These are two questions that I get a lot. I’m sure most photographers do. My answer is simple: what is your reason for wanting to hire a professional photographer? Do you want to capture a special time in your life by an artist or do you want snapshots? Artists like to see their art showcased in a form that honours it and photographers are no different. As an artist, my goal is to create something beautiful to display in your home, whether as a gallery wrap (an image stretched on canvas like a painting – see example below), a framed print or an album. To give the digital files would be like giving away a sketch of a painting and not even the canvas to reproduce it on. In other words, incomplete art. I do, however, include the finished files in my top collection and top two wedding packages because I also understand wanting copies of those memories for safe keeping and this is a way of thanking my clients who have invested in finished art and value my work and the time I spent creating it.
Back to the first question, most people understand what an 8×10 is in terms of size and think of it as a substantial enlargement because we got so used to getting 4×6 prints back from the lab and now seeing even smaller images on our computer screens. The amazing thing about photography is how accessible is has become with the advent of digital cameras but the tragedy is that photography as an art form has been hurt in the process. You cannot compare what it costs to get a vacation snapshot enlarged to 8×10 with what it cost to purchase an 8×10 gift print from professional photographer. It would be like asking why a painting sells for x amount when you know the canvas and paint only cost so much. Or why a meal in a great restaurant costs so much more than the ingredients used to make it. It’s not about the size and type of paper the photograph is printed on (though quality professional paper does cost more than what the 1-hour lab uses!). The real value comes from the years of training, technique and time it takes to create something worthy of calling art. Art is about making you feel something. If done well, it will be worth so much more than any price tag attached to it. I recently attended a workshop with photographer Doug Box. He had a client that grumbled about how much a large framed print would cost him. Doug then asked how much he paid for his leather couch under where the frame would hang. When the man told him what he paid, he asked what would be worth more to him in 20 years, the leather couch or a portrait of his family. It was a light bulb moment!
Yes, professional photography requires an investment and yes, like in other industries there are star photographers who have managed to be seen and hired by the elite so the demand for them warrants their higher prices but there are more affordable options. But beware when it becomes too affordable! You may save money but you may be sadly disappointed with the results. Read my blog: Avoid Hiring a Cheap Photographer to see why I feel so strongly about investing in a quality professional photographer for your wedding. And for a more in depth breakdown of costs associated with being a professional portrait photographer and why an 8×10 costs more with us than a big box portrait studio, please read this wonderful article: Why Does Custom Photography Cost More?
I hope this helps more people see the value of investing in professional photography to capture those important milestones in your life and your children’s lives.
Your Ottawa Portrait & Wedding Photographer,