Photography Prices. . . What’s “Normal”?


What’s a “normal” price or pricing for weddings, portraits, families, maternity, or anything else? That eventual question often arises when photography services are desired. A simple google search will reveal that there is a great deal of confusion regarding this point. Even though every genre of photography will have its own range of prices, we all still want to know. . . what is that magical middle price in each genre?


Unfortunately this is not easily answered since photography is a mix of business, art, and aesthetics. These points alone make pricing somewhat difficult to judge. But if you consider a few points regarding market, professionalism, and product offerings, you will have a decent grasp on what range of prices are what would be deemed “normal”.



What is the Market?


The broadest and most general point is market. As you might expect, prices in Los Angeles, California will be considerably different than prices in Madison, Wisconsin. 


Location of the market always affects prices.


That said, when hunting for prices, be mindful of where the photographer/photography is located. Market saturation and professional placement within each market will have a great deal of influence on prices.



Professional or Non-Professional?


Photography is not just photography. Professionals understand a vast world of knowledge beyond that of non-professionals. Lighting (flash and natural), art (aesthetics, composition and color theory, psychology of imagery, etc. . .), technical skill (camera and lighting equipment), and other areas of expertise all factor into creating imagery that a non-professional cannot create.


That skill and knowledge will factor into the professional’s prices. Similarly to any professional area, a great deal of time, effort, and learning has gone into the creation of a professional practice. Professional imagery almost always requires professional training of some kind. Thus pricing will coordinate with the time and effort that has been put into the professional learning process.


Conversely, non-professional prices generally are lower that their professional counterparts. Non-professionals use photography as either a part-time job or as a enthusiastic hobby. That said, a great and noticeable difference in quality will generally be seen between a professional and non-professional. Accordingly, their prices will be low for non-professionals. 


Their are caveats though. Such as professionals that are just starting out and non-professionals that have exceeding talent. Many times, professionals will lower their prices will just starting out in a market in order to establish a clientele. Their skill is quite high, but their prices will be lower in order to build their presence in the market. Also, their do exist non-professionals that will challenge even the best in the professional world. Granted that this in not generally seen, but it does occur on rare occasions.


All this to say that considering whether the photographer is a professional or non-professional will make a very big difference in regard to their pricing.


What are they offering?


Is the photographer offering albums, prints, websites, apps, or any other products with their packages? Is retouching included in the imagery? What the photographer is offering with their photography will have much to do with their prices. 


One must also consider the quality of their products. Albums for example are a dime a dozen, but only a few companies provide truly professional archival quality products that are both luxurious and archival. 


Unfortunately, photographers marketing substandard products as professional products abounds. In some cases this is intentional while others are unintentional due to the vast array of product vendors available to photographers. Often this problem can be circumvented by noting the reasons why the products are both professional AND archival (more on this another time).

Retouching and processing is another example. This is an offering that can create a substantial difference in pricing. If the photographer is doing their own processing and retouching, this can take a great deal of time and effort (20 or above hours on the high end). If the photographer is outsourcing to a professional processor and retoucher, then those prices must factor into the equation as well.


In Conclusion


If you consider these three points and try to weigh them out in regard to a particular genre of photography, you will begin to see how the pricing begins to balance. Truly one would be very hard pressed to say that their is a specific “normal” price in any particular area of photography. But if you follow these basic guidelines, a range of “normal” prices will begin to present themselves.

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