In Shauna's words,
"I can honestly say that I have never had to answer this question in person - no one has ever asked me to defend my prices, but I know lots of people who have been asked to. That isn't to say people haven't wondered what "else" they "get" with their session fee, but who wouldn't want to make sure they weren't missing out on something they paid good money for?
EVERY single CRASHintotheBIZ I teach, the first issue right out of the box is pricing- most photographers don't realize what they will need to survive, likewise, most clients have no idea what kind of investment photographers make, or the difference between their cousin with a "fancy" camera, and a photographer with a "fancy" camera... So I thought I would shed a little light on the subject!
When you hire a professional photographer you receive a HUGE return on your investment- a LIFETIME of treasures... Photography, that if you have done your homework, and really found a photographer whose style suits you, will capture your family perfectly.
What professionals bring to the table... This is what comes into play when pricing a session.
Vision: Each photographer has his or her own style, based on personal preference and creative expression- this is why it is important to make sure that the photographer you hire shoots in a style that you like. You won't get Olan Mills if you come to me... So make sure you "know what you are getting." Alot of stress will be saved by a little research.
Time: When you purchase a session (mine start at $300 for 1-2 hours of shooting) you are not paying your photographer for that hour alone. Wouldn't it be nice to make that much an hour? Check out the time that goes into your session alone (remember how many of these are done).
- Scheduling your session, deciding what to wear (2 0r 3 emails or phone calls) 30 min.
- Prep time for your session, gathering gear 15 min.
- Driving to the location (round trip, local session) 45 min. ($15 gas)
- Your session, not including driving time 1-2 hours
- Uploading your images 30 min.
- Proofing (getting rid of what I wouldn't hang on my walls) 1 hour
- Picking top ten, editing them and posting them on my blog for you to see. 45min-1 hour.
- Setting up your gallery and backing up your images 30 min
- Answering ordering questions (via email or phone... Where to hang what, what you need printed etc.) 45 min.
- Processing order (order review and file retrieval) 30 min
- Editing each image of your order (depending on order size) 30 min - 1hour
- Double checking and sending your order, 30 min
- Receiving, checking, packaging, mailing off your order 30 min
- 9 hours MINIMUM of work go into your session
Gear: Tools of this trade are costly, I have over $30,000 invested in my gear. I have the best software, the best camera(s), lenses, memory cards, flashes, reflectors, crazy gadgets, bags, tripods and other stuff that would just bore you. It is up to me to make sure my gear is in pristine condition and that I have backups when (heaven forbid) something happens. When you hire a pro you are sharing this investment - not many people, even your cousin with a "fancy" camera) are going to have the kind of gear professionals use... We use the best to give you the best. I factor in a "gear replacement charge" to every session, so that I can continue to give my clients the best.
Technical Expertise: I have studied many long hours to get here. There are so many aspects of photography that require a life-long pursuit to perfect. And that is what I am doing. As a professional, I take alot of the guessing out-I have shot in almost every setting and I know how to make the light do what I want it to do. I have been influenced by so many incredible photographers and continue to study their innovation, and better myself. Here is a secret- it isn't all about the fancy gear (I started with a Canon AE-1 and a Hasselblad both fully manual, no bells or whistles cameras) you HAVE to know the technical... Without it you can have all the fancy cameras you want and still cant create great photos.
Location, LOCATION, Location!: I can only think of a few sessions I have actually done where the client actually had a location in mind. For the most part, people want me to come up with a place. So I ask some questions about their style, and I go out exploring! In every town that I shoot I have some favorite spots, but every single time I am in my car I am ALWAYS looking for new places. My clients usually pull up and say, "How in the world did you find this place?"That is part of hiring a professional... We are always looking out for our clients. And every once in awhile those places get scoped out by other photographers (or people who we have shared our secrets with) and in an effort to keep it creative we find NEW places! So you and your friend won't have the same look in your portraits. I promise I won't settle for what the next guy will deliver. No photographer should.
Model Direction: Here is the deal, not everyone is Heidi Klum or Tyra Banks- You can watch Next Top Model for five minutes and see that even the beautiful have not so beautiful moments. All in all it is up to the photographer to direct you in a way that captures your most beautiful features. (After all, you aren't being paid millions to show up). So over the years I have come up with some tried and true techniques that I use as I shoot. So short, tall, round or rail thin, awkward or confident... I can direct you in a way that will fully capture all the beauty within. I am always blown away when people see their final images... Most people are surprised by the beauty they see. Not many people have ONE picture of themselves they love. It is my mission to change that!
Printing: TOP OF THE LINE... printing. In this day and age where you can get a 4x6 print for .11 cents at Walmart- people want to know why in the world photographers charge so much for sometihng that costs so little... Let me say this- First, when you order prints from me (or any other pro) YOU GET THE HIGHEST QUALITY there is, and it isn't "cheap." Photographers have special relationships with their printers. By printer, I mean printing COMPANY. There are all kinds of things that go into your print. Color collarboration is a great example of one of the things people forget about (and another investment photographers make) we make sure that your "print" is the best it can be by synching our computers with our printer and double checking the color balance of each print- When you hold these prints in your hands you see the value without question. You can't get that quality without a professional.
Customer Service: It is the job of a professional to serve you. the local drug store isn't going to make sur ethat you are completely happy with your order, and if you aren't- they sure aren't going to make it right! You get personal service from a pro- each images is cared for individually and your hapiness is always the goal!
Innovative, Heirloom quality, Keepsakes: It is my job to stay on top of cutting edge movements and trends in the field... Not yours! Professionals make available to you the finest quality products on the market. I am always looking for new products that my clients will enjoy- I invest in the samples... and sometimes send these products as thank you's and gifts- This is a luxury in itself... It is like having a personal shopper- I get to know you, go through my favorites and decide which you will enjoy the most- and then make them available to you.
Relationships that can last a lifetime: 7 out of 10 of my clients are repeat clients. I have documented from engagement to wedding, the birth of a child, another child... More family portraits and am still going! When you hire a photographer you are beginning a relationship (if you have a good fit) I can't tell you how I look forward to following the lives of my clients. How newat for them to have a lifetime captured by the same person- by the third session, it is old hat- and we skip formalities (by this time I have normall seen their house) and we just talk about what prints need to go where! When I being a relationship with a client, they become part of my family. Professional photographers are going to invest in you, because they want you to com back, they want to watch your family grow!
That was a moutfull! I am sure there are other things that I will add later- I just wanted you (the photographer & Client) to see the big picture. There is so much more than the hour we show up that goes into each session. Remember that as you are shooting, or hiring a photographer. The value of your work and the photography that you receive will increase beyond what it has always been when you take into account all that is invested.
By Shauna Maness
the original post is here http://shaunamaness.squarespace.com/expresscreativity/2008/5/14/why-hire-a-pro.html
And definitely go take a look at Shauna's beautiful, beautiful work! Have a great day everyone!