Photography is one of those creative industries where you can do two completely separate photoshoots that vary in both time and diligence but still produce more or less the same end result. However, the differences in the sessions themselves can be massive. One can take double the time and charge quadruple the price but at the end of the day you still have the same standard and number of images so how do you make sure you choose the right photographer and pay the right amount for the service provided?
Sometimes people pay a higher price with the belief that this will be a better quality shoot, but does a higher fee equal higher quality in photography? Very often not! It really is more about the skill and experience of the photographer, their facilities and how established the set up is.
Another common misconception is that being located in an area such as Mayfair or The City must be a sign of quality, but beware: this is a strong marketing ploy that is easy to sell but may not get you the result you need. In some circumstances, companies who ride off this can be pushing an outright scam.
Since there are so many variables that affect the answer to this question, we decided to delve in a little deeper, explore the finer details and help you understand your options. We’re here to clarify exactly what it is that you’re paying for, what it is likely to cost and most importantly, why.
What Are You Looking For in a Photoshoot?
As odd as it may sound, different styles of photography come with a different price tag.
When looking into the potential costs, you first need to establish exactly what your requirements are. There are so many different styles of photography that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to booking your photoshoot.
For example, an experienced Boudoir Photographer may be amazing at capturing your latest lace number but not necessarily be great when it comes to photographing your new born baby. Their website and advertising will claim they shoot everything, as they are simply a ‘photographer’. Individual photographers who show and advertise their speciality are a far safer bet than those who claim they can shoot anything.
You need to know your ‘why’ in what you are aiming to achieve in your images before you look at potential photographers and determine a price.
Most photography studios are a collective, therefore, primarily work with freelance staff. This means we have personnel to suit every requirement. At Vanity Studios, we always ensure we have people within our team with the appropriate style and skill set for whatever is booked in to our diary. A studio has much more claim to a variety of skills than an individual photographer as we have a body of specialist staff to call upon as and when they are needed.
Obviously a huge price determining factor is the skill and experience of the establishment you choose. This will either be reflected in the session fee or price per image. The portfolio examples of this sort of photographer or establishment will usually be evident of their skill set. The range of prices in the various styles are pretty phenomenal. To understand what you may be looking for and the extremes in price, below is a list of the most popular styles of photography along with the vast range of session fees we have collated from our research.
- BOUDOIR: Lingerie/ Tasteful Nude/ Suggestive or Seductive images
- Priced from £99 and up to £1500 – Average Cost £300
- CORPORATE: Shots that promote you as a professional or business owner
- Priced from £49 and up to £899 – Average Cost £299
- ACTORS HEADSHOTS: A shoot with very specific requirements aimed at giving a clear image of an Actor to casting professionals and agents
- Prices from £59.99 and up to £600 – Average Cost £350
- PROFILE: Shots that promote your business/ profession or product across your website and social media channels
- Prices from £99 and up to £2500 – Average Cost £500
- FAMILY: Group images of either your immediate or extended family aiming to capture the relationships in that moment in history
- Prices from £69.99 and up to £1800 – Average Cost (small family) £500
- WEDDING: Capturing key moments of your special day in a style that suits your personal taste and shows everything you requested
- Prices from £500 and up to £4500 – Average Cost £1500
The above data has been calculated from companies that rank highest on Google within their own category. Averages are based on the most frequently quoted price bracket.
The average costs are only a rough guideline as the variables of what’s included in each package have a huge effect on the overall price. This is another reason to be absolutely sure of what you are looking for in your photoshoot before committing to any upfront costs.
How Your Photoshoot Requirements will Affect the Costing Variables
Do you need makeup and hair?
We always include makeup and hair in our photoshoot packages as we know what a huge difference photographic makeup can make. Even a natural makeup look will appear heavier in the mirror than it will on camera but will look much better than a day to day natural look will come across with the flash and the lights. Unless you are very skilled with makeup and have an understanding of how it is affected in photography, it is always a good idea to see a professional.
Individual photographers will usually charge separately for makeup or have someone they recommend that you go and see prior to your session. If visiting a studio, a makeup artist and a hair stylist will automatically be available on a daily basis. So when booking your shoot, ask your photographer for a quote including makeup.
How much time do you need?
Time is allocated based on the complexity of your shoot. This isn’t always just makeup, hair or outfit changes. Many shoots require moving props around, set changes, different lighting set ups and sometimes even location changes. This all needs to be taken into account when booking you in.
Some prices and packages even specify a time allocation along with what can be achieved within that time. Take note of this. If you are unsure of a specific purpose and are shooting for quality then it is always wise to shoot a number of outfit changes on a few different sets. Without anything specific in mind, you need options to achieve optimum results. You may find that the set up you like best is not necessarily what you initially expected.
Shooting a variety is key to ensuring you get what you need. When finalising a price, always check that a variety of looks and sets/ backgrounds is inclusive. Occasionally, photographers will charge per look or per background change and this is what will affect the length of time it takes to generate the shots you need.
