Real talk time, guys.
For whatever reason, a lot of people try to talk down the price of their photographer. We are using nature and only have a ONE TIME expense of buying a camera so why, on Gods green earth, would we need to charge a lot/anything for a photo session.
"Its not like it's hard."
I am going to get real deep in the numbers for you, because I don't think enough people are willing to delve into it, leaving this huge gap of people not understanding why we, glutinous humans, also want to/ need to make money.
I charge $175 for a session.
At face value, "HOLY SWEET MOTHER MARY, SHE MAKES $175 AN HOUR?" gets thrown in my face a TON. And I am still on the reasonable side of photography prices.
But lets break down the basic expenses and time actually spent working so we can get a better breakdown and understanding.
Typically, I spend about 45 minutes driving to and from a shoot and at least an hour shooting. then It takes about an hour to cull through the photos, at LEAST 2-3 hours to go through and do basic editing/color correction and if a session has any extensive editing needs ( heavy acne, lots of face swaps, etc) it can add an additional 1-2 hours ASSUMING everything goes to plan.
So to keep things simple, lets just say I spend an average of of 5 hours working and editing a session.
That suddenly takes my $175 an hour to $35 an hour. Not too shabby right??? Wrong. You see, I am also an honest human and as much as I hate taxes, I have chosen to make my business legitimate so I also pay taxes.
For these sessions, thats roughly $15 bucks.
But I am also a mom and need to leave my kid with a babysitter while I am gone. Being away for 3 hours, I usually pay my sitter $20 because I value her age and how she interacts with my kid.
I also have not mastered the art of levitation or flying so I have to travel. I have a monthly car payment but we won't even factor that in and we will just talk about gas. I fill up 2x a month (god bless hybrids) and pay about $70/mo for gas. If we average that out to the 10-15 shoots a month I average, we'll say each shoot is roughly 3-5 dollars in gas. I will be optimistic and just subtract 3 dollars here.
Typically, and especially during the summer, I have to be out well past dinner time so I am usually picking up food on the run to feed my family. We typically spend $20 on eating out.
This doesn't include the fees I pay for my quickbooks, delivery systems, photoshop, Lightroom, scouting miles and gas fees, upgrades and maintenance to my equipment, props and accessories some shoots require, insurance, marketing fees (one of my monthly fees alone is 80+ a month!) and money spent on endless amounts of caffeine so I don't experience ultimate burn out.
$117/5 is roughly 23.5...which yes, is more than minimum wage and not a horrible living. But if I went into gross detail averaging out all my other expenses it would further eat away at my bottom line. I just am a creative and not a math guru so I am not going to get quite that intense. But you get the idea! ;)
Here's the deal, I do not call a doctor and ask how much she can discount her rates, I do not haggle with the cashier at home goods because I don't feel like paying for something that is already a good deal. I do not ask someone to take away from their hourly amount to help save me money, I do not negotiate with the employees of Costco when I don't feel like spending that amount.
WE ALL HATE SPENDING MONEY. In a perfect world, it wouldn't exist. But in THIS world, sllllllaaasssshhhhh Jetsons galaxy, it's what makes it go round.
But, please remember, before you jump to conclusions of a photographer or other small business "raking it in", remember everyone has monthly business expenses on top of all the personal expenses we all need to pay for.
I ABSOLUTELY love my job and 100000% WOULD. NOT. DO. IT. if I didn't. because running a business is NOT simple. The expenses just keep coming and the income seems to dwindle smaller and smaller.
As the old golden rule goes "do unto others as you want done unto you." So, If you're willing to do your daily work for a significant amount less than you normally are paid, by all means, lets cut a deal. If you like your salary and want to continue feeding your family with it, please remember, I feel the same way about mine. ;)