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Why is Boudoir Photography So Expensive?

I'm a bit of an introvert. From time to time I'll be out and find myself in a social situation where I'll be surrounded by normal everyday-type people chatting it up and having a good time. I do my best to politely avoid the small-talk, but the odds are stacked against me. Like one of those baby turtles who just emerged from their egg, and instinctively starts heading across the open beach to the sanctuary of the sea, I typically find myself scurrying across the party room to try to make my way to a quiet corner. Also like the baby turtle, I, too, run the high risk of getting picked off by another attendee and would be confronted by the standard party conversation that would begin-- "So, what do you do?"

When it comes to talking about boudoir-- I'm fairly prolific. Between my website, blog posts, Instagram account, and Podcast, I have produced tons of content over the years. Talking about boudoir is just a thing that comes along with the job.

In a social situation, however, it becomes a different me. I'm not much into talking about myself, because for some reason it's just awkward. I tend to be quite reticent in group situations. One of those standard questions in this type of situation that people ask is typically about your work. I'll answer and the follow up is often like, "Oh, that sounds interesting... what is that like?" Which means I have to go further into detail... In some situations this even leads to a question that makes me even a bit more uncomfortable, "I've always thought about doing that! What does something like that cost?" **cue the scratching record sound**

--This is the point where I pause knowing exactly what will come next. Sort of like a distant summer thunderstorm-- you see the lightening flash... and you know the thunder will follow a few seconds later... So I tell them.

Although the person questioning me may not outwardly act surprised, I can see it in their eyes. At that point their curiosity typically piqued-- either one way or the other, and they want to know more... and why... (and they want to see photos, and they want to know stories.... )

Boudoir photography is expensive to the average person on the street. I get it. I don't see it that way, though. Perhaps because I'm on the inside and I know the inner workings of how everything comes together, and all the time, energy and effort involved. To an outsider, they just see (and hear) dollar signs and think that's a lot of money for clicking a few photos on a camera. Everything else is lost in the fog. That's a completely fair reaction, though.

A typical "person on the street" wouldn't know what's involved in producing a photography session. Why would they? If they are thinking about doing a boudoir session for a anniversary or wedding gift, women are often a bit surprised at some of the pricing they receive-- after all, its only a couple of digital photos. It really doesn't cost anything to press a camera button, does it? So why the big price?

The process of shopping for a boudoir photographer, is indeed a process in and of itself that can take a bit of work to do properly. That aside, boudoir photography prices can, and will, vary based on quite a few factors. Some of these include: Geographic region, Skill/experience of the photographer, The type of products or items purchased, and location used for the session.

I thought I'd put together a brief article that may explain it all a bit and to help see why things may seem "expensive." If you've been searching around for why boudoir photography is so expensive, hopefully this article will shed of bit of light on the subject for you.

Let's get on to some of the factors that add in to the overall pricing of your session.

Boudoir Has Standard Business Expenses

If a photographer is using a work space like a studio she/he has a big nut to make each month. In the Northeast, where I am located, retail space is enormously expensive...probably too expensive for a photographer. Office/Loft/Studio type space isn't much less. If a photographer is renting a work space-- they are strapped with not only rent, but other standard expenses such as electric, gas, water, insurance, etc. On top of that, if they have an assistant or other workers, there are additional payroll expenses added on top of that that need to be met, as well.

Depending on the part of the country, and the location of the studio, these expenses can amount to thousands of dollars per month. A studio space is a big commitment for a photographer. The studio provides a reliable work space, but studio expenses will be added on to any pricing.

Photographers Have To Eat

Photographers have to eat, too! Some photographers choose to work in photography only part time. They may have a full time career and shoot weddings, etc., on weekends for some extra money. This is great. Photography is a wonderful part time job. Other photographers may have a spouse/partner that works a full time career to provide a steady income to help pay the bills.

There are a group of photographers that work full time at photography, and the business is their primary source of income.

Think about all the bills anyone has to pay... There are food, clothing, medical expenses, rent/mortgage and other household expenses that need to paid monthly. That can be a lot of money! Living expenses can vary from locality to locality across the country, but in the New York metro area where am located, you aren't existing for less than $45K - $50K per year (If you are a single income provider.)

Those are living costs that definitely will factor in to your session.

Photography Has Expensive Gear Requirements

This is a great time to be a photographer. This amazing digital age we live in produces new innovation almost yearly! Cameras get sharper, get better low light capability, and have increased image quality with each new generation. A camera is a tool to a photographer, like a tile saw is to a ceramic installer. It's vital to the job. It gets a lot of use, though, and they need to be replaced every few years. Decent professional cameras can be $2,000 - $3,000 a pop.

The camera is just the start of it! EVERYTHING about photography is expensive. I recall a client innocently grabbing one of my lenses during a session to look at it, and it slipped from her hand-- fortunately it tumbled forward and landed on a bed. She stopped in horror and said something along the lines "That was almost an expensive mistake-- " "Real expensive," I said.

"Like $300 expensive?" she replied. I gave her a sideways head shake. "More?" she muttered "$400?"

"Keep going... like $1400 expensive." She looked at me like I grew a second head.

Yes, folks, photography stuff is real expensive.

It's not only camera gear that is expensive. All those great photos get offloaded from the camera onto a computer for editing. That computer is usually loaded with several professional software applications to help get the job done. As those innovative software companies make their products better and faster every year...that usually comes at the penalty of need all new faster computers every few years to make them run. Oh, joy!

THAT'S not even talking about all the storage hardware to keep all your precious photos safe, in case you need them some day.

The list of expensive gear goes on and on.

Are you starting to get the idea now? 😀 Oh, it gets worse.

You're Paying For Talent

Ah, talent. How can you put a price on an intangible? Isn't everyone a "photographer" these days? The answer is yes, and no. Lots of people drive, but that doesn't make them Formula 1 drivers.

There are boudoir photographers that are just extreme talents. Give them a camera and a subject and they can create beautiful works of art that clients treasure for years.

This is the end results of thousands and thousands of hours of practice, and hundreds and hundreds of clients-- not to mention the natural ability to bring everything together to create magic.

If you see some stunning work in a photographers gallery, and its something that you can envision yourself being part of, you will be paying for the talents of that photographer to produce that unique photographic look on a consistent basis.

Heck, you probably wouldn't pay $225 to sit front row in a local coffee shop on open mic night to hear a high school student play John Mayer songs, but you would to sit front row in a small venue to hear John Mayer play "Comfortable" just feet away from you. Why? What's the difference?

It's the same song? Who cares who sings it? The words are the same, right? Get the idea? (Boy, that's a lot of question marks there...) In that case you are paying for the talent. For the person who originally created that work of art.

Likewise, in photography, if you want to look your best, you will be paying a premium for premium talent.