Why is good photography expensive?

If you’ve ever worked with a good photographer, then you’ve learned that good photography is expensive.

Why is it?

Because good photography is not easy.

The photographer might make it look so. They might not seem stressed or even like they are having fun, but don’t confuse expertise with ease. They are not the same thing.

And the truth is, bad photography is more expensive than good photography.

Bad photography wastes time, money and memories. Whether you’re getting pictures of your baby or your wedding, imagine the cost of trying to do that again if you don’t like the photos. You might be able to have another perfectly peaceful moment with your baby but no one in the history of mankind has spent money redoing their wedding because their photography was lame.

Good stuff is expensive.

It should be. This principle applies to web design, writing, and almost every other field or industry on the planet.

If you don’t believe me, go take your own photos first.

And if you want to become a better photographer, take the brand new 90 Days of Business Hustle Course. It starts in a few weeks and will help you turn a passion into a profession.

(The top photo is from Jennifer Lea Photography and the second is from Corinne McCombs Photography a few years before she became a photographer!)


  • Nick
    Posted at 05:44h, 31 March Reply

    Ouch. Poor kid.

  • David Johnston
    Posted at 06:04h, 31 March Reply

    As a photographer, from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!!!

    • Alysa
      Posted at 12:48h, 31 March Reply

      Yes, me too!!

      • Amaris
        Posted at 13:03h, 31 March Reply

        Amen AMEN AMEN AMEN!
        Thank you so much, for saying what we all want to say.

      • Doug
        Posted at 17:20h, 01 April Reply

        Great message thank you

    • Annie
      Posted at 14:30h, 06 April Reply

      I appreciate the sentiment behind this article — truly. However, it is a little frustrating to see that the pricing of one of the “good photographers” mentioned is all-inclusive for $450.

      $450 isn’t expensive. It is cutthroat.

      Her work is beautiful…and her images are worth more than $15 each. Sad to see the industry come to this. It isn’t a sustainable business model and it trains the consumer to view custom photography as something that is only worth $15.

      • Sarah
        Posted at 23:41h, 09 April Reply

        Annie, that’s the nature of the business world. If you want business, you offer your services at what others can afford (and what can attract business). Back in a booming economy before DSLR’s were the norm, higher prices were also the norm. That worked great when people could afford to pay it. Personally, I LOVE photography, but I didn’t feel that I could charge more than $150 for a 1-2 hour session and make money… even with that, business was sporadic and not frequent enough to say that I made an equal amount with that as I did with my part time big-box store job. . I still love photography, but I went back to school for a more stable profession that will be in no matter the market (healthcare) with the income from which, I can also buy better photography gear and be more choosy as to what I shoot… and if I want to charge an arm and a leg for a shoot ($450 seems kinda pricey to me for a typical 1-2 hour disc included shoot, minimal editing) then I will feel better about advertising, since I do not have to depend upon the income from that now. I do portraiture and not live events, so… if people feel out the time because they hate the photographs, then worst case, no charge and no prints and maybe a bad review. Best case, $450 for 1-2 hours. Honestly, I do not see why you feel that is a cutthroat price unless you are just used to the way things were when the economy was ideal.

        • Gary - orlando photographers
          Posted at 12:59h, 14 April Reply

          I see good points in your argument, and it’s hard to simplify a business down to a number. $450 may be a lot in one market and not much in another. However there is so much more than 1-2 hours that go in to the creation of the images. If you own a business and know about managerial accounting you know that the cost of bringing goods to market is what determines the base price, not just the physical cost of the items or the artist’s time. Any photographer has to price their services and goods in such a way that it covers the cost of owning their business and producing the finished product.

          We pay for marketing, insurance, equipment, licensing, taxes, websites, salary, utilities, studio rental the list goes on and on. If you have another job and (illegally) take photography assignments on the weekends while having no insurance, license, rent, taxes or any other costs, $450 does seem like a good amount of money to make, but when you have an actual legitimate business it isn’t much at all.

          I guess my point is that it’s relative and depends on many factors. But I guarantee you this: Someone who undercharges will not be in business for too long because they will get burnt out working for so little and realize they could make much more doing something else, or they will get smart and raise their prices.

          Good thought-provoking discussion, thanks!

        • Laura
          Posted at 07:50h, 01 June Reply

          But even at $450 a session after taxes it is only $270. And then add in your other costs if you have any. If you are doing a newborn you can minus another $100 for props. So then you are left with $170. Minus out any other expenses and then you have what you have. Most of us are not okay with spending at least 10 hours on a session and making $17 an hour. I photograph births and I’m on call for 3 weeks, 24/7. And that is not including the hours to shoot the actual birth. I’m seeing people doing those for as low as $2.00 an hour. Birth photography is work $2.00 an hour?

