Photography services can seem expensive. However often it is a lack of information on what determines a photographer rate:
-Investing in equipment: professional DSLR(s), professional lenses, flashes, tripods, softboxes, studio background, filters, memory cards and batteries, powerful computer able to manage large files, professional screen, calibrating tool, softwares, memory disks, and a number of other things... It's a real financial investment which is amortized on the long term ; however it will need to be renewed once in a while. It's difficult to compromise on equipment; quality has a cost. Consumer gear can deliver pretty photos but will never be able to deliver the quality you'll get from professional equipment.
-Time spent photographing and post processing images: a wedding day can take for instance 10 hours on the day (excl. evening). However, we need to add to this all the time spent downloading... sorting... post processing... formatting... every single photo. Post processing is a crucial stage if you want to get good quality photographs that you and your photographer will be proud of. A wedding can involve a full week post processing. A single portrait can also require hours of work (for instance a 'beauty' shot for which every pore of skin is worked on in a great level of detail). Your photographer can end up spending 10 times longer on his computer screen than photographing.
-Time spent conceptualizing and preparing the project, travel time to meet you or for the shooting.
-Overhead costs: telecommunication, website hosting, marketing, subscriptions, various supplies, shipment cost, car, insurances, etc.
-Travelling cost (trip, accommodation, meal).
-Cost for prints or photo album.
-Cost for a studio space for the photographer who has one.
Photography has a cost and this is connected to running a professional business, good equipment and quality work. Photography requires time and dedication at every stage; as well as investment. Aligning on non legal rates would thus kill your photographer activity.
For instance, in France, a wedding costs in average 1000 Euro taxes included (average which does not consider your photographer experience and popularity, nor services which are included or excluded in this rate). If we deduct let's say 60% taxes connected to running a business, and if we assume 45-50 hours work a wedding can involve in total, this leaves 8 Euro per hour, from which we then need to deduct all the above mentioned costs and investment that your photographer needs to cover. There isn't that much left for salary and living.
If we estimate the following time for a few portraits: 30 min discussing and preparing the project + 20-30 min preparing the equipment + 15-30 min travelling + 30 min-1h shooting + 20 min downloading and selecting photos + 1-2h post processing/retouching + 10 min files formating + 15 min to upload and send + 15 min to deliver the paper photographs = 4-6h of work for a few portraits only.
It's not about making money on clients. Photography is a passion and requires a lot of dedication and investment from your photographer. One needs to take into account all these costs to be able to supply and satisfy you with good quality photographs.
Author : Rev'elle Photo, Lyon based photographer (France), http://www.revellephoto.fr