Have you ever wondered how your photographer comes up with their session fee? Or what exactly they mean when they explain that their session fee is for the “time and talent of the photographer”?
In some of my upcoming blog posts I hope to explain a little more of the pricing and the behind the scenes of a photo shoot. If you are a client, I hope this will help you better understand the work that is involved on the back end of your sessions, how prices are established, and feel better about where your money is going, and if you’re a photographer who is struggling with pricing, hopefully these posts can help you when determining how much you should charge.
As background, I want to touch on the issue of charging for talent before I cover how I determine my prices and what all goes on behind the scenes of an individual photo shoot.
We all understand the concept of paying someone for their time, but what about paying someone for their talent? I don’t know about you, but it’s always bothered me a little when I see the bit about talent on a photographer’s pricing page. I think the main reason that it bothers me is that it is not very clear to clients what that means and where their money is going. Also, let’s be honest, who cares if you say you have a talent or even if others say that you do. I believe that everyone has a talent whether they’ve discovered it or not, but we’re not just going around throwing money at people because they or someone else says they have a talent.
So what do we mean when we say we are charging for talent? Basically three things.
First of all is our previous investment of time and money. As an artist, we’ve hopefully put a lot of hours into learning and practicing and perfecting our craft, and if we’re serious about what we’re doing than hopefully those are things we never stop doing. But we’ve not only invested our time, we’ve also invested our finances into purchasing or renting the needed equipment and investing in our education.
As an example, I am also a classically trained pianist. I’ve spent 18 years in lessons. Countless of hours practicing. My parents and myself have spent thousands of dollars on lessons, music, competitions and a college degree. If I were to teach, my lesson fee would not just be based on the thirty minutes or an hour that a student spends with me in lessons once a week. It would also be based on all those years of practice and preparation and the money I’d put into my craft up to that point and also on my continuing to invest time and money into being the best teacher I could be for my students.
Secondly, and somewhat going alongside the first reason, is our experience. When you apply for a job, companies always want to know how much experience you’ve had and some jobs even require that you have a certain amount of experience before you can apply. Part of your compensation is based on how much experience you bring to the table. The same holds true in the photography industry, the more years of experience we’ve had, the more knowledge we will have gained and the better our clients’ experience, service, and product will be with us. The more experience we have, the more value we will bringing to our clients.
And thirdly, is our current time and cost of doing business. I will go into these in more detail in upcoming blog posts. Basically, though, we are charging for the hours we put into the session before and after and not just for the session itself and also for what it costs us to run a business and make a living off of it.
So should photographers charge for their talent? Technically, no. We are charging for the time and money we have and are putting into perfecting our craft or "talent".
So for all of us photogs out there, let's respect our clients and their hard-earned money by better explaining the costs of their session fee. After all, I think we all desire to build a business that is built on mutual trust and respect. And to all of our clients, hopefully this post has been a start to help you better understand your photographer's session fee and what they might mean when they say they are charging for talent.