      • Bob
        Posted at 10:18h, 11 April Reply

        Try hiring some other professional service person like an auto mechanic a landscaper a grass cutter a tree guy an accountant or anybody else and see how long they work for $450. You could always find somebody to do it cheaper than somebody else but then you’re going to get your tulips chopped off who knows what a cheap accountant might do with your finances.

        Also keep in mind that when the photography shoot is over the photographers work is only about half done. then there’s retouching color correcting printing making albums etc. You can hire cheap photographer but don’t expect results like the picture above

  • David Mike
    Posted at 06:05h, 31 March Reply

    The “nailed it” pics are my favorite!

  • Caleb
    Posted at 06:29h, 31 March Reply

    What about giving photo credit to the second photo? Oh, wait that was yours. 🙂

  • Dusty Marie
    Posted at 07:38h, 31 March Reply

    Could not agree with this more! My family decided to use “close friends” and their mediocre equipment to document my wedding six years ago. There is a reason those photos are buried in a box deep in the dark recesses of a closet…

    • Joseph Lalonde
      Posted at 13:14h, 31 March Reply

      Because they’re wedding pictures?

      • Annie
        Posted at 14:23h, 06 April Reply

        Your joke says more about you and your ignorance than it does about wedding photography itself.

  • Zechariah
    Posted at 09:30h, 31 March Reply

    Very true. We pay more then money when we try to cut costs. Most of the time things that are more expensive are worth it.

  • Abbigail Kriebs
    Posted at 09:40h, 31 March Reply

    As a photographer, thank you! It makes such a difference to have the right equipment, the right eye, the right training & experience … and sometimes we still fail (esp. in our own eyes!). I think the big mistake is that most people see the photo taking, where the photographer is all smiles and helpful suggestions for an hour – and not the four or five hour post-session editing binge where they upload and tweak and obsess.

    • Monica
      Posted at 11:25h, 31 March Reply

      You are so right !!!

  • Emily
    Posted at 10:03h, 31 March Reply

    That applies to just about every single service.

    Good _____(design, photography, assistants, marketing,etc.)____ costs money.

    • Anna
      Posted at 10:18h, 31 March Reply

      TRUTH, Emily!

  • Mary
    Posted at 10:08h, 31 March Reply

    Right on! My husband is a photographer…we understand this all too well!

  • Mel
    Posted at 10:09h, 31 March Reply

    We had a horrible time with our wedding photography. Here is the thing, I do web design,really good web design. I had a friend who was a photographer andwe agreed in an exchange of services for my wedding.BIG Mistake

    • r.
      Posted at 11:23h, 31 March Reply

      I’m a web designer too and also traded for wedding photography (from a stranger that I found on craigslist…). The photos she took of my husband and I before the wedding were great. There was natural light, the setting was beautiful, and she got some good shots. However, the ones inside the church where not very good. I wanted to get outside and do them in the natural light, but for some reason everyone was in a rush, and I let everyone else dictate instead of pushing what I wanted (which I believe a good wedding photographer should do for you by leading the show so to speak). They just didn’t turn out. I was disappointed, for sure, but at least the ones of the two of us are nice. If I could do it over again, I would find a way to pay a professional, because that’s one thing you shouldn’t skimp out on. Photos are memories and you’ll never get a do-over!

    • Dana
      Posted at 19:34h, 08 April Reply

      Our wedding photographer showed up late, reeking of alcohol, but the pictures were beautiful.

  • Erin
    Posted at 10:10h, 31 March Reply

    You rock! Thanks for throwing us photogs a bone. 😉

  • Melody
    Posted at 10:10h, 31 March Reply

    So, so true! Although, you want to use your brain a bit too. Good generally equals expensive, but expensive doesn’t always equal good. Some of the most expensive photographers I’ve looked at, were also really shoddy and inconsistent with their results. They also didn’t realize it, because they posted them all over their web page.

    • Andrea
      Posted at 12:58h, 01 April Reply


      When I got my senior pictures in high school, I’d figured out really quick that the photographer everybody was clamoring for wasn’t all that great. Good, yes, but not great. I based my choice on examples and was very happy with my (less-expensive) choice.

      Look at the photographer’s portfolio. Don’t go off of “my obscure relative used so-and-so and they were great” or “this one guy is so popular”. That’s as bad as refusing to pay for quality. Find someone with great work, and pay their fee.

  • Peyton-Leigh
    Posted at 10:17h, 31 March Reply

    What is scary is when people who don’t know what they’re doing, try to cut costs and put their babies in danger trying to replicate photos they see. What they don’t realize is that these photos are composites. They don’t see that the mom’s had was in the original shot, holding up a baby’s head or that the baby “hanging in a hammock wrap” is really held up by mom and her arms were photoshopped out.

