By Loura Lawrence at www.developingfocus.com
I always get a double-take whenever someone sees my price list. It looks like a lot up front, even though my prices are well below the average for most freelancers. So I want to take my first post to explain why hiring a freelancer seems so expensive. Those prices look high, but how do they compare to a larger, industry-oriented company’s prices?
Equipment is Costly
First, as a freelancer, I have to at least cover my expenses. As a photographer, I need to make enough to eventually update my equipment so I can produce even more fantastic photos for you, the customer. In this day and age, it really is necessary to have some type of photo-editing service to produce quality and artistic pictures, which of course, costs $$. I also have to cover expenses for my website, business license, health insurance, gas, time, and expertise. Oh, and bills. I forgot to mention regular, household bills. And (whew) after all that, comes the actual “taking pictures” (read: fun) part. Still, I have to keep my prices competitive with say, a department store photo studio and your next door neighbor who can take “Ok” photos for free.
Speaking of stores…
The great thing about hiring a freelancer is that they can customize whatever you hired them for. If you go to a “big box” portrait studio, they usually don’t charge a sitting fee because they make up for it by saddling the customer with unwanted portraits in the form of “packages”. Lovely, yet overly-posed formal photos that will never see a frame once home. That’s sad; Pictures shouldn’t be in the dark. You also generally get more poses and pictures from a freelancer, because they are free to be creative and not bound by the “big box” rules of a certain number of shots to take and choose from.
People are wanting more and more often, portrait photographers who can capture the personality and not just the hairstyle, of their client. Natural settings and natural lighting are nicer (and cheaper) to work with-it’s far more pleasant to be outside and puts clients at ease for more natural-looking photos. It also allows for more creativity on the photographer’s part. But nature is harder to work with. It can be exhausting trekking with all that gear from pretty site to pretty site for a nice background, and tricky to constantly adjust for wind, clouds, shadows, etc.
Other types of freelance work have similar pros and cons, so as you can see hiring a freelancer is actually not more expensive; it’s just different.