Why are Professional Photographers so expensive? Part III (A repost from another blog)

This blog post will be the final post in our three-part series that we have had on the Joie de Vie Weddings & Events blog that looks at various reason why you NEED a professional to handle certain aspects/details for your special event. I am always one to say that once the day is over what do you have left? Your photos and your video. They are the two elements that help keep the memory of your special event alive. To me the decision on who captures that memory is VERY important. This is a blog post that was featured on a Shawn Richters' Blog (Caught On Film Photography). Shawn is a photographer in California and his insight in this post is phenomenal! I've included the entire post here, but you can click here to be redirected to the company website.

In this digital age where everyone has digital cameras, scanners and home "photo printers", when people upload their photos to a local drug store website and pick them up a few hours later, we hear this all the time - How in the world do Professional Photographers charge $55 for an 8x10 when they cost just $1.50 at the drug store?

Here's why:

Simply put, you're not just paying for the actual photograph, you're paying for time and expertise. First, let's look at the actual time involved. If you don't read this entire page, at least read this first part.

For a two hour portrait session:
- one hour of travel to and from the session- two hours of shooting- 30 minutes of setup, preparation, talking to the client etc.- 30 minutes to load the photos onto a computer (2 - 4 Gb of data)- 30 minutes to back up the files on an external drive- 3 - 4 hours of Photoshop time including cropping, contrast, color, sharpening, saving a copy for print and a copy for the internet and backing up the edited photographs - 2 - 3 hours to talk to the client, answer questions, receive their order and payment, order their prints, receive and verify prints, package prints, schedule shipment and drop package off at Fed Ex.- For local customers, we also print a set of all of their photos, and meet them at our studio to review the photos and place their order. Meeting and travel time averages 2 hours.

You can see how one two hour session easily turns into more than ten hours of work from start to finish. So when you see a Photographer charging a $200 session fee for a two hour photo shoot, you are not paying them $100 / hour.

For an eight hour wedding:
- I won't bore you with the details, but an eight hour wedding typically amounts to at least two to three full 40 hour work weeks worth of time. Again, if they are charging you $4,000 for an eight hour wedding, you are not paying them $500 / hour.
Now for the expertise.
Shooting professional photography is a skill, acquired through years of experience. Even though a quality camera now costs under $2,000 taking professional portraits involves much more than a nice camera.
Most Professional Photographers take years to go from buying their first decent camera to making money with their photography. In addition to learning how to use the camera itself, there is a mountain of other equipment involved, as well as numerous software programs used to edit and print photographs, run a website etc.
And let's not forget that you actually have to have people skills, be able to communicate, make people comfortable in front of the camera - and posing people to make them look their best in a photograph is a skill all by itself.

Think of it this way - the next time you pay $X to get your hair done, a pair of scissors only costs $1.50. But you gladly pay a lot more to hire a Professional.
What about the cheap studios at the mall?

Please don't compare us to the chain store studios. But if you must, consider all of the time and work that we put into our photographs, compared to what they do. Good luck getting a two hour photo shoot at a chain store. Not to mention they won't come to the beach! And of course, look at our work compared to theirs. You get what you pay for.

The truth is, most of the mall and chain store studios lose money. In fact, in 2007 Wal-Mart
closed 500 of their portrait studios because of the financial drain they were putting on the company. What the chain stores bet on is that you'll come in for some quick and cheap photos, and while you're there, you'll also spend $200 on other things. They don't have to make money, they are just there to get you in the door.

We hope that those who have taken the time to read this page will have a better understanding of why professional photographs cost so much more than the ones that you get from your local drug store.

At the end of the day, your event is too special of a moment to leave in the hands of anyone. There are no 'do -overs' so make sure it is done right! Just as we spend countless hours behind the scenes and with you to plan your day, all of your vendors prepare for your day as well. That preparation varies with educating ourselves to bring you nothing but the best in services, products and ideas as well as the overall management of your day.

I hope this helps you as you look at the various options for your special day!

Until next time,

* A special thank you to Marcia Mauskopf for sending me the original blog post to read.


Thank you for posting this!!! I too am a professional photographer and sometimes get people wondering why weddings cost so much. And my prices are pretty average for my area. There is so much that goes into a photographers' job that you do not see. Plus your average 'Uncle Bob' can not take the type of photos an actual professional photographer can take. So once again, thank you for posting this. :)
Shannon DiBenedetto
Captured Memories Photography
Kerline Docteur said…
Shannon, I'm glad you found this information to be a great resource. you are absolutely right in that the work is not just the shots captured on wedding day. Thank you for reading the blog!
Thank you for reposting my article, I'm glad that you enjoyed it enough to want to share it with your readers as well.

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