Why do photographers prices vary so much?
It’s an important question that we began to answer last week with our second, of a two-part blog, on our answers to this very question. In part one we talked about the four different styles of photographers and the purpose of each one…
- The department store who keeps the studio at the back to make you walk through all of their products and other goodies first
- the portfolio builder and/or weekend warrior who is building their own images or wanting to make a bit extra on the side
- the experienced pro-photogapher who is successfully running a portrait studio and creating images people admire and in terms of set up, lighting techniques, post production work etc.
- The Boutique studio that work with you to create a stunning build of work which suits your home and personality
However we’re aware we still need to answer the second part of this important question: why does a photographers product prices vary? Can we suggest you make another cup of tea, possibly enjoy a biscuit and sit down for another ten minutes?!
In part one we looked at the cost of a 50 image portfolio (here’s the refresher incase you missed it)
Let’s break this price down a minute: let’s say five images receive a “full edit” per hour… For fifty images that is ten hours work. Then don’t forget to add on the hour in the studio. Eleven hours work. Then add on the time they’ve spent making your booking whether it be marketing an offer to you, spending time with you on the phone booking you in or an in-person consultation. Twelve hours work. On the current minimum wage of £7.60 per hour, those overheads come in at £80.40. Now add in the costs of insurance (buildings, contents and liability), a rented building, bills (water, gas, electric), studio essentials such as camera, lenses, props and lighting… we could go on (marketing, education, tax, petrol if not based in a studio, for example). Does £100 with all images on a disc sound like something you could live on?
For us, we have two buildings each (one in Derby city centre and one at Curborough Countryside Centre in Lichfield) with their own contents and cameras and, of course, both come with separate bills… We also have thirteen members of staff including contracted full timers, freelance Photographers and freelance Stylists. We invest in education and training and are constantly on the lookout for new backdrops, lighting and styles to ensure that we’re delivering modern imagery for our clients.
A Firefly client will receive around 8-12 hours of our time even though their shoot experience will last around 2-3 hours… Here’s the break down:
- Around an hour of admin time including booking in, mail outs, consultations and in-person meetings including collections
- Between 60 – 90 minutes in hair & makeup with a member of our professional Stylist team, if booked in for a makeover based experience
- Around 60 – 90 minutes in the studio with a member of our professional Photography team (sometimes more if a maternity or newborn shoot)
- Around 60 minutes in the viewing room with a member of our creative team
- Around 30 minutes having your imagery exported over to our editing team
- Depending on the number of images purchased, around 1 – 4 hours in post production including the editing of images, resizing for products, sending off to suppliers and QA check once back in the studios
- Once the images have been collected, the purchased images will then be stored in our archive folders and then backed up to an off-site backup drive to ensure that the photographs are safe… Depending on the number of images this can take up to an hour
Now let’s take in the cost of equipment… Obviously we have insurance for everything we have as our OMD’s and their lenses come in at quite a hefty bill! along However, we think, the quality created using this equipment, makes it worth it… Along with lighting & props which we are forever evolving and changing through our in-house development sessions and, as mentioned earlier, the education we invest in annually for all of our experiences and our staff.
Theoretically, every printer is legally obliged to ask if you have licence to reproduce artwork and this includes photographs. We know that, sadly, not every printer does. What some don’t realise is that if you ask to purchase digitals you are asking your photographer for their most valuable item – why? Because by supplying the digital imagery the photographer is giving you the power to print as much of their work as you wish for as many people as you like (family, friends, gifts, etc.) and, therefore, cutting any future income for themselves. In the “old days” (so we’re told!) the photographer would hold on to the negative created and you ordered your large wall portraits, small desk prints, wallets… Obviously digital has made it so much easier to store photographs (although we do plead with you to make sure you print at least one copy of your images incase technology stops accepting USBs… Just like they stopped accepting floppy discs but that’s a blog for another day!).
So, the simple answer to why Firefly products start at £75 is because that it is the cheapest we can offer… Why do photographers prices vary? Because some use it as an incentive to sell you other things, other use it to make a quick buck on the weekend and others use as their income to support their families, homes and staff… To quote another photographer “you’re paying for so much more than ink on paper”.