    • Samantha
      Posted at 12:01h, 31 March Reply

      EXACTLY. A professional is expensive because they have talent, EXPERIENCE, and KNOWLEDGE of how to do it properly, and a legit pro will even have insurance to cover the client just in case something does happen and someone gets injured. You won’t get that from a Craigslist fauxtographer.

  • HolliB
    Posted at 10:18h, 31 March Reply

    So, so true. You’ve given a gift to every professional photographer here, Jon. And the same holds true for other artists/creatives as well.

    Take a look at this letter originally written by a musician but reprinted quite a bit in photography circles regarding this very thing: http://petapixel.com/2013/11/12/musicians-letter-becomes-template-telling-publishes-want-work-free/

  • Rodnesha
    Posted at 10:22h, 31 March Reply

    I so appreciate you posting this article on your site! I already greatly enjoy most of what you post regarding entrepreneurship and especially things on Stuff Christians Like, but as a photographer this one hits home!

    It’s “value” that one is seeing after that dollar sign. Although, i will admit not every photog with a high sticker price = quality product so do your research. I think the issue of value happens most when your closer networks, acquaintances and friends start wanting to take advantage of those services.

  • Kim Siever
    Posted at 10:24h, 31 March Reply

    As a writer, thank you for including us in your post. 😉

  • Sarah Hubbell
    Posted at 10:26h, 31 March Reply

    This pro photographer thanks you 🙂

  • becky
    Posted at 10:27h, 31 March Reply

    bahahaha, I knew there was a reason why I liked you.

  • Rachel Mae
    Posted at 10:31h, 31 March Reply

    Also: people don’t realize the amount of work that goes into editing those pictures as well. My sister in law is a photographer and she always gets people asking where their wedding photos are THE NEXT DAY. Insane.

    • Dana
      Posted at 19:37h, 08 April Reply

      If you tell them when to expect the pictures, you can smugly remind them when they ask you again tomorrow. =)

  • Zac Surant
    Posted at 10:33h, 31 March Reply

    It’s wonderful to actually get some credit from someone who is not a photographer. Thanks for the shout out! I will be reposting 🙂

  • Amy
    Posted at 10:33h, 31 March Reply

    So true. You get what you pay for. Not just in photography.

  • Dona Haggerty
    Posted at 10:34h, 31 March Reply

    I know what you are saying…………
    October, 2012, my daughter was married and they paid top dollar for a photographer. I mean, really, a lot of money!!! It was a whole year before she could even bare to look at the photos without crying.
    I wanted to plaster this photographer’s name across facebook….but my daughter would not let me! I wanted to go and punch her in the face…but, really, what good would that do?
    Just be really careful…..you know the saying, “You get what you pay for.”? Well, you don’t always get what you pay for!
    Jon…I love the 2nd pic that you posted, “Nailed it!” Looks just like one of my grandsons! 🙂

  • James
    Posted at 10:49h, 31 March Reply

    I have people say to me, “I wish I had a camera like that so I could do what you do!” They don’t realize what an insult that is. I just smile and nod. Its a lot easier to get their business later after they’ve tried it for themselves.

    • Iryssa
      Posted at 11:18h, 31 March Reply

      This is one of my “favourites.” Ugh. “Your camera takes great pictures!”
      Yep. It’s my camera. Not at all a lot of work and training. Just makes me want to say, “yeah, it’s available to rent at [local camera store] for only $50 a day! Why are you paying *me?*” then let them find out the hard way.

    • Jody
      Posted at 23:05h, 01 June Reply

      By that example, we don’t need chefs, we only need stoves. And who needs Picasso, just buy some paint and a brush….

  • Thomas
    Posted at 10:49h, 31 March Reply

    The real reason why good photography is expensive, is the basic rules of supply and demand, more so than time. A bad photographer, like a bad painter, or writer, may spend as much time on their task, as the good ones, and yet be considerably cheaper.

    Good photography, is not so much a matter of time, but of raw talent, a good eye, a sense of aesthetic, and of course of good working knowledge of the equipment and software being used.

    But regardless it’s the market that dictates price. A good photographer will basically take whatever money the market decides he deserves, just like we do for the price of coke, or a delicious pizza.

  • Ryan Beymer
    Posted at 10:51h, 31 March Reply

    Here’s a pretty solid guess – http://www.jenniferleaphotography.com/

  • Lauri
    Posted at 10:52h, 31 March Reply

    This is becoming a pet peeve of mind. I know someone who keeps calling herself a photographer and I want to point out that receiving a nice camera as a gift and not finding gainful other employment doesn’t make you a photographer! Real photographers don’t tell you to develop the pictures at Wal-mart yourself.

