Before going with a “cheap” photographer take a minute to read this!
I see it all the time, people are in search of a cheap photographer.
Now, I’ll be the first to say I’m cheap. In terms of how I spend my money. I’m always looking for the best deal when it comes to spending money. Did you ever hear the term, “You get what you pay for?” how about the one “Buy cheap, buy twice”? Before I started my own business, I never understood why a photographer charges so much money.
It’s taken me a few years to really understand it fully. Not why a photographer charges so much. Why it’s hard for any small business to remain in business. It’s extremely difficult to build profitable business, AND pay a living wage. Most small business owners I know work job to job, just chipping away at the money they spent in trying to get their business off the ground! While I have a good grip on my finances, I still try to be relatively inexpensive and provide a quality service to my clients. It hurts me to see so many cheap photographers out there offering their services for so much less than they are worth.
How much actually goes into running a business? Why should someone spend anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars on services when you can get someone to do it cheaper. This is close to my heart. I work hard for my business. I want my friends and clients to understand the amount of work that is put in. It is important that people to know what they are getting when they work with me. So I would just like to explain the difference between a legitimate photographer and a cheap one.
The “I take good pictures and I can make a little money on the side photographer” AKA The “Cheap” photographer
About Them: This person takes some good photos and figures they can pay for their camera by charging to take photos for friends. They’ve got a decent camera and the idea of making some money is really enticing. They don’t need to charge a lot since all they want is some extra cash.
Why they are great for you: Well hello, cheap photos! Photographers in this stage of their business are either charging cheaply to build up their portfolio or it’s a way to earn extra pocket money.
Why this may not be great for you: Photographers that fall into this category typically don’t know what they don’t know. The money appeal is greater than actually being educated about their endeavor. It’s unlikely do not have a business license, and are not paying taxes, insurance, etc. You may even end up paying for photos that, well…aren’t very good. Their editing style is inconsistent. Or worse – over edited! They haven’t invested the time it takes in learning how to get the shot right in camera.
Why this may not be great for them: New photographers will end up spending so much time trying to learn how to run a business as they go, make mistakes along the way. When you consider all the time put into one single client, they’re losing money on sessions with all of the expenses they should be paying out. They are NOT earning a paycheck. This photographers business model will have them out of business (and potentially thousands of dollars in the hole) within 2 years.
I’m going to shoot straight with you here. Please do not use a service that cannot provide a business license or Tax ID number. There are affordable legitimate business owners out there. People operating their business without the proper licenses are operating illegally. You pay your taxes, they should pay theirs too. Licensed professionals are supporting YOUR community with what they pay in taxes. That money goes to pay for first responders as well as funds public schools and parks. The more the unlicensed traders are supported, the less money that goes back into our community.
The “Professional” photographer:
About them: A professional photographer is one that charges in line with what it costs to run a business. Not just any business, THEIR business. They have done the math and knows the cost of running their company down to the penny. How much it costs to provide clients with prints, the packaging of prints, and shipping costs. Contracts are drawn up by lawyers to protect both their business and clients. The business is licensed in the city and state to operate as well as pays both federal and state taxes. Professionals in any industry continuously train and hone their craft. Some hire out website design and maintenance. There pay membership dues to professional organizations, own professional equipment, insurance, professional editing software, the list goes on and on. After all of the overhead it costs to run a business, they still need to earn a living wage.
Why they are good for you: These people ARE professional. You are provided with a premium service as well as premium products. Your photographer has done extensive research on quality of the professional print labs available. (They won’t be getting your prints from Walgreens, or Costco. I’ll save that post for another day.) Professionals have had an extensive amount of training and have a consistent style across all their photos. They are skilled at editing. More importantly, they know what shots they want and how to get them right in the camera.
Why they may not be good for you: They aren’t going to offer $50 mini-sessions. If they do mini-sessions, it’s once a year and going to cost at least 150-200. That’s an industry standard for the LOW end. That’s because this is what it actually costs if not more to run a mini session. Many state run parks or privately owned places charge fees for permits. For example, Norfolk Botanical Gardens charges $150 for two hours. Just to use the gardens for a session. Design and set up and the props costs money. Not to mention time spent marketing, and communicating with clients, as well as their time and expertise. They want to provide you with a quality experience. They want you to get your moneys worth. In order to do so they need to charge appropriately.
Don’t ruin the memory of your special day by not knowing the value of your photographer. Do your research. Know their experience. Get what you pay for.
Meredith Hodge Photography, LLC. is an outdoor photography business fully licensed to operate and do business in the State of Virginia. Currently based in Chesapeake, we serve the Hampton Roads Area to include Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Suffolk and of course – Chesapeake! Please inquire about booking a session by clicking here
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