Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Photography prices | How do you budget it in?

I know I am not with the majority or my feelings about prices of photography. Even before I became a photographer I knew I would pay for a professional wedding photographer, hands down. I mean, it was one of the most important days of my life and the only thing I would actually keep from my wedding day. I didn't want to look back on poorly lit, blurry pics of my day, I wanted to look at the pics and say wow, that was an amazing day and look at how beautiful everything was! The cake got eaten, the dress no longer fits, some of our friends have passed on, the center pieces are all gone, the bouquet is dead, memories fade, but my pictures keep all of those memories alive. I skimped on food and decorations and venue to pay for a photographer. Worth every penny. So, when people LOVE my work and want to hire me but think I'm too expensive and that they "cannot afford" to hire a professional, most of the time it is just not a priority for them, and that is fine, it's their money and their choice. But think... How much did you pay for your dress? The food? The shoes, manicure, pedicure, hair, make-up, flowers? Some try to make me feel bad and butter me up with compliments then say they couldn't afford to pay my prices but then they splurge on a trip across country or to an expensive amusement park, etc. Don't say you can't afford it, say it is not a priority, there is a difference.

I will explain the difference.  I am trying to keep my family from having to go on welfare and trying to keep my family fed and clothed and sheltered.  I cannot afford to hire a professional photographer, but luckily I am one.  I cannot even afford to take my family to the olive garden for dinner.  Between my husbands financial aid from school and my income from the few photography jobs I do we are just able to keep our nose above water.  I am not making quite enough to keep us from having to use our credit card at the end of the semester until the next student loan comes in.  I do not divulge this information to make anyone feel sorry for me, not at all, I only share this to show that there is a difference between not being able to afford it and not wanting to pay for it.  I would pay if I had the money, but I do not.  Some have the money but will not pay it.  Their priorities do not include professional pictures, which is fine, I don't care what you spend your money on, it's yours.  I care about what you say to me.  I care that you tell me "Oh, we just can't swing it." and then expect me to lower my prices to accommodate you.  I cannot do this.  I have in the past and it always bit me in the butt later.  A family I thought I was "helping" because they just couldn't afford my prices I find out went to an expensive amusement park and spent a good chunk of what I would have charged them.  I am ignoring my children to take and edit your pictures and for only a few bucks. It's not worth it to me.  Most of that money goes to pay for gas to drive to you, a licensing fee, insurance, taxes, and equipment maintenance.  When I give a "deal" non of that money is actually going to my family.  I know people think photographers charge way too much but when you break it down most photographers do not actually make very much at all.

I will no longer be giving discounts or deals. I have to feed my family. Sorry. Don't misunderstand, I am not complaining or mad, I am just trying to differentiate between really not being able to afford a professional photographer and not wanting to pay for one.

If you feel strongly, like I do about having professional photographs to help keep the memories alive but $500 is just a lot all at once for family photos, then budget it in.  Every month set aside $42 for a year.  That's it.  $42 a month for professional pictures.  Now, each photographer is different and some may charge more, but I think most who are not in dire straights can set aside $42 a month.  For wedding photography, if you have a year to plan and budget you can set aside about $250 a month for a decent photographer.  You'll have to set aside more for a better one, but you get the idea.  Don't look at professional photography as a big expense all at once, look at it as an investment and budget it in over the course of a year or whatever you decide works best for you. Personally, if you think you may get married or want family photos some day start saving now.  Then it won't be such a blow to your wallet all at once. You are welcome to never hire a professional, it's your money.  You either want it or you do not.  If you want it you'll pay for it if you won't pay for it, you don't want it.  So if you want it but don't make $500 a month in fun money, then set aside what you can each month until you have the amount you need.  You may still be able to afford that vacation if you budget for that too.  It's all about budgeting.
 Some day my husband will be finished with law school and he will be working too. Someday we will be able to pay off our student loans. Yes, I have a BFA and the loans to prove it.  Most of what I make goes to pay on those.  Those will be the days I will be able to budget for the splurges I want, but until then I have to work extra hard to feed our babies.  Please understand, we photographers have to work hard to make beautiful art for you and to feed our families.  Don't judge us by our prices, judge us by our work.


  1. GREAT post, Jenn. I know I'm one of the people you've been able to work out deals with, and I know I'm getting truly incredible prices from you considering the work & time you have to put in. And I've always known there will come a day when I wouldn't be able to afford you anymore...*sigh*. The hardest part is that there are certain people in my family who don't appreciate the value of your work like I do, and it's very difficult for me to convince them to allow me to budget for photos! I usually have to earn a lot of the money myself (with my writing and selling crafts) to pay for the work you do, but I want you to know that it is worth every penny to me and more. The photos I have of my family that you've taken are my most precious possessions next to my personal journals- the beauty of those photos just embody everything that I feel about my wonderful family and you bring that to life with the skills you've worked hard to master. I think it's funny that after I get the photos back, it's the "naysayers" who are gushing over them the most! And even though I may not have the opportunity to work with you as often, I'm still hoping to save up some money to employ you at least once every couple of years or so.

    You are TALENTED and you've worked HARD to get to where you are. People just have to get that you might be a luxury they can't afford. But I think you're worth it. And I truly appreciate you being kind enough and sacrificing enough of your time & money to help me get a little bit of that luxury in my not-so-luxurious life, but I completely understand your decision to start charging your worth. You deserve it. Love ya girl!!!