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The Art & Investment of Custom Photography

I just learned about a great in-depth article written by Marianne Drenthe on Custom Photography. What is custom photography, and how should you choose a professional photographer? Why does custom photography cost so much more than the chain studios? What exactly is Lifestyle Photography or Photojournalism? This fantastic article addresses all these questions and more.

I especially like her breakdown of the time involved in just one portrait session. Many people might not realize just how much time goes into a single portrait session. A lot of people might think once the session is over, the work is basically done. That simply is not the case. For instance, did you know that I rarely photograph more than 3-4 clients in one week? I estimate my time per session to average about 6 hours. During the holiday portrait months of September and October, with the support of my family, I accept many more sessions per week to meet demand. So now you know why I take December off!

How does one session require so much time? Here is an excerpt from Marianne’s article with a breakdown [with my personal averages added in brackets]:

Session prep time {30 mins – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks + vehicle checks}
[1 to 2 hours] with client photographing subject
30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images
1-5 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images
2-3 hours time with client for ordering images [my average is less than 1 hour since I do not usually meet with clients in person for ordering]
30 min -1 hour sorting through and checking order
30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery
any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, [questions regarding images, changes in finishes, etc.]

As you can see, average client time for a session goes beyond just the time spent shooting the images that go into a gallery portfolio. Of course, this varies dependent on the photographer’s level of service. This is time dedicated only to your session. When the photographer charges a session fee for the photo shoot you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for the complete time dedicated for your session.

This list does not include some of the time requirements for running a business in general, such as bookkeeping, phone calls and session planning with prospective clients, time spent on the phone, website and blog maintenance, and ongoing photographic study and artistic development. It really adds up!

Take a peek if you’d like to read more …

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