Rock The Shot: Zoey and her leaf

I just love fall and all of it's beautiful colors! Everything about this shot just screamed fall to me! This little lady's gorgeous amber colored eyes and pretty red hair just glow in the late afternoon sun! 

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Rock the Shot
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Why custom portraits cost so much (and why they are worth every penny!!)

Why does custom photography cost so much?!

The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and ability to control various factors during the image taking and making process.  Photographers, the hobbyist, the professional, the amateur all benefit from this ability to manipulate pixels.  However, with flexibility comes a price.  Digital camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in its’ lifespan, the need for additional resources for processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into creating a work of photographic art.

We all know that you can go to the local Walgreen’s and pay a $1.99 for a print – as a client you may wonder why you may pay upwards of $50, $70, $90 for a custom photography print.   Photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:

“How in the world can you charge $60 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at x store?”

The truth of the matter is the answer to this question is multifaceted.  Much of the cost of a photographic print produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time,  equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business.

The cost of TIME

Approaching it from a time standpoint, let’s imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love.  This photographer is traveling an hour to your destination to photograph your session.  Here is an example of a time break down:

    * session prep time (30 mins – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks   vehicle checks)
    * one hour travel time TO session
    * 15-30 minutes prep time at client’s home
    * 90 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject
    * one hour travel time FROM session
    * 30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
    * 30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images
    * 2-5 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images
    * 1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering
    * 2-3 hours time with client for ordering images
    * 1 hour sorting through and checking order
    * 30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery
    * 30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped
    * any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues

In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 13 hours to 19 hours – dependent on the photographer’s level of service.  This is time dedicated only to ONE session.  When the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12-19 hours complete time for your session.

The COSTS of Maintaining a Custom Photography Business:

Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer.  Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for about $2100 there are still other costs related to photography.  A good lens for portrait photography can run from $900 to $2500.  A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $2500 to $8000 dependent on the photographer.

Then come lab costs for specialty products.  A good photographer knows the lab is integral to their success.  Photography labs dedicated to the professional photographer  often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for you, the discerning client.

Discussion other costs of running a photography business could take awhile so we’ll skip many of the intricate details.  There is of course much more: including costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will likely bring to your session, etc.


Often times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the mall/department store only charges $19.99 for an 8×10 “sheet” or they may mention other things related to discount photography chains.  The fact is those discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1 service.  In February 2007 leased photography retail space by a rather well known discount department store that started in Arkansas closed down 500 of their portrait studios across the nation?  The reason is simple, you cannot make money on 99¢ “professional” prints if you do not sell enough of them.  Interestingly enough – those same studios that offer the loss leader packages often charge much much more for their a la carte pricing (as high as $40-50 for an 8×10).  The whole reason the big department stores began offering portrait services in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer, in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in other departments.  Your “PORTRAITS” are considered the “loss leader”.

Going to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours at your home where your child is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in their home environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for or the lovely captures of natural expressions.  You simply get a bare bones, “SAY CHEESE” experience.  Keep this in mind when selecting a photographer.


Being in demand, being well known for quality work, having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer’s part.  Their expertise comes at a cost, their time learning their craft and learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a persona about their business that oozes professionalism.  A great number of photographers go a very long time from the time that they purchase their first good camera to making money at the business of photography.  Many photographers, when first starting out, rush in thinking that the business will be easily profitable in no time, how expensive could it be to get a camera and use it to create their dream?  They often neglect to factor in the cost of business, the cost of equipment, software, back ups, etc..

Being of sound reputation, a better professional photographer knows that they must always reinvest in their business to create the reputation of being top notch.  To create good work good equipment, reliable equipment, back up equipment is a necessity.  The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalelled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability.  This is how reputations get built.  Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.

I hope this (lengthy) article helps shed some light on WHY a custom photographer is a better choice for your family’s memories.  The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring who is right for your family’s most precious investment.

Article courtesy of Marianne Drenthe


Not Me Monday: Moving Rendition

"Not Me Monday" was created by MckMama, a fellow photographer and extremely talented blogger (hop on over here to see what she wasn't up to this week:http://mycharmingkids.net/2011/09/not-me-monday-66/)
 I just love the idea and had to tuck myself away for a few minutes to let you know what I haven't been up to this past week....

For starters I definitely did not first type "bloggist" instead of blogger just above only to realize "bloggist" is not exactly a word. If  I had done this I definitely did not think to myself "hmmm perhaps bloggist sounds better anyway" I am definitely not incredibly sleep deprived from moving all week and would never have thought such a silly thought. Not me.

Oh yes in case you haven't heard I've been moving all week. This move definitely isn't making me never want to move again, and it's definitely not the never ending stuff that seems to keep popping up at our old house making me feel that way. There's absolutely no way I've been thinking to myself all week that we need to downsize in a BIG way, and I definitely haven't decided that the best way to do this would be to have a garage sale in the next two weeks. I would never be so crazy as to think on top of moving and my three jobs I'm currently trying to juggle that I would have the time to organize a garage sale! Nope, not me.

Thursday evening while taking the final load (of the night) to the new house my jeep and I did not find ourselves in quite the pickle when we came across some road construction and someone had moved some cones! It definitely didn't pop both of my drivers side tires. If it had I never would have called Josh crying making him think something was really wrong. It definitely did not end up being a $500 incident once all was said and done.

I definitely haven't had trouble finding any of my kitchen supplies since the move and when I came home tonight starving I definitely did not find a packet of instant mash potatoes and a box of stuffing. If I had there is absolutely no way I would have used my one and only pan I can find to cook them. And I'm definitely not sitting here eating them right now....nope. NOT ME!

What have you not been up to this week?


Today...has been a difficult day. And I am thankful.

Today is a difficult day for me. And I am thankful.

There is a ton on my mind and a ton going on right now...

and frankly I'm overwhelmed.

I don't know what's up ahead, you know beyond that horizon, 

And it's scary. I wonder if I'm making the right choices and decisions. 

I wonder if it's supposed to feel this difficult. 

I am so thankful for all that I have but on occasion the hustle and bustle and strife and stress just get me down.

Simplifying my life is key to this happening less and less. 

So today, when it feels so difficult and I want so badly to let myself slump down in the dumps...

Instead, today I will appreciate it all that much more, and focus on simplifying and on the things that matter. 

And be thankful.