Locations & Travel
For many events and business or corporate shoots, you will require a photographer to travel to you. This will bump up your costs considerably, particularly if you need to source your own location. Hiring a location can be priced by the hour, half day or full day. If hiring by the hour, please be aware of how much time your photographer needs including set up, testing and clear down.
Also, keep in mind that a skilled photographer is so much more than a person with a camera. When you ask them to work on location, they will bring a substantial amount of kit. Everything from lights to reflectors and even portable backgrounds may need to be transported to your location. This is a much bigger job for your photographer and will always be reflected in the price.
Do you require product, editing or artwork?
Very few upfront packages specify inclusive products. This is usually due to the fact that there are so many possibilities. These include; canvas prints, perspex frames, portfolios, custom designed photo books, to name but a few! Each product varies in price and most people prefer to see the physical product and the images before selecting what may be suitable for their home or design requirement.
Some editing or retouching however, is quite often included, particularly for those who need images for professional use or publication. Images of this kind are retouched as a standard, therefore, most photographers and studios will include some retouching in the price but as this is post production, lower priced packages tend not to have it included and will charge an additional fee per image that you would like worked on.
How Many Images Do You Need?
This question is one that requires you to have some flexibility. You may need a shot for your site, a family picture and an image of you and your other half but on seeing the final shoot, 9 times out of 10 people want more.
That said, one of the major mistakes people make when booking a photoshoot is opting for an ‘ all images included package’ This is actually one of the cheapest types of photoshoot you will find. The reason for this is that the photographer has very little work to do with an all inclusive deal. There is no potential up-sell so the effort they put in to your shoot itself can be minimal. They do not need to give you much range, do any editing or even aim for that much quality.
Very often, a photographer will spend little over an hour with you and immediately send the images as they have the maximum financial compensation possible for their time, the quality tends to be very different.
On receiving your images without a viewing, it is then up to you to filter through tons of similar photos to find those that you might like. It’s the age old premise ‘quality not quantity’ you do not need 150 images that are mostly the same, you need range and interest.
You will find that a photographer who changes things up a lot and edits down your images to only show those that are of the highest quality will include something like 5 images up front as opposed to the 150 you can get. They are hoping you will want to purchase more once you see the high level of work produced so the overall quality is usually far superior to the all images included deals you can get.
If you know a photographer or studio produces incredible quality, purchasing your images upfront is generally wise as you will always find that you want as many images as you can get from your photoshoot. Upfront packages are more cost effective as an on the day price can be quoted up to 25% higher than a committed purchase.
How Are Our Prices So Competitive?
This question quite often comes up among those who know the photographic industry. Many clients have spent around £500 for a photoshoot session and booked one with us at just a fraction of the price. What they are most surprised at is that our quality and standard of service is usually higher. The answer is a simple one.
Vanity Studios is a long established company that originated in the West End. We have built a strong reputation and have a substantial body of returning customers. We have such a broad range of resources and a slick scheduling process that we can see a much higher turn over of clients than a photographer who may only be able to see one to two people per day.
A session fee of £500 is quite common when going to one person as he or she will have to undertake all the work single handedly. Their session fee is justified when you consider the administration and booking, the organising and setting up of your shoot, producing and editing the images and then potentially creating product. This is a lot of work for one person.
As we have a freelance team and full time office staff we are not spread particularly thin and can undertake this work with ease. An individual photographer without our resources has earned their £500 session fee as one photoshoot will eat ALL of their time.
Another benefit from visiting a studio is that not being spread too thinly means we can take adequate time when working with you. An individual will have to work very quickly to see as many clients as possible so may rush through the process and potentially compromise on quality. We take our time with every part of the process so you never get anything less than what we’re capable of producing.
By not charging a huge session fee, our clients are more inclined to upgrade their packages on the day. As mentioned, even those with a clear idea of what images they need will very often want more images from a high quality shoot. A lower session fee gives our clients more freedom and flexibility when choosing their final images. We are confident in the work we produce and therefore do not need to force a hard sell or charge a hefty upfront fee. We like our customers to be in the drivers seat at each stage so by keeping initial costs low, we can allow the flexibility and quality control that so many people appreciate.
Things to Remember:
- When booking a photoshoot understand what is needed to produce your shots and check it is inclusive – especially hair and makeup which is almost always required to produce quality images
- When considering a budget for your up front costs, be prepared to upgrade on seeing the end results
- You may wish to add editing or product which will usually not be included and therefore add an additional charge
- If a photographer is travelling to you, you will need to pay their travel, equipment and set up fees
- Beware the low quality of ‘all images included’ packages
- Do not choose a studio or photographer based on where they are located
- Lower session fees allow flexibility with purchase of additional images and very often come from long established studios with a mass of resources
- If you pay for more time with a photographer, ensure you get both outfit and background changes as well
- Published and profile images are always retouched, very often this will add an additional cost
- Photoshoots are a rare occasion for most people! It is worth getting it right!