Why is a professional photographer so expensive?

Have you looked into hiring a professional photographer? Received a quote, and thought to yourself “WTF! Why is it so expensive?” 

Here’s the deal as to why photography is expensive and what goes on BTS (behind the scenes). 

A social media photographer IS a professional photographer

Yes, we know- professional photography seems like a large expenditure in the short term, whether it’s for your social media, eCommerce website, print marketing or any other purpose! However, nothing has a stronger impact on a potential buyer than a visual representation of your brand or product. 

Photography is a major investment that your business should definitely consider. 

In marketing, visuals are the first element that evokes an emotional response (before text) and that emotional response is what will make or break a sale. The photos on your website and social media are representing you and your brand, and are a huge part of user experience. So obviously, you want to present your business in the best way possible. 

Professional photographer costs: The breakdown

Some clients may only associate pricing with the final delivered images, and it’s important for us to educate our clients in our photography process and what exactly goes on behind the scenes, so they have a better understanding of exactly what they’re paying for. 

There are a few key factors to consider in photography pricing, but these are the 5 most significant: 

One. Time 

For every hour of shooting, there are a few hidden hours of prep work and communication that you perhaps never considered:

  • Pre-production (Time spent planning the Photoshoot. Including emails sent, castings, building a team, creating mood boards, product acquisition and gathering of props) 
  • Travelling to and from the photoshoot
  • Setting up equipment/ breaking down
  • Time spent uploading, culling and editing images
  • Time spent communicating with the client, sending proofs and making adjustments
  • Discussions and final delivery to the client 

Two. Photography Equipment 

Photography equipment is HELLA EXPENSIVE. Just the camera body alone is upwards of $2.5K for a professional set up like ours. Here is a list of equipment a professional photographer requires to produce professional work and run a business:

  • Camera (including a backup camera)
  • Lenses 
  • Lighting equipment (studio or Speedlite)
  • Memory cards
  • Extra batteries
  • Tripod
  • Backdrop stands
  • Backdrops
  • Reflectors
  • Computer/ Laptop
  • External hard drives & online storage
  • Camera bags
  • Insurance (If you’ve spent thousands of dollars on equipment and you’re running a photography business, then you need insurance. This is upwards of $350 per year depending on what your needs are)
  • Rental equipment (we sometimes have to rent gear and this is a cost that should be factored into a quote for our clients)

Another consideration for photography equipment is that over time there is wear and tear on your gear and equipment needs to be repaired, serviced, cleaned and then eventually upgraded. 

One of our studio lights recently required a new flash tube and that set us back a cool $374!

professional-photography- legendary social media vancouver

Three. Editing Software

So once your photographs have been taken, they then need to be processed. This usually requires software like:

These require a subscription and have fees (either monthly or yearly). 

Four. Other Digital Tools

Nothing in life is free, even the software used to deliver edited photographs to our clients. We use Pixieset (a local Vancouver app) but there are other similar (paid) subscription-based apps out there that do the same thing. 

Even a simple tool like Google Drive requires a subscription so we can host the thousands of photos we capture every month.

Five. Experience and Skillset 

Whether a photographer has had professional training or is self-taught, they have likely spent years learning, honing their craft and developing their own personal style of work. 

“If I do a job in 30 minutes it’s because I spent 10 years learning how to do that in 30 minutes. You owe me for the years, not the minutes”. ~Davy Greenberg

Our very own photographer, Kat, studied photography at Newcastle College. Learning and gaining a practical skillset that she has been able to apply to her work for the past 10 years. As part of her previous work as an eCommerce photographer for a fashion brand, she has also gained a unique eye for styling, paying particular attention to detail and working in a fast-paced environment. 

Final thoughts

Like most things, you get what you pay for when it comes to professional photography.

Photography, including social media photography, is much more than:

  • Show up
  • Shoot
  • Edit
  • Send

There’s planning, equipment, experience and hard costs to factor in as well. The great thing is, photography is a powerfully impactful marketing asset that lends huge credibility, shareability and presence to your brand.

5 essential tips from a professional social media photographer

You have the ability to stop social media users in their scrolling tracks with striking photography! Our professional photographer & content creator, Kat, put together her 5 top tips to help you create better social media photography to gain the attention of your followers. 

One. Lighting

Light is probably the single most important part of photography. The type of light you choose shapes the look and feel of your photos. Often brands pick a style of light and stick with it. Ever heard the terms ‘light and airy’ or ‘dark and moody’ thrown around about social media photography? These words pertain to LIGHT. 

Some other terms you might have heard:

  • Natural light 
  • Studio light 
  • Harsh light 
  • Soft light 
  • Golden hour light 
  • Flat light
  • Backlit 

If you don’t have professional lighting equipment then you need to learn about natural lighting and what time of day will work best for you. If you’re solely relying on natural light, then invest in a reflector. Reflectors are usually inexpensive but have the ability to bounce light, filling in shadows as well as blocking harsh light.

