“I can’t afford that.”
When I tell people my rates for photography I sometimes hear something along the lines of “I can’t afford that.” Now I don’t disagree that you can’t afford my services. In fact if you can’t afford my services that simply means you are not the right person to be my customer and I’m not the right person to provide your photography.
Yet I’m sure you still wonder why I cost so much money. You do. You know you do. How do I justify such a price?
Your perception is thus: “Why should I pay that much money for someone who is doing nothing but pushing a button on the camera?” What you need to understand is that there is a bit more to this than pushing a button on a camera.
Here is what you are paying for:
1. Twenty years of photography experience.
2. The time I’ve spent researching, testing, experimenting, reading and learning about photography and the related skills.
3. The equipment I have now and will have in the future.
4. The time I spend preparing for your shoot, packing up after your shoot, packing up to go to your shoot, and the time spent post processing your images.
5. Taxes. Yes taxes. I pay 30% of my income in taxes. And you have to pay for the time I spend doing the tax related paperwork. Don’t like that part? Remember that when you vote.
6. My creative input and direction before, during and after the shoot.
7. The time I spend planning for your shoot.
8. The time I spend finding a location if you don’t already have one lined up.
9. The time I spend arranging access to the location.
10. The time I spend travelling to and from the location. Gas cost. Automobile cost.
11. The time I spend responding to your phone calls and emails. Do you take work related phone calls and email on your time?
12. The time and supplies that go into all the other things I must do to support a photography business.
13. The time I spend giving your project individual attention. An advantage over an individual photographer over the Sears portrait studio is that you will receive individualized service and attention. As with any customize product or service this is going to cost more than a mass-produced one-size-fits-all product or service.
I’m serious here. I, and any other “real” photographer, are not interesting in doing all of this for free. Our time is worth money. Just like yours. Our skill has value. Just like yours. Unless you are a charity – a real legitimate charity – I might be willing to do all this for you for free. Otherwise you need to expect to pay for what you receive.
The other side of this equation is that you as the customer should receive what you pay for – but only if you pay for it. When you get photography for free, or any other service or product for free, you give up your right to complain. No. I’m serious. A customer who pays me full price has every right to critique my performance. Someone getting it for free gives up the privilege to complain. Don’t like it? Too bad. If I’m working for free you get what I give you and nothing more.
Consider this when you are choosing the services of a photographer and choose wisely. Maybe you can’t afford a professional, but can you afford to not afford a professional?
This is part 2 in a series about selecting a photographer. More to come. You can find all the posts by going to the categories tab above and clicking on “selecting a photographer”.
Can I get a “hell yeah”?! Every freelancer should read this as a reminder of why we charge what we do (or why we should charge more) – expertise is an expense. Word.