How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Family Photographer?
You’ve decided to invest in a family photo shoot, and can’t wait to have some gorgeous new photographs of you all together. As you start researching photographers, one of the first things you’ll probably want to find out is how much a family photo shoot costs. It’s completely understandable – you want to know how much you should budget for your photographs.
So, how much does it cost to hire a family photographer?
The short answer is…that there’s no short answer.
As you start to research photographers, you’ll probably find that there are photographers offering their services at a wide variety of price points, and that each of them is offering a different level of service. So comparing on price alone is not always possible. Instead, it’s best to find out what each photographer is offering, and then you’ll know whether you’re comparing like with like.
What I’ll cover in this guide is:
- The different ways that family photographers charge for their service
- The different levels of service you can expect to find from family photographers
- The range of prices you can expect to see
- What causes the variation in price between different photographers
How Do Family Photographers Charge For Photos?
Before we look at how much you should pay for family photography, it’s helpful to look at the different ways that family photographers charge for their services. There are generally two methods that you will come across:
1. The session fee plus photographs model
The first, and most traditional way of charging for family photography, is where you pay a session fee which covers the shoot itself, and preparation of a gallery of images for you to order from afterwards.
Once you view the photographs you choose products to order. This could be framed prints, wall art, albums, digital files or more.
Depending on the service the photographer provides, you might meet in person to view the photographs, or they may send you a link to an online gallery where you view them instead. Where a photographer offers online galleries, rather than meeting you in person, there will probably be a time limit on how long you can view the photographs for – for example 24 hours, or 7 days.
2. The fixed price model
The second way of charging is to have a fixed price for the session which includes a set of all of the digital images. These may be sent to you on a CD, USB or by digital download.
Sometimes photographers who offer this model will have the option to purchase prints or albums afterwards. Often they will only offer this digital option.
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What Kind of Service Do Family Photographers Provide?
Now we know the different ways that photographers might charge for a shoot, but before we can compare photographers on price we need to find out what else each of them is offering.
You’ll find that every studio or individual photographer provides a slightly different offering and as such their prices will vary.
Some of the ways that family photographers’ service can vary are:
- Where they take photographs – do they have a studio or shoot in your home or outdoors?
- Their skill and experience
- Whether they are a specialist or generalist photographer
- The kind of equipment they use
- How many families they work with in one day
- Whether you can have input into the planning of the session
- The level of service they provide during the shoot
- How much editing and retouching they provide
- How long you’ll wait to see your photographs after the photo shoot
- Whether the photographer shows you the photographs in person or sends you a link to view them online
- Whether you have a choice as to which photographs you purchase
- The quality of products you can purchase from them afterwards
With all of these differences you can see that it’s very difficult to compare photographers on price alone as they are probably not offering exactly the same level of service.
Whilst price is important, I also recommend considering the kind of service and experience you would like to have. Let’s dive deeper into some of the more important considerations.
- Related Article: How To Save Money On Family Photography
Does the photographer have a studio, or take photographs on location?
When you’re considering a family photo shoot you’ll find that you have a choice about where the shoot happens; some photographers work from a studio, others in your home, and other photographers work outdoors.
If a photographer has a studio, they will have to cover the costs of running those premises, and this may mean a higher price. If the studio is within their home these costs may be lower than if their studio is a standalone premises.
Even if a photographer doesn’t have a studio and works on location, there can be extra costs involved. For example, some privately owned locations such as National Trust sites, Landscape Gardens or Parks require photographers to obtain permits or pay fees for each shoot they hold there.
Finally if a photographer works on location, but is travelling long distances to each shoots they will also have higher costs than one who works in a studio, or only works closer to home.
One thing to consider when it comes to location, is that whilst the location might have an impact on price it will also affect the final finish of your photographs. Choosing a photographer who’s style you love is probably more important than choosing them on price alone here. For example, if you opt for a shoot at home because it’s cheaper, but actually prefer the more polished look you’ve seen in studio photographs you might not feel happy with the final result.
How Much Skill and Experience Does The Family Photographer Have?
As in all other industries, you’ll pay for the level of your photographer’s experience. This is not just about how long they’ve been in business, or where they trained, but how skilful they are in creating the photographs.
