I’m here to talk about something that not many photographers will tell you about in the business. It’s awkward, and it’s weird. MONEY. PRICING. EXPENSES. Those are just a few words that constantly rack my brain. Have you ever wondered why professional photography is such a big investment? I mean I admit it, my prices used to be a lot lower because I could not justify raising them. It is not until I went full time that I understood the true price of running a business, and STAYING in business. I used to throw around discounts and low numbers because I couldn’t imagine paying more than $100 for a session. For what? A few pictures with fancy edits?
I know there are many other people out there who think the same way that I used to think. Photographers, don’t stop reading. This post is for you guys too. I know how hard it is to price your worth and become comfortable with people paying you for your talents. Until you REALLY understand the true price of a photographer, you may always have this mindset. No worries, I am here to lay it all out in the open for you guys, and get real vulnerable while doing it.
When I decided to go full time, it took months to prepare. I worked another full time job at Sally’s in order to buy new gear, new EVERYTHING I completely revamped. Even though I was doing all these things to prepare myself for my new job, there was always one thing I could not get around to doing. Pricing, and the investment I expect others to pay for my work. On slow days at work I would sit in the back room writing in my notebook all my expenses I would have to take into consideration before coming up with a single number. Knowing it would be a a lot easier to just write a random number on my website and call it good, I still sat down and did the math, because I wanted my prices to be honest, and make sense. These are the things I took into consideration.
Cost per hour
Average Monthly Fees/ Expenses
How many Photos I give back $/Photo
With all these factors I did the math, plugged in numbers and created a formula, to accurately price my work. I’m sure other photographers do their pricing similarly. The number you see on a pricing guide, is not the amount a photographer pockets. Not even close. In fact, to get extra vulnerable with you, I added up my monthly average cost of living, and I pay myself twice a month in order to fit my needs. That is it.
I know there are price shoppers out there, and that is okay. Photographers understand that it is an investment, but I also know they are usually open to working with budgets, and many offer payment plans. Before you ghost another wedding photographer, I want you to know this one simple thing. Whoever you hire, is going to be super stoked. I get super excited and grateful every time someone says, “Hey Jessa, we would LOVE to book with you!” I get excited because I get to meet new people/ friends and be a big part of a huge milestone in a couples life, I truly LOVE the people who book with me. I always have the biggest smile on my face when editing wedding pictures because I can physically feel the joy radiating from the images. I say grateful because it allows me to do more of what I am passionate about everyday. You’re booking allows me to pay my bills, upgrade my gear, and improve my business. Most of all it allows me to live. Think of it this way, every photographer you ghost, is a broken heart. Even if you don’t wish to book after receiving the pricing guide, a polite, “ thank you, we will get back to you!” is very much appreciated. The Photographer took the time to reply to you with a heartfelt message, and send you their pricing guide. There is a real person on the other side of the email waiting for a reply, and when you don’t they sit in anguish for at least a year wondering what they did wrong!
Being a photographer is just as expensive as you would think, and its 10x harder than what you think. There are countless sleepless nights, and hard worked days just to serve you. In this business photographers wear many hats. When I went full time, suddenly I became a blogger (LOL), social media marketer, business owner, accountant, and a website designer. Those are just a few of my roles through out my work day. I only spend about 15% my job doing what I actually came here to do, photograph beautiful people and places.
Next time you hop on a photographers website and wonder what gives us the audacity to charge so much for our work, I hope you remember this blog post. We aren’t just greedy people with cameras pocketing every penny. Photographers are real people, trying to pay their bills just like you.