How much for a photo session? What will my photos cost? or How much for an 8×10?
These and similar questions are what we get asked very often and it is often one of the first thoughts that come to mind when searching for a photographer. Of course you can take a look over at our “Investment” page to get access to our price lists – but that is not what this post is about. The truth be told, whether you are looking for family portraits, wedding photography, photos of your pet, business headshots, or commercial /product photography there are really a large number of factors that affect the final total you pay to have professional photos taken. While I can’t possibly address every need or option, I will do my best to provide some useful insight into what the average person can expect to spend as well as fill in some details as to what goes into the average session. (Remember these are AVERAGES – prices will vary in different areas and with different options.)
Why is professional photography so expensive? Anyone can grab a camera and sell a disc of photos for cheap – right?
Without turning this into a “Kijiji” or “Craig’s list” photographer bashing, let’s just take a quick look at what all goes into professional photography.
There is overhead & equipment as well as a large behind the scenes time commitment for the average session. I have written a more detailed article of what really goes into the cost of producing images for clients here.
On average, my total time for a 40 min standard family session is anywhere from 3-3.5 hours and can often be more than that. Makes you wonder how someone can offer “$40 for a session with all photos on a disc” doesn’t it?
Okay, I get it. There is a lot involved in creating great photos. So what will it cost?
Perhaps the better question is: what is it worth to you? What do you want to do with your images? Are you after canvas prints, plaks, regular prints and frames, or just digital files?
I am not a fan of digital files for most sessions. I believe that they do have their place for weddings and business/actor photos or commercial work but are not necessarily the best choice for portraits. Why? Because I lose money on selling prints? Not at all. Honestly, it is far easier for me to sell the digital files than it is to deal with ordering and packaging prints. Less time consuming too – essentially on time alone, digital files are more profitable for me. No, the reason I am not big on files is that I am a firm believer that photos are meant to be out there on the wall for all to see. When you put your kids to bed at night after a stressful day and you see their pictures hanging on the hallway wall, tell me that doesn’t warm your heart? When’s the last time a disc of images filed in a drawer had that effect? You want to get the files printed yourself you say? Do you realize that not all labs produce the same quality prints? There are vast differences in paper and ink quality. All our images are printed at labs that are for professionals only and their printers are calibrated to provide the best colour match and sharpest, longest lasting image. We even offer special pricing on prints for those of you that do purchase the digital files or a digital file package in order to get you the best quality printing. Just ask us about it!
We understand that in this day and age people want to share photos on social media and we would be happy to provide you with files specifically sized for the web with any prints you purchase from us – again just ask us and we will email them to you!
So now to some average pricing. I’ll just go over a few popular session types – there are too many to list them all. Again, these are not our prices, but an average range you can expect to pay a professional photographer. Our prices are available for you to view on the Investment page.
A standard family session with a nice selection of prints/poses will on average range from $200 – $550. If adding in a beautiful canvas you could invest up to $1000. Our average family client spends $350-$400 including session fee.
This one I see a lot of discussion on concerning the high prices associated with wedding photography. As a rule this is a once in a lifetime, one chance to get it right photo session. A good wedding photographer will even be invaluable in helping plan and organize your day’s busy schedule – they’ve been there done that so to speak and have likely seen many problems that can arise scheduling wise. Post production time following a wedding can consist of anywhere from 30-50 or more hours of work to edit and polish photos, assemble albums etc.
While one can find photographers offering $400 wedding packages, are you sure that is all you would want to invest in the biggest day of your life? The photos you have are what will be the visual reminder of those memories. The food will all be gone, the dress away in storage, the make-up and hairstyles washed away. Often family members will have passed too, but the photos will be there to document those precious memories. So why go cheap on what is arguably the most important “service” on your big day?
Quality wedding photography will generally range from $800-$5000 depending on what the package includes. Our average wedding clients spend $2000-$2500 on services and prints.
Babies & Children:
This one can vary quite a bit. From maternity through school age there are a lot of changes that take place in the parents lives and the children. What one spends on documenting these changes is quite different with everyone. Newborn sessions can last 2-3 hours or more depending on how content the child is – there is no guarantee with kids right 🙂 . Once they are a bit older, sessions tend to go far easier, though photographing a 2 year old can present challenges similar to photographing action sports!
Newborn sessions generally range from $120-$400. Non-specialty kids portraits can go from $50-$200. Our average client spends $200-$250 on session and prints.
We do have a first year program that includes 4 sessions which is not included in this average.
So…. How much is it for an 8×10??
We do get asked this often so here it is. Doing proper cost of production calculations; a standard 8×10 print (not one with special editing like fairies or pin-ups etc) should be selling at $55. I’ve seen them selling for $120 or more….
We currently have ours priced at $40.
Although all of these numbers and prices are very general, I do hope this article helps you to have a better feel for professional photography pricing and what to expect when you start looking to have professional photos done.