For photogs: Explaining cost

For photogs: Explaining cost

As a member of AIBP, our photographers have experience (many have upwards of ten years or more), have won awards, have or are working on outstanding portfolios, & are regarded as the best of the boudoir photography genre. One question that never seems to escape a photographer of AIBP caliber, is why the price of custom boudoir photography can be the investment it is. Below are the reasons why we, as professional photographers, charge what we do. If you have found a photographer that may seem too reasonable to be legit… chances are, the photographer you chose may be a hobbyist rather than someone who has invested years of education, many thousands of dollars into their equipment, have excellent relationships with vendors, network within their industry to stay abreast of trends & practices, & are truly gifted. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a couple hours with a hobbyist, we at AIBP recommend you work with one of our professionals, and understand that the investment is worth every penny. Not only do you want to ensure your images are beautifully done, but preserved correctly, your privacy rights are respected, & your products come out flawless.

Time is Valuable.

Much of the cost of a photographic print produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time, equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business. Here is an example of a time break down:

  • booking time: 30 minutes to one hour (client contact time + paperwork)
  • pre-session prep time (30 minutess – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks + vehicle checks)
  • one hour travel time TO session
  • 15-30 minutes prep time at location
  • 60 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject
  • one hour travel time FROM session
  • 30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
  • 30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images
  • 2-5 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images
  • 1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering Session
  • 1-2 hours time with client for ordering images
  • 1 hour sorting through and checking order
  • 30 minutes-1 hour nicely wrapping order
  • 30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped
  • any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues

In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 13 hours to 19 hours – dependent on the photographer’s level of service. This is time dedicated only to ONE session. When the photographer charges $200-$400 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12-19 hours by Text-Enhance” href=””>complete time for your session.

The COSTS of Maintaining a Custom Photography Business:

Regarding equipment costs, a good quality by Text-Enhance” href=””>professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer. Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR at Costco or Mike’s Camera in a range of $700-$2,700 there are still other costs related to photography. A good lens for portrait photography can run from $900 to $2500. A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $5000 to $8000 dependent on the photographer. Then come lab costs for specialty products. A good photographer knows their professional lab is an integral part of their success. These labs often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for the discerning client.

Discussion on other costs of running a photography business could take a while so we’ll skip many of the intricate details.

An overview: the costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will have at the studio. Plus the cost of employees. The education the photographer has, level of recognition, & other variables clearly go into this equation as well.

Comparing apples to oranges isn’t a good idea (for example wondering why you’d need to buy an 8×10 for $80 from a Pro, versus spending $2 at Walmart). We calibrate our monitors to match our vendor printers, run special software actions for each session, etc. Lots of things to think about!

This is a great start for any client or professional looking to have a better explanation on why custom boudoir photography can be an investment…




Lynn Clark
Lynn Clark

Lynn Clark started her fine art boudoir photography studio in Denver, Colorado in 2010. She creates artistically sensual boudoir portraits and fine art nude bodyscapes for women who are on a journey of self-discovery. She draws her clients from Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska and New Mexico. Lynn is the co-founder of The Business of Boudoir, a collaborative boudoir education blog, and served as chair of the Association of International Boudoir Photographers board in 2013. She spend the first 25 years of adulting as a journalist, business communications expert, fundraising communications diva and science writer. She retired from that life in 2012. Lynn offers 1-on-1 mentoring for photographers of all kinds in quitting their day jobs, pricing, information design (websites, pricing guides, etc), and communications audits. She also offers a few products for sale, including her Amazing Permission Slip, a plain-English boudoir photography studio contract, and a strict-and-enforceable installment plan agreement. She also offers headshots and branding photos for creatives and mission-minded women. She is married with two almost-grown kids, a cat named Archer and 5 ferrets.


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