What You’re Paying for when You Hire a Pro Photographer - Ashley Lee Photography (Sarasota)

Pricing Breakdown: What You’re Paying for when You Hire a Pro Photographer

There’s a belief that seems to live outside of the photography industry–where anyone with an fancy camera can take great photos. While a professional-grade camera can undoubtedly help you take quality photos, it’s a lot harder than it actually looks. Generally, you can purchase a quality digital camera for roughly $500 to over $3000 with a couple kit lenses to get you started. But, having a good camera doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to get stunning photos. That takes lots of practice, learning your camera, and true dedication to master.

This is where having an experienced photographer comes in. When you hire a pro photographer, you can expect your professional to know all the ins-and-outs of his or her camera, the settings, lenses and software. But that’s not all it takes. A professional photographer also understands how to work with natural or other light sources, color theory, posing, composition and other tools to help make you and all other photos look their best. 

Editing time

When you leave your photography session, my job isn’t actually over. Most of the time, I will spend at least two to three hours, if not more, on editing the photos after your session to ensure your pictures are nothing less than amazing. Editing time can range from hours to days depending on each individual photographer’s style and editing workflow.  Regardless of how long it takes to edit a batch of images, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes including culling, retouching, color correction, and so on.

Photographers are mostly perfectionists, for lack of a better word! I know I generally pour hours into perfecting images for my clients. You’ve heard it before, and yes, it’s all about the details. For every photo I take, I spend time perfecting skin tones, smoothing skin, removing minor blemishes and much more to make sure that my clients are looking their best and have photos they can be proud of!

EXAMPLE - For a two hour senior portrait session:

-  travel to and from the session
- one to two hours of shooting
- 30 minutes of setup, preparation, talking to the client etc.
- 30 minutes to load the photos onto a computer (2 – 4 Gb of data)
- 30 minutes to back up the files on multiple external drives plus DVD’s
- 3 – 4 hours (if not more) of Photoshop time including cropping, contrast, color, sharpening, saving a copy for print and a copy for the internet and backing up the edited photographs
- 2 – 3 hours to talk to the client, answer questions, receive their order and payment, order their prints, receive and verify prints, package prints, schedule shipment and drop package off at Fed Ex.

You can see how one two hour session easily turns into more than ten hours of work from start to finish. So when you see a Photographer charging a $300 session fee for a two hour photo shoot, you are not paying them $100 / hour to just take pictures. Like any business, we still have overhead costs.


Equipment and other expenses

Photography as you probably know, is an expensive industry to be in; we as business owners have to account for the costs we accrue in order to take your photos. We have to invest thousands of dollars into a single camera body and another thousand or more for each lens we use. We also have to pay hundreds of dollars for professional software that we use to edit your images and even insurance in the case that our equipment is damaged or other issues that could arise during or after a session. We also have to make up for our costs of gas and vehicles for travel time.


A professional service

When you hire a pro photographer, you can take a moment and de-stress. Your photographer is responsible for giving you a fun, relaxed and overall awesome experience that will leave you breathless when you receive your photos. That’s his/her job, so trust them to do just that. I’m not saying to hire a pro photographer every time you want a picture but it’s worth it to have some quality photos of you and your family. Not to mention, if you’re the one taking photos, you will miss out on the opportunity to be in them!

Hiring a pro photographer should be a fun and exciting investment! Yes, it can be expensive depending on your needs, but I hope this quick breakdown will help you to understand all of the love, care and customized attention to detail that goes into your photos. My goal as a photographer is to capture memories for my clients in an art form that they will treasure for generations to come.



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