Please Jessica at info@tracydodsonphotography.com for our pricing information.

Family, Children and Senior Portraits all start at $350 per session.

Jessy responds quickly to email - if you have emailed me and you have not received a reply, please check your junk mail.

At this time we are no longer shooting weddings.

INFO@TRACYDODSONPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

Thursday, November 11, 2010

F.A.Q. Why Custom Photography Costs More

Few people in life are original thinkers...in my opinion - and I guess for me - photography has been about learning from others.

I have been thinking alot about pricing - I have been getting TONS of questions from photographers about it. When I started out, I charged pretty minimally to make sure I could do it - it put less pressure on me. I increased my prices as time went on. I also want people to be able to get good pictures without spending 1000's - at the same time I want to do what is best for the industry. How do we balance this?

For me - I have adjusted my prices as I go on. I make sure that I am happy to be shooting for what I am making....That my be different for everyone. It is a fun hobby for me to do with my daughter and yet it takes a lot of time and money.

The following is taken from: Marmalade Photography - She has a great info section that explains custom photography.

Please click HERE To see the entire article in it's entirety - although I have copied most of it. It's just too good to write myself!

For clients - If you don't understand the pricing, please read - for Photographers - you should read - it's VERY ENCOURAGING and motivating.




If you want to keep reading...which I hope you will ...here ya go :) remember this is from: Marmalade Photography - she is a photographer based in Chicago.


Why Does Custom Photography Cost More?
The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and ability to control various factors during the image taking and making process. However, with flexibility comes a price. Digital camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in its' lifespan (cameras don't last forever), the need for additional resources for processing those images (software, cards, backups, hard drives), the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into creating a work of photographic art. We all know that you can go to the local Walgreen's and pay a $1.99 for a print – as a client you may wonder why you may pay upwards of $10, $20, $40, 70, $90 for a custom photography print. Photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:
"How in the world can you charge $xx for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at x store?"
The truth of the matter is the answer to this question is multifaceted. Much of the cost of a photographic print produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time, equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business.
The cost of TIME: Approaching it from a time standpoint, let's imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love. This photographer is traveling an hour to your destination to photograph your session. Here is an example of a time break down:
booking time: 30 minutes to one hour (client contact time + paperwork)
pre-session prep time (30 mins – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks + vehicle checks)
one hour travel time TO session
15-30 minutes prep time at client's home
90 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject
one hour travel time FROM session
30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images
2-5 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images
1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering
2-3 hours time with client for ordering images
1 hour sorting through and checking order
30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery
30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped
any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues
In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 13 hours to 19 hours – dependent on the photographer's level of service. This is time dedicated only to ONE session.

When the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12-19 hours complete time for your session. For weddings - the time is far more considering weddings shoots alone can be up to 10 hours just for the wedding day.
The COSTS of Maintaining a Custom Photography Business:
Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer. Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for about $2100 there are still other costs related to photography. A good lens for portrait photography can run from $900 to $2500. A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $2500 to $8000 dependent on the photographer. Then come lab costs for specialty products. A good photographer knows their professional lab is an integral part of their success. These labs often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for the discerning client.
.... when you go to a chain studio (such as those in the mall), as a consumer, you don't have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours at your home where your child is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in their home environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for as well as the lovely captures of natural expressions. You simply get a bare bones, "SAY CHEESE" experience.
REPUTATION/EXPERTISE of the PHOTOGRAPHER: There is an old story about a ship that cost a company millions of dollars. Something went wrong in the engine room and the ship was stuck in dock. They called various "experts" who spent weeks trying to fix the issue to no avail and at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. Finally a older gentleman was called in who simply brought in his small tool bag and a hammer. He set about pinging on various parts of the vast engine with his hammer, finally settling on one area. He spent a few minutes pinging in that area, took out a few tools and fixed whatever what was wrong. After a few moments the man straightened up, looked at the captain and instructed him to "start her up." The captain disbelievingly went to get the engines started while the man sat in the engine room listening as the engine roared to life. The man tipped his hat as he exited the ship to the staff who sat dumbfounded because they had seen all the experts come on board for days with their expensive equipment only to have the ship not fixed. This man did it in a few minutes with a few pings of his hammer!
A few days passed and the man sent the shipping company a bill for $10,000. The accounting department contacted him immediately. Why all the rumors mentioned that this man had only spent "a few minutes" fixing the ship "with his hammer and a few other random tools". When questioned about why his bill was for $10,000 – did he accidentally leave an extra zero on the bill? The man confidently responded: "In fact the time was worth the $1,000. The other $9,000 was for the years of experience and the ability to discern the issue as quickly as possible for the company."
Now I'm not saying that photographers fix large ships but being in demand, being well known for quality work, having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer's part (years of practice, study, experience, etc). A photographer's expertise comes at a cost, their time learning their craft and learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a persona about their business that oozes professionalism. A great number of photographers go a very long time from the time that they purchase their first good camera to making money at the business of photography. Many photographers, when first starting out, rush in thinking that the business will be easily profitable in no time, how expensive could it be to get a camera and use it to create their dream? These photographers often undervalue what they do because they have the realization that they do not have experience or expertise but are very adept at pushing the shutter on the camera. Many times these casual "professionals" neglect to factor in the cost of business, the cost of equipment, software, back ups, etc.. When you hire a photographer of sound reputation, you are hiring an expert, one that knows that they must always reinvest in their business to create the reputation of being top notch. To create good work a photographer possesses not only sound knowledge in the technical and creative aspects of photography but also good, reliable equipment and back up equipment.
The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalelled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability. This is how reputations get built. Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.
I hope this (lengthy) article helps shed some light on WHY a custom photographer is a better choice for your family's memories. The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring who is right for your family's most precious investment.
NOW BACK TO TRACY :)

I hope this makes sense - I know it was lengthy but worth it :) Most of my profits go back into my cameras, lenses and equipment. I own many extra hard drives, 2 computers, software, actions, many flash cards. I have an online back up program that backs ALL your photos in case of fires etc. I will personally hold your photos for at least a year. When I come home from a shoot, I load everything and I immediately initiate my back up. I do not erase my flash cards until the files are backed up ONLINE.

Any questions please ask.



4 comments:

Indica Photography November 11, 2010 at 10:13 AM  

You mentioned my sister!! You are too cool! I love that article, it's just perfect.

Tracy November 11, 2010 at 10:16 AM  

Your sister is awesome!! Hopefully I can meet you both in person someday!

LaurenCarlsonPhotography November 13, 2010 at 10:39 PM  

Thank you SO much for posting this! I had one seniors mother complain too me for 90 minutes because of my pricing, which in all honesty, wasnt even that bad for all the work I put into her sons photoshoot, I tried explaining all of this too her, but she just didnt understand, Im horrible at explaining, I wish I could have shown her this then! This is a great way to describe the work and the reasonings behind the pricing, thank you so much again for finding and sharing this!! :)

Dodson Family November 15, 2010 at 10:55 PM  

you are welcome Lauren - people just don't realize what it takes. i try to be super clear about my pricing up front.

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