Earlier in the day, I ran across a feed containing some women who seemed to be angry that they could not afford the photographer they wanted. They felt like the prices were outrageous and they would be taken advantage of. I'm not conceited enough to think they were talking about me, however, I didn't think the prices in question were above the average price for a quality experience with custom photography. I think it's hard to understand the value of an experience you've never had, so I wanted to take the time to educate my readers about where their money is really going when they hire me.
I charge $175 for a newborn session fee. That covers the hour I take preparing and packing my car, travel time and fuel to and from session, 3-4 hours at the client's house. As you know, I spend that time taking photos, sitting in front of the heater, and getting pooped on. I'm not saying I don't love it... I'm just sayin'.
State tax takes 4% and local sales tx takes another 4%. self-employment tax takes another 15.3%. federal income tax takes another 10% based on my yearly earnings. From my session fee, I pay almost $45 straight to the government.
I need to be paid for my time that day so I can go home and pay for my childcare. I pay $40 for the 5 hours I'm gone, that leaves me with $65 from the session fee. Let's be nice and say I only spent $5 in fuel, so now I have $60 to show for my 5 hours of hard work.
Now, I can go home and live it up. I'm rich, b.
But wait. the job isn't over yet! Somebody has to process these professional grade photos. I forgot about the 15 hours post-processing, the hour uploading to your custom gallery, the hour to make the blog feature. Did I forget to mention the thousands of dollars worth of equipment I bring every time? How about the hundreds of props and accessories I have to keep in stock to always provide the perfect one... Or my fancy shmancy computer to do all of this editing and net-working on? Job equipment is a big expense. Even just one new professional grade lens will cost hundreds of dollars.
You probably don't care at this point, but I do have a degree in photography. It cost me 3 years and a pretty penny, but I won't ask my clients to pay for that. I don't ask them to pay $150 a year to host my website. Or to pay my $500 a year liability insurance and property insurance. They don't need to pay for the backup equipment, the advertising I have to do, the print materials I provide during our experience together. I cover the costs for safety training and baby classes and Red Cross Certifications.
Unless somebody orders a print, product, or digital negative from me, all of that is on my own wallet. "But don't you do it for the passion of the art?" Passion? You got it. But that won't put food on the table for me and my daughter, and I'm passionate about her too.
It's worth it. I promise you, $150 is worth the investment of creating photos that you will love forEVER. You will not be able to find a client of mine that regrets their relationship with me. In 20 years, you'll see my work again and love it even more. Then again and again. And again. The only thing I can think of that actually appreciates in value instead of depreciating with time is photographs like these, and the memories that accompany them.
Now I realize that I am not saying anything that hasn't been said before, so let's wrap this up. I work my ass off doing what I love and what I live to do. I make approximately $3.52 an hour, and in return, I get to live my dream and do what I love. What I'm trained for, what I'm good at. This is how I change the world.
If you want chain-studio photos, go ahead. To be blunt, stop wasting my time. That isn't what I provide. I don't count poses, and I don't sell by sheets. My session fee is the cost for creating the photos, and does not include wall art or products. And, yes, of course, I do believe that everybody deserves the chance at family photos. There's nothing wrong with only being able to afford a chain studio. But for somebody who wants the very best quality, value, and experience, I'm your girl. I'm the night out once a year that you remember the rest of your life. What I provide is not just pushing a button. I provide an experience, a service, and a professional product.
It makes me upset when I hear people calling custom photographers greedy or selfish, because they really just have no idea. Every single baby that I touch, I fall a little bit in love with. I would do this all for free if I could. I really would.
But I can't.