    • Sarah
      Posted at 11:29h, 31 March Reply


    • Melody
      Posted at 15:57h, 31 March Reply

      Well, actually, that’s not true. A lot of photographers are giving the option to have all the high-res images on a thumb drive and print them where-ever you choose.

      I love that option.

      If you make your living photographing people, you’re a photographer, no matter how hideous or lovely the photos are or what other services you provide. If it pays your bills, you’re a pro.

  • Amyress
    Posted at 10:56h, 31 March Reply

    Word. My parents have ZERO photos from their wedding (I mean, a couple of relatives’ candids, but no professional photos). Why? My grandfather thought the photog my mom had booked was too expensive, so he fired that guy and insisted they use a “friend” who was a “photographer.” No joke, the guy was blind in one eye, and all the proofs were off-center and out-of-focus (I’m sure there may be some wonderful photographers out there with some vision loss … this dude wasn’t it).

    After my parents saw the proofs, the guy went off the grid for a while, and then – legit – died. They never got any photos. (I know the story sounds totally fake; I promise you, it’s not.)

    Needless to say, my parents are firm believers in paying for professional photography – preferably with some sort of redundancy in case of extenuating circumstances … like death.

  • wtf
    Posted at 11:03h, 31 March Reply

    Did you really take someone’s photo off of the internet an post it on your blog w/o permission?

    Not very professional.

    • Joe P
      Posted at 11:19h, 31 March Reply

      And your name is WTF? That’s professional.

      And you did not read the portion where it said “(If that is your photo above, please let me know so that I can credit it. I could not read the watermark and was afraid to guess.)”

      you are a true professional

      • Mark
        Posted at 14:34h, 31 March Reply

        Joe P ,

        Don’t feed the troll. 😛

  • Allison
    Posted at 11:04h, 31 March Reply

    Thank you. As an artist, it’s hard to get people to understand it’s not just the painting (i.e. time spent on it + materials) you are paying for, but the years of practice and study and experience that allows the artist to paint that painting with the skill level she does. This applies to all artists and really any service.

    I don’t expect an experience surgeon to operate on my family member for free. I don’t expect a lawyer to argue my case for free. I don’t expect a CPA to do my taxes for free. I don’t expect a plumber or mechanic to work for me for free. Why would I expect an artist, whether painter, musician, photographer, or writer, to work for me for free?

  • Bobby W
    Posted at 11:16h, 31 March Reply

    If I had a choice I would frame the second pic and put it on my desk at work. *Backs Away Slowly*

  • Shane Monahan
    Posted at 11:25h, 31 March Reply

    So much truth being written in this post! Good stuff as always Jon!! Love the “Nailed it” shot though!

  • Monica
    Posted at 11:27h, 31 March Reply

    As a professional photographer, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! It breaks my heart to see people waste their money on portraits that are lit badly, out of focus and just plain horrible! I spend a lot of money on equipment, marketing, and education so that I can give my clients my very best. You wouldn’t buy a wedding dress from a high school home ec student…why would you trust your special memories to someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing?

    • Dana
      Posted at 20:28h, 08 April Reply

      If the high school home ec student’s dresses were amazing, why not? I’m more impressed by someone who takes amazing pictures with amateur-budget gear than by someone who charges more to cover their expensive equipment and education.

  • Mary Anne
    Posted at 11:36h, 31 March Reply

    Two things I will not skimp on for my (distant) future wedding is photography and a DJ. I have a friend who is an amazing DJ. Really professional, fun and tailors the reception to the couple. I’ve helped him at weddings, and been a guest at some he’s done. I’ve also been to weddings with DJs so bad, an iPhone hooked up to a speaker would be five steps up. Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for.

  • Linda
    Posted at 11:55h, 31 March Reply

    Thank you for sharing this post!!!

  • Sohail A. Chouhan
    Posted at 11:57h, 31 March Reply

    That is so true. Every valuable item on the planet have additional price to it. Professional photographers like myself spend a lot more time on running business, marketing, customer care. As a husband to an Educator I can also say I spend a lot more time on professional development and enhancing my skills than most Educators do in my state.

    Thanks for tactfully saying what many people already know but ignore.

  • Rick
    Posted at 12:10h, 31 March Reply

    As a photographer I thank you!

  • Jake Carr
    Posted at 12:11h, 31 March Reply

    I second David’s comment above – THANKS JON – Shared this on my own Photography Page today. Hope you are doing well. – Jake

  • Megan
    Posted at 12:16h, 31 March Reply

    so true… so true… I’ve experienced bad photography more than I care to admit including my wedding. Makes me angry just thinking about it.

