A Blog about Photography, Business, & Life

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Why is Photography so Expensive?

You’re looking at your kids and can’t believe how rapidly they change. You wish you could keep them this little forever. You scroll through Instagram and admire your friend’s family photos and think. I really need to do that too.  So you do a quick search on good-ol-google and after looking at the pricing packages you ask in frustration: Why is photography so expensive?

I mean they are just pictures, right? Many I’ve spoken to have asked this question. The friend in me empathized — you just want something to freeze the moment that doesn’t break the bank. I get it. You have mouths to feed and part of you feels like you can spend your hard-earned dollars somewhere else. The price tag shock is serious.

Let me let you in on a secret though. Photography is an art and art is expensive.

When you go to museums and look at a Mosaic — the price tag reads: expensive. At your favorite mom-and-pop café shop whose walls are decorated with local artist work…  you glance at the price tag, it reads expensive.

Even if you feel like the squiggles or tossed paint on the canvas is just as good as the paintings of your children, nephews, nieces, or students that cover your fridge or classroom walls — art is expensive.

Theatre tickets are expensive, yet we invest in those Hamilton tickets, don’t we?

An artist has to invest in their work. I’m not just talking about time (which is a huge currency) but also the materials that they need to create this visual emotional expression.

Say it with me so the people in the back can hear you: Art…. is …. EXPENSIVE.

In the art of photography — the cost of a camera alone can range from $800 – $3500. That’s just the body alone. That doesn’t include basics like memory cards, film, or lenses. Lenses are at times even more expensive than the camera itself! And the person behind the equipment — they have bills to pay too. They also may have mouths to feed at home. The person behind the lens is not just an artist, they are the owner of a business. A business needs insurance, it needs products, it needs marketing and maintenance which all costs money.

If you own a business or are starting one up, you can appreciate all the responsibility that goes into meeting your clients’ needs to the best of your ability, wearing all the hats, working tirelessly behind the scenes, and still feel like a bad person for the price tag that reads expensive.

If you are a business owner, you are not the bad guy for writing that price tag. And if you are the consumer, you have a choice. You can either choose to invest in the service and look beyond the price tag shock. You can enjoy the value that this service or product brings to you or you can walk away. The decision is yours.

If I can provide you with a small bit of knowledge that I’ve learned as a fellow consumer — it’s not just about the product, it’s about the person behind the product. Wherever you decide to spend your money — make sure you value and trust the person behind it — especially when shopping for something as personal as family portraits.

The bottom line, you invest in what you value. So you can get the Groupon and go to JCPenny and get the same photo everyone else is getting, no shame in that. Or you can decide to invest in a professional photography experience and support a local photographer.

By doing the latter, you are supporting a small business. You are supporting your local economy. You are creating a bond between you and that photographer so that they have the privilege to document your family year after year. You fulfill someone’s dream when you invest in a professional photography experience. Again, the choice is yours.

So what do you say? Are you ready to invest in your family? Are you ready to document your legacy?

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