Why does photography cost so much?

Why does newborn photography cost so much? I’m using newborn photography as the example but to be fair this applies to most forms of photography.

Luckily I’ve reached a point in my career where I no longer feel the need to “win” every client and I understand that my price position will not, cannot and should not fit every budget, but as I work with a lot of photographers who are at various stages in their careers I wanted to write a quick summary for them because photographers notoriously struggle to a; make a decent living (whilst we tend to love many aspects of our job it is still a job and we do it to pay the same bills that everyone has to pay)  and b; justify their costs to their potential clients, families, friends etc.

Side note: Sometimes it seems like we should pay a penalty for loving our jobs, although, lets face it, we actually only really love about 35% of our job (more on that later)  That 35% is our passion and yes, our faces light up when we talk about it, so listeners tend to assume that we live off that joy, feed and clothe our kids off that adrenaline and pay for Christmas out of pure devotion to our dream. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. So here is a breakdown of what goes into a newborn session so that the next time your mum, friend or client raises their eyebrows at your prices or the next time you feel ashamed for supplying a service at its cost remember this and whole your head up high.

Newborn Session Infographic

Break down of activities:

Correspondence 

Whether via email, telephone or in person booking in a session takes time. Scheduling, rescheduling, explaining what to expect, discussing prices (!!!) etc

Setting up for session

The average newborn photographer will get to the their studio at least 1 hour before your session. The area must be clean, tidy and warm - so heaters are turned on in advance. The props that are used must be prepared, if they are using colour schemes they must be organised and fresh blankets must be prepared. Most will also offer refreshments which will need to be bought and prepared.

The shoot

Depending on the photographer newborn sessions take 2-4 hours not including late arrivals and extended departures

Laundry

I’m not kidding you! After every single session!!

Culling

Click, click, click - most of us are over shooters and most families don’t actually want 500 images! It takes time to look at each individual image and assess it, checking the sharpness of the eyes, comparing the expressions and body language and finally selected the best 30 images (give or take) 

Editing

… this is a very difficult one to put a number on. The length of time it takes to edit an image varies across the board. Some photographers will be done in 3 minutes per image others may need 10 minutes. 

Uploading images to galleries

Sounds simple and it usually is assuming internet is working (which mine rarely is!)

Correspondence and alterations

Fact is there are often requests for changes to be made, I will not elaborate upon this, other than to say that the number of hours can be anywhere between 1 and 100,000! For the sake of this article I’ve enter 1 hour only!

Ordering products

Whether it’s the designing of an album or the sourcing of a print this takes time.

Additional time and costs: 

Now, let’s not forget that a professional photographer has a website, an instagram account and a facebook page, all of which need constant maintenance and grooming. Marketing is a job!! - 1 hour a day.

Cost of props (!!!!), equipment (!!!!), products, website hosting, online gallery hosting, insurance, pension schemes… the list goes on. All these must come out of the income before the professional photographer takes home their pay.


Picasso and the 1 minute picture

Legend has it that Picasso was sketching in a park one day when a woman approached him and boldly asked him to sketch her portrait. He sat her down, took a clean sheet of paper, looked at her face and with a few sweeps of his hand drew a stunning portrait that fully captured her essence.

“That’s incredible!” The woman proclaimed. “It’s perfect! How much do I owe you?”

“5 thousand dollars” Picasso replied. 

“5 thousand!!!! The woman exclaimed. “But it took you no more than a minute!”

To which Picasso calmly responded, “Madam, it took me my entire life!”

 Photo Credit: Sandra Vidmar

Photo Credit: Sandra Vidmar

Don’t forget that just because it looks easy means that it is or that it hasn’t taken years of practise and thousands of euro in training to make it look easy.


Conclusion

I’m going to modestly round up to 12 hours of work that goes into an average newborn session.

Now, let’s compare what it would cost for various other services.


Hairdresser: €50 an hour, €600 for 12!

Personal Shopper: €80 an hour, €960 for 12!

Masseur: €100 an hour, €1200 for 12!

Make-up Artist: €80 an hour, €960 for 12!

Plumber: €75 an hour, €900 for 12!

So there you have it! Photographers are professionals just like any of the listed professionals above. Do not be afraid to charge what you are worth - it is truly non of your business how your potential clients manage their own budgets, that’s for them to work out - you don’t need to feel embarrassed if they choose to spend their money of different priorities. Some will value what you offer, others won’t - that’s ok. The sales woman in the Gucci store isn’t embarrassed every time someone choses not to buy a thousand euro dress - she doesn’t question if it should be priced lower so that the customer can afford it.


I believe there should be a service for every budget - I’m not saying every photographer should be pricing this high, but know your costs and know your value and stand by them. 

Diana Moschitz