Why is Professional Photography So Expensive?

My own parent’s income was pretty high when I was quite young and later dropped in a frightening way. A pretty drastic decline occurred, for various reasons that I won’t go into, but I have experience watching them be on both ends of the spectrum. Even at their lowest of low they managed, and by that time most of us kids were grown and off earning our own, but we all watched our parents struggle. Anyone who loves their parents can understand the heartache it brings to watch them live this way. Money isn’t everything, that’s for sure, and it’s definitely not the most valuable thing in life either, but it does give you options. When you have it, it is imperative that you use your options wisely. Planning for the future is probably at the top of most people’s list. That being said, I once read a quote on the freedom of speech wall in Charlottesville, VA, that really resonated with me. It said, “Spend money on experiences, not things”. I love that sentiment, and maybe that’s one major reason I love photography so much. Photography lets you relive experiences, and investing in your future ability to remember life’s most important moments, that is priceless.

Being a professional photographer, while it is truly most photographers’ dream come true, is not an easy feat. Getting paid to do what you are passionate about is very rare in this world, and most of us struggled, and continue to struggle to be able to make a living out of capturing emotions. There are years of schooling, and because of the fast moving world of technology, there is a constant requirement to continue educating yourself and stay on top of the latest artistic photography movement, and/or the latest gadgets that “help you be a leader in the industry”. The world is constantly coming up with better lenses, better cameras, better lighting equipment, and better techniques. All of these things are, and there is no way around saying this…very expensive. There is the continuous education (online courses start at about $100 each, forget the in-person workshops, those can run in the thousands), the need to stay on top of your trade, the tiniest tool (monthly I pay $10 for Photoshop, that’s $120/year), professional membership dues (one of mine is $16/month), and software to supply your clients with a private gallery (those run several hundred a year). I could go on, but I think you see my point, and I’m not even touching on the fact that even though your photographer may only spend one in-person hour with you, they spend on average 2 hours for every one of those in-person hours, in editing your images before they are presented to you. Taking away tiny blemishes, so you don’t have to remember those, erasing a stray hair, cleaning snot from your kid’s noses, etc.is time-consuming, and most of our time is spent doing this task. So, that’s now 3 hours of their time, not just the one that you witness first hand.

Being a parent, well that is beyond expensive. I know, because I am one x two. Our kids are ten and under and I can’t believe what they eat in groceries alone, I won’t even go into the other incidentals. You know what they are. As a parent myself, and with my better half, we have also lived on both ends of the spectrum, too. At times, we could afford to hire a photographer, other times it was out of the question. Isn’t it ironic? We couldn’t afford my services! You’re right…we are super fortunate to have a photographer (actually two) in the family, and we’ve got things covered, but if we didn’t…it wouldn’t change the value we see in it.

I remember walking into a friends home, and it was a beautiful house. They were quite well off and had a good sense of design. They had two very large, black and white, mounted close up, images on their wall of their children. I thought it was the best thing ever. Such adoration those children must feel, at seeing that wall eau’d them. Not only that, but it looked really cool. It caught my eye right away, and immediately I wanted to do something like that for my own children. It took us two years to choose the photos. Two years! Once they were chosen, we spent the big bucks and had the images professionally printed and mounted on stand-outs. Those photos still hang above our dining room table, and my husband and I stare at them, now four years old, and remember with love the two tiny people who light up our lives (okay, cheesy but true). This artwork has come across the country, from the east coast to the west, and when we recently put them on our wall in our rental here in Lake Oswego, OR, we felt like we were home again. I don’t regret the money we spent on them, we never even think about that, but we are continuously grateful when we look at them.

Money comes, money goes, but these kids of ours, our gifts, our most valuable treasures, they are only going. Getting bigger, stronger, and changing every second, literally overnight, our memories too (lol). Investing in professional photography is investing in an experience and the ability to relive it someday, to hold onto the fleeting moment when our children were young. Investing in your future ability to remember them this way, priceless.



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