In today’s digital age, it seems like everyone with a smartphone or a camera considers themselves a photographer, and they are booking clients as if they are. With the rise of social media, it’s easy to feel like anyone can take a decent picture, so why should professional photography be expensive?
My most recent client-onboarding conversations have been going something like this…
“The person we worked with before [was a wedding and family photographer that didn’t understand the images we needed for our business] [a just member of the team, and the photos didn’t turn out that great] [a friend / family member with an OK camera] [only brought a camera, no lights or other equipment]. I’m so glad we finally found a professional photographer that focuses on photography for businesses.“
My newly onboarded clients are fed up with OK service and OK photographs. Why? The truth is, professional photography is not just about taking a picture, it’s about creating a visual story that speaks to your brand or product. This requires skill, creativity, and experience, which all come at a cost. Being reminded that “cheap” and “free” comes at a cost, they have each expressed excitement and relief at the mere idea of something more.
We’ve all been there… looking to save marketing budget by hunting down a deal, or awarding a project to the lowest bid. And sometimes it works out. But often, it doesn’t. Can you think back on a time where you found a deal, and then felt disappointed in the results? And not just that you wasted a little money on the wrong vendor, but 3rd party expenses, time, and effort as well! I don’t want this scenario to happen to you.
When you hire a professional photographer, you are not just paying for their time during the photoshoot, but also for their expertise in their craft. They have invested years in learning and perfecting their skills, and that often correlates to a lot of their own hard-earned dollars invested in education and training. A professional knows how to perfect the lighting using natural light, artificial light, or both! A professional knows how to capture the essence of a moment, and how to tell a story with images. This level of knowledge and experience is not something that can be learned overnight, and it is not something that a hobbyist or amateur photographer can typically replicate.
When it comes to pricing, professional photographers factor in all the time and resources required to deliver a polished final product. This includes “Pre-Production” time, which involves planning, scouting locations, sourcing props, and coordinating with clients to ensure that the shoot aligns with their vision. During the shoot, your photographer will spend hours capturing the perfect images, adjusting lighting, posing and/or coaching subjects, and ensuring that everything is perfect. After the shoot in “Post-Production”, the photographer will spend time editing and retouching the images, a process that can take several minutes to hours for each image. And let’s not forget about backing-up your image files in storage for the long term – your pro photographer has this in mind too. This level of attention to detail and commitment to quality is what sets professional photographers apart from amateur photographers. And we didn’t even touch on expensive photography equipment, lighting equipment, high-processing power computers, software subscriptions, and all the other little bits of gear and accessories that add up quick quickly (and have to be routinely maintained and replaced). And on top of that, professionals have all the same general expenses as your business. We pay our federal and state taxes, just like other legit businesses. And at the end of it all, we hope to be able to fund our own retirement accounts, take holidays, and treat our families to vacations and other quality-of-life experiences.
When a photographer’s prices are too good to be true, it’s often a sign that they are not an experienced professional. Bargain-basement photographers are almost always amateurs who are just starting out, or they may be “shoot and burn” photographers who simply take pictures and provide clients with unedited images on a disc or USB. While these photographers may seem like a good deal, they often lack the experience and expertise required to create a polished final product.
Professional photographers, on the other hand, will provide clients with a complete service experience, from start to finish. This includes a consultation to discuss the client’s vision and goals, pre-production planning, the photoshoot itself, and post-production editing and retouching, with great communication along the way.
When you work with a professional, you can expect a level of service that goes above and beyond what an amateur or hobbyist photographer can provide. They will have a clear understanding of your brand or product, and will work with you to create visuals that align with your goals and objectives. They will also have the experience and skill to handle any unexpected challenges that may arise during the shoot, and will be able to adapt on the fly to ensure that the final product is everything you hoped for.
While professional photography may seem expensive at first glance, remember that you are not just paying for a picture, but for the expertise, creativity, and experience that comes with hiring a professional. My recommendation is to find a photographer who’s style and personality resonates with you. You get what you pay for, and your investment in a polished professional will pay off in the long run.