Today's Q&A will be coming from a question I get over and over from clients. And it's this:
Why does custom photography cost so much?
This question comes in various forms ("I love your work, but I can't really afford your prices, can you cut me a deal?" or "Why do you charge that much when I can go to (insert chain store here) and get it for so much cheaper?" or "My neighbor just got a nice camera and will do my whole session and give me the entire CD for $50, why can't you do that?"). Yes, these are all questions I've been asked, and on more than one occasion.
I realize we live in a land of DIY'ers, bargain hunters, and a lot of SAHMs that want to earn a little on the side. I recognize this completely. I like a bargain as much as the next guy. But I also understand that I can't do everything myself (I'm terrible at painting the walls in my house, making beautiful birthday cakes, or fixing my own car, for instance), so I enlist the help of or hire people that will do a better job than I ever could. I recognize the value that comes in this.
I believe that the people asking these questions are simply uneducated in custom photography, and don't fully realize (maybe because they do have a neighbor with a nice camera willing to do their pictures for $50) that running a legitimate business is costly. It takes both time and money. Here is a very low-level overview of just a few of my expenses:
-Cameras ($2500 or more each)
-Good lenses ($1300 or more each)
-Lighting equipment (in the thousands already)
-Education, workshops, seminars
-Business licenses, etc.
-Editing software, including new updates when I update my equipment (in the hundreds to thousands)
-Professional memberships in organizations such as PPA and WPPI
-Wear and tear on my vehicle
-Time away from MY four beautiful children and my spouse, and my home, and all that comes with that.
And the list goes on. The time is not simply when I show up and when I finish shooting. It takes me time to prepare for a session, time to get there and back, time to edit and prepare a gallery, time to process your orders, submit them to my professional lab, and prepare them once I receive them. It take me time to deliver them as well.
But I do it because I love it, AND because I want to be successful. And I can't be successful if I don't take my business seriously. And I have to expect my clients to take it seriously as well. I know custom photography is an investment, but that investment gives you so much more than simply an employee-for-hire that has learned to push a button. This gives me a big opportunity to give you good customer service, to cater the session to your wants and desires, to offer you a piece of my heart in the way that I see you and the way that I see the world. My time is YOUR time and I work very hard to give you images that you'll be pleased with.
There is some excellent reading out there on this subject, if you are really interested in learning more. You can read more about custom photography here, here and here.
I hope this sheds a little light on why I charge what I do. I charge much less in Utah than I'd be able to charge in other states, because that's how the market is here. But I charge what I do because there are people that value what I do and are willing to make the investment. I am so grateful for the wonderful clients I have had, the return clients make me feel absolutely amazing because I know they appreciate what I give them. The referrals warm my heart to no end.
I know that there are some people that appreciate custom photography, but simply cannot afford it. I offer a couple of sales a year, so watch for those! Mini sessions are a great opportunity to take advantage of custom photography for a reasonable price. You can also earn a complimentary mini session with portrait parties.
Thanks for sending your questions in! Next week we're talking about sunflare, so be sure to come back! And if you are interested in having me answer any questions you have, please feel free to email me at joannataylorphotography at gmail dot com.