Photographers suck

(OK, sorry for the inflammatory title — just trying to get your attention!)

I think the financial model that most photographers adopt is ridiculous. The problem is, they don’t charge for what I do value and they charge a lot for what I don’t value. I have 2 examples to illustrate this.

We went to Smirk for a photo shoot with the kids. It was $100 for the sitting. We went there and there was a nice studio with lights and equipment and the photographer and her assistant did a nice job with the kids. It took about 30 minutes.

Then it came time to buy photos. First of all, they didn’t want to give us any proofs. They wanted us to come to their studio to choose photos. My wife insisted they give us proofs so they gave us crappy inkjet proofs on plain paper.

Then the price list — if we wanted a digital copy of a single image, $125! So to get digital copies of 10 photos would be $1250! Are you fucking kidding me? All of the print prices are like this, too. They act like their prints are original works of art that they own.

Here is my objection: Having a studio with lights and equipment is expensive. Having talent to take pictures is something I’m willing to pay for. Charge me for these things which I value! Copying the image to a CD is not something I value. I also don’t consider photographs I paid you to take to be your property, they are my property. That’s why I paid for your time to take the pictures. If you charge me $100 for the things I value and $1250 for the things I don’t value, I will think you are an idiot.

Here’s my other example — we went to a wedding. The wedding party paid a lot of money for a very good photographer. Said photographer then charged $10 per 4×6 print. Know what Apple charges for a 4×6? $0.12. snapfish charges $0.09. Why in God’s name would this photographer, who was paid very well for their time and expertise, charge 100 times the cost of a normal 4×6?

I highly value the skills of great photographers. I will pay for it. But in the age of digital photography, they have to get over this notion that they make money on the prints. The age of darkrooms and hand-crafted prints is over. Charge for the time and the expertise, do not charge for making me a goddamn CD.

Photographers suck

2 thoughts on “Photographers suck

  1. fishdweeb says:

    The photography business is changing. Photographers, such as the ones you have experienced, are trying to hang on to the “old days”.
    They will need to evolve or become extinct. My own business is currently “evolving”.
    Gone are the days where the photographer has better equipment than the amateur. Gone are the days where re-touching was a skill known only by photographers. Same with printing, editing, etc…

    Consumer line products provide such high quality that the photographer now must market; skill and artistry rather than “I have a medium format camera and can make great enlargments”.

    Processing costs for the consumer have dropped considerably. I can get high quality prints from Sams club for a fraction of what my Pro Lab offers. Are they as good? no they are not, but the consumer doesn’t care. If they have the digital file they can print 12 cent prints forever compared to the $35.00 per 8×10 that I used to charge.

    Back in the day my average wedding would run about $2500.00…proofs, processing, album etc…
    Now I do all digital. Flat fee, you own the digital me, here is the cd ,goodbye…clean and done. Am I making as much money? almost….my costs are way down, my demand is way up. This (or something close to it) is the wave of the future…

    Time and talent is what they pay me for now.


  2. Some photographers sucks.
    I agree the pricing model is way out of hand, but it always has been. The only time I can justify the price per print is the the artist hand touches each print.
    Three issues arise out of this
    1) A good photographer’s portraits should be viewed as a piece of artwork (notice I said a good photographer) and should be priced at a reasonable but fair price
    2) Photo equipment has got outrageous to shoot quality portraits now-a-days $25000 for good cameras, lenses, lights and backgrounds just to be competitive not to mention the Photoshop work you are expected to do.
    3) The cycle of business runs from April to June, and September to December 24th the other times are like pulling teeth to do business, especially in this digital age where photographic talent has been devalued.

    Part of not giving out proofs or allowing people to print where they want is a quality/branding issue. I don’t want people printing my work at walgreens especially if my copyright is on it. Quality gets you business.

    Next time you want a good family portrait at a decent price you should give an old family friend a call. 😉 I’ll cut you a real deal.


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