why do photographers charge so much??
I used to wonder that myself and now that I’m in the midst of doing it full time, I can tell you simply put: we have to eat and pay those darn bills, blah and taxes (cue “bills, bills, bills” by destiny’s child).
Maybe you’re thinking, “rrrrighttttt…what could you possibly be doing with all of your time? You spend like an hour on a session.” Well that sounds nice, but it’s not true at all.
Honestly, if you were to break a session down, you’d be amazed to know that we don’t actually make that much by the time everything is said and done. And not only that, we have to work really hard to keep the flow of new clients/sessions coming in, because if we don’t, well then we don’t have much of a business.
What if I am asked to do a 12 hour wedding for $1,000. High five right?! Well…yes and no.
Let me break that down for you.
Right off the top I take 35% out for taxes (and yes that might be a little more than I need to, but the IRS scares me and I’d rather have too much than not enough put away for them).
That leaves me with $650 to put in the bank account. But what does that look like when I break that down into hours?
First thing to keep in mind. Just because the package for the day is 12 hours does not mean I spend only 12 hours on it. Try at least 2-3 hours prior to the wedding day between emails, client meetings and scoping out the location.
Then you add all my post production time to that. I’ve been told that for every hour a photographer is at a shoot it can average about 3 hours post production time and in my own life I find this to be true…especially on a wedding.
So let’s round that up to about 40 hours total spent on ONE wedding.
Well if my math is right….that comes out to $16.25 an hour. Which isn’t bad by any means, but it’s only a $1 more than what I used to make as an admin assistant.
Not only that, but for a 12 hour day, I’m going to need an assistant, which would be about $120 off of that $650 and that takes my hourly wage to $13.25 an hour but the same amount of work. Then whatever is left over goes to bills and necessary expensive equipment purchases (i.e. lenses, lights, editing programs).
I don’t think that I’m one of the most expensive photographers out there and I don’t live an expensive life. However, when it came to setting my prices it was stressful. I didn’t want my past clients to be turned away and I knew that it was going to narrow down my clientele pool. And the biggest question of all….”would people actually think I’m worth it?!”
There are times for the sake of wanting to do something special for someone or for the experience I will work something out with the client. And I enjoy doing that because everyone is happy and I know that they want me in the first place which makes for an awesome experience as a whole.
Plus I really can’t imagine doing anything else in my life. It makes me happy. It makes me work hard. It makes me appreciate so much.
I don’t want you to think that I’m complaining, because I’m not at all. This is just an FYI so that you know WHY you’re getting to pay so much when looking for a photographer.