Why Do Photographers Charge So Much?

Fall comes and inevitably the thought of family photos comes up. You research, follow a few photographers on social media, scour their websites and take a look at their prices. And then you quickly click out because there can be no way they charge that much for 10 photos.

Facebook is full of people looking for an affordable alternative, hoping that they find a way to get those beautiful family photos without breaking the bank.

It's a bit overwhelming to think that you are going to spend an hour with a photographer and then hand over a tonne of money, if you look at it from an hourly stand point it seems ridiculous.

Why do photographers charge so much for photos? Can't they just snap a few and hand over all the photos they take?

I am going to break down how I have come to my prices.

1. Equipment.

Professional photography equipment is expensive. Go to amazon and look at the prices of a Canon 5D or Nikon D850. Then the lenses, oh Peter Pan on a cracker, lenses are expensive. We are talking $1000+. That isn't even getting to lighting, computers needed to edit, camera cards and back up cards and batteries. And a car. It is pretty hard to be a photographer without that too.

2. Education and experience

There is a myth that you can pick up a great quality camera and take great photos. Some photographers have gone to school, others like me have spent a fair chunk of change of learning through online resources. Also there is not teacher like experience and that time to gain skills is not free.

3. Time

It can be easy to think that the hour we are together for the photo shoot is the only time I really spend on the photos, but underestimates the time I spend e-mailing, answering questions, preparing my equipment, checking the weather, scoping our locations and driving to our meeting. This isn't even really getting into the time we spend actually running a business.

4. Editing

In a typical family photo shoot I have about 300+ photos that I have to download and cull. After that I have about 70 photos that I then will go through and do a light edit to see which will be the best. Then I get down to 30-40+ photos that I then spend another fifteen to thirty minutes editing each individual photo. I am cropping, adjusting the colouring, skin tone and double checking again and again that it will print well.

5. Websites and other technical stuff

These are the really hidden costs that keep our business afloat. Websites, photo sharing options, licensed music for slideshows all cost money. The editing software has a monthly cost, as well as Photoshop presets and actions that help them be efficient and get great results. Photographers also absorb costs in marketing that allow them to have a business.

6. Taxes

We are contracting, this means that we need to pay taxes on our income. We don't have benefits, unions or an exit package.

7. Bookings

There are only so many weekends to take family photos. Natural lighting is beautiful but also can limit when we can take photos. Wedding season is usually the busiest in the summer, and family photos don't really take place during the winter. The way I have come to my prices is by looking at the potential full time work I could have and what I would have to charge to make a living wage.

This is by no means an exhaustive list: child care, studio time, permits for certain locations, parking costs, and insurance could all have their own category.


Now I am going to add a big disclaimer. I understand why people are reluctant to pay the big bucks for family photos. It is so expensive. It is a luxury for sure and not within everyone's price range. I am really glad that there are photographers who charge less so that you can find someone within your price range. Be aware of what you are really asking and then be realistic with the photographs you will get.

Here comes the big but.

We are not charging "too much". It isn't an random number I pick out according to the market. I have used a living wage calculator, thought about my experience and education, looked at the time and effort I put into photography and come to the my pricing. The fact is in order for photography to be a viable option for my income, it needs to make me money!

I am always glad to connect to a family and take their photo. I look forward to spending time together and am so grateful that they chose me to spend their hard earned money. It is my pleasure to take the time to edit the photos and deliver them to my clients. I have been given so many beautiful opportunities to learn and grow my skill.

It is my goal as your photographer to give you professional level family photos. I want to offer quality to my clients and that means I take all of this seriously. I recognize that there is a lack of understanding between photographers and their clients and while chatting about money is a bit awkward, I can only hope that it will bring clarity to pricing.

If you have any further questions please send me contact me.