Question: Why do you charge what you charge?
This is a great question. I like to think of it like when you go shopping for a product. Let's say I want face wash, and I can get the bargain brand face wash, or I can get the middle ground one, OR I can get the one from a reputable company who specializes in face wash. Now the bargain brand is fine. It's going to get the job one, but probably not as fast or as effective. I am trusting that product to serve its purpose with PRICE being the main intent behind my choice, as well as the product being a knock off of another one (*"compared to such and such face wash" written on the bottom) that other people buy. Now I can also go middle ground, which serves as getting the job done, and also being from someone reputable. Not only is it effective, but it's the original, and I can base it off of a company I trust, with a reasonable price.
But then you see the product that's the most expensive. That face wash you know is bound to be good because not only do the back up results with many reviews based on the PRODUCT'S EFFECTIVENESS but also the JOY of having a company they trust to buy it from who backs it up and can support you. This face wash though, comes with a price. The question is, how bad do you want the face wash? Is it worth sacrificing it for the results?
Welcome to photography. You can replace face wash with make up (Mac vs Target brand), purses (Walmart vs Coach) or even cakes (Kroger vs Professional Baker). All handiwork comes with costs. Now what determines it is our time we put in (editing pictures, taking them), our equipment (our cameras lenses and editing software) we use to get the results, and YOU ,the consumer, who wants what we have.
I charge what I charge because what I need to use, and the time I spend using it, costs me greatly, and since I know you are buying my product, to achieve those results, I know you can understand why I need to charge it. But then, you may notice I split us up into categories based on price and product quality...
Here's an example for you regarding photographers and where your needs can be met, based on what you want.
Do you want a photographer who says: "I have the lowest prices, and give you all the digital images and you only pay for your session...etc etc etc."
You are looking for a beginner, OR your looking for someone to just get the job done and make a quick buck off of what you want. Quick, fast and cheap. But here's the problem with that. You pay negatively for the quality when you don't pay for the quantity and vice versa. So when you see so and so who has adorable one year old pictures that are original and in focus and magazine material--don't go to this photographer and show her pinterest and think you will get these results. It's not real or fair to either of you, or the budget you are wanting to stick to.
Do you want a photographer who says: "I have prices comparable to others, but my own style, and I charge a session and digital fees/print fees that can meet most budgets"
I know this is where I fit in at this stage of my photography, and so I charge it. I give you my time and make sure you are happy. I am the original, not a copycat, and I want to achieve that each session. I'm learning each session, and building my portfolio to achieve greater prices based on improving results and experiences. I'm here when you need me at business times, and don't see you as dollar to be made, but a client's trust to earn. If you give me ideas on what you want, it's my job to not copy, but achieve that desire at your budget's requirements.
Do you want the photographer who says: "This is what I specialize in, and I have a passion for it, and so this is what you pay for this experience I want to give you!"
Welcome to THE photographer. She/He is the one who is going to MEET your needs, and then EXCEED what you wanted with results that are on point every time. Keep in mind this person can charge what they do because they have not only gained the experience, but they also have gained a lot of time and equipment managing that goes into this special look and feel of their images and products they provide. The experience alone is worth the money, and they show it time and again that this is their life and their passion.
Now let me just say, there are going to be people who are one of these people at one point in time in their photography careers. We all start out as something like the first one, then move to the second kind--and if we really are willing to invest time, money and the whole enchilada's worth--the third one.
So the next time you want to ask so and so why they do not charge what everyone else does, consider this: Would you ask MAC to sell their products at Target prices? How about Coach coming off those prices and gear more towards Walmart's prices? No, because not only would they say no, but it's insulting to the person who designed that product and spent that time and money into it to give you such great results. We charge what we charge because it's our product, our livelihood that we are giving you and at your budget's expense. If you don't want to pay it, then don't, but remember you pay what you pay for, and lack thereof. It's worth it to have the experience, not just subpar results :) Because it's your memories we capture, not just your family. And they are pretty priceless...