This is a question I am asked multiple times… DAILY! For people who do not run a business, this can be hard to understand. So the best way I can explain it is, my price is figured up by my Cost Of Doing Business (CODB for short).
CODB is simply all your business related expenses added up, then take away from the cost of your service to show your profit! So for instance, my expenses $185 per session. My expenses are the fees I have to pay to run my business legally, up until this year I was running it as a Sole Proprietor so my fees are on the low end compared to most photographers, but this year I am switching to an LLC so my costs will go up.These are my expenses for this previous year. My expenses include taxes per session($135 per session), cost of the camera ($2400), cost of the editing software($20/month), cost of the website ($24/month), business ads ($30/month), presets ($100/year), gas ($100/month), food for sessions an hour or more away ($90/month), SD cards ($100/year), External hard drive ($50/year), location fees ($75-$200/year). You divide all this out per session and it comes to $185, total expenses per session.
So if I charge $85 for a 30 minute session I LOSE $100, that means I have a negative profit. If I were to charge $185 for a 30 minute session, then I have a profit of ZERO dollars. NOW, If I charge $460, I make $275. That may seem like a lot, BUT I do not book up every single weekend a year. I have time periods that span months, where I cannot book a session at all, unless I am doing it for free (which means I lose money).
I booked 6 months of sessions out of 12 months (many of these were booked before I was educated in CODB so I LOST money, so we will just pretend I had better prices). I booked at least 2 sessions a weekend, but I also give myself a weekend off for my family, so I had 36 shoots TOPS, multiply that by my profit of $275, and I would have made a WHOOPING $9,900. Unfortunately, I did not make that, because the majority of my sessions in 2018 were free or $100-$150, until fall and by then I did not book enough FULL price shoots to make up the amount I lost when I was uneducated in how to properly price my services.
Now, this being said, I know that not everyone can afford my prices (heck, I can’t!) so I offer payment plans. So before writing off a photographer as greedy and bashing them publicly for wanting the best for themselves, maybe ask if they too offer a payment plan. The worst they can say is no. And if the answer is no, maybe save up for a session with the photographer whose work you love! Because when you use a photographer whose under priced, you don’t truly love their work, all you have done is lost them money and provided yourself with images you don’t 100% love.