For family photography the skills needed to create beautiful photographs include:
- Helping clients to prepare for their shoot
- Understanding light, and where to position families for the best lighting
- How to use studio or fill-in light
- How to use their camera to expose photos correctly
- Helping clients to feel relaxed in front of the camera
- Getting the best out of children on the day
- Editing and retouching
The photographer’s skill level in these different areas will impact the quality of the photographs they produce, and generally speaking this will be reflected in their prices.
As in any other profession, it’s also important to stay up-to-date. Photography trends and techniques are always evolving. To do this photographers need to invest in training, conferences and workshops, all of which add costs to their business.
Is The Photographer A Generalist or Specialist?
As you research photographers you’ll find that some specialise only in photographing families, children and babies, whilst others are generalists. They might photograph weddings, events, headshots, interiors or any other genre as well as families.
You’ll probably find that this affects the price. After all, if a photographer only photographs families they will have had more experience of doing it, and more time to hone their craft. As such they will probably charge more than a photographer who photographs lots of different genres.
What Kind Of Equipment Does The Photographer Use?
Photography requires a lot of equipment, and photographers need to account for the costs of purchasing, updating and maintaining this equipment in their costs.
A typical kit (and approximate prices when bought new) for a professional family photographer without a studio could be:
- 2 x Full Frame Cameras (£1,000+ each)
- 50mm 1.4 Lens (£300+)
- 70-200mm 2.8 Lens (£1,700+)
- 24-70mm 2.8 Lens (£1,700+)
- Speedlight (flash) (£200+)
- Reflectors (£30+ each)
- Professional Level Memory Cards (£25+ each)
Lenses can last many years, but with advances in technology photographers usually need to replace their camera bodies every few years. On top of this, the equipment needs to be maintained, with regular camera sensor cleaning and servicing.
Photographers working from a studio will also need to invest in lighting equipment.
The other equipment photographers need is for editing the photographs. Typically each photographer needs a desktop computer with a large screen, so they can see all of the detail, the means to colour calibrate the screen (so your skin tones and the colours in the photographs are correct), and depending on the level of retouching they do may also have a tablet for retouching. They’ll also need to buy or pay a monthly subscription for professional level editing software.
Depending on the quality of equipment a photographer uses, and how they maintain it they’ll have higher costs to cover and this may influence the price they charge.
- Related Article: Natural Light vs Studio Light Photography. Which Is Best?
What Kind Of Experience Does Each Photographer Provide?
As we’ve discussed, all photographers will offering different levels of service, and this will result in a different experience for you, and a different price.
At the top end, photographers will work with a small number of clients each month which allows them to spend time getting to know you, helping you prepare for your session, and dedicating time to make sure each image is perfect as they edit.
You’ll find that these photographers will likely offer a range of luxury products for you to choose and order from – things that you can’t find on the high street. They’ll be able to advise you on what’s possible with your images – for example, how to arrange framed prints in your home for maximum effect.
For this kind of personalised experiences, you can expect to pay more.
At the lower end of the scale, a photographer may be working with multiple families in one day. Once you’ve booked your shoot you may not hear from them until the day of the shoot, and after the shoot you’ll probably receive your photographs electronically.
When a photographer is working to this model, they will probably have less time to spend with each family, and less time to spend on helping you prepare, editing your photographs and helping you decide what to do with them afterwards. As a result, you will probably find lower prices.
So How Much Does Family Photography Cost in Surrey & London?
Now that we’ve looked at the factors that can influence the price of your family photo shoot, how much should you expect to pay?
Within the area that I cover of Surrey and South West London, there is a big variation in the different prices you can pay.
At the top end, one studio charges £250 for the session fee – this fee covers the photo shoot itself, the photographer’s time selecting the best images from the shoot and editing them, and a viewing session where you can see the photographs and choose which ones you would like to order. Framed prints start from £180 for a desk sized frame, and individual digital images start from £215 per image.
At the other end of the scale, another local photographer charges £95 for a photo shoot including 10 digital images. These shoots are in a location chosen by the photographer, and on certain days each month – so the photographer will photograph multiple families back to back on the same day.
I work on a session fee plus products model, and charge a session fee of £100 on weekdays and £150 on weekends. After their family photo shoot, most families that I work with spend between £400 and £1,400 on photographs. You can find out more about the experience you can expect to have when you book a shoot with me here.
Over To You
I hope that this article has helped you to decide on the kind of experience you would like to have when you book a family photo shoot, and how much you would like to spend.
I’d love to hear what kind of experience you have decided that you would like – let me know in the comments below.
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