The cost of professional photography can be confusing for the average consumer. I wanted to take the time and go over a few key points to help you better understand how a professional photographer charges for their service and products.
These three outlined elements determine how much a photographer will charge to complete a collection of images from any family session. The time allocated to each of the three is where you will see price difference evident, which in most cases is where the misunderstanding as to why one photographer can charge $150 while another is $900 or more. Photographers know that every consumer's needs can be a bit different, so as you review these areas keep in mind that what works for your family may not be the same for another. How you choose to invest your time when working with an independent photographer will also play a role in the end price point.
You will find various styles of images when you visit a photographer's portfolio. Some will be taken in studio, with props, outdoors, in a home or simply in a documentary setting. Each of these styles have a particular way in which they are captured. For example, in a studio, a photographer has a controlled setting, they usually set up their lights to yield a particular constant light to their images. They have almost no changes to make from one session to the next. In contrast, an on-location photographer is working with a larger range of lighting conditions and will need to plan accordingly to create a desired look to their images. They have more equipment to bring with them and operate it dynamically at said location. As you browse portfolio's take note to what you are most drawn to and think about how you see yourself in their work, this can be either in their studio or a particular outdoor location.
I believe this to be the most important one! I am personally a lifestyle photographer, it is very important to me to get to know a family or child before I capture images of them because it allows me to visually blend their personality to the art I will be creating of them. This takes time, I meet with each family/child before their session in a no stress, fun, chit chat and play environment. It allows me to observe my subjects in their natural environment and give them an opportunity to get to know me before I place my camera between us. This process is time consuming and I need to charge accordingly to how I produce the final product. In contrast, another photographer may choose to work with a family without ever meeting them before hand, with very little investment in time outside of the actual session time. This allows said photographer to charge a lower fee as they have a shorter workflow to how they capture and deliver their final images. It is up to the consumer to decide what they feel most comfortable with and budget accordingly. For studio environments, which in most cases have a higher volume model (where multiple sessions are booked back to back) very little interaction is in place. It is for that reason, how you choose to invest in your experience with a photographer will influence the time you also invest before, during and after your session.
After the session is done, you are now left with deciding how you wish to remember your experience either through prints or albums. A newer trend I've seen over the years is copies of only digital files, as many are seeing the desire to share only on social platforms. Some photographers have began to include the digital files as the only add on to the session while others like myself find deeper value in providing albums and prints as a collection. The final product plays a huge roll to time allocated to creating them as well as the physical products cost from professional suppliers. It is very important you consider the effort that went into creating the permanent display.
This sums up the three areas that will influence the price of your photography investment. If there is one thing you should take away from this overview is the importance in doing your research. Every independent photographer is creating their own creative vision and its best you connect with one that meets the needs of you family.
To get to know me more, here is a short bio and frequently asked questions about lifestyle photography.