  • Steven Price
    Posted at 12:22h, 31 March Reply

    As a web developer nothing is more infuriating than hearing that your high-schooler did a website for class so it can’t be “that” hard so why does it cost what it costs? Well, call me when you high-schooler “nails it” and we’ll talk. Thanks for recognizing each of the professions you mentioned.

  • D
    Posted at 12:24h, 31 March Reply

    The artist in me says “Thank you!”

  • Kristinjoy
    Posted at 12:26h, 31 March Reply

    Thank you! Fellow photographer here too and thankful for good perspective on good work! I used to work at a studio years ago where they had a ‘please don’t ever do this’ album for newbies. Basically all the ‘nailed it’ photos back then. If I was ever having a crappy day, I just pulled out that bad boy and nearly peed my pants every time. Every. Time.

  • Courtney Jones
    Posted at 12:35h, 31 March Reply

    Great post! the photographer of the baby photo at the top is the amazing Jennifer Lea Photography out of Southern Indiana. 🙂

  • Vicky
    Posted at 12:37h, 31 March Reply

    Thank you for adding the comment about other professions too. My husband is a home improvement contractor and he gets so many complaints about how expensive his work is. The thing is, you get what you pay for. He knows his craft, he is licensed and insured, and he does quality work. He doesn’t flake out on his customers and he’s punctual. All that costs money. A lazy photographer, contractor, graphic designer…whatever….they’re cheap for a reason.

  • Elizabeth Beck
    Posted at 12:41h, 31 March Reply

    Fauxtography is a blight. A blight I say!

  • Ken Worley
    Posted at 12:50h, 31 March Reply

    Thank you, as a professional photographer I spend a lot of time training and practicing my skills so my clients I have a fun and relaxing experience during their session. Being able to have fun and not have to think about the technical side, how does this flash thingy work, lets us be more creative with the images.

  • julie
    Posted at 12:50h, 31 March Reply

    Great blog post!
    Please consider changing the font on your site. The lower case ‘e’ is very hard to distinguish, and made me pause while reading, giving it an abbreviated flow. I’m sure this is only on screen.
    Just a random tip from a random reader!

  • Bill Lawton
    Posted at 12:55h, 31 March Reply

    Great job you hit the nail on the head.

  • Scott
    Posted at 12:56h, 31 March Reply

    Perfect! It’s the same way with graphic design.

  • Kimanzi
    Posted at 12:58h, 31 March Reply

    Nailed it Jon!

  • Theresa
    Posted at 13:11h, 31 March Reply

    Loved this post!! It is even amazing to me how much of a difference an expensive camera makes… I was struggling taking pics for my blog that didn’t look horrible! We bought a DSLR camera (I think that’s what’s it called) and my husband learned watch a million photography videos…

    Now things look so much better. I’ve still got a long way to go, and lots of photos to update but the expensive camera makes a huge difference.

  • Lorretta
    Posted at 13:20h, 31 March Reply

    Sho’ NUFF! Can you add “videography” to that statement as well. Thanks!

  • Shannon Wilkinson
    Posted at 13:55h, 31 March Reply

    Every time I see this pic make the rounds it cracks me up. The person who snapped the bottom image is actually a pro photographer now but was NOT when the bottom image of her child was taken. She made the nailed it pic as a joke (with permission from the photographer who shot the top image) and it has gone viral as an example of what not to do. We all start somewhere. The photographer who took the image seen on the bottom was not even remotely a photographer at the time. She was a mom taking pics of her kid with a point and shoot. Not a single person started out knowing how to create images such as the one on the top and while I fully agree that it’s important to hire a professional when having images done of your newborn I also think it is important to have the context of the image you are using as an example of what not to do.

    • Jon Acuff
      Posted at 16:10h, 31 March Reply

      Yep, I’ve emailed with both photographers today and will be adding their names when I’m done traveling. If anyone thinks that second photo was meant to be done by a professional photographer, they are a crazy person and probably shouldn’t be on the Internets

      • Shannon Wilkinson
        Posted at 01:27h, 01 April Reply

        Thanks for replying Jon. Glad you have been in contact with both photographers. Enjoy your travels.

  • Cinnamon
    Posted at 14:31h, 31 March Reply

    thank you thank you thank you. So hard for people to understand!!

  • Amon M
    Posted at 14:44h, 31 March Reply

    Very well put. Thank you!

  • Mark
    Posted at 14:45h, 31 March Reply

    I’m an Illustrator, and this applies to art and illustration as well. A lot of the time clients don’t exactly understand what they are asking for when they want artwork for a children’s book/comic/whatever. The client wants you to spend every waking moment on their project for months on end, but don’t want to pay for your living expenses during that month.

