What should I pay a New York Photographer?

My beloved state of New York, with its diverse landscapes and bustling cityscapes, offers an array of scenic backdrops for photos. Whether you are in the heart of NYC, the serene landscapes of the Hamptons, the historical Westchester County, or the picturesque Lower Hudson Valley, professional New York photographers can help capture your precious family moments. However, the costs associated with these services can vary widely. Understanding these price ranges can be instrumental in making an informed decision.

This analysis is focused on New York family photographers for the sake of simplicity, but this info is very relevant to all types of photography. I offer family photography, newborn photography, maternity photography, branding photography, headshot photography, elopement photography, engagement photography and a few other genres, but those ones listed are all very comparable price-wise, so the following ranges apply.

Keep in mind, this range can still of course vary significantly. Factors such as the level of experience, the photographer’s commitment to their business, the cost of living in the area, and the desired income level (modest income for a single-person household vs. a significant income to support a family) all play a part.

A little about why I maybe know something about this whole thing

This article is based on my own market research and experience as a pro photographer for over 10 years. I started as a “budget” photographer in my early twenties, producing an ok quality of work (I was REALLY still learning) and basically winging it. I had almost no systems in place running my business (it def wasn’t even an actual business at that point), and I was focused on my dance career at the time, so it was really just a side thing. Clients repeatedly told me to raise my prices as I began to produce really beautiful work that was WAY below market price. As I continued to hone my craft, gain years of experience and invest more and more in my business, I’ve climbed the ranks up to the “luxury” tier of photographers.

Pricing for any service is kind of a Goldilocks situation. You have to outline your priorities, think about your budget and determine what you want your experience and end product to be, and then find the bracket that balances all of that. And of course – you must look at a photographer’s portfolio and make sure you love the photos. If you don’t love the photos in someone’s portfolio, you can not expect them to create photos that you will love. There IS a right photographer for you, but that might not be the photographer who was right for your friend! Also, it might not be me, and that’s ok!

Low Range “Budget” Photographers ($100 – $300):

These photographers may be hobbyists, amateurs, or people who have a deep affinity for photography but don’t make a living out of it. They are typically not making significant financial or time investments in their work, because it’s not their primary source of income. The low-range budget photographer is not making a liveable wage from their craft.

Their equipment may not be the latest on the market, and they may not offer the most advanced editing options (or any at all). However, if the quality of work isn’t a priority for you, but you really want a few family photos that you’re included in, this could be the right option for you. They can still create wonderful memories, just with less polish than their more expensive counterparts.

Mid-Range Photographers ($300 – $1,000):

Mid-range photographers typically make a living as photographers, depending on the cost of living in their area. These individuals are the balancing act of the photography world, often managing a high volume of shoots and likely focusing less on the finer details due to time constraints. This often means not delivering a fully edited gallery. Some photographers in this bracket send you a lot of unfinished photos to comb through and then you have to decide which ones you want edited – trust me, that’s an annoying task you don’t want to have to do – and you likely will let it stay at the bottom of the to-do list for a loooonnnnnggg time.

It’s unlikely that these photographers are investing in top-tier editing software, photo-sharing software, archival products, or continuing education. However, they are professionals who can produce work of good quality, and their services should suit you if you’re looking for a blend of reasonable price and decent results.

High-Range (Luxury) Photographers ($1,000 – $2000+):

High-range photographers are the epitome of professional photography (::hair toss::). These are the individuals who have dedicated their lives to their craft, often making significant financial and time investments in their business. They run legit businesses with insurance, contracts in place, etc etc, so EVERYONE is fully taken care of. They are keen on continually updating their skills and techniques, investing in the best equipment, editing software, and professional development courses.

These photographers will deliver you a gorgeous gallery with beautiful photos that you won’t have to comb through. They will not send you dozens and dozens of images – quality over quantity. You’ll likely find beauty in every single one of these photos and have a hard time deciding which photos to put on the wall. This photographer will help you through the entire process, from talking details on the phone to looking over your outfit photos to helping you get images into your home. I offer in person consultations at home for wall galleries with complimentary layout design (you can see mock ups of what photos will look like in your actual space) as well as album design. This is pretty standard service for luxury photographers.

A little more about this top tier photography investment….

I’ve done a lot of research and sampling to offer my clients the highest quality archival products that will stand the test of time, and they are all available to order directly through your private beautiful & easy to use online photo gallery. If it’s overwhelming to handle it all on your own online, I’ll get on the phone with you (or the grandparents, or whoever!) and take all the time you need to get you exactly what you want. This is definitely an offering you can only get through the top tier photogs.

Obviously, all of the above takes T I M E. You are not paying this photographer for the session time. The session itself is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the time that a high end photographer invests in each and every session. Photographers in this tier can easily spend 10-15 hours on a single session. ::Jaw drop:: I know, right!?

This top tier range can vary significantly, though. Factors such as the level of experience, the photographer’s commitment to their business, the cost of living in the area, and the desired income level (modest income for a single-person household vs. a significant income to support a family) all play a part.

As an example – I know of a kick ass photographer in NYC who creates absolutely exquisite artwork. You can not get a single photo without investing at least $2,200. As a comparison, the average investment for my clients is $1,500 and include all of the finished, framable photos we created.

When you invest in a high-range photographer, you’re not only paying for their time but also their experience, their expertise, and their commitment to quality. If top-notch photos that will stand the test of time and thoughtful & attentive service are important to you, this is the range for you. Reach out to me and let’s plan your shoot to make beautiful, timeless images through a painless & fun process!

To sum it up:

In the end, the choice of a photographer depends on a myriad of factors: your budget, the importance of photo quality, the reputation of the photographer, and so on. Remember to consider all of these elements when deciding on a photographer. Regardless of your choice, the essence of a family photo shoot is to capture those magic moments of love and togetherness.

Whether you’re hiring an amateur photographer looking to expand their portfolio or a seasoned professional with years of experience, make sure to communicate your needs and expectations clearly – and make sure they are in line with what you are investing. You can’t expect a gallery of gorgeous framable photos from a budget photographer, and you can’t expect a super fast turnaround from a luxury photographer who will be meticulously pouring over your images.

And I can’t emphasize this enough – you must look at a photographer’s portfolio and make sure you love the photos. If you don’t love the photos in someone’s portfolio, you can not expect them to create photos that you will love. Read their about page – if you don’t love what their trying to accomplish, their vibe doesn’t resonate with you etc, they are not your person! Keep up the search and get those photos!

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