i have such a hard time discussing money. i think most people in any sort of creative industry have a hard time discussing money.
here is why i must, however: i LOVE what i do. if i continue to do what i do at the prices that i have been doing it, though, not only will i not be making any money, it will actually be costing me money. which is essentially where i’m at right now. and then, guess what? there is a danger of me not loving it anymore. and once i don’t love it anymore, i think that will show. i don’t know if there is anything i would like less than that.
so, let’s talk money.
here is what you see when i do a photo shoot with you: me, in my element, taking photos of you (and/or your family, etc) for 1-2 hours, totally enjoying myself, laughing my butt off, loving what i do.
a common misconception about photographers…that we just “hang out snapping some photos” and that the rate that you’re paying us is what we’re making for merely two hours. as in, if i charge you $400 for a shoot and i shoot for two hours, i’m making $200/hr. let’s clear up why this is definitely not the case…
the rest of this is what you don’t see…
i’m not just a photographer. i am also a small business owner (which i do alone).
this means i:
– pay taxes on said small business.
– i do my own…
- accounting (besides the stuff that i also have to hire someone for)
- art directing
- office managing
– i have a canon 7D camera that cost me about $1400. i have a backup camera, also (not nearly the quality of the 7D), but will need to be upgrading to another backup 7D (or more expensive 5D Mark II) in the near future, so that, just in case anything goes wrong on your shoot, all is not lost.
– i have quality lenses that enable me to capture the quality images that i do…
- canon 24-70 ƒ2.8 – $1200
- canon 50mm ƒ1.4 – $500
- canon 10-22mm ƒ3.5 – $800
– i have a lighting setup (soft box, umbrella, light stands, etc), external battery packs, memory cards, etc. – $1500.
– all of the above equipment occasionally needs serviced – $200-300/year
– i have to pay for insurance in case this expensive equipment i use is broken somehow during our shoot.
after spending an awesome time with you on your shoot or at your wedding, i then come home to my home office (which ends up most often being my livingroom) and spend about 12-20 hours (much more if it is a wedding) editing your images, creating your album, blogging about your shoot, posting pictures on facebook, ordering you prints, burning your dvd’s, picking up your prints, packaging your order in my handmade packaging, and sending it out to you.
– i edit your photographs using a macbook pro laptop = $1500 (plan to eventually upgrade to an imac – $2500)
– i edit your photographs on adobe cs5.5 = $900
– i buy the dvd’s, dvd cases, and other packaging materials =$300/year
– i archive all of your photographs on 2 external hard drives = $400
– i also back up all of my photographs online so if there was ever some accident or natural disaster, you would never lose your photographs = $200/year
– i also have office expenses as far as buying paper, staples, envelopes, etc.
– i also spend time and money ordering your prints and albums, paying for shipping, running to ship it, etc.
– i have a vehicle that i use to get to your shoots. vehicles take upkeep and i need my vehicle to run this business.
– driving that vehicle to your shoot costs gas money.
– i pay for web-hosting so that you and your family can view and be able to order your images online. (my site is not publicly up yet, but, rest assured that i have already paid for it and any shoots i do now can be viewed and prints ordered via it.)
– i pay for materials to market my business and promote myself at small business events. i’m just getting started doing this at the moment, and it is not cheap.
– if i am shooting a wedding for you, i will most likely have a second shooter. i must pay them as well.
– i have high speed internet so that i can upload your images and share them with you online and a cellphone that must be paid for in order to communicate with you.
– did i mention that accountant that i have to pay for in order to make sure i’m doing things legit?
– i attend expos and seminars in order to better my business, stay up-to-date on the industry, and keep you, my customers, super happy and taken care of. these also lend to learning new tricks and techniques that just enable me to make your photos better and better.
EDIT NOTE: student loans!!! HOW COULD I FORGET THE DREADED STUDENT LOANS FOR PHOTOGRAPHY SCHOOL?!?!?! yeah, those too.
i should also mention that i don’t have the luxury of “office hours”, either. remember those kids i mentioned in my first blog post? yeah. those kids. 12 years old and 16 MONTHS old. a toddler. a demanding little toddler i must take care of first and foremost, while still making time to get your photos edited and off to you so that you can love them as much as i loved making them. 🙂 often, i find myself editing/packaging/blogging/marketing when the kids have finally gone to bed at night…editing while attempting to watch Breaking Bad with my boyfriend, packaging while we relate to what’s happening in the latest Parenthood and maybe (always) i cry a little bit, marketing while trying to pay attention to how Dexter is going to pull this one off…
not the best quality time with my guy, but, thank goodness he understands. still trying to polish how to run a small business efficiently, and be a super stay-at-home mom and awesome girlfriend at the same time.
so, yeah, i LOVE what i do. i cannot say that enough. it is my passion, but it is also EXPENSIVE. it may seem like a lot of money to spend for a couple of hours or for a day, but you are having moments in your life captured and documented for you so that you can remember them for the rest of your lives.
hopefully, you understand now where photographers are coming from. maybe you understood all along, and i appreciate if you have. this was somewhat difficult for me to have to put out there, albeit necessary.
that said, i am now going to build a tower of blocks with my son and maybe clean something in this house…don’t even get me started on how much that gets neglected…