    I 32 page, full color children’s book, for example, could take up to 6+ months to complete, and that’s taking into account quick feedback from the client. But, that client will only want to pay $500 or less for the artwork for the book. So, let’s just do some math. $500 in 6 months comes down to $83 dollars a month. Now, if taking weekends off, that is then that’s around $4 a day. If you worked 8 hours a day on the book, that comes to 50¢ an hour! Now, any leveled headed human being in the US should think, hopefully, that working for 50¢ an hour is crazy, yet clients ask us to do it all the time because saying “big” number, the $500, all at once sounds like enough. When they ask us to do these jobs for such little money, to them they only hear themselves say the end amount. They don’t break it down in their heads to the ridiculous hourly rate.

    This is where we, as artists, need to communicate clearly, and to NOT ACCEPT THIS KIND OF LOW PAYING WORK!

    I know that as artists we are hungry for work. I get it. I’ve been there. But you can’t feed yourself on 50¢ an hour.

    • Melody
      Posted at 16:00h, 31 March Reply


      I’m a full time graphic designer, but I’ve been doing illustration on the side for a few years now. I passed on a lot of jobs where people thought I was going to whip up a children’s book for them at $10-$20 a page.

      Finally connecting with an author who is serious about what she does and respect’s what I do – totally worth the wait.

  • Hardy Meredith
    Posted at 14:50h, 31 March Reply

    If you have a water leak, you call a Plumber, If the electricity goes out you call and Electrician. If you want quality photos don’t call Uncle Bob…

  • TastyPlacement
    Posted at 15:02h, 31 March Reply

    We design websites for businesses and we always tell them, “Get a pro photo shoot. The quality of the images on your website is a principal indicator of quality, and home snaps don’t cut it.”

  • Sophie
    Posted at 15:24h, 31 March Reply

    Couldn’t have said it better. Thanks for the laugh!!

  • Barry Hill
    Posted at 16:06h, 31 March Reply

    So true—I have 6 kids (12-4 yrs. old) we had this one lady who was like a child whisperer! It was incredible. I think my wife asked if she wanted to come over to our house and take picture sof r 3-4 hours while we ween to dinner and the movies! Ha! Great stuff, Jon!

  • Julie
    Posted at 18:06h, 31 March Reply

    Top image is by Jennifer Lea Photography

  • Kimberly
    Posted at 18:52h, 31 March Reply

    I had a mentor who once said, you can only have two of these three things at any given time: price, quality, or service, but never all three. The combination of superior quality and excellent service will never come inexpensively, while the lowest price will always come at the expense of either quality or service. Nailed it!

  • Sue Barr
    Posted at 19:15h, 31 March Reply

    Perfect post especially in this day and age when anyone w a camera thinks they can call themselves a photographer. I always say I wish there was another name we could associate w what we do… Maybe Art-OGrapher…
    Photography is so much more then having a camera. It’s having an emotional connection to the subject we are capturing and a brain because a camera in your hand does not get the image without the vision in your head. Thanks again and feel free to use any of my images for future posts.

  • larry gassan
    Posted at 19:39h, 31 March Reply

    “Photography is a simple thing—composed of a 1000 simple things you have to get right” –Michael Lohr, Hollywood Loft Studios. From a conversation we had at 0630; finish line of the 2013 Angeles Crest 100, where I was doing location portraiture.

  • BLPhoto
    Posted at 20:42h, 31 March Reply

    And the other problem is people stealing images off the internet for use in their own websites or blogs thinking that “giving a credit” is adequate. What a great way to DE-value photography by thinking that a credit line is sufficient payment after raving about why good photography should cost so much. I sure hope that photographer’s mortgage lender takes “photo credits” as payment, because mine sure as hell doesn’t.

  • AP
    Posted at 20:54h, 31 March Reply

    I agree. Another thing to watch for is making sure that the photographer is comfortable doing the type of pictures that you want them to do. I realized now that I hired a nationally recognized wedding/newborn photographer to take my family pictures (2 parents with 2 twenty-something kids). They were paid a very good sum for the pictures. While the pictures themselves are OK, there are a ton of issues with the set-ups (like poor angles chosen for shots like the dad having splayed open legs on a low slung chair, etc that could have been remedied if the photographer had told someone to move their body in a different direction or picked a different camera angle). Overall, it just seemed like the photographer wasn’t used to doing family shots with 4 adults in them. Overall, the pictures are OK.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that one of the parents in the shoot had terminal cancer (which was known at the time the pics were taken) and later died. Looking back, that really makes you wish that you had picked someone who was an expert at what they were doing! (Maybe the photographer could have even recommended someone else who was more comfortable doing family pics?)

