What happens to someone who goes from picking up a camera and meeting you in the local park for $50 to charging a premium rate for their services? Well let me tell you.
Photographers. They are either trained traditionally at a college or university but often not schooled on how to run a business or they are self taught and learn from the hard knocks of experience. I fit in with a little bit of both. The very first lesson I had to learn was that of the session/sitting fee.
When I first started out and didn't know hardly anything about photography I didn't have a clue of what to charge. So yep I charged $50 for a shoot in the park with your edited images on a compact disc. After my first session I raised it to $75 after 3 of those I went to $100 then after a few more of those I went to $150. You see, every time I did this I realized just how much work after shooting actually cost me and my time with my family. I decided at that point to get a mentor. I found one based in LA and simply followed her business model. It was still scary because I didn't have my clients telling me, "Oh gosh Arica you're worth more than this!" Nope you have to discover and decide what the value of your time is yourself.
For me time away from being a mother to my children and a wife to my husband should be compensated period. After all, every working American earns an hourly wage for doing the same. I also learned the hard way that if there is no skin in the game, people cancel or flat out don't show up. At that point I have wasted my time without compensation and that is NOT OK.
When you become more skilled that increases the value of the product and service you are providing. When you invest in more training and education you've expanded the range of what you can offer as well.
Here is where the most variance occurs between photographers. Some do not have to pay a rent for a studio or other overhead costs while others, like myself, do. So photographers have to take the time to account for all it costs them to operate and keep their doors open and still go home at the end of the day with a paycheck like everyone else. For me there is a lot that adds up!
Rent, phone, internet, website, computer, editing software, video editing software, hard rives for digital storage, props, lighting equipment, camera gear (which unfortunately does not last forever and has to be updated), office supplies, cleaning, marketing and advertising, business cards, etc. Go google what a brand new camera costs and you'll see just how expensive it is to "just take a photo"
Keep in mind a session fee does not include any images, wall art, albums, or prints. It is just to cover the photographer's time and expertise to pose, direct, and artfully capture you.
My session fee also includes a one on one pre consultation to plan your shoot. I'm all about customization for each and every client. I like us both to feel prepared and confident for the big day. I also add on time spent after the shoot to sit down with my clients and show them all of their stunning photos and help them select the very best ones they wish to purchase and made into something that will live in their home for generations.
My advice when selecting your photographer is "You get what you pay for." That is it. Honestly I know everyone has a budget and some care a great deal more about the quality of photos than others. Its a bit like dating. They may just not be that into you and that is ok. I'm happy knowing I am the right photographer for the right client and together we have an unbelievable shoot with amazing results. With my level of expertise I can guarantee that.
I hope this has helped you feel more informed for booking your next photo shoot and more understanding towards those in the photography industry.
Stay tuned for part 2.!