The first message I typically receive from inquiring clients is, "How much is a session?" Every once in awhile I will receive a response saying something like, "That's all I get for that amount of money?" I completely understand that the way I structure my pricing is not for everyone, however I'd be lying if I told you that those comments don't sting just a bit and I am about to explain why.
There are several photographers in our area - each with their own way of doing business. I can't speak for them in this post, but I can speak about the way I do business and what I do to give you the very best artwork for your walls.
What do you receive when you book a session with me? The simple answer, you will receive a completely customized session that has been planned, beginning to end, with your needs in mind. After the session, I work on each and every image to ensure that they are the best that I can give you. I want you to have quality artwork on your walls that showcases just how special your family is to you. I want this artwork to show all the time that you spent preparing for the session. I want it to show all the time that I spent preparing for your session.
A Glance Into a Session
- Initial Inquiry. When you send me your initial inquiry I reply with a response about what you will receive and give you all the pricing information so you can make an informed decision when choosing your photographer. There is typically anywhere from 10 minutes to an entire day on this phase, it just depends on how many questions are asked and how quickly the client and myself can reply. Average time spent: 30 minutes
- Booking. After the initial inquiry, the client typically decides to book a session. At this stage, there are several emails that need to be sent to the client. They will receive a contract, invoices for the session, and an email with even more information and suggestions on preparing for their session. Average time spent: 30 minutes
- Planning. After I have received the contract and deposit for the session I begin planning your session. We decide on a location and discuss any special requests that you may have. I get out my notepad and start brainstorming possible poses and arrangements within the group. I will then take those notes and put the information into a list to take to the session. I also take note of any props that I will need to bring to the session. Average time spent: 2 hours
- Session. On the day of the session I check to make sure all of my equipment is cleaned, charged, and ready for the session. I typically travel about 20-40 minutes to each session location and arrive there early so I have time to walk the area and plan some more. I unpack any props and get them set up so they'll be ready. I unpack my equipment and make sure my camera settings are set correctly. When the client arrives the fun begins! We spend anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour (sometimes 2) taking shots. After the session, I must pack up my equipment and any props. When I get to my office I must put them away. Average time spent: 3 hours
- Editing. Each image from the session is gone through one at a time. I am very selective about which images will make it past this stage. If they are chosen to be worked on, I comb through the image with a fine tooth comb. I use Photoshop to correct any issues (this can be anything from trash in the background to acne). After corrections I move on to enhancing. I play with the colors and other effects to turn a snapshot into a piece of art. This is by far the most extensive part of the process. I spend anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours on a single image! Average time spent (on a one hour session): 6 hours
- Presentation. After all the images are edited and enhanced, they are ready to present to the client. The images are uploaded into an online gallery where they can be viewed and ordered. After they are ordered, I place the order with the professional lab and wait patiently for them to arrive. After arrival, I check each print and make sure that it meets my standards so I can prepare them for shipping. Average time spent: 3 hours
I spend roughly 15 hours on a single one hour session.
Let's say I take your photographs making minimum wage, $7.25 per hour. From this one hour session my hourly wages would be around $108.75 - just in time alone.
Now you might be saying, but that is just time and not an expense. It is however, time I spend away from my family. Time with my family doesn't have a price tag necessarily, but it is priceless. All of the above does not happen without expenses. I have several subscriptions to programs to make all of the above happen - to provide you with an organized, professional way to receive quality art for your walls that you will be proud of. I have subscriptions for digital contracts, invoicing, website, editing software, gallery, storage, marketing materials. I also have to pay taxes and license fees. I have to buy props from time to time. I have to pay for fuel to get to and from sessions. I have to pay for shipping materials and costs. I have to buy new and/or upgrade equipment as needed.
Before you decide on a photographer, ask yourself a few questions.
- Is this photographer licensed? Is this photographer viewed by the State as a professional?
- Do I want quantity or do I want quality? Do you want 80 snapshots or do you want 15 pieces of wall art?
- Do I like this photographer's editing style? Are they consistent?
- What terms and conditions does the photographer have? What is expected of you? Of the photographer?
- How does the photographer archive my images?
I give everything I have to my clients from the time they send me the initial inquiry to the end of time. I strive to make sure you have the best possible experience and that your images are safely stored for the years to come. Make sure you choose the right photographer for your needs and can give you what you and your family deserve. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Photography isn't any different.