  • Marie of Finished Vision Photography
    Posted at 21:31h, 31 March Reply

    The photo on the top is by Jennifer Lea Photography 😉

  • Brooke
    Posted at 21:41h, 31 March Reply

    Not sure if anyone let you know yet but the top image is Jennifer Lea Photography and the bottom one was taken by Corinne McCombs photography (she is amazing now!) 🙂

    • corinne
      Posted at 22:36h, 31 March Reply

      Thanks Brooke! <3

    • Shannon Wilkinson
      Posted at 01:30h, 01 April Reply

      And was not at all a pro when she took the bottom pic. Corinne was simply a new mom getting a pic of her baby. She created the bottom pic as a joke and never intended it to be anything more than that. It’s crazy how much attention it has gotten without anyone ever knowing the context of it.

  • Jeremy Pippen
    Posted at 07:41h, 01 April Reply

    Using my amazing Google Fu™, I was able to determine who deserves credit for the top photo. Jennifer Lea Photography. The watermark is a little more clear in this photo: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Ctc-kU54f0A/UvpHTfupPAI/AAAAAAAAAuE/tDVmh12LJks/s1600/1621685_800897596592820_862866496_n.jpg

  • gretchen willis
    Posted at 08:36h, 01 April Reply

    ha! very good.

    also, corinne’s link is broken. 🙁 please fix – everyone needs to see her gorgeous work!

  • Dan
    Posted at 11:19h, 01 April Reply

    Thanks for this, Jon. As a photographer, it’s refreshing to hear someone outside of the industry making this point, and it really applies to all creative services. Thanks so much!

  • The real Ben
    Posted at 11:40h, 01 April Reply

    Problem is, everyone is cheap and wants a free ride…

    Such is the life of a Photographer

  • Sabra McKibbon
    Posted at 12:39h, 01 April Reply

    I love Corinne’s Nailed It pic, it’s such a great example of “Just because you saw it on Pinterest..”

    The most awesome irony comes into play when you see where Corinne is with her photography now, the girl is freaking amazing! It only took several years of hard work, education, and investing in her equipment. 😉

  • sweetie
    Posted at 15:11h, 01 April Reply

    That is a bunch of garbage to show that photo under another photographers name which isn’t true. Google that second photographer and that photo is not by that person. As a photographer myself you are so wrong to put out false information http://corinnemccombs.com/

  • corinne
    Posted at 15:36h, 01 April Reply

    Here’s the original pin from 6 months ago

  • Jen Moore
    Posted at 21:42h, 01 April Reply

    Yes! Thank you for posting this! As a professional newborn and family photographer, I know the amount of training, education and practice that goes into becoming a professional photographer who can not only produce beautiful work, but also do it safely when working with newborns and children! I became a professional several years after my last baby, and I SO wish that I had these kind of beautiful portraits of my own newborns. I agree 100% that it is completely worth it to invest in a pro to capture those family moments that you will treasure forever. Thanks, Jon, for spreading the word that sometimes things which seem expensive are really worth it!

  • Jen Moore
    Posted at 21:46h, 01 April Reply

    Oh, and I also want to give a shout out to Corinne McCombs, she is an AMAZING photographer and I was blessed to be in a newborn workshop where she was a teaching assistant. She is generous and very skilled, and it is a ton of fun to see how far she has come from the “nailed it!” image, every photographer understands and can relate to having horrendous old photos from before they learned! 🙂

  • Brian
    Posted at 11:34h, 02 April Reply

    Well said!

  • Aaron Hogan
    Posted at 20:26h, 02 April Reply

    Honestly, I kinda like the bottom photo…lighting isn’t good obviously but it’s a nice departure from perfect sleepy baby photos which kinda make me want to throw up these days.

  • Andrew - AHHAdesign
    Posted at 06:44h, 06 April Reply

    Jon, One of the most succinct pieces on not just photography, but any ‘art’ in general. Y

    The line “don’t confuse expertise with ease. They are not the same thing” sums it up, perfectly.

    AjH – AHHAdesign

  • Carrie
    Posted at 22:41h, 06 April Reply

    The problem comes when crappy fauxtographers THINK they are really great because they take one good photo per shoot, put it on their website and then expect to be paid $$$.
    If you want to charge a lot of money, be worth a lot of money.

  • Doris
    Posted at 19:08h, 07 April Reply

    The “nailed it” picture is cracking me up!

  • Deb
    Posted at 19:37h, 07 April Reply

    Im not a professional photographer just someone who enjoys taking pics for my personal use. I truly enjoyed this article and fully agree. I cant count the number of people on fb who buy a dslr and voila they’re a photographer! They then charge people and edit the pics to the point of being ridiculous all with the standard vignette. One of my pet peeves. Want to do something? Go to school and learn about it first.

    • keith
      Posted at 21:34h, 09 April Reply

      I went to school and learned photography, developing, and how to pose models properly… yet there are so many DLSR newbies with expensive gear, but they dont know the difference between an f-stop and aperture, yet they have saturated the market making it tough for pros to get clients because “my brothers friend has a nice camera!”

