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I don’t want your limbs, I want your respect.

I often see parents on social media asking:

“Looking for a baby photographer that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg”

I have great news, I never have and never will ask for your limbs in exchange for my photography. I'd rather have your money so I can pay my business expenses, as well as keep a roof over my family's heads and food in their tummy's. Google informs me an arm and a leg actually costs £240,000 and I don't know any photographer that charges that. My mortgage provider won't allow me to pay them in arms or legs so I don't want yours as payment. But jokes aside, I understand what I offer isn't a necessity, I'm aware it's a luxury service that some households cannot afford, I'm never going to be within everyones budget which I totally respect. All I ask is that you respect me in return and understand what costs are involved.

So when you’re asking for photographer recommendations, or any other trade such as a plumber, painter and decorator, landscaper, baker, designer, makeup artists, basically any company that provide services, please remove “that don’t cost an arm and a leg” or “reasonable/ not too expensive" from your vocabulary. By "reasonable/ not too expensive”, you actually mean “within my budget” so say what your budget is instead. someone’s rate isn’t unreasonable because you aren’t willing or able to pay it.

I cannot afford some high end services myself but I still understand why some trades charge what they do. I tend to shop high street rather than designer but I know there's a market for everyone. It depends what matters to you personally. For ME, I don't feel it's worth spending £500 on getting my hair dyed, I'm happy with paying £80. However I have a friend who spends a fortune on getting her hair done a lot. For ME, I don't feel it's necessary to spend £1000 on a new phone annually but I have another friend who will get the latest version as soon as it comes out. Speaking of clothes, I'm happy to shop at Primark but I know someone who wouldn't even step foot in there. Do you see my point? I spend money on photography because for ME, I feel it's absolutely worth spending my cash on memories, because to me that's priceless. Just how some feel having their hair look nice is priceless to make them feel good. Photography is what's important to me, and to my clients. Yes I am not for everyone, but please never disrespect what I charge. Just because my service isn't worth the money in YOUR eyes, it doesn't mean it's expensive, it just means it's not as important to you as something else.

It's a lot of money, I'm not denying that. But it's an investment. I can preach all day about photography being worth every penny. But in a nutshell my argument is that photographs will last forever... FOREVER! They will literally outlive you, and be passed down for generations. They capture a moment in time that will NEVER happen again, it'll show your child as they are now, because they will NEVER be this small again. I can't express how important photographs are.

If you don't feel the same then that's fine, but if you are asking that question from your £1000 phone, typing with your £50 fortnightly nails, with your £40 tanned hands, which you can see from the eyes with your £60 lashes on, sitting in your £20,000 car on your way back from your £500 hair cut (exaggeration but you get my point) then you cannot say that these prices are ridiculous. I don't mind that you don't think photography is a luxury item you want to invest it, but it does sadden me when I see you bad mouthing photographers about what we charge. Just because it's not important to you, it doesn't mean it's not for someone else.

Just like there's a hair dresser, plumber and shoe shop for everyone and their budget, there is a photographer for everyone and their budget. But consider the ability, experience, training and professionalism of photographers whose costs are higher. Are they insured? Are they a legitimate business that pays tax? Are they actually good at what they do? The better qualified a tradesperson, the higher their fee should be. It doesn't mean you have to use their services if it's outside of your budget, but it doesn't mean they're "unreasonable". Just state your price range and I'm sure you'll find plenty, just make sure they meet your expectations as sometimes high expectations and low pricing doesn't go hand in hand.

On a side note, just incase anyone doesn't realise what a photograph actually costs to create, I'll add a breakdown for you. But you can read more about that here and here.

So time wise, I'll spend say a total of 1 hour communicating with you before and after your session. Then another hour doing admin for your session. I'll then spend 1.5 hours setting up for your session, and another 4 hours shooting. It'll take me an hour to tidy up, plus another hour washing and drying everything used. Then I'll begin editing, this will take me around 6 hours, I'll then have you back to see your photos so that's another 2 hours and now I'll order your prints and wall art which is another 1 hour. I'll then have to quality check and set it all out ready for you to come and collect which is another 30 minutes. Let's also include the time spent driving to the studio, which is 30 minutes each way from my home, as well as the time I spend shopping for items for your shoot. So already, without any costs I've spent 20 hours JUST on your photoshoot. Even at minimum wage that's £208.40 already. Also consider other things I do to ensure my business runs, such as designing my website, advertising and marketing, attending training events to better my skill, hiring staff to help during busy periods, filing my tax return and searching for props to keep my images up to date.

Lots of costs are involved in your photoshoot, even down to the things like the utility bills, such as making sure the heating has been on for an hour before you arrive, as well as the 4 hours you're there. Plus the electricity used for the studio lights, space heaters, prep machine, coffee machine and kettle etc. Then there's the water bill to make sure the toilet flushes and so I can get water for your cuppa (not from the toilet). Which leads me to the costs of refreshments, you can have an unlimited amount of bottled water, hot drinks and snacks such as crisps, chocolate, sweets, fruit etc, all of which I need to make sure are stocked up at all times. Not to mention the extortionate cost of props. A simple set up can cost around £800, and I do about 10 set ups per session. My equipment alone such as camera and lighting costs thousands of pounds, which I have to maintain and replace every couple of years. Then I pay for plenty of storage for your beautiful images, as well as back up services and of course I need a computer to edit them on. Again thousands of pounds for this. And obviously there's the cost of studio rent and upkeep so you have a safe place to come and have your photos taken. I also have to pay for things you may not have even considered down to the card provider so I can take payment, as well as internet so it connects, the TV to view your photos on as well as the furniture you'll be sitting on and the little comforts I have whilst you're there. Along with petrol and parking, insurance, an accountant, a website host, an email service, ads and marketing materials, uniform, safety equipment, training. All of which cost thousands per year.

I obviously then have the costs of ordering the prints and wall art, these aren't 50p a print like at the instant machines in the supermarkets, a simple print could cost £40 because they're premium quality. And wall art products are hundreds of pounds each. Even digital images come with great value, because you get value with a digital, because you get the 'whole cow'.. see the analogy below to understand what I'm talking about.

So all of the above, and I haven't even paid myself a wage yet. And when I work it out I actually don't even make minimum wage sometimes if a shoot has lasted longer than expected for example. So whilst on paper you think wow £400 for a few photos, it's wayyy more than that and that's not straight in my pocket either. In fact 30% of that is instantly for tax and NI before I take off any expenses. I admit I do a lot of it for love, because I LOVE what I do, and I love my customers for keeping my dreams alive. But I have to make money too.

I know this may sound like a bit of a rant, and I guess in some way it is but I hope it's taken in the way it's meant to come across through my sarcastic sense of humour. I would just love to educate people in knowing why photographers charge what we do, even if it doesn't suit your budget. Photography isn't a necessity no, it's a luxury service and an experience that my clients value and invest in to add happiness to their lives. I'm in no way bashing those who do not have the capability of affording this service so please don't think I am. I offer a lot for those who may not be able to pay it outright, such as payment plans, cheaper mini sessions and even freebies sometimes.

So if you're able, don't just look at the price tag, find a photographer who makes you fall in love with their work and invest in priceless memories. Before you know it, the world around you changes and this is all that you will have left.

I put my blood, sweat and tears into my business so I will never apologise for my pricing, and if you're the same then neither should you. If Prada can sell a bobble for £680, Tiffany a paperclip for £1500 and Dior an umbrella for £1150 then I can charge £400 for capturing a moment in time and a lifetime of memories.

I would never pay these prices, like ever. But I'm sure a lot too otherwise they wouldn't still be in business.


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