What I Actually Do as a Portrait Photographer


So tonight, I broke down what I ACTUALLY DO as a photographer. I was thinking that my prices were too high - $60 per hour for shooting with a little post processing included. I even considered not listing my prices because then I could go on a case by case basis so people didn't think I was nuts. Then I actually counted it out. Here we go, a little rant coming your way.
What is advertised: $60 per hour + 10 processed photos on a disc, $15 per each additional 10 photo disc!
What actually goes down:
-Personalize your contract to what you're actually getting, because no two shoots end up being alike, no matter what.
-Get together the equipment I need, including my own cameras, anything I might need to borrow/rent from friends, any people I have help me at the shoot who I normally buy dinner for (I usually have to call them, set that up too).
-Research for the shoot; like I said, no shoot is the same!
-Take all your emails and questions and suggestions.
Total time: at LEAST 1-2 hours.
Okay, so that's all the stuff that happens BEFORE every shoot. Some shoots it takes 45minto put together a contract, schedule, get a game plan of your 6 poses, and pack up. Sometimes it takes more than 3 hours to write a contract from scratch, talk to you on the phone or email for 30min to an hour, research your shoot and send you samples, take your samples, convince a friend to hold a reflector to be paid in Taco Bus, and pack up my stuff.
My car gets 22 miles to the $3.40 gallon. That means it costs $1-5 for me to drive to your shoot (round trip), and I am still spending time (usually about a half hour, which would be $30) to drive there. Sometimes I charge for this, sometimes I don't.
What I actually charge you for. Standing there for 1 hour (minimum) directing, snapping, moving, squatting, jumping, contorting, and being creative as you entrust to me your beauty, hoping I capture it the way you want me to. Honestly, this is my favorite part, the fun part. The reason I take pro bono jobs - I just love it that much. But this is what people pay for.
This is the secret time consumer! I have to load them onto my computer, sort through a million and one of you blinking, sneezing, moving, talking, frowning, sweating, and repeats, down to the photos that I believe are quality. This takes THE MOST TIME. Consider about 300-500 pictures per hour MINIMUM, so it takes about 2 hours to go through them all, then sort them into your folder with your information.
This is the cool stuff. The filters, color changes, curve, vintage look, black and white, exposure, vignette, clarity, eyes, lips, making your skin look naturally beautiful as it is, and whatever else you have specified I do. A lot goes into making a picture great, and making a picture EXPLODE. Take about 5-10 minutes per picture, and you get ten for free. So consider this taking AT LEAST and hour, maybe two.
The shortest process; watermark them & either zip or burn. 45min tops.
So, the TOTAL TIME, for which I charge a supposed $60 per hour:
Minimum: 7 HOURS, meaning I make approx. $8.60 per hour (hello part-time grocery store cashier)
Maximum (for a ONE hour shoot, not counting anything more than that, like promotional, event, or fashion photography): OVER 11 HOURS, meaning I make approx. $5-$6 per hour (not even minimum wage).
Next time I feel like I charge too much, I'm going to look at this and remind myself that I love what I do, and that's why I do it. (:
NOTE: This does not even COVER any promotional, product, event, fashion, wedding, or business photography. I'm not sure I'm ready to break that down.