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  • Writer's pictureBonnie Sindelar

5 Reasons why Paying “A Lot” for Photos is better for YOU

We photographers could talk your ear off about why paying a higher price for photography will benefit our industry as a whole. But today, I want to flip the focus and talk about why paying that higher price is also better for YOU.


I can almost hear your doubtful sighs and see your eyes rolling from here, but just give me a few minutes to explain.While I specialize in family and maternity photography, these reasons are true whether you want boudoir photos, newborn photos, or anything in between.

 

Reason #1

You don't like Strangers.

Stranger

While you will have to overcome your Stranger Danger the very first time you meet your photographer, you can eliminate that awkwardness in the future if you use the same photographer more than once. Aside from the awkwardness, re-using a photographer has other benefits. Here's a quick list of some relevant things your photographer will already know if you use them again:


  • Your business details and style preferences (Branding photography)

  • Your family dynamics & personalities (Family/Maternity/Senior/Newborn photography)

  • Your comfort level and insecurities (Boudoir photography)

  • Your pet's personality, abilities, and triggers (Pet photography)

  • Your taste in spouses ;) (Wedding photography)


OK, but what does re-using a photographer have to do with how much you pay? A lot, actually. Because it turns out, if a business isn't profitable, it usually doesn't last very long. So if Mary the Photographer opened her business and charged you $150 for your first child's newborn session, she's going to learn very quickly that that's not a profitable rate. As a result, she'll do one of 3 things:


  1. Quit photography, because she's spending God-knows-how-many-hours on her business and not making any money.

  2. Drastically raise her prices and lose 90+% of her clients (including you, probably). Or

  3. Continue her non-profitable business that doesn't allow her enough money or time to improve her craft, enjoy her own family, or maintain her mental health.


Two out of those three scenarios means you won't be going back to Mary for any future photos and therefore won't be able to reap the benefits of that Familiarity Factor.


If, however, you find a photographer who's charging enough to pay themselves a liveable wage -- likely someone labeled as an "expensive" photographer -- there's a very good chance that you'll be able to reap the rewards of having a repeat photographer who already knows you and what you want. In the end, that means your photo session should go smoother and your resulting photos should be better.

 

Reason #2

You want better photos than what your Uncle Mike can take with his iPhone 3.


Older man with smartphone

Is an iPhone 3 even a real thing? I don't know, I'm an Android/Windows kinda girl. {Insert gasps and judgemental head-shaking}


Either way, you get my point. Can modern smartphones take decent photos, given the right circumstances? Yes. Can they compete with the photos taken by a professional on a professional camera? Not even close. But here's the kicker. Having a fancy camera does NOT mean your photos will turn out better than the ones you take with your phone. They'll probably have more megapixels, but without a professional behind the lens, that's pretty much where the "betterness" ends.


And here's the hard truth. An embarrasingly large percent of people calling themselves photographers nowadays have little-to-no technical knowledge of photography or cameras.


In contrast, picture this: Jan spends a significant amount of money and time on educating herself in photography. She then follows that up with a significant amount of time practicing that skill until she can produce high quality photos with consistency. When Jan finally decides to "hang her shingle" as a professional photographer, do you think she's going to charge $50 for a family session? Nope. Why? Because of what she's invested and the resulting knowledge and skill that comes from that investment.


Do all higher-priced photographers have an equally high level of knowlege and skill? Not always. On the flip side, though, a low-priced photographer will very often have a low-level of knowledge and skill.


So if you want photos that are significantly better than what your uncle can take on his phone, you should pay more for your photos.


 

Reason #3

You don’t appreciate Flakes (unless they’re frosted).


Frosted flakes cereal

Have you ever seen a Facebook post from someone who's frantically searching for a new photographer to replace the one who bailed on them weeks/days/hours before their session? How about a post from someone who's wondering how long it typically takes to get photos back from a session because their wedding photographer has taken 5 months so far?


Yeah, I've seen a lot of them too. And if I was a gambling girl, I'd put a lot of money on the assumption that all of those photographers were cheap. Because guess what? When you're not making any money at a job, you're probably not going to put it very high on your priority list. You might just decide to cancel a session for a "family emergency" when it's actually because you realized that you'd be paying more for your babysitter to watch your kids during the session than you'd be making on the session itself.


