But all you do is click a button?? Why does it cost what it does??
So LUCKILY, I've never had anyone say this to me, but I do know some colleagues who have! And let me be the first to tell you that clicking the button, is the EASIEST part of my job.
People don't realize what goes on behind the scenes of being a photographer. I know outwards, it seems like we have the best job in the world (I mean, we do, but that's not the point!). What they don't see is the literal blood, sweat, and tears that goes into our craft.
I'm not kidding about the blood by the way; I've legit fallen into a cactus during a shoot!
From start to finish, I aim to provide a great experience for you, no matter if it's a small project like a Cake Smash or a 200+ person wedding; the same amount of planning and work goes into it.
We begin with hours of preparation and planning; this includes the emails and other means of communication that goes back and forth between myself and my clients in order to execute their special project. We consult, we plan, we visualize.
Next, it's time for the session itself! This can be anywhere from 1 to 10 hours of shooting (depending on the project) ... and no, this isn't where I just click a button. I spend my time meticulously adjusting my settings based on the position of the sun, time of day, subject matter and placement, ect. My camera never leaves Manual mode; Auto mode will never give me the results I strive for ... I can manipulate my equipment to do exactly what I want it to do, and I must continuously review my photos as I am shooting to adjust for even 5 minutes of light change.
After we shoot, it's time for everyone's favorite ... editing (I say this sarcastically; I would love to never have to edit again ... lol)! At the least, I spend maybe 10 minutes per photo after I get a good "base" to start with. That base photo takes me about a half hour to 45 minutes to perfect. Once I have a good template, I copy and paste to the next photo where I then work for 10-15 minutes on each photo removing slight imperfections, adjusting everything from highlights to shadows, and trying to keep a consistent edit across the entire gallery. I pride myself on my ability to distribute galleries to my clients in a timely manner; I don't think anyone should have to wait for weeks on end to receive their gallery (unless of course it's a wedding ... the amount of photos to go through and edit is in the thousands). Even in my busiest season, I never hold onto an album for more than 5 days.
So already, I've dedicated hours to days of my life to any individual project (an average week for me consists of at least 5 projects). And I haven't even mentioned the additional time/resources to execute these such as travel, child care if my husband is unavailable, fees to use certain properties/venues/parks, etc.
And all of that is just per session.
So what about the "behind the scenes" expenses?
Let me put this into perspective.
I drive a 2018 fully loaded Ford Explorer.
My camera bag is worth more than my car.
Get the picture?
Between the numerous camera bodies, multiple lenses, harnesses, SD cards, batteries and chargers, speed lights, reflectors, props, fast paced computer and programs for editing and expense tracking, website fees, gallery delivery fees, lab fees to produce high-end prints and books, insurance, taxes, classes, mentorships, and all of the additional expenses it takes to own and run a small business ... you're looking at THOUSANDS of dollars a year just to function and stay afloat.
All of this and I am PROUD to say that not only do I turn a significant profit each year, but I am one of the more affordable lifestyle photographers because I run my business well. I always put my client's needs first and am flexible when it comes to payment options, schedules, etc. I am proud of the referral base I have grown and am thrilled when I get that message from someone new stating "so and so referred me and I would love to book!"
I truly believe putting people over profit will make you richer in the end, and I don't just mean financially!
As my friend Cameron likes to tease with me: "I'm Kristin Bendigo, and I'm a photographer for the people!" .... If you live in Tucson and know who Scott Lehman is, than you might get a little chuckle out of that.
Not to mention, I'm a blast to work with! ::toots horn:: But seriously; I'm fun ;)
So despite the countless hours and money that goes into my profession, would I change a thing? Absolutely not!
I spent years working in a career field I thought I loved, but it wasn't until I made the ultimate leap of faith that I realized how miserable I truly was.
Being able to wake up every morning to do what I love is a beautiful thing. I don't stress out about the work I need to do; even when it's a day dedicated just to editing, I do it with a smile on my face being able to relive the day I had with that particular person or people. I got to capture a beautiful moment in their lives and will be able to return something to them that is priceless.
So if you're on the hunt for a photographer and they give you a price quote that seems a little high to just "push a button", please remember what it takes for them to do what they do. Be nice to us; we love our careers and we love everything we do ... and we want to share this passion with you through your project!