Photographers Charge That Much?

You push a button on the really nice camera and then run it through a neat little filter. That's all photographers do, right? Then, why are we expensive, and why would any client want to invest that much into a good photographer? Wouldn't it be easier to buy a camera and push the button yourself?

Photographers Do What?

Imagine what it would mean if photography clients knew how hard you worked before the initial consultation call. That before they get an email response from the photographer, he or she already researched their brand and name. We studied the social channels and already had a few ideas cooking up before we dialed the numbers. 

Have they already decided if this opportunity might be a good business decision or are they asking for free work? Would they respect our rate, or is the email even from a legitimate client? There’s an entire process that creatives do before the initial client call. It requires a lot of research, and it simply takes time to do this. Keep reading, because the point is to prove we do more than push a button.

For the record, we haven't even hit pre-production yet. This is only pre-qualifying the client and figuring out the direction of the photo shoot. During pre-production, we work on finding locations, the right team, and even the right looks for the project. Then, we have the day(s) of production, post-production, and what I call client-nurturing. That's an entire adventure on its own!

Walid Azami photographing Taylor Zakhar Perez

Why Is This Important?

I made this video because it’s important to educate our clients. I cannot expect my clientele to know what I do with each shoot if I don’t take the time to voice it. Now, am I going to force them to watch this video? Obviously not, but I am suggesting we speak more about our process and talk about the steps we are taking to guarantee a successful project. 

They should know the thought process behind casting your model or selecting the perfect location. They should have an understanding to the mood board and why it's important. They should realize it is more than slapping photographs on a board and exporting to a PDF. It's actually careful thought behind each image, and that's what makes our rates worth every dollar. 

They should know the steps it takes for production, post-production, and all your reasons behind your creation. Remember that anyone can buy a camera, but only you can do it your way. Give them access to your creative process. When you do this, they start to value your contribution more and more.

Know Your Power

We do a lot. We launch businesses, records, movies, TV shows, books, restaurants, careers, political careers and agendas, and sometimes even someone's dating life. We tell stories the media may not cover, and we are present in nearly every business industry. No matter what industry we contribute to, our work helps the client stand out in a competitive market. We do all of that with our form of storytelling and unique vision. So yeah, we do more than just push a button. Know your value, respect your wage.

Walid Azami's picture

Walid Azami is a Photographer/Director and creative consultant from Los Angeles. He got his start working with Madonna + Co by contributing to her many projects. It was then he realized his place in the creative world & began teaching himself photography. He has since shot Kanye, Mariah Carey, Usher, Bernie Sanders, JLO, amongst others

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If the first thing any client wants is to complain/haggle over prices and wants everything for free without being reasonable would be a big warning sign for me. Even when everything is said and done another classic is a client who says "I'll accept all the photos but I don't like them so I'm not paying for them" is another classic story told be several photographers when they recount horror stories. In the digital age, photography isn't seen as a skill anymore, unfortunately.

Way back when I was new at this, I had a couple of extremely valuable clients, one in the medical industry ($$$$$$$$$), and one in the pet supply industry (lucrative, but boring, and difficult . . . kids/animals?) . . . because of the med connection, I ended up being introduced to someone who marketed a thousand and one bits and pieces to hospitals . . . most of them stainless steel. He was a potential ongoing job, but was a cheap SOB who couldn't understand why his zillionteen dollar slr wouldn't take nice pictures . . . and he resented my quotes, which were not outrageous, but fair, though a bit high (I didn't like him) . . . the always, "why should I pay that when I have a camera that can do the same thing?"

I am a decent, and fair person, and agreed with him . . . and explained that I would be more than willing to stop what I do to give him private tuition to learn to be just as good as I am, for $$$$$$$$$$$

Mouthy cheapskate shut up, and accepted my bid.

And he got a more than excellent job.

STAND YOUR GROUND . . . and learn how to tell those "clients" to f off (politely of course).