How to Pay for Professional Photos

If you know me, you know that my family is tight.  Like really close, bordering on “Everybody Loves Raymond”.  When my grandfather passed, several years ago, the one thing I found the most comfort in were photographs.  The hard evidence that he existed, that these memories were real.  Now I know you might be thinking, that memories never die and you will live with those forever.  This is the truth, no one can take away your memories, but what is also true is that memories fade with time.  That amazing Christmas you shared 6 years ago, you still remember it fondly, but do you remember every detail as passionately as you did the month following?  Or your wedding, if your like me, I don’t remember hardly any of my wedding.  For me, these visual reminders are so important to preserving these memories.  Looking at an old photograph reignites feels that were lost or buried deep, it takes me back to that exact moment of time when that image was taken.  Its amazing how something so small so can so powerful.

So thats my sales pitch, how am I doing?

So fast forward a few years, and my attempt to turn what I so passionately believe in into a career.  I love my clients dearly, I love my prospective clients dearly – even if I haven’t meat you, I know I will love you.  I am always so disappointed when I hear the words “its more than we are looking to spend right now”.  Ouch, it feels like a stab in my heart, and yes I do my very best not to take such statements personally.  But, what that really says to me is, I don’t put the same value on your photography.  That could be because you don’t like my art enough to pay my rates.  What I hope, and I feel is more likely, it truly is outside what you budgeted for a photo session.  And girl…I hear you.  As a full time mom and full time entrepeneur extra money is not often a luxury we have.  I hope this blog post, while already very wordy, will help you find those pennies to pay for these oh so priceless memories.

So to start, lets talk about some annual expenses.  These are items I would consider a luxury item, though most people have them and feel they cannot live without them.

1. Cable – $1800 annually.  Lets assume your cable bill is about $150 a month, it might include internet too thats your annual bill.  Its probably not that far off.  Ok, so your one of those people who doesn’t have cable.  You have netflix, hulu and just purchase other episodes not available on these services from iTunes, so if you buy 1 season a month of a show not available on these services, still have internet – your looking at closer to $1000 annually.  Making lots of assumptions, but I can’t live without The Walking Dead, so I will be purchasing the season pass there.

2. Cell Phone – $1800 annually.  Ok truthfully, I have no idea if thats right.  Being the wife of a Verizon employee our household cell phone bill is about $78, with smart phones.  So I assume, based on our discount, the average bill is around $150 monthly, probably higher if you have children at cell phone using age. Lord only knows what age that is anymore, used to be when you started driving, but now…well we will probably get one for Rivers on his second birthday (I kid, I think).

3. Eating Out – $2500 annually.  This obviously can vary by family, but a nice google search came up with this number, or very close to it several times.  And I am not one to challenge google.  But think about it, $40 a week eating out is just over $2k annually.  I don’t know about you, but $40 is almost nothing.  Thats 2 trips to Chick Fil A a week for me and my husband, or 1 dinner at a sit down restaurant, not including alcohol.  So easy to see how quickly money can be spend on something that is so insignificant after its swallowed.

4. Entertainment – $2500 annually.  Not much to say here, but movies have gotten so expensive!  By the time you get your seats, popcorn and soda your out $40.  If you decide to catch a musical or play, your out $200 for the tickets, parking and drinks.  And if you want to catch the Cowboy game in person on Sunday, you better hope you can take a loan out on your 401k.

Ok, these are just a few things that the average american partakes in, totally it all up annually, its just under $9,000.  Now are should you give up entertainment, or eating out, or cable?  I don’t know maybe, I guess that depends on your morals, but I don’t say this to say give these things up to have some photos taken.  Strictly to give you an idea where you money goes annually, these are likely things you and your family value.  The time spent together at a nice dinner out, or watching your favorite TV show as a family (or using it as a distraction while you cook dinner, I don’t judge).

A couple other luxuries I personally enjoy:

Coach Handbags – $150-$300. I tend to shop the outlet which has amazing deals, and the purses are made so well they last forever almost.  So I don’t might dropping a couple bills if I only buy 1 purse per year.

Designer Jeans – $200.  Girl I love me some jeans.  Some girls are shoe girls, or make up girls, I honey am a jeans girl.  Its sad to report that since delivering a child I have yet to purchase a new pair of fantastic, booty flattering denim, but I appreciate high quality denim.  I wear jeans almost daily so I consider these an investment and I have never once gotten my money’s worth.  When I buy jeans from say, Old Navy, I hate them after 10 minutes of wearing them because they stretch out, sag and do nothing for my backside.  I am not interested in showing off a saggy derrière.

Tory Burch Flast – $200.  Yes they are cute, yes they are comfortable and yes they cost a lot of money to put your stinky foot in to.  But if your a shoe gal, you get it.

Or how about those random trips to Target, or Costco.  How many times have you left with something you didn’t need.  You don’t have to answer that, I know the answer and its EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.  I know because I often fall victim to the Target trap, that dang red card and their 5% keeps me coming back every time.  Not to mention their clothes are adorable and super affordable – regardless of if I need it, I totally NEED IT.

Ok so I am not going to tell you how to budget your money.  But it breaks my heart when I hear people say they cannot afford photography when their pants cost more than my session fee.  Or that awesome handbag (and its totally awesome) cost more than that beautiful 20×30 wall canvas.  I ask you, what do you value the most?  Is it the things in life or the people you spend it with?  Image how much that beautiful piece of wall art will look above your fire place?  You smiling and laughing with the ones you love the most, something that you look at and treasure every single day you see it.  Its an amazing piece that you children will look at one day with so much love and some amazing memories, it truly is an investment and becomes invaluable later in life.

Is professional photography cheap?  No, not if you want good quality.  Sure there are so many people who just bought a camera and are dying to take your picture, and will do it at an incredibly low price.  I am constantly hearing the photography community ramble on about “overstaturated market” and “fauxtogs” and how these people are driving this industry into the ground.  But I completely disagree.  Sure it might be tempting to book that $50 session that comes with 60 edited images, but its important to find a photographer that fits your family, your goals and expectations.  That provides you with a service a desire.  I hope to be that photographer.  I hope my style and my service exceeds all of your expectations and keeps your coming back.  Are there photographers that are cheaper than me – most definitely.  Does that mean they are bad, not at all.  Are there photographers that cost more than I do – you betcha; does that mean they are better?  Nope.  What I can say is no one else is me, and I hope that together we can work to get you those treasured memories on your walls, and in photo albums.  Many photographers, including myself, offer payment plans.  What might feel like a strain on the budget now will be gone in a few short weeks and what you are left with is a lifetime of memories.  So don’t hesitate to book that session!  Its time to replace the hobby lobby art replica canvas for something a little more meaningful.

I hope you found this helpful!  Love ya!

Lindsey