Before I entered the world of business, I always wanted to give images for a price that I would have been comfortable paying myself. $100-$150 was my ideal goal for images. I now know different. Let me explain why.
I potentially do 1 session per week, often on a weekend day. I spend the next week editing said session and marketing my business, so I've put a week of work into it.
At 1 session every week of $150, I would bring in approximately $600/month (IF I book up completely). Now, my babysitter would cost me $160, bringing my take home profit down to $440/month (working full time for the entire month). My insurance runs me $50/month. I'm now sitting at $390. Bank account- (it costs to have a business bank account) $10; photoshop $10; website $25. $345 take home, per month, working daily and often late into the night for this business IF I fill up my bookings. Now, guys, my camera cost me $2,000 (used and refurbished) and requires periodic service and cleaning. My lenses- I own 4 right now that I use in this business, cost me about $3,500. I also have purchased various props, lights, backdrops, and camera gear. These were my startup costs that I need to put back into my personal account at some point. At the end of the year, it will cost me about $400 just to have my taxes prepared, not including the taxes I'll have to pay federally at the end of the year.
So, working around the clock, for less than $350 a month, 30% of which I'll have to give to the government AFTER I spend $400 on actually filing the taxes. This is why it's not sustainable as a business to charge $150 for a session and deliver 80 images. The photographers who charge less than $100 and deliver the entire album are usually operating under the radar, potentially committing felonies evading taxes, and don't typically have insurance (which is supposed to be a requirement to legally shot in almost every location you see). Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing these photographers! All photographers start somewhere, and these are hobbyist prices. I myself offered sessions for hobbyist prices, and charged $150 only 3 months ago! But, eventually, photography business evolves and as photographers stray away from a hobby and become legitimate full-time professionals, they learn the cost of doing business and business sustainability.
This is why I cannot offer sessions at these prices often. I simply cannot afford to, I must have income at the end of the year to pay the tax collector.
Are the photographers who are charging these prices good? Many, yes! But their costs of doing business are different than mine, and I'm simply not willing to part with my children and sacrifice my time for so little.
When you calculate it out, before expenses (Yes, BEFORE any money is taken out for babysitting, fees, and insurance), doing 1 session a week at my LOWEST package price ($250), will put me at about $12,000 a year in income. That puts it at one of the lowest paying jobs possible, well under poverty level. After my expenses? $4,140 BEFORE TAXES. 4 Grand a YEAR people! I'd have to work around the clock for 2 years just to pay off my gear doing photos for my lowest session fee of $250.
I have spent countless hours learning and perfecting my craft, as so many other photographers have before me, and many will after. This is not simply a "click a button and be done" art. The time alone that I put into this passion has cost me dearly, time away from my kids, away from my husband. Time I will never get back. My time is valuable to me. My art is valuable to me. Is it valuable to you?