Are you looking for a ‚resonably priced photographer’ in Exeter?
I often see people posting on social media groups that they are looking for a reasonably priced photographer or someone that doesn’t ‚cost an arm and a leg’. I am often tagged in such posts and feel I owe some of you an explanation how I run my business and if I am indeed a ‚reasonably priced’ photographer’ or not?
I started taking photos several years ago when I was at university and got my first ‚proper’ film camera. At that time it was just a hobby that apart from the costs of developing my images for personal use, did not cost me anything. A few years ago when I decided to pursue my dreams and develop my photography skills and passion I still had a really nice full time job so money was not something that I often thought of. I frequently shot photos for friends and family for free, just to practice and simply because I loved doing it. At that time I was just a hobbyist, and photography was not a source of income for me. I could just pursue my artistic passion without having to use Excel on regular basis.
I still did not even dream or believe that I was good enough to charge for my time and work.
Some time later when I decided to start advertising myself to wider public I still had no idea what running a photography business meant. I was very naive and uninformed, believing that my business would be merely about shooting, editing and delivering images to happy clients. I could not be more wrong. Very soon I learnt that running a business costs. And if it is a photography business, it costs A LOT.
At the end of 2016 I left my full time job and photography business became my JOB. Apart from allowing me to express myself artistically, it also pays off my mortgage, feeds my family and pays all the bills that other people in ‚normal’ jobs have.Likewise, like any other business it incurs costs. I pay taxes, national insurance contributions and public liability insurance to protect me and my Clients. And this is regardless of how much money I make every month. Rain, death and tax, you know, Celine Dion sings that it’s inevitable and she is right.
‚Ok, so how much does it actually cost to run a photography business? , I hear you asking.
Happy to offer the answer:
Before I get to meet my clients for their photo shoot, before I even take the lens cap off for the first time, this is what I have already invested in.
- a full frame professional camera (costing at least £1000) and a second hand spare one (£600)
- 4 lenses that I carry to all my photo shoots (total of at least £2500)
- spare batteries (£20 each), spare memory cards (at least £10 each), a bag (£50), a speedlight (£100)
- hours and hours of learning by myself how to use the camera (believe me, it is not obvious or super simple), how to set up the light, how to edit etc.
- a decent computer capable of running editing software (£1000 upwards)
- professional studio lighting (£300)
- backdrops – I have around 30 of them, Some cost £20 others even £70.
- A huge collection of props such as baby outfits, headbads, blankets, baskets, crates etc. etc. If you are unsure how much these are, just go on www.etsy.com and type ‚newborn photography prop’. Yep, exactly. Crazy, isn’t it?
- One to one training how to safely handle a newborn during a photoshoot
- Newborn photography workshops in baby positioning etc.
- Online photography course.
That is what I paid for even BEFORE I press any buttons and before any money is transferred to my bank account.
On top of that, I pay monthly for:
- public libility insurance
- national insurance contributions
- website maintenance
- software subscription
- marketing materials
- Online marketing
- electricity, gas, water
- Client products such as prints, canvases, albums etc.
- Business mentoring
- Car use (insurance, petrol, servicing)
- Childcare (I have children and like most parents I cannot bring them to work, so need to arrange for someone to look after them for me)
And last but not least, my time. I am a full time photographer, which means that I work at least 40 hours per week. Actually, more like 70 hours per week to be precise. By ‚work’ I don’t just mean shooting and editing. Photographer’s work is also:
- Updating website and social media accounts with photos and posts
- Responding to messages, comments and other enquiries (for every booking that I take, I get several enquiries. Responding to them, giving every potential client my attention, advice, etc does take a lot of time).
- Designing clients’ products (such as albums), ordering, preparing for despatch or collection.
- Doing accounts, shopping and managing my diary
- Preparing studio for photo shoots and clearing afterwards
- Networking with other service providers, meeting potential clients etc.
- Learning, learning, learning
UK National Minimum Wage at the moment is £7.20ph and my services come under the ‚professional services’ tag, so they are considerably more expensive.
This post is not about convincing you to use my services. Not at all.
When you are choosing someone to take your photos, be it wedding or newborn photos, actually price should be the least important factor in deciding. You should view photographer’s portfolio as your photos will represent a similar editing / shooting style. If you love their style – book with them. If you don’t, no matter how cheap they are and how many photos you get, please keep looking. They say that good impression with excellent service will last longer than price satisfaction. Or another cliche, ‚pay cheap and pay twice’. It refers to anything, cheap shoes, clothes, household items. Photography is no exception.
There are a numer of photographers in Exeter and Devon who have different working styles, different business models and various overheads so I am confident we, as a whole professional group are able to serve all tastes and budgets. There certainly are many truly talanted hobbyists who will be able to offer their services at a lower price. I used to be one of them so I know it is possible. However, professional photographers, for whom photography is a source of income, cannot chargé prices below a certain level as they will inevitably face bankrupcy. Not a nice vision when you have a family that depends on your income and several direct debits coming off your account, regardless of your ‚money in’. We as professional photographers need to make regular investments to make sure we are developing our skills but also to make sure our business, that are the ‚the source of living’ for our families, are in good condition and finacially viable.
Why am I saying all this then?
My only intention behind writing this post was to make a few points for you to consider before you call me or anyone else ‚expensive’, ‚unreasonable’ or simply ‚out of touch’ with the real world. Believe me, my service providers and monthly bills keep me very much in touch with the real world. South West Water or Exeter City Council do not allow lower service charges for self employed photographers, who may or may not get enough bookings. Such a shame 😉
By wanting to provide for my family and valuing my time and skills, I don’t think I am in any way being unreasonable. I have worked and still work very hard to make my business grow and help my family live a decent life. I offer high quality professional services and these do come with a ‚professional’ price tag.
At this point I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all my clients who have trusted me and decided to book with me. I really appreciate all your comments (online and offline), words of admiration and encouragement, and the fact that you chose me to be your photographer.
And if you have not yet booked with me, no worries 🙂 I appreciate your presence and keeping up with me. I hope one day you will feel ready to make a phone call and become my client. I couldn’t be more happy when it happens.