Why Professional Photographers Charge So Much!

Why Professional Photographers Charge So Much!

Have you ever wondered why professional photographers charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single session?  If so, I can help answer that!

First, let’s make sure you understand what I mean by a “professional photographer”.


Professionalism is key here. Always make sure you are dealing with a legitimate business that is established, licensed, and insured.  There should always be a contract for services, and in most cases, a release too.  These items can help protect the client and the photographer.

A professional photographer will also be prepared!  They will know what shots the client wants prior to the shoot date, be lugging gear for the unexpected, know who to find if there is a problem, and will stay out of the way during a wedding.

Proactive steps like these really make a huge difference and demonstrate a certain level of professionalism.

Of course there are other factors when determining a true professional, but the above are the basics for recognizing a professional photographer.


Okay, here’s the nitty gritty.  Professional photographers can charge whatever they want, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they get to keep it all.

In my case, I have overhead.  I run a studio which includes paying rent, electricity, insurance, and maintenance – regardless if I am using the studio or not.

Even if a photographer chooses not to run a studio, there are still expenses that have to be paid.  For instance, that nice camera and assortment of lenses can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

If an assistant is needed, we pay them.  If a mini session venue is needed, we pay that too.  All of those fancy props and backdrops come out of our pockets.  Props alone can break the bank.  A nice posing pillow for newborns can cost hundreds of dollars.  A loveseat for family pictures, or that furry rug you’re standing on, can be expensive too.

Don’t forget all of the gadgets we need to make those beautiful photos too.. a good camera with several high quality lenses, backdrops, lighting, batteries, reflectors, props, triggers and so much more.

It adds up quickly, and if you are dealing with a professional, they have figured all of those expenses into their pricing already.


In addition to those expenses, there is our time.  Say you do an hour family shoot and the photographer takes 40 photos and charges you $400.  Are you thinking $400?!?! That’s way too much for an hour!

If so, take into consideration that he doesn’t hand you the photos right there and send you on your way, there is so much more work to be done after that.

Retouching and editing is the behind the scenes work.  Perfect skin, colorful skies, fixing distortion, or even just resizing photos for prints can take hours.

To continue the example above, we will say that the photographer has spent a total of 5 hours taking and editing the 40 photos.  2 hours for the shoot to include drive time, set up and break down, and the photo shoot itself, plus 3 hours of editing, retouching, and cropping later.

If he’s like me with a studio, whenever he gets paid, he has overhead to pay first.  So out of that $400 and 5 hours of work, the photographer might have $100 left to pay himself.  Do you still think $400 is too much for 5 hours of work and memories you will have for a life-time?  I hope not.

This is just an idea of why photographers charge what they do.  Not all photographers are the same.  My advice would be to do your research, figure out your needs and wants, and talk to a few photographers before choosing the right one for you!

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