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Photography: What Are You Paying For?

Many times, I am surprised to find that people have never had portraits done. When I ask them why, they usually say that it is because of cost, so I wanted to write a post exploring photography investment and the misconception that it isn’t affordable.

The first thing that’s important to note is that there are many behind the scenes hours that go into photography. Oftentimes, people believe that photographers make a lot of money just for showing up and pressing a button. I mean, it's so easy a kid could do it, right? In reality, it's not so black and white. There are many factors into a photo coming out correctly and while a camera can do some of the thinking for us, it can't always do what is needed to get the shot. A photographer is knowledgeable in operating the camera in conditions where the camera alone is unable to get the job done. Several photographers use artificial lighting to get their images with strobe flashes and speedlites, both of which the camera cannot do without the photographer controlling it.

The photo session is only one portion of what a photographer does. The real work for photographers begins once the session has ended. Hours of editing go into the session making sure many elements of your photos are correct. This includes retouching, such as skin smoothing and teeth whitening and making sure the colors and exposure are accurate. Depending on the length of the session and how many people were in it, this can make for hours of editing. Another thing to consider is the time your photographer spends communicating through phone calls, texts and emails. Uploading, downloading and exporting images can also be time consuming.

Photographers are not only working to make your images look beautiful, but many are also paying for their cost of doing business. Some of those costs include: business license, editing software, online gallery and website hosting, training, insurance, marketing and advertising, contracts, accountants and taxes. Some photographers are leasing office and studio space and let’s not forget the most important element, equipment. Cameras cost up to $3,000 (sometimes more) and one lens alone can run the same. These all have to be regularly maintained by having them cleaned and sometimes repaired.

Keep in mind that what you are paying for your session is divided by the total hours worked on creating your images and does not just pay them for the session itself. You are paying for your photographers time, talent, experience and the many factors that went into making your images possible.

As with any luxury you want to afford, you may have to budget and save for it, but it is easily possible. Consider taking the extra money you would have spent on Starbucks and setting it aside over the course of a year, or holding off on upgrading your phone. You will find that it is much more within your financial reach than you originally thought. When you think of how personalized a portrait session is and the priceless moments that you get with photography, it's a very reasonable investment for something that will last more than a lifetime.



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