Six Reasons Why Top-Notch Professional Photographers Are Expensive

Most top-notch photographers charge expensive fees for the projects they do. While some people understand the reason for this, others complain and question.

Foremost among these is the fact that often photo sessions last only for a few hours, not days. But this just goes to show that not everyone knows what really happens when a photographer springs into action and decides to take on a project. For starters, do you know that photographers start working on a project weeks — sometimes even months — before the actual date of the shoot?

Six Reasons Why Top-Notch Professional Photographers Are Expensive

There are more similar facts a lot of people do not know about or understand. These explain why the best photographers ask a “higher than average” rate.

Why The Best Photographers Charge More

Photographers work for long hours. Yes, they do. Only those who work closely with them know this. If a project is scheduled for next month, the finest photographers start working right after the deal is finalized or closed. So even if the photoshoot is still one month or three weeks away, a professional photographer will already start working on pre-production details. In reality, most pro photographers work not only for several hours, but for days.

Here are the reasons why top-notch professional photographers ask for expensive project fees.

1. They Sacrifice Time And Energy.

A photo session or project has hidden hours. As explained in the previous paragraph, photographers start working ahead of the original shoot schedule. This can range from several days before or a couple of weeks earlier. As such, a one-hour photo session is not just that. That one-hour shoot is just the tip of the iceberg.

While the client sees the photographer working for only one hour, this is not all there is. The truth is, days (or weeks) before the shoot, the photographer has already started working by checking the location ahead, planning the shots, meeting with the creative team (including the makeup artist and stylist/wardrobe consultant), and talking to the client several times. Sometimes, a photographer may even do a mock up shoot at the location just to see what the effect will be like; or to find out if the creative plans are suitable to the location.

During the actual photoshoot, the photographer may take several minutes just to get one right angle. But this does not give you a complete picture of what happens behind the curtains, so to speak. You have to consider the styling, the makeup, and even the time of travel to get to the location. Oftentimes, they have to travel to more than one location.

Photo Editing

After the photoshoot, the photographer’s work is not yet done. Instead of relaxing, the photographer goes to the studio to work on the post-production aspects of each shot. This means choosing which images to use and then editing them. This is the time when basic edits, such as adjustments in exposure, highlights, shadows, sharpness, saturation, and other retouching work, are done. One hour is not enough for this. This can go for four or five hours (at the minimum) as well as span multiple days.

So if you’re compensating your professional photographer thousands of dollars, you’re not only paying for the services rendered in just one photoshoot session; you’re actually paying for work that was done over a period of days.

2. Professional Photography Is A Skill. It Involves Expertise.

Having a camera and knowing how to use it does not automatically make you a professional photographer. Photography is a skill that you need to develop, improve, and nurture through practice, learning, and experience. It is not something that you do occasionally. In other words, the best photographers are professionals who possess a specific skill-set not common to anybody.

Let’s say you’re a doctor or nurse. Would it be all right for you to get paid below the minimum to do something you were trained for? Something you are an expert of; and something only you — and not all your patients — know? It’s the same story for photographers. Your friend can always say, “I can take good photos of you. I have an expensive DSLR”. But having pricey gear does not guarantee the finest result, which only a professional photographer can deliver. You pay the photographer for their skill and expertise.

3. They Are Artists.

A photographer’s works are masterpieces. They become more valuable as the years go by. A $50 fee is not enough to honor a masterpiece.

Photography Studio

4. A Professional Photographer’s Gear Is Expensive.

Premium photographers do not use just any gear; they use the best. And they do not just borrow from someone; they buy their own equipment. Some of the best DSLR cameras (body only) can cost thousands of dollars. And you have to pair the camera to an excellent lens, which will add another thousands of dollars.

For photographers their gear is their investment, but these are investments that each client takes advantage of. Without a camera, the photographer will not be able to take the shots you want.

And you wouldn’t want your hired photographer to use old equipment, would you? Would you rather have a 10-year old camera with scratched lenses over a more expensive new one? The quality of the equipment a photographer uses has a big effect on the outcome of the shoot/project.

5. Photography Is Not A Multinational Enterprise. It Is A Small Business.

Although there are big photography studios, these are not comparable to big-name companies with millions in budget. Most photographers operate out of their homes or home studios. They spend their own money and use the facilities and utilities of their homes. They do not have employee insurance and other benefits.

6. Top-notch Professional Photographers Have A Strong Following.

Top-notch and popular professional photographers already have a following or a fan base. People follow all their activities, events, projects, and even their travels. Whatever they post on social media can go viral. This kind of media mileage and exposure can only be good for you and your project. Again, you are taking advantage of something that the photographer had invested on. You should be grateful.


These are just six reasons why first-rate professional photographers ask for expensive project fees. What these tell you is the fact that photographers work hard at whatever they do. They invest a lot — sometimes, even more than they should — in every project they undertake. And for these, they should be rewarded well.