Why is professional photography so expensive?


So you are all probably wondering why professional photographers charge so much for a session when you can buy a cheap camera from the high street and print them for pence at the local supermarket. Think of it this way, it's about £100 to get your hair done, and a pair of scissors only costs £1, but you'd gladly pa​y a lot more to hire a professional to actually do the job properly.

One of my pet hates is when I see or hear comments like 'it's only clicking a button and uploading a photo'... No. It's not. At all! It's far from that, especially with newborn photography. So I'd like to educate you so hopefully you will have a better understanding.

Time is a major element here, it's not just the time at the photoshoot, that's the easy part. It's when you get home that the work really starts. Then we have cost, it's not just a case of having a camera, it actually costs us a lot to be able to do photography as a job. And finally there's expertise, experience really does go a long way, that doesn't mean how long you've been taking photo's for, it's about how well trained you are in your field, and if you actually qualify to call yourself 'professional'. So let me explain...

Time - photographers spend about 20% of their time actually shooting and 80% of their time on business related tasks and post-production. Here's a list of average times per ONE session:

1 - 3 hours prepping time (emails, phone calls, consultations)

2 - 6 hours shooting time

10 - 90 minutes editing PER photo (4-36 hours)

6+ hours of everything else (driving, posting, orderings, galleries, packaging, delivering)

So for one newborn session it'd be up to around 52 hours worth of work, that's more than a working week in a 'normal' job. Baring in mind that it's not the 'normal' 9-5 hours either, a shoot will take up the whole of Saturday or Sunday, compromising on family time, we'll be editing until gone midnight some nights too.

This photo took around 6 hours in total to transform (okay not all images take that long to edit but some do). Mum is a professional cake maker at cartsofcakes.co.uk and wanted a baking themed photograph. We decided to do this last as it involved lots of flour, but unfortunately little Jack had other ideas and we didn't manage it. Hooray for photoshop! I took photographs individually after the shoot and merged them all together to create this!

Cost - so the camera alone is around £2000+, then each lens is probably £1000+, say an average photographer will have 4-5 different lenses. Then it's the accessories that you need with that camera, spare batteries, memory cards, flash gun, studio lighting, tripod, bag etc. Probably another £500+. Okay so that's the start of the investment. Now you have a camera, you need to purchase everything else that it takes to have a successful business. Let's break this down too (annually):​

Website domain - £150

Email hosting - £100

Advertising - £500

Props - £1000 (more if you're a propaholic like me)

Training - £2000

Insurance - £800

Internet & phone bills - £600

Heating & electricity (with newborns it uses SO much more) - £700

Studio rent - £1200

Editing software (adobe updates around every 2 years so I'll divide by 2) - £200

Device to edit on (macbook lasts around 3 years so I'll divide by 3) - £600

Association membership fees - £300

Photo backup software - £150

Other costs - £500+

So we spend thousands of pounds a year just in business costs. Now I need to get enough clients through the door to cover this cost before I even make a profit. Bare in mind 35% of whatever I earn goes straight to the tax man. Photographers don't get sick pay or holidays, no bonuses or promotions, no company benefits. We're business owners and we love what we do otherwise we'd scrap it all and go find a 9-5 office job, but love doesn't pay the bills unfortunately.

A few photos of Inspirique studio... I need more space, I have toooo many props, yet not enough!

Expertise - Anyone can buy a half decent camera, but it doesn't make them a photographer. It's the skill and experience you have that makes you great. A good camera doesn't take the good photo like a good oven doesn't cook the good meal or a good typewriter doesn't write the good novel. Yes people can take great photo's with no prior photography education, I'd be a hypocrite if I said you couldn't as I taught myself at a young age. However, with newborns you absolutely HAVE to have training, at the end of the day that little baby is a human being, saftey is top priority and you cannot risk anything going wrong. You need to know how to position them so you don't block their airways or trap their blood circulation, you need to know what poses are safe to do judging by the baby, you need to know when to use composites, you need to know how to make baby comfortable, the list goes on and on of what you really do need to know. I cannot stress this enough, you don't learn to pose a newborn over night, it's not a case of practice, it's a case of training. Photographing and posing newborn babies requires skill, patience and safety awareness.

Poses like this are composities and baby is NEVER left to support themselves. I will be blogging before and afters in another post. Keep an eye out!

I do absolutely love my job and this is in no way a complaint, but more making you as the client, and general public aware of how much time and effort goes into perfecting your images so hopefully next time someone says 'photography is such an easy job, all you do is push a button', you can say 'no, actually...'. And hopefully this will make some people respect photographers and value photography a little more than they would have before :)

Please feel free to leave any comments with any thoughts or questions and I'll be happy to answer them.

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