Why Price Matters in Photography

Recently, i have had a handful of clients haggle with me on price.

Now i completely understand, even big blue chip companies have budgets that they have to stick to, and the small startups are just try to claw themselves out of year 1 without having to sell their car and clothes.

The phrase i hear a lot, about having photos done, is ‘can you do it for cheaper?’ or ‘can you do it for X amount’ and the answer is almost invariably ‘Yes’ because i want to work… i want to offer a great service to my clients and i don’t want them to get ripped off by another photographer, who maybe doesn’t know what they’re doing.

But here’s the thing… as freelancers, we HAVE to make it cost effective for our business , so when a client haggles on the price, what they’re actually haggling on is the amount of time spent on the project.

Lest transpose this to another industry with a hypothetical – A gardener charges £20 per hour and your 0.5 acre garden will take 3 hours a week to keep on top of, that is a £60 total.

You only have a budget of £30. The gardener will likely not work for half the time for free, so he is just going to cut down the amount of time he spends on the project, giving it half the amount of time.

So here i want to just run through a really quick handful of examples of the HUGE difference that the amount of time makes to, not only the actual photo… but the concept/ retouching and overall cohesion of the image.

So here it is, a visual experiment about how much difference time/cost makes to an image.

10 Minute Photography

Approximately 10 minutes, from plonking the product on some acetate (which was already there) taking the picture in natural window light, because 10 minutes doesn’t really afford much time to do a lighting setup. This 10 minutes also includes a quick convert from RAW in lightroom, but no real retouching time.

This is £10 worth of image.

You’ll see that the chrome area is a bit of a mess. Overall tonality is pretty wishy washy because its not lit with any kind of deliberation, though would suit some brands.

Product Photography_10mins

20 Minute Photography

For this one i had a tiny bit more time to play around with putting some lights in there, but not enough time to experiment and get the best combination – so i just chucked together and old faithful set up of key light brolly, and backlight to bleach out the background sufficiently.

The brolly has picked out a ping of light on the chrome which is unpleasant.

Black boards to flag the sides, though you can see that i’ve completely overcooked it on that front because the sides are way too dark.

This received a pretty quick run through lightroom and then an equally quick background removal.

I ran out of time before i could make it look any better.

This is a £20 image.

Product Photography_20mins.jpg

2 Hour Photography

This last one i decided to not really set myself a time limit, and just went to town on it. I took around 2 hours total, including the lighting setup, crafting, lightroom and retouching.

As you can see, this is far superior to the previous images. The lighting balance across the product is great. The chrome is shining without any abstractions. The text is pretty visible even though its white on light blue. Conceptually it works pretty well. Colour wise it is strong.

This is an £82 image.

At this point i think it’s important to point out that once its all set up for one product, you could potentially shoot several of this ‘look’ at a very cost effective price.

The more products you shoot, the more cost effective the whole project becomes.

Product photographer_2hrs.jpg

And here is how it was done:


So there it is,  the old adage that ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true on this front.

Head on over to the contact page if you want to get in touch to discuss your upcoming projects.

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