advertising. Camera repair and servicing, traveling backpacks, photo props, studio fees, editing time, retouching fees, and office hours.
The more intangible aspects are the years a photographer spent learning the craft, the time and related costs to building a portfolio, the creativity of the photographer, the talent, and artistic direction. The professionalism and ability to provide clients with a great experience, especially when working with children. The artistic eye, communication skills, and ability to frame a moment in a unique way.
Additionally, the pricing also compensates the photographer with a living wage. This means, that from the fee you pay, a photographer usually ends up profiting about 40%-50%. The rest goes straight to pay for all the operational costs.
On a macro level, there’s inflation and the costs of living in New York. It all adds up.
Photos are the one thing people get to keep forever. It’s an investment you will enjoy in the future. The session fee you pay today will quadruple in satisfaction in 40 years when you are sharing the photos with your grandchildren.
So that’s the honest truth, it’s expensive. It’s a luxury, it’s an investment. Quality photography costs money, because it is expensive to make, and because full-time photographers are trying to make a living.
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