Are Professional Photographers Too Expensive?

Are Professional Photographers with professional equipment, editing time and equipment, training, subscriptions and studios too expensive? It really depends on two thing; Your reference point, and your understanding of business and value. Let me explain.

If you compare the cost of a professional photographer to someone who does photography as their side hustle or doesn't understand their cost of doing business or value their time and charges $50 and gives you all digitals, then yes you could perceive this as expensive. It's like comparing a drive through hamburger at McDonalds, to going to Whalburgers for a big juicy burger and experience that you tell your friends about. Both provide a basic need of putting food in your belly, but are they the same? No.

And when you think about it, it makes sense. I could say it's the "you get what you pay for" saying. That really wouldn't be true, because I see great photographers producing great pictures out there working so hard and really not understanding the business side of photography. If they added up their time with you, their mileage and gas, time editing and depreciation on their equipment, replacement SD cards, getting equipment cleaned and calibrated, they would be better of working a minimum paying job. If you are lucky enough to find one of those photographers that give you all the digital images for $50, $75, or $100 then you my friend have gotten a great value for your dollar on the images. 80% of those photographers are out of business within a year. The other 20% normally realize they are working for free and on the edge of burnout, raise their prices. Your printing however will probably not be the quality of a professional lab, where the photographers color calibrate to their screen and the lab. I've seen everything from cut off legs, a yellow shirt that is orange, etc. That's another blog for another day. I digress.

Back to what spurred this post. I had to renew my passport and being in a hurry since I only noticed it was expiring a few days before, went to Walgreens to have them take my picture, print and get it mailed in. They grabbed a little point and shoot camera, uploaded, and printed out two pictures, charged me $16 and sent me on my way. 5 minutes from getting out of my car, getting the pictures, to getting back into the car. Looking at the two pictures they were both two different colors, did not have the flat white background like in their example above, and were horrible quality. If I take $16 at 5 minutes per hour and do the math, that is $192 per hour. Their cost at $12/hour wage is $1 for the person doing the work, approximately .03 cents for the paper, and lets say .10 for depreciation on equipment, building expenses, etc. Yet, if a professional photographer asked for $192 an hour for one little 2" square picture, some people scream they are getting ripped off.

Can I be the McDonald's for everyone? No, I am sorry I cannot. Do I understand that sometimes we have to go to McDonalds like when we are trying to raise a family, aren't making great money and just scraping by? You bet I do, I've been there. But, I valued photography from a young age, the art and craft of knowing how to expose the picture, a picture that will stand the test of time, with a quality product and I would save my money until I could pay to go to a professional photographer and studio to capture the real us and enjoy the Whalburger experience. I rent out my studio and allow anyone with a camera to come in and take their own pictures for those times when you can't afford a professional photographer. It's called Mad Props Studio. Check it out. But, if I can ever provide my services to you, I would love to give you the Wahlburger experience.