From the outset, you’re not just paying for the actual photograph; you’re firstly paying for photographic equipment, photographic software, post production time and shooting time, expertise, overheads like costly insurance on the equipment, travelling costs to your venue if the shoot is not at the photographers studio and so the list goes on! See below ten reasons why photographers are expensive.
You might see it as a 1-6 hour assignment. But what you may ignore is the travelling time to reach the location, a pre-venue scout assessment of the venue to assess the set up time, time spent talking to the clients at venue, time spent in negotiations before the shoot, the actual shoot, transferring and backing up the data, post processing, reviewing with clients, delivering the photos or scheduling a pick up. And we are not even going into time spent building relationship with client, marketing and office hours. Post processing itself may take over a day or many more depending upon the number of photographs edits required. Especially in case of weddings, depending on packages offered, the client may expect 2000 images out of the batch you shot…that means 2000 quality images processed!
Professional photographers don’t compromise with the quality of their gear. They buy the best professional equipment their budget can afford them at the time. They spend thousands and thousands of Rands getting multiple camera bodies (as they are the first items that need upgrading to remain current – R90 000 for Nikon’s flagship D4s), the finest lenses (which are seriously NOT cheap, usually not updated as often as camera bodies – from R10 000 – R262 000), flash equipment for every situation, tripods, light stands, backdrops, props, carrying and storage cases.
Not only this, they buy professional licenses for software and different cloud back-up storage solutions like Dropbox or their own Western Digital Servers desktop computer and monitor to manage the large image file sizes – this is the modern day darkroom. Joe Soap’s 10mp cellphone camera is not a substitute for the real deal, my analogy is that it equates to what 2 minute noodles is in comparison to a gourmet chefs meal! All my equipment is professional equipment bought at Orms in Cape Town, none is sponsored. I have bought the odd smalls from Outdoorphoto in Pretoria and B&H in New York.
Pro photographers join communities to further learn and explore new dimensions. They have to pay for their membership to different premium photography communities. I myself belong to Nikon’s NPU Service – Nikon Professional User Service where courses offered by Nikon are discounted, not free. Even there, to qualify, you are required at time of writing to spend around R100 000.00 on equipment alone! Photographers pay for a premium account on photography services like Flickr, 500px and others. Their fees included maintenance of website and or the hosting thereof. They may even need consultations with lawyers for those sticky situations where clients may not want to pay, or where their copyrights have been infringed. Premium services may also include office and studio rent, paying a make up artist their fees for a creative shoot they may be doing.
Apart from being a good photographer, they have to be a CEO, marketing manager, financial manager, salesperson, production worker, buyer, negotiator, driver, networker, organizer etc. That’s the kind of skill-set of professional photographer – a jack of all trades, more so if you a one-man-band!
Professional photographers don’t compromise. They will give you the best they can, after all their business, livelihood and name is at stake. They don’t back off from tough assignments. They would travel to any possible location and will shoot to the best of their ability. They give you their valuable time. They don’t run for multiple assignments within a day; they would rather do one quality assignment.
Pro photographers keep themselves and their gear up to date with the rapidly evolving technology. They find tools that perfectly match their style and the clients they do business with. Their equipment is professional gear and very costly; and certainly not that of a hobbyist. They will be using the best technology available. This also requires being on top of their game with new software like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Google Nik Collection. I have spent many hours learning from YouTube, and Lynda.com.
Experience is the one thing that may beat everything. Professionals are expected to be vastly experienced. They can advise you over a number of things which you would not be able to decide. They know what’s right and what could go wrong. This is something no person can buy in any field, it is learned through the school of hard knocks and practice.
Professionals have their unique style yet every shoot can look different. They know how to infuse freshness. The quality of photos are supreme. This is true when the client being photographed participates in a positive way and their personality shows in the images.
The truth is that you get what you pay for. You will get your worth for the money spent. This applies to all walks of life, invariably penny-wise is pound foolish, in saying that; you will get chancers too, the onus on you is to do a background check on the photographer.
They may have a small team working with them either on location or back in studio. The photographer pays them for their work from his income.
So next time if you think a photographer is charging too much, do consider the above points, and put the camera in your hands and see the business from that side of the viewfinder!
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