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Why Are Photographers So Expensive?!

Well Here's Why!

By Sara LarcaPublished 11 months ago 6 min read
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I​'m sure there's a bazillion articles out there covering this topic, yet people still ask about it all the time. So, I figured I'd explain; cheers to a bazillion and one!

Most photographers charge by the hour, anywhere from 50-500$, some invoicing even higher. On top of that some request an extra fee for prints, albums, (though most times professionals will offer packages that include this) and travel/lodging expenses. Other photographers charge by the event or size, which could run you anywhere from 200-10,000+$.

T​en thousand dollars. For a wedding. Seems crazy right? Well as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Of course there will be those 'photographers' who think that by simply showing up with a 'fancy' camera is enough to justify the high price, but as with everything, if you do your home work (I've covered this information on this in my prior article "Things to Consider When Hiring a Photographer") then you should be quite happy with the results, all ten thousand dollars of it.

I get it, I know how it looks. Clients see me show up to a wedding, click some buttons, and direct people to lift their chin or flash me a smile. If that's all there was to it, then yes, 2,000$+ does seem unjustifiable. But the reason we charge so much is for all that happens behind the scenes.

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L​et's first discuss the equipment aspect. It. Is. Expensive. A good high quality professional DSLR camera can cost upwards of 30,000$, and because cameras are electronic (and often unpredictable) tools, having one or two back-ups is critical. A good high quality professional lens can cost up to 50,000$, most photographers using two or more different kinds during the event, as each one has varying settings and specific uses, (zoom, wide angle, 50mm, fisheye, etc.). Of course, we could purchase cheaper equipment, but since we can't do our jobs without it, to scrimp on it would mean scrimping on the quality of your photos.

​But that's not all we need. There're the batteries (up to 100$ each) and SD cards, (up to 300$). And yes we need multiples of these as well, and yes, again, we could get cheaper ones, but with that comes the possibility of corruption or malfunction, the literal worst thing that could happen on your special day.​ Then there're flashes, flash covers, off camera lights, umbrellas, stands, tripods, backdrops, props, and the bags we need to lug it all around. (I do not use the word 'lugging' lightly. This equipment is bulky and heavy, so good bags, preferably ones with wheels, are a necessity.)

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C​omputers are next on the list. Expensive computers. Working with thousands of pictures at a time requires an extremely fast processing system and a large, high resolution monitor, and that doesn't come cheap. Aside from that we need multiple external hard drives to save our work, in the event that our client misplaces their files (it happens way more than you think).

The next expense, one that you might not be aware of are the programs. Photoshop has now become a 'monthly fee' website, and many of the other ones are as well, and even if purchasing them is an option, they can still cost upwards of 200$, not including the plug-in's and presets (photo filters etc.)

A​fter all that is accounted for, photographers who have studios, have the added expense of rent, utilities, and all that comes along with having a brick and mortar office. Lastly is the cost of gas, mileage, and wear and tear on our vehicles. The majority of the time we come to you; I have driven over six hours each way to shoot a wedding and that needs to be accounted for.

Yet it's once I leave the wedding that the real work begins. I'm not 100% sure how other photographers deal with their photos after the events, (I've heard there are some who outsource editors), but I'll share my process. First I proof my photos, meaning I go through them and discard the 'bad ones', ones that are blurry or are poorly exposed (too dark or too light), ones that I've taken to test the lighting or ones that might be inappropriate or cause embarrassment (although sometimes depending on how 'illicit' they are I'll leave them in for a laugh).

Long gone are the days of film where you had to be super precise with your shots, which is a blessing and a curse. I am able to take two to three quick shots of the same thing to make sure they're no blinks or awkward expressions which is extremely advantageous, but doing this can result in having over 2000 photos to go through.

Once they are proofed I go through the raw images a little closer, (raw images are much bigger files than jpgs which provide us with more editing flexibility) fix any color or lighting issues, do any cropping and add/ adjust filters. Once that's completed I go through them again and pull the ones that need more work into PhotoShop. There I get rid of telephone wires, unwanted backgrounds, that blemish that arrived just in time for your special day and other little tweaks that I feel are necessary to make the photo perfect.

After I am happy with all my changes I go through them one more time to make sure everything is seamless and save them all to jpg files (the standard photo file). I upload them to a thumb drive, drive to the post office and mail them out. It might not sound like a lot but - This. Takes. Hours.

It doesn't end there though. We still have to take into account the typical business expenses; the advertising and marketing aspects, business cards and websites fees for example. And our time, the time it takes to keep our social media accounts active and up to date, keeping up to date calendars, spreadsheets, financials (payroll, billing, etc.), meetings with our clients, printing contracts, and keeping everything organized.

W​hen you consider all this, it's (hopefully) clear that we are not 'robbing you blind'. We are charging what we need to in order to make a fair wage after all the other expenses have been accounted for.

O​h, and always tip your photographers. Their job is way harder than you think...we are not just taking photos of your special day, we are wrangling your dunk relatives, we are smiling through the stress, we are laying on the ground to get the perfect shot, making silly faces to get smiles from your little ones, sweltering in the hot sun, freezing in the rain and snow, and making you and your every whim our first priority.

Thank you for reading! I love comments.. so if you have any I encourage you to leave one!

(Previously published on Medium)

Copyright © 2022 by Sara Larca. All Rights Reserved.


About the Creator

Sara Larca

Just trying to thrive in life one story, photo, and drawing at a time!

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