Photography is a small community. There are few that make it to “rockstar” status but for the most part, most of us are small business owners. Most of us grew up loving photography and started to charge when others fell in love with our work. But a lot today have started it thinking it’s an easy way to make money. They soon fizzle out when they learn that $50 DVD with 200 photos and complete copyright release is making them no money at all.

I don’t want to be a jerk when I say this but I feel like lately in the emails I am getting and that other photographers are getting (yes we do talk to each other) I have to defend myself and why I charge the amount that I charge. I charge what I charge based on my experience in photography, what it costs me to do photography and the size of my family that I have to support. I can choose any other job that I want to. And I have in the past. I only started charging in photography because it took time away from my family.

Here I might lose you with my impatience..Please, don’t insult me by trying to low ball me. Please don’t insult me by telling me the cost of paper to print your photographs on. Please don’t insult me by asking me to discount further and do not call me unpatriotic because I won’t give you a free session when your husband is not deployed and not deploying anytime soon. If you read my site past my rates, you will see I gave 12 years of service. Lastly, please don’t insult the art of photography.

Photoshop does not make a photographer. Knowing our camera does. Having a Canon MKIII or Nikon D800 does not make you a photographer. Does having a corvette make you a race car driver? Does having Paula Deen cookware make you a better cook? Because I have it and I am far from a good cook!  Actions do not make you a photographer. Stop looking at all of these people selling actions and thinking that buying them will improve your photography. It won’t. It starts in the camera first. Anything that I do in photoshop I can achieve with film. Pic Monkey, Instagram and whatever else like it does not make you a photographer. People’s skin is not orange, the grass and trees are not neon green and no, I do not believe for a millisecond her eyes are that blue.

Quality photography is an investment. Most of us that charge at least $200 know this. Most of us charge what we would invest in photography. We also know that more photo sessions doesn’t necessarily mean we make more money. There are many expenses that if you are a legit business go into every session. That cute hat your baby is wearing? We bought that brand new because we want your baby to be the first and only to wear it in a session. That super cool location with the no trespassing signs? I paid the owner a fee to shoot there. Your awesome boudoir session with hair and make up included? Yes, half of my session fee went to both of them for their time, talent and their products.  These are just a few of the immediate expenses that go into each session.

There are long term expenses like insurance to cover equipment and if anything were to happen to anyone on a session. The cost of rental lenses if I need to rent a lens that I do not currently own for a session, the cost of buying a new lens (I currently only own 1 as 3 of them were stolen from me) or camera, the cost of software ( I use photoshop but most use PS and lightroom), the cost of calibration software so we don’t have those neon green trees I mentioned above and the cost of a computer or laptop to process your images on. If you still shoot film there are other costs associated but it doesn’t make it any cheaper. And hiring a student photographer isn’t any cheaper because they have all the same costs as a working professional do. We know. We were all student photographers at one time as well.

I know that this all came off super unprofessional of me. But believe me that all of these items are what we discuss behind the scenes. I’m sure that you have similar discussions in your profession. We want to photograph you. We LOVE it or we wouldn’t do it. We would just go get a “real job” and leave it up to the $50 and a disc photographer if we didn’t. Most of us don’t want more money, we want to be behind our lens more. Most of us hate the business side of it and want to focus on the photography side more but it’s not reality. 

I won’t apologize for writing any of this. Those of you who know me personally know that I stand behind every word that I utter or write. Those of you who know me through me photographing you know how much I love photography and how much I appreciate you letting me be your photographer. And thank you to those that still respect photography as an art and photographers as artists. If it weren’t for you I would have to buy a bigger house to have more wall space for the photos I of my children.

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