  • Heather
    Posted at 22:16h, 07 April Reply

    Loved this! It seems that the second photographer has wonderful pictures on her website currently. I guess the “lessons learned” has taught her well 🙂

  • Jennylou Raya
    Posted at 10:14h, 08 April Reply

    Thank you for this. This one is for my sister. (hubby and i, we line up with your more recent post about the design and developers.) It racks my brain when people ask my sister to cut her unbelievably low priced wedding photography services. They’ve contacted her mainly because she is so good at what she does! But many will say “i can only afford…” I’ve told her to learn how to say and master “screw you!” In a Christian way 😉 Because they’re plain robbery of her time and talent. I guess in the south that would be, “oh, bless your heart.” Block.

  • Dorene
    Posted at 23:50h, 08 April Reply

    Technology has changed the photography business like it or not. Gone are the days of charging exorbinate prices for prints and no rights. Adapt or go the way of the dinosaurs. If you have the talent people will be willing to pay you a what you are perceivably worth. Charging a kings ransome for prints is just not gonna fly UNLESS your work/talent is in high demand. It is what it is… adapt your business model to survive and thrive in the new technology climate.

  • Atanasio Ray
    Posted at 19:04h, 09 April Reply


  • Local Reach Pros
    Posted at 12:02h, 19 November Reply

    Interestingly enough, when we test images with ad copy for landing pages, we almost always see a decrease in bounce rate when the images are more realistic. It’s almost as if the second type of image is more believable when promoting something online.

    In any case, couldn’t help but laugh-out-loud on this one! Imagine if you saw the second image up on the wall at a friends house. lol!

  • Ethan Rogati
    Posted at 06:58h, 01 January Reply

    I am not a professional photographer. I am in the process of improving my skills and getting the needed equipment to take better photographs, but don’t know if I’ll ever be able to call myself professional. I am disabled, so I don’t have a lot of extra income to invest.

    I know that this post was from March of last year and the comments have largely died down, but as someone who has been cajoled into taking family pictures when I’m largely comfortable taking pictures outdoors with no people in them, I will say that it’s not just a bad experience for the person wanting the pictures taken. When you’re taking a type of photograph that you know you’re not good at taking and you still get paid for it, not much, but paid, it’s one of the most dehumanizing feelings in the world.

    I know that I have a long ways to go before the outdoor photography I do can even be considered solid amateur level. I don’t have the equipment and I have a lot to learn about using what I do have. I’ve been paid for a few good shots, but consistently getting those good shots is a ways off.

    Just the perspective of a non-professional guy with a camera.

  • Ken Huth
    Posted at 11:42h, 01 January Reply

    To add a shocking note from a pro… I think there’s room for everyone IF everyone is candid about their skill level.

    Part of the problem is new photographers get confetti blown up their skirts by photo seminars and adoring family members and *think* they are pros. I teach photographers and mentor young team members and see the full spectrum.

    As long as young photographers are matching their limited skills with simple jobs from people who really don’t want to pay much, it’s a match.

    But what happens is a cheap customer hires someone inexpensive expecting more than newbie work and they feel hurt, or the photographer presents themselves too advanced and truly trash a special shoot.

    I’m a 30 year pro, get good wages for my work (I do PR work for business/organizations and nothing with the general public — I feel totally blessed to do what I love and for clients who pay well) .

    I’ve always felt that pros of my generation got to the point of mercenary with pricing (mostly prints and resuse) and now whine a lot about the new folks coming up. It’s sort of what happened to Kodak. Some businesses just don’t know how good they have it and don’t correct. Ask me sometime about Kodak’s pro digital camera pricing for the years before the Nikon/Canons came out…

    To sum up: Know your skill level as a photog and honestly communicate it.
    Consumers—If you have money for a pro, research and really hire a great pro, don’t go for cheap and expect amazing results.
    Pros— Just run your own race and stop complaining 🙂 Your work should make you stand out and there’s always someone willing to pay top dollar for good work, and there will always be Walmart and Dollar stores in every town.

    Thanks for bringing the topic up Jon, and for ‘Start’… bet a bunch of really great folks are reading that & this blog and will someday be terrific pro photographers. (who’ll carp about the new folks undercutting them 😉

  • Tammy
    Posted at 15:14h, 19 March Reply

    Thank you for writing this! As a photographer and writer trying to make an honest living, I appreciate this so much 🙂

  • Steven Jodoin
    Posted at 14:34h, 01 June Reply

    You’ve nailed it alright, and people need to be honest about their skill level. Speaking of websites, I have been toiling long and hard on mine. Can someone have a quick squiz and provide some critique. Thanks would appreciate it. Cheers, Steve

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