Everything I do, is for the client, really, truly. It takes an incredible amount of work to produce photographs. What photographers do behind the scenes is too often misunderstood, understated, or simply unknown. At the end of this post there are links to more information. Also, I'd be happy to personally help anyone who'd like to know more, photographers or non-photographers.
A Few Misconceptions:
A one hour session does not equal one hour of work. It's equal to about 6-10 (pre-shoot, shoot, post shoot). When you book a photographer for a session, you're more than likely booking their time for at least a day's worth of work.
A free session is not a small favor. A free session for you is a photographer taking a pay cut, that's a HUGE favor. The time we spend on the free session, is time we can't spend on a paid session. We'd rather just pick up ice for your party like a normal friend.
Photographers spend the majority of their time editing, they can not hand over unedited photographs. Editing is part of the craft, you would never ask a baker to cut cost corners by not adding sugar or icing to their cake.
Photographers are not their own boss, they have hundreds of bosses. They are their own managers.
Our equipment does not make us good photographers. The oven does not make a good baker.
What Photographers Actually Do:
The majority of full-time, professional photographers, work MORE hours per week than the national average, yet, make LESS than the national average income. (That's over 40 hrs/week, but under 50,000/yr) It's upsetting that society believes all we do is play with our cameras.
My job is never "just take pictures". Aside from the hour session I was photographing, my job also includes endless hours of: downloading files, sifting to find perfect shots, editing those perfect shots, uploading files, backing up files, invoicing, book keeping, scheduling, rescheduling, setting up, breaking down, communicating, thinking about my client's custom needs, maintaining and replacing my cameras, lenses, hard drives, and computers, AND dedicating many of my "off the clock" time to bettering my skills to give you a better product.
My Least Favorite Potential-Client Story:
The phone rings, it's an unknown number. "Probably a potential client", I think. I answer, "Hello, this is Lindsey". The person on the line has photography needs, so I excitedly ask many questions and we chat for 15 minutes. Things are rolling along, eventually we start talking schedules and prices, and then their voice goes from optimistic to cruel, quickly.
"That's insane, that's more than my lawyer, a few snapshots isn't worth that much", they state with disrespectful confidence.
My heart drops, my fingers get sweaty, the phone slips a bit, and they have temporarily destroyed my confidence in my work, my business, and worse, myself. I respond as simply and civilly as I can, "I suppose I'm just not the right photographer for your needs, thank you for calling, good luck with your search".
Why I Photograph for a Living:
I know you want to hear that I love it and it's worth it. And of course, that's true. The truth is that I make a living of it so that I can create great photography for people who need it, want it, and appreciate it. As a full time photographer I'm able to complete creative projects with purpose, with deadlines, with the right models and props, at the right locations, and capturing the right moments. If I was a part time photographer, my skills would also be part-time. If I wasn't a professional photographer, you wouldn't get professional results.
I dedicate endless hours to the craft for the evolution of it all; not just my art, not just the field of photography, but the image as product for the person that wished it to exist. It truly is, ALL FOR YOU.
Why Photographers Can't Shoot for Free by Tony Wu
You Can Earn More Working Full-Time at Starbucks
Bureau of Labor Statistics for Photographers
An Angry Photographer Who's Really Good at Math