Why is it that photography is one of the few businesses that people question why you charge what you
I went to the dentist a couple of months ago for a regular cleaning and he informed me that I needed a crown put on one of my back molars. Let's be honest here, the first thing I thought of was how much $$$ is this going to cost me and the second was, how bad is this gonna hurt? Keep in mind that I have had the same dentist for over 30 years and he has never "hurt" me too bad, other than that awful numbing shot that they have to put in to get started. God forbid he ever retires because I don't think I would be able to handle having to find someone new.
Well I was in the chair for 45 minutes for the first appointment to get fitted for my crown and then about 30 minutes a few weeks later to have it put on. A little bit later the bill comes in the mail and I thought to myself holy crap that was not cheap! Although I do I have to add, I never ONCE thought while looking over the bill for those two appointments that my dentist just made $600 an hour off of me! Why the hell is he charging so much!??
So my studio partner, Kara and I were having lunch one day and we got on the subject of "Why is it that photography is one of the few businesses that people question your prices?" Why do people try to "negotiate" our prices with us? They tell us that so and so photographer will do it for this much cheaper and can you match it? It has never crossed my mine to go to my dentist and say "Hey Dr. Joe, I have a friend that just got a crown and she only paid $900 instead of $1200 like you charged me, can we talk about that?" Um no! You know why? Because he charges what he charges for a reason!
I don't walk into my salon and say "Hey Kim, I see they have hair color in a box for like $6 at Wally World so I think we need to talk about what you charge me to do my hair" because I know that she PAID for her schooling. She PAYS for her Salon. She PAYS for her supplies, equipment and whatever else it takes to run a beauty salon! I want my hair to look nice because I want QUALITY. You don't get quality from a box of stinky dye at your local drug store. You get cheap and convenient and sometimes green hair lol. Go see Kim if you want your hair done right! Kim Britain at Salon INK in Omaha.
Sure you can always price shop for cheaper dental care if you don't like the prices of your current dentist, but I for one am not willing to give up the quality that I receive from my amazing dentist. I have been going to him since I was 16. He knows his stuff and he keeps up on everything current and new happening in the dental world. He tells me how it is, tells me when something can wait and when something can't and he has a bedside manner that can't be beat.
So to get to my point. I think I have finally figured out why photography is one of the few industries that people don't understand why true photographers charge what they do. It's because they have been influenced by how easy and cheap it is to BECOME a "fauxtographer" nowadays that they don't truly understand how EXPENSIVE it is to be a REAL photographer. We live in the age of the Groupon, buy/sell/trade groups and bargain hunters. Constantly someone new is popping up that just bought a camera for $400 at Best Buy, started a Facebook page and started charging $60 for a session. Quality has taken a backseat to quantity. You get 100 photos on a disc with Sally Jo for only $60! What the hell?? Why is Christine charging hundreds of dollars for a session!?? I get it. We all have to start somewhere but the cost of entry level dslr cameras dropping so drastically in recent years, it has cheapened our industry.
Another reason is... Sally Jo is not so good. She can't be. She bought a camera and has NO IDEA how to use it. She shoots in auto and gets lucky with her pictures coming out in the beginning because the camera does a pretty good job of guessing what it needs to do to make a good picture. Until the time it doesn't. You can only get away with not knowing photography for so long until you screw up a family session or a wedding (Unfortunately there are new photographers that do weddings with no clue of what they are doing and I cringe every time I see a post from a bride that trusted them to capture her day in pictures and they get handed a mess full of out of focus, over exposed images and it's just too bad because the day is over. No do overs. Done.) More about this in a previous blog post of mine. :-)
People post on Facebook that they are looking for a cheap photographer and they get over 100 responses. You see someone say, "Hey I just started my new "business" and would love to help you out! I charge $25 for a 9 hour session and 30,000 pictures on a CD!" Yes, I am exaggerating a bit but not by much ha ha! I have looked at the portfolios of some of the responses and let's just say. Don't quit your day job.
Also, Sally Jo has not yet invested her time and money into truly learning photography. If she sticks with it, she will soon realize that you are doing way too much work for that $60. She is spending hours and hours away from her family while editing. That one hour session is going to cost you 6-10 hours of work on your computer. Then she will realize that she simply cannot get by for very long with only having that cheaper camera that sucks in low light. She will realize that there is so much to learn about photography and how to consistently create beautiful images. That hard drives, memory cards, software, calibration equipment, website fees, gallery fees, taxes, business license and so many more things she is going to need to be successful are NOT cheap.
Sally Jo will have to make a decision. Is it worth it to her to continue and invest the time and money she needs to get better so that she can charge more? Or is she going to quit and realize that it wasn't as easy as she thought? Most new photographers quit in the first year once they are awakened to how being a small business photographer really works. The time and money that it costs to get better and the expenses that you have to pay monthly before you begin to make a profit. It's eye opening for sure.
Guess what bargain shopping client? We professional photographers charge what we charge for a reason. We have expenses. Lots of expenses. I have a beautiful studio in Omaha, Ne that is filled with props, accessories and lighting equipment that I had to pay for. I have rent, utilities, insurance, camera costs and the list goes on and on. I pay for all those things I mentioned above and much more so that I can continuously improve my skills and ability to create consistently beautiful images for my clients.
You get what you pay for. I am not saying you are always guaranteed to get good images from an expensive photographer, because let's be real, people can suck at any price point, but your chances will be better for sure. Always do your research and check their portfolios. Cheap is not good and good is not cheap.