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What am I Paying for When I Hire a Professional Photographer?

A glimpse behind the curtain.

Professional Photographer Holding a Camera


When you hire a professional, you are benefitting from their knowledge and experience. Becoming a professional photographer takes time and study. Most professional photographers have years of practice. There is a lot more that goes into a photoshoot than just the time when the photographer is holding the camera. Read on to see just what is involved and how much time a photographer devotes to a one hour photoshoot.

Time is money

You probably agree with the saying, "Time is money." Let's breakdown a typical 1 hour photoshoot to see how this turn of phrase applies. The following table list the tasks and time involved from start to finish of a shoot.

Time involved in a Photoshoot Infographic


10 hours go into a one hour photoshoot. The same formula roughly applies to weddings. An average 5 hour wedding photoshoot can take well over 50 hours of work to deliver.

Breaking Down the Cost

The above estimate is bare bones and does not count any time the photographer may spend helping with planning, styling, clothing, wardrobe, or finding a hair and makeup artist for the client. So how much is the photographer making per hour? 10.66 hours divided by my 1 hour photoshoot rate of $560 turns into $52.53 per hour. (as of 4/21)

Lawn mowing is expensive

For comparison, consider the cost of some other professionals. On average, in the U.S. you can expect to pay $75 per hour for lawn care, $100 per hour for a plumber, $56 per hour for a carpenter, and $50 per hour for snow shoveling. None of these costs include materials.

At first glance, that might sound like fantastic pay. But there are a few more fingers in the pie. Not yet considered are the expenses associated with a photoshoot. These include:

  • Photo assistants

  • Second Shooters (Larger Events)

  • Gear Insurance

  • Liability Insurance

  • Gear Wear and Tear

  • Vehicle Wear and Tear

  • Self Employment Tax

  • Health Insurance

  • Photography Gear

  • Lighting Gear

  • Computer Gear

  • Props and Backgrounds


While there is no doubt that hiring a professional photographer is a luxury and an expense, it is a far better value than what is often perceived because of the short amount of time on-site with the client vs the total amount of time involved in delivering the final product. Hopefully this article has helped to pull back the curtain a bit on why professional photography seems to cost so much.

Comment Below

If you can think of other reasons that photography is a great value.

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About the Author

Professional Photographer Recording Video

Hello, my name is Johnny Lee and I'm your friendly neighborhood photographer. 😉 I LOVE telling stories!!! I adore traveling, exploring, and learning new things. I hold

myself to the highest standards, and try to make people feel comfortable in their own skin. I find the beauty others don't see in themselves, and can help you share it with the world. This is your story, but I can help you tell it.

If you would like more information on my wedding photography services please check here.


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