Saturday, January 15, 2011

I'm gonna be a Millionaire! | Bedford, Ma Photography

I was talking to my friend the other day about why *blankety-blank* costs so much money when you know it only costs them about 2 cents to make their product. We were discussing why there was a need for a 2000% markup and why they didn't bother to tell anyone about it. We decided that the only fair thing to do would be to make their costs transparent and inform their consumers of these things... which got me thinking about my own business...

"You charge $125 for ONE hour of photography! And you sold $1,000 in prints!! Wow, you're going to be rich!"

As much as I wish this were the case, unfortunately it is not. And this post is going to tell you why.

Many years ago I had a friend come to me stark raving mad. He said he worked 20 whole hours that pay period and since he was getting paid $6/hr he should have a $120 paycheck. But instead, his check was $80.  He just KNEW they'd made an accounting error and he was going to let the Asst. Mgr have it for shorting him so much money. This was our first introduction to the wonderful world of Taxes.

When you pay $1,000 to a photographer for prints or services, guess how much actually goes into our bank account? About $750. Right off the bat. Taxes, Social Security, Medicare, all those little codes you see on your paycheck don't automatically come out of ours, we have to take it out of what you give us.

Then we take that $750 and subtract what it cost us to purchase your products. This is usually around 30% of the total, which is $300 in this model. Why so much? Because quality printer ink that doesn't smear, fade or ruin your colors costs more than what Walmart or Sears hands you. Your professional photographer uses high quality paper and ink that is true to life color, fade resistant, finger print proof, long lasting and even water resistant! So this leaves us with $450 left.

$450 is still GREAT for 1 photo shoot, right? Not so fast. We still haven't calculated the cost of the camera equipment, licenses, software, computers and office/studio. Subtract another 20% of the total to cover those bases. $250 left.

Now you might think to yourself "$250/hr? I'm still not seeing the problem. OJ's lawyers didn't even get paid that much!"

How long do you think it takes to get a photograph from this:

to this:

It takes several minutes per image and that's only for minor touch ups. Larger edits like removing things from the background, swapping heads, etc. can take hours per photo. For the sake of the blog, I'm going to round each session off to about 15 hours of editing. Plus travel, uploading, organizing, backups, consultations, ordering session, the actual shoot time, etc. That makes about 28 hours of work you need to be paid for. Out of $250. Do you know how much that is? Just under $9/hr. Now I don't know about you, but I haven't made $9/hr since I was 17 years old.

So why do we do it? Why do we work so hard for $9/hr? Because we love what we do. I personally LOVE capturing a little girl's giggles as she plays with bubbles. I LOVE providing still images of their child's perfect dimples and rosy cheeks to parents. To think I only had to put in 28 hours of work to give a mother a memory on canvas that she'll hang on her wall for the next 3 generations actually makes me teary eyed. I know you're thinking, "Okay lady, you need to put down the Oreos and Lifetime movies and take a sanity break. Crying over pictures?" But I'm a mother. I'm a daughter. My husband and I come from tough backgrounds and we have very precious few photos of ourselves as we grew up, or our passed family members we miss so dearly. Photos are captured memories, and memories are priceless. I do this because I love watching as my clients' children grow up each year and my clients grow with them. It's an amazing gift to be allowed to take these beautiful lives and capture them on film (or a memory card...). Maybe someday I'll make a monetary profit off my work and really be a millionaire, but until then, I'll count the memories as payment and consider myself wealthier than most.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post. You break it down so nicely.

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