Being transparent about how much it costs to run my photography business
Price breakdown of a Newborn Photoshoot
There are many people who wonder why photographers charge so much for their services. There are also many photographers who wonder why other photographers charge so little for their services! In answer to those people I have decided to be transparent about why I charge what I charge.
I am not the cheapest, nor am I the most expensive by far. I think I charge a fair amount, mainly just to cover my expenses, because at the moment I also work full time at a University and book sessions either for over the weekend or I take leave in order to take photos!!! I have a small office space in my home (in the spare bedroom), from where I run GoFoto Lifestyle Newborn Photography and I shoot mostly in the home of a newborn and so avoid studio costs. I run my own website and do all my own editing and marketing – again this keeps the costs down.
I have heard that the photographers who charge much more for their packages than I do, criticise photographers like myself for charging too little. They say that this implies that those photographers who charge reasonable prices cannot be good at what they do!!
To put you fully in the picture, let me break down as to how I decided on my package prices so you can see what I make out of each session:
Business expenses – R300/hour
This covers items such as equipment, insurance, equipment repairs & upgrades, software like Photoshop, time spent processing the images, and cell phone charges, car maintenance, prints and wall art and my expertise in photography.
Transport expenses – R300/100km within a 50km radius
Now if I further break that down per lifestyle photo session using my 3 main packages as examples, you will be able to see how much I should be charging against what I actually do charge:
Packages which I offer:
For package #1: Client pays R950 for 50 high resolution images plus 50 low res, web-sized, ready to share PLUS an A3 size ready to hang canvas
If everything goes smoothly at a session, the session will last about 1hour – sometimes 1.5hours @ R300/hour for business expenses = R450
50 photographs take me roughly 6 hours to edit and process @ R300/hour = R1800
Transport- say 20km there and back = 40km therefore, R120
This is what I should be charging: R2370
For package #2:Client pays R650 for 30 high resolution images plus 30 low res, web-sized, ready to share PLUS an A3 print
If I only have a 1 hour session my costs are R300 for the 1hr shoot, R1500 for about 5 hours processing and transport R120.
This is what I should be charging: R1920
For package #3:Client pays R550 for 20 high resolution images plus 20 low res, web-sized, ready to share PLUS an A4 print
If I only have a 1 hour session my costs are R300 for the 1hr shoot, R600 for about 2 hours processing and transport R120.
This is what I should be charging: R1020
I hope that from the above, you can see that I am actually losing money. Because my photography is not my sole source of income, this is fine for this year and I take great pleasure in being able to offer my services for these reasonable prices so that those who are not so flush with cash can take advantage of it until the end of the year. However, there are minimums to remain profitable. And I know that from next year, when I no longer work at the university with a monthly salary coming in, I am going to have to raise my prices in order to break even at the very least. But at the moment I am content and am determined not to be greedy!
I realise that as from next year, when photography is going to be my sole source of income as I will no longer be at the University, my prices will have to go up as it means that I will have to earn enough to cover the costs of maintaining my equipment (camera and lenses and insurance against theft), as well as the expense of upgrading my computer and software, marketing, website, the cost of my smart phone to keep in contact with you, the client and my expertise as a professional photographer. But I am determined to work out those costs fairly and not charge an arm and a leg!! My aim is to alter the structure of my price list in order to give the client variety that they can choose from so that they can get exactly what they want and what they can afford whether it is digitals, prints, wrap around canvas wall art etc, without being tied in to a package deal.
If you still think I’m too expensive, then that’s okay. There are plenty of hobbyists that would be happy to work with you at a lower rate or even for nothing. But if you love my work and enjoy me personally (which is a big goal of mine with clients) then save a little extra and get what you want – after all, your baby is only a newborn for the first month and you want images that will last forever!
A last bit of advice to those thinking of having a newborn photoshoot – first of all you should choose whether you want a “lifestyle” type of shoot which reflects the wonder of having a baby in your home or a “posed” type of shoot where the baby is posed in different positions, usually done in the photographer’s studio and with props. Then choose your photographer carefully – look at their work, (mine included!), which should be on their website, and go with the image style of the photographer and the photographer’s personality that suits you and your family!!
Yours in newborn photography