Pro tip: Avoid shooting at midday as this is the brightest light of the day and is very challenging to work with. Midday sun brings harsh shadows, heavy contrast and if you’re working with models = squinting!

Two. Backgrounds

Use simple backgrounds/backdrops when shooting products to ensure the focus remains on the product or subject matter. Here at Legendary, we use seamless backdrop rolls from BD Backgrounds as well as slabs of marble, tile and wood flooring, available from DIY stores such as Home Depot

social-media-photographer-legendary social media vancouver

Three. Framing & Composition

Don’t be afraid of negative space or cropping out some of your subject matter. Play around with your framing to create a more interesting image. I personally love shooting through sheer fabrics, flowers or other foliage making the edges of the images slightly blurred to create an interesting composition. 

photography-legendary social media vancouver4. Props 

Add interest to your product/flat lay photography with props! 

So, for this one, it’s key to remember that your props should compliment your product or subject matter – add appropriate details or highlight key ingredients. For example, the images above highlight the flavours of the Refresh beers we shot for Steamworks Brewery. Photography is a form of storytelling, so what are you trying to communicate with your image?

Prop suggestions: 

  • Textures (fabrics, ribbon, cheesecloth etc)
  • Flowers
  • Ingredients (fruits, nuts, lavender, eucalyptus)
  • Bottles, straws, balloons, sunglasses, bags, towels
  • Dishes, trays, cake stands, cheese boards
  • Paper, envelopes, cards, scissors, stamps, stationary 

5. Editing

We use Lightroom for image selecting/culling and basic adjustments (such as colour correction) as we can batch this and apply to all our selected images. 

Here at Legendary, we like our work to look clear and crisp. Of course, most of the work is done in-camera to ensure this but we do add sharpness in Photoshop as well other basic adjustments (levels and curves if more is required) and retouching on any unwanted marks and splodges.

We also recommend ensuring that your editing styles remain consistent so your social feed reflects this consistency and your brand becomes more recognizable. 

There are also a plethora of mobile apps available if you’re using your phone: 

Pro tip: Consider compressing your images for web usage by using photo optimization software that will compress file size with compromising image quality, such as Jpeg mini

Are you aware that Legendary is now offering product and social media photography as a standalone service?

We’re creating imagery that tells a story, inspires a feeling and stops a scroll! 

Social media photographer services now available

We have some exciting news! We’re now offering product photography as a standalone service to brands located anywhere. 

That means beautifully styled photographs you can use on:

  • Social Media
  • eCommerce websites
  • Email marketing
  • Print marketing materials & signage 

Our social media photographer has shot for…

We recently shared a post showcasing some of our social media photography for Steamworks Brewing Co. Our in-house photographer and content creator Kat has been shooting & styling from home during COVID-19 to create fun and eye catching product photography for the Refresh and the Steamworks Instagram accounts. 

We have also been working with The Facial Room for over a year to create their social media, website and email marketing photography. With our social media photography, The Facial Room is able to showcase their products and promotions in a beautiful and unique way. 

Professional photography is incredibly valuable to any business or brand as it allows you to showcase your products & services to potential customers instead of telling them. Humans are visual creatures after all. 

social-media-photography- legendary social media vancouver

 

Step up your Instagram game with social media photography

Your potential customers could discover you on Instagram. This is your opportunity to give them insight into what you have to offer. The photography you chose to use forms the backbone of your marketing. It sets the tone and initial perception of your brand. High quality photos will elevate your brand perception. 

Professional photography is versatile! By investing in photography, you can use your images cross-sectionally across different media platforms and improve user experience: 

  • Website landing pages
  • Website banners
  • Website eCommerce
  • Email content marketing 
  • Social media
  • Printed marketing materials

social-media-photgrapher- legendary social media vancouver

 

Why a professional social media photographer is worth the $$

Look, Instagram is a noisy space. You know what stops people from scrolling?

Pictures. Really stunning ones.

And when people stop scrolling, they notice your brand. Getting noticed can lead to followers and sales.

We see this every day with the accounts we shoot social media photography for, and we would love to do the same for you. 

SEO tip for eCommerce photography

The images on your website will contribute to your SEO, by having alt tags and descriptions, you’re allowing search engines to understand the content of your website. 

Some of the products that could benefit from professional photography:

  • Skincare
  • Clothing & apparel
  • Food
  • Beverages 
  • Home decor 

By using Legendary Social Media’s professional social media photographer services, we’ll help capture the essence of your brand and further develop your brand identity – bringing what’s unique about your business to the forefront of your marketing. 

Get in touch with us for a custom quote on any of the following:

  • One-off product or brand photoshoot
  • Regular monthly photoshoots
  • Bi-monthly photoshoots

PS we also offer stop-motion video! If you’re interested in any of these services, please contact us!