What You’re Paying for when You Hire a Pro Photographer

Photography session prices can seem a little expensive, especially if you don’t see all of the work that goes on behind the scenes. I know that it’s hard to understand why photo sessions cost what they do without truly being involved in the industry. Many look at a session price tag and see it as just an hourly rate. While it’s true that photographers are with clients for a set amount of time, it’s not truly an hourly rate. Instead, a pro photographer must make up for expenses and additional time it takes on the back-end to produce quality images that you can treasure. With that said, I want to help you understand why photography sessions are priced as they are and what you’re really getting when you hire a pro photographer!

Pricing Breakdown: What You’re Paying for when You Hire a Pro Photographer

Images provided by Willy Wilson of Life Unstill Photography


There’s a belief that seems to live outside of the photography industry: that anyone with an fancy camera can take great photos. While a professional-grade camera can undoubtedly help you take quality photos, it’s a lot harder than it actually looks. Generally, you can purchase a quality digital camera from $500 to over $3000. These can include a couple kit lenses to get you started. But, having a good camera doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to get stunning photos. That takes lots and lots of practice and learning and true dedication to master.

This is where having an experienced photographer comes in. When you hire a pro photographer, you can expect them to know all the ins-and-outs of his or her camera. This includes the settings, lenses and software, just to name a few. But that’s not all it takes. A professional photographer also understands how to work with natural or other light sources, color theory, posing, composition and other tools to help make you and your family look their best. Know that this took patience and years of practice.

Prior to becoming a professional photographer, I studied visual arts for four years. I obtained my second bachelors degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Then, I spent over 10 years working as an Art Director in the advertising world. I loved every minute of it, and am pleased that I have been able to apply my skill-sets and art knowledge from one creative career to another.

an example of a pro photographer edit
Here is an example of one of my clean edits!

Editing time

When you leave your photography session, my job isn’t actually over. Most of the time, I will spend at least two to three hours on editing the photos after your session. This ensures your pictures are nothing less than amazing. Editing time can range from hours to days depending on each individual photographer’s style and editing workflow.  Regardless of how long it takes to edit a batch of images, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes including culling, retouching, and so on.

Professional photographers are mostly perfectionists, for lack of a better word! I know I generally pour hours into perfecting images for my clients. You’ve heard it before, and yes, it’s all about the details. For every photo I take, I spend time perfecting skin tones, smoothing skin, removing minor blemishes and much more. I want to make sure that my clients are looking their best and have photos they can be proud of!

hire a pro photographer
Images provided by Willy Wilson of Life Unstill Photography.

Equipment and other expenses

Photography, as you probably know, is an expensive industry to be in. We as business owners have to account for the costs we accrue in order to take your photos. We invest thousands of dollars into a single camera body and another thousand or more for each lens we use. Let’s not forget flashes and studio equipment. We also pay hundreds of dollars for professional software that we use to edit your images. Many of us pay for insurance in case our equipment is damaged or we run into other issues that could arise during or after a session. We also have to make up for our costs of gas and vehicles for travel time.

professional wedding photographer at work
Image provided by Tahiry Humrich Photography

A professional service

When you hire a pro photographer, you can take a moment and de-stress. No longer is it your job to capture wall gallery-worthy photographs of your family! Your photographer is responsible for giving you a fun, relaxed and overall awesome experience that will leave you breathless when you receive your photos. That’s his/her job, so trust them to do just that. I’m not saying to hire a pro photographer every time you want a picture of you and the kids, but it’s worth it to have some quality photos of you and your family. Not to mention, if you’re the one taking photos, you will miss out on the opportunity to be in them!

Hiring a pro photographer should be a fun and exciting investment for you and your family! Yes, it can be expensive depending on your needs, but I hope this quick breakdown will help you to understand all of the love, care and customized attention to detail that goes into your photos. My goal as a photographer is to capture memories for my clients in an art form that they will treasure for generations to come.

Are you interested in a professional photography session? If so, contact me, and let’s chat!

I'm Erika and I am a maternity, newborn, and family photographer based near Wilmington, NC. I'm also a mom to two cutie boys, lover of backyard gardening, candles, chocolate and Amazon Prime.

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