As an alternative, if you've hired a photographer who charges a profitable rate, that's a very good indicator that they take themselves, their business, and their clients seriously. Which means they'll likely treat you with respect, respond to your emails and calls in a timely manner, give you clear expecations on what to expect, and deliver your images and products in the specified time-frame.


Not all cheap photographers are flakes. But nearly all flaky photographers are cheap. So pay more and don't risk getting a flake.


 

Reason #4

You don't want to support Sexism.


Sexism graphic

In planning this article, I thought I'd been really creative and come up with a new term: internal sexism. Turns out, it already exists. According to Wikipedia, Internalized Sexism is defined as a "form of sexist behavior and attitudes enacted by women toward themselves or other women and girls".


The fact that you're reading this article means that you're probably a woman. And if you're not, I'd be willing to bet that you have at least one woman in your life who could benefit from less sexism.


Why am I talking about this? Because the vast majority of cheap photographers in the portrait space are women. And if you ask them why they're so cheap, they're not going to answer, "Becasue I hate money, and my life would be so much worse if I had more of it." They're going to say one of two things:

1. "I don't think my work is good enough to charge more." Or

2. "We don't really need the money, so I just do this for cheap."


You may not agree with me, but I'm going to argue that both of these answers perfectly represent internalized sexism.


Believe it or not, the photographer who charges $250 for a 3-hour newborn session is making signficantly less than minimum wage for their time. If this sounds crazy, I wrote a whole article on this topic, including the math HERE.


So for that photographer, they're telling themselves and the public that their time, knowledge, and experience is worth significantly less than the time, knowledge, and experience of someone with an entry-level job at ..... somehwere that pays minimum wage. Honestly, I can't even think of an entry-level job that pays minimum wage anymore.

Even if that photographer has ZERO experience and knowledge in photography, if they're going to make photography a business (i.e. charge for it), they should still be charging a rate that at least produces the salary of a minimum wage, un-skilled worker.


And the fact that they don't charge that much? That comes back to how they value themselves and their own time. Would they support their male spouse doing the same thing? Of COURSE not.


And that, my friends, is internalized sexism. For whatever reason, we women are often very good at telling ourselves that our time has no value. And not only is that incredibly sad, but it's a terrible way to run a business. So if you don't want to perpetuate these beliefs, find a photographer who values their own time, talent, and knowledge and charges accordingly.


 

Reason #5

You want to be a person who values Memories more than Poop.


Poop emoji

OK, now you're definitely thinking that I've gone off the rails. But let me explain.


We all have our priorities. When someone says, "I want a photographer who doesn't charge an arm and a leg", what they're actually saying is, "I don't really see the value in professional photography, and I certainly don't think it's as important as XYZ that I pay way more for."


And that's FINE. We all have our own priorities. I'll drop over $1,000 on a photographer with no issues, but if you ask me to pay more than $40 for a purse? Not happening.


So here's where the poop comes in. How often do you go out for a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant? Maybe a few times a year? A few times a month? Let's say it's 6 times a year. If you've got a family of 4, or if you splurge at somehwere like Ruth's Chris, you can easily spend $150 on each of those nice dinners.


What happens to that dinner in a day or two? Poop. So while the food probably tasted wonderful and the ambiance was great, what you really paid $150 for was a few minutes of pleasure and some fancy poop.


If you do that 6 times a year, that's $900 of fancy poop. For comparison's sake, would you say that 6 bouts of fancy poop is worth more or less than a high-quality photo session that perfectly documents how your children interacted with their grandfather, who's now gone from this world?


In my opinion, the photos are worth more. A lot more.


So if you value lifelong memories more than fancy poop, please show that value by hiring an "expensive" photographer.


 

In one article, we've covered stranger danger, Uncle Mike's iPhone, flakey photographers, sexism, and poop. In doing so, I hope I've managed to shift your thinking even a tiny bit on why you might pay more for your photos next time. 


If you're on the hunt for a profitably-priced photographer, please feel free to use this photographer directory. It's got over 1,000 U.S. photographers across all portrait genres.


Thank you so much for your time and attention. I know both are very hard to come by nowadays.



-Bonnie

Genesis Photography (Lincoln, NE)

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