Photography – the business
August 30th, 2010 | Uncategorized
Snagged this from the fine folks over at Professional Child Photographer.
We all know that you can go to the local Walgreen’s and pay a $1.99 for a print – as a client you may wonder why you may pay upwards of $50, $70, $90 for a custom photography print. Photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:
“How in the world can you charge $60 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at x store?”
The truth of the matter is the answer to this question is multifaceted. Much of the cost of a photographic print produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time, equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business.
The cost of TIME
Approaching it from a time standpoint, let’s imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love. You want UrbanLIFE portraits of your family. This photographer is traveling a half hour to the destination to photograph your session. Here is an example of a time break down:
* session prep time (30 mins, includes loading props & equipment and equipment checks + vehicle checks)* 30 minutes travel time TO session* 15 minutes prep time at location
* 1 hour with client photographing family as group, siblings and individuals
* 30 minutes travel time FROM session
* 30 mins unloading props & equipment* 30 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
* 30 minutes time spent backing up the original images
* 2-3 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images
* 1 hour cropping images and placing order
* any additional time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues
In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 7 hours to 10 hours – dependent on the photographer’s service. This is time dedicated only to ONE session. When the photographer charges $150-$225 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) you are not just paying for the one – two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 7-10 hours complete time for your session.The COSTS of Maintaining a Custom Photography Business:
Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of prime optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer. Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for about $2100 there are still other costs related to photography. A good lens for portrait photography can run from $900 to $2500. A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $2500 to $8000 dependent on the photographer.
Then come lab costs for specialty products. A good photographer knows the lab is integral to their success. Photography labs dedicated to the professional photographer often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for you, the discerning client.
Discussion other costs of running a photography business could take awhile so we’ll skip many of the intricate details. There is of course much more: including costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will have on display to show you options.
APPLES to ORANGES to BANANAS:
Often times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the mall/department store only charges $19.99 for an 8×10 “sheet” or they may mention other things related to discount photography chains. The fact is those discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1 service. In February 2007 leased photography retail space by a rather well known discount department store that started in Arkansas closed down 500 of their portrait studios across the nation? The reason is simple, you cannot make money on 99¢ “professional” prints if you do not sell enough of them. Interestingly enough – those same studios that offer the loss leader packages often charge much much more for their a la carte pricing (as high as $40-50 for an 8×10). The whole reason the big department stores began offering portrait services in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer, in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in other departments. Your “PORTRAITS” are considered the “loss leader”.
Going to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 1-2 hours nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for or the lovely captures of natural expressions. You simply get a bare bones, “SAY CHEESE” experience. Remember – they make money on volume. Keep this in mind when selecting a photographer.
REPUTATION/EXPERTISE of the PHOTOGRAPHER:
Being in demand, being well known for quality work, having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer’s part. Their expertise comes at a cost, their time learning their craft and learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a persona about their business that oozes professionalism. A great number of photographers go a very long time from the time that they purchase their first good camera to making money at the business of photography. Many photographers, when first starting out, rush in thinking that the business will be easily profitable in no time, how expensive could it be to get a camera and use it to create their dream? They often neglect to factor in the cost of business, the cost of equipment, software, back ups, etc..
Being of sound reputation, a better professional photographer knows that they must always reinvest in their business to create the reputation of being top notch. To create good work good equipment, reliable equipment, back up equipment is a necessity. The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalelled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability. This is how reputations get built. Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.
I hope this (lengthy) article helps shed some light on WHY a custom photographer is a better choice for your family’s memories. The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring who is right for your family’s most precious investment.
Thanks to all our amazing clients for always appreciating our work and valuing it as much as we do and more
Fall Family Looks
August 21st, 2010 | Uncategorized
Okay – the fall fashion is out in stores – and even though it’s 100 degrees outside, if you have a Family portraits scheduled with me in September, October or November then you need to start putting together your clothes for it while the selection is good.
I have put together color pallettes that are not matchy matchy but still coordinate in a pleasing way. Think about what room the family portrait will hang in and use the colors of that room to inspire you. If you need help, photograph the wall space you want your portrait, and photograph the room, then e-mail me the photos as well as the wall dimensions. This will help me to determine the best locations to take your family – especially if we are doing my favorite UrbanLIFE style portraits. I am happy to help. In fact, I ask that you not only come dressed in what you think you want to wear, but bring along extra stuff – we can mix and match as we go.