Monday, 14 January 2013

Why Does Pro Photography Cost So Much?

I've posted before here, here and here about why we charge what we do, but I thought it was worth adding a section specifically about bespoke studio work. This is inspired by another blog I read. Have a read yourself here if you fancy it!

Everyone has a digital camera these days and it's getting easier and easier for anyone to produce reasonable quality photos with little or no experience. You can pop down to Max Spielman or even Tesco and get them printed for less than a quid. Or get the right website at the right time and all you pay is the postage! Which is why people are often forcing me to justify charging upwards of £15 for a single print...

It comes down to a few factors which can basically be split into 5 categories: time, equipment, premises, advertising and expertise.

There is a lot of time and effort that goes into a shoot that most people don't realise...
  • Booking the shoot: 15 - 30 minutes - chatting with the customer, answering questions, filling in the calendar
  • Shoot preparation: 15 - 30 minutes - tidying, putting the heating on in advance, checking equipment, switching on, etc...
  • The shoot itself: 1 - 2 hours
  • Clearing up afterwards: 15 minutes
  • Uploading photos from cards: 15 minutes
  • Editing the photos and creating a slideshow for the client to view: 2 - 3 hours
  • Sitting with the client to view their images: 30 minutes - 2 hours
  • Finalising and ordering prints: 30 minutes - 1 hour
  • Ordering handmade frames: 1 hour
  • Delivering photos when required: 1 hour

OK, these are approximate times, but a single shoot can take anywhere between 6 and 11 hours to complete! And that doesn't take into account difficult customers...

A professional photographer won't be using an iPhone. Not for taking photos anyway. They also won't be using a £250 point and click camera from Jessops.  They'll be using a dSLR which is likely to cost upwards of £1,000. They'll also have a selection of lenses costing at least £500 each. A good set of studio lights will set you back upwards of £2,500. There'll be a computer that won't be cheap and a genuine copy of Photoshop costs in excess of £700! Then there's the smaller things like background papers, props and reflectors. All of this needs servicing and/or repairing every now and again. Not to mention insurance costs...

Professionals will also not get their photos printed at Tesco! They will use pro labs which are infinitely better quality. They are also a lot more expensive...

Unfortunately, as a business owner I have to pass these costs onto you, the customer.

I may have mentioned it before but I have a studio. I think it adds an extra special something to the whole process and lets me take photos that amateurs or pros without studio space can't take. It's the style and method of photography I've chosen and it's why my clients come to me rather than anyone else. That all costs (a lot of) money though. I have rent, electricity, phone, broadband, water, business rates, and insurance to pay. And again, this has to be passed onto the customer...

I do a lot of advertising, online and in the real world. The online stuff is mostly free but can be very time consuming. The offline advertising can be very expensive. Wedding fairs can be upwards of £100, leaflets are £50 a batch, newspaper or magazine adverts can be anywhere between £200 and £600 and networking can cost £1,000 a year! And all of this has to be done on an ongoing basis...

This one is a little harder to quantify. I have studied, been on courses and gained years of experience. Over my time I have developed a particular style which is unique to me. I think that's something worth paying for!

And let's not forget I'm doing this for a living! Yes I enjoy it, but I still need to make a profit from what I do...

So next time you're paying for some photos and wondering why a small piece of paper costs £15, please try and bear some of this in mind.