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Ever wonder where photographers come up with their prices?

by: David  Stubbart

Here is a list of things that I must consider to run my business (remember, it’s just me managing everything below)

In non sequential order

Business insurance - as a professional photographer you have to insure your equipment (which easily amounts to over $20,000 of professional equipment) 

Workshops and business conferences, I’m always learning and need to feed my brain and pass along my learned experiences and translate them to photographs

Advertising costs 

Backup! -External hard drives and disks so that no work is ever lost, along with online backup such as the CrashPlan service.

Website and blog costs - A couple hundred dollars a year

Sample prints and entire sample wedding albums to share with prospective clients

Business cards, client lunches/dinners, marketing materials, office supplies, etc.

Assistants - if they are second shooters, they are usually paid several hundred dollars per wedding.

Gas mileage, plus wear and tear on my car (90% of the time I travel to my client)

Equipment repair, this doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s pricey!

Accessories -adding more memory cards, the little electronics add up.

Gear maintenance and upgrades (can be $5,000-$8,000 a year), just one good lens costs ($700.00-$2,100.00)

Bookkeeping -Keeping up with the records while trying to keep an up to date web presence and emailing and meeting with other potential clients.

Wedding Details-How much time?


A well processed set of wedding photographs takes about 3+ weeks to edit, dedicating a minimum of 2 hours a day to it.  I have never missed a 30 day deadline.

Just a little about the process here:

  1. Email and phone calls back and forth to my prospective client

  2. Travel to the first meeting to discuss all the details and hopefully get chosen to shoot their wedding day :)

  3. As the wedding day approaches, more communication between myself and the couple.  Also, an exchange of the day’s timeline and shot list to help make things go more smoothly before the wedding.

  4. The day before the wedding: prep time of at least one hour to clean equipment,pack and double check everything is in the bags for the next day.

  5. Travel time to wedding and shooting the actual event itself (6-12 hours)

  6. Travel time back to my home after the event

  7. Download all precious photographs from the memory cards, then back them up to my triple redundancy hard drive system and then my “cloud” storage service.

  8. Import all photographs into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, tag them , rename them and embed all appropriate metadata to them.

  9.   Over a period of a week, spend many hours filtering through them and flagging photos for additional editing (I spread out the processing so my eyes don’t fall out of my head) My creativity is refreshed  every day and I can enjoy the editing process and not force things.

  10. Once the “best of the best” are chosen, I then perform touchups, editing, resizing, re-cropping, conversion to black and white, and then preparing about 400+ images for the client’s web gallery.  This upload take a few hours by itself.

  11.   After clients and guests of the wedding have viewed the photographs:  accept print orders, and contact my professional print lab for orders.

  12.   Design wedding album and share the draft with the clients for review, make revisions, order album and then shipment of final album (their first family heirloom!)

Additional Information:

  • Maintaining a professional looking website, blog, or other web presence take time and money.  Website templates and hosting costs time and money.

  • As a self employed person we pay about 35% in taxes (thankfully deductions help out a lot, but it's still a much higher tax percentage than the average person with a 9-5pm job), and due to the high cost of albums, equipment, and insurance, our overhead is incredibly high, amounting to about 25-30% for most photographers.


I put this together to give some insight to my clients about the “how” and the “why” of pricing. 


 Thanks for your time!   ~  David Stubbart

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