Archive for December, 2015
Dec 15, 2015
posted in Products with 0 Comments

Let’s do a hypothetical look at a business model of selling on discs of images for $100 for an imaginary photographer that we’ll call Bob.

Let’s start with time.  Bob spends at least an hour of time between communication with the client and prepping his equipment.  On the shoot day, he drives half an hour to the shoot that lasts an hour, and then half an hour home again.  Then Bob spends two hours of time downloading and processing the images.  He then spends half an hour burning the files to disc and getting ready to deliver them to the client.  Finally, Bob spends another hour of time driving either to the post office to mail the disc, or to meet with the clients directly to hand the disc over and return home again.

Of course you can play with the numbers, but at the moment we have 6.5 hours.  And depending on the mileage and vehicle Bob drives, we’ll just say fuel cost was roughly $15.  Then let’s assume Bob didn’t charge the client sales tax and now has to pay it out of his own pocket.  For me that would be $9.75.  And for the delivered product, we’ll say that the CD, sleeve, and marker collectively cost $1.25.  Oh yeah, let’s not forget Federal taxes, so we’ll estimate it to be $5.  So now, not even considering things like computer and software costs, or the electricity to run the computer, or the wear and tear on the computer, camera, and vehicle, as well as other misc. expenses, we’re looking at a cost of $31, leaving Bob with $69.

Now let’s say Bob has collective annual business expenses of $2500.  If Bob wanted to make at least $35,000 for the year strictly off these numbers, He would have to do at least 470 of these $100 disc only session.  Who on earth would want to do 470 portrait sessions in a year for that kind of money.

Now if Bob charged $200 for the disc, and all other numbers stayed the same, then he can drop it to 192 sessions, but who wants to pay $200 for a disc of images at that low quality of service when there’s plenty of others out there providing the same low level of service and work for less?  Now Bob is in the trap of competing on price, and there’s always going to be someone cheaper.  What Bob would have to do in this case is increase the level of service provided and products/images delivered, which at the same time will increase costs for Bob.

Now let’s say that Bob is trying to support his family since he needs a minimum of $30k a year doing photography, but he also has his annual business expenses of $2500 for the year.  Just to cover basic expenses, Bob needs to bring in at least $650 a week for 50 weeks before having any extra money to put into savings, go on vacation, or even just to go out to eat.  Not to mention no extra money to replace aging equipment or ongoing training.  Bob would have to do 9-10 $100 sessions per week for 50 weeks to do this.  To accomplish this, Bob will also have to start investing in marketing and advertising, which will increase his cost, not to mention storage for all of those files.  All of which means he’ll either have to start charging more, doing more sessions, or finding another line of work.

So sure, photography sounds like a fun idea, especially if you can earn a few extra bucks here and there.  But now you see what it looks like if you start looking at doing it as a business full-time while keeping the same low-end business model.  You can play with the numbers all you like, but the more you try to make per client in order to lesson your workload and stress and avoid burnout, the more you also have to up what you’re doing and providing for your clients, which means it’s also going to cost you more as well.  This is why you have to love business more than the job itself some times.

If someone wants a good resource for number crunching, PPA has a great tool on their website called Square One.  As you can see below, I told it I wanted to make $30,000 a year doing general portraits at $100 per session, and it factored expenses based on the benchmarks, and determined 667 sessions in a year would have to be done to accomplish that goal.

Also, if anyone in the photography business is interested, there’s a great book by Dane Sanders called Fast Track Photographer.  He talks about business models as well as about being full-time, part-time, second shooter, or hobbiest photographers.  Great read.

financial breakout


If you found this post helpfully in anyway, please let me.  Please Like and Share this post so others can enjoy it too.  Thanks for reading.

Post by  at Brandon Malone Photography

Dec 07, 2015
posted in Products with 0 Comments

I recently talked a bit about the cost of photography.  I then touched slightly on a subject that I want to talk more about in this post, and that’s the topic of CD’s of images.

For me, I aim to provide a bit of a higher level experience to my clients as well as higher-end products, which means more time invested into every client and their products.  I am not a CD only photographer.  I want to provide every client with beautiful displays that they can love an enjoy, and a disc of images just doesn’t accomplish that.  At the same time, how much sense does it make to go to a professional just to have them make digital files that even if they are actually printed, will be printed unprofessionally?  That’s like going to a really fancy restaurant and trying to order a $2 burger like you’d get from a fast-food place.

So let’s talk about the much mentioned disc of images.  It’s a quick, cheap product period.  There’s nothing fancy or special about it.  In my opinion, the biggest disservice a photographer can do to the client, themselves, and the work they create is to sell nothing more than a disc of images.  How much sense does it make to invest time and money to create beautiful works of art that will at best be printed cheaply, if printed at all?  Most of the time people ask for it because that’s the most common thing everyone else does nowadays because they don’t know what else to ask for.  I recently had a client in my studio that was amazed at all of the beautiful display options, but found herself not knowing what to do.  She completely saw the value in what I do and create, but was not used to having such options and her mind kept going back to what she’s used to, which is files.

When people get files, here’s some common things that happen.  1) They are downloaded and never printed.  2) They’re put away to get to later and then forgotten.  3) If any are printed at all, only a few of the images are printed, and are done so unprofessionally.  4) They’re put online for others to see and on their phones, but then never get printed and are lost or forgotten over time.

I personally have never heard of someone taking those files and making large beautiful wall displays out of them.  I know out here in Middle TN, there is a higher population of people that will make some small prints from those files, but still not all of them.  So then a person is spending (or wasting in my opinion) their money on digital files that they could have otherwise invested into something beautiful to display in their home.  Which invest do you think you’ll cherish more in twenty years, a beautiful display in your home, or a bunch of files?

I said earlier that files are a quick, cheap product.  If you’re only looking for quick and cheap, then how important is it to you to begin with?  How important is your wedding, or you senior child, or your family if you only want something quick and cheap of them?  How much do you cherish whatever you’re having photographed if you’d rather have some files that’ll be lost or forgotten rather than a beautiful display that will last for generations?

There are times that that’s all a person really wants.  They just want a few quick shots to document their family, but don’t really care too much about how pretty it is, and don’t want any fancy stuff.  If that’s you, then that’s fine.  I, and every other full-time working professional photographer are not for you.  If that’s you, then there are plenty of lower-end weekend only photographers that’ll only be around as long as your files, or less, and will invest no time with you or your images, and will deliver them (someday) to you for next to nothing.

On the other hand, if you’re someone that cherishes what you have pictures of, and wants someone that’ll give you lots of personalized attention and care, and wants to provide you with beautiful, lasting displays, then you want to go to a full-time professional photographer, and expect to pay more for that higher quality level of investment.

No one wants to waste anyone else’s time, and going to a professional photographer means a larger investment of time, which also means a larger financial investment as well.  If you want to stay super cheap, then go to the nonprofessional that won’t invest much time in you or your pictures instead of going to the professional that’ll take really good care of you and your images only to have you ask for all the files for next to nothing.  Doing so is a disservice to everyone involved.

All this being said, I’m not opposed to selling digital files all together.  I first and foremost believe every client should leave with something professionally printed in their hands, even if it’s just a set of small prints.  So I created my Digital Archival Collection Kits, which include both prints and digital files.  There are some differences in these kits of course such as what’s included and how many images, but they all include files and professional prints of each image.  For most people, once they have the prints, they find that they don’t have as much of a need for the files themselves any longer, so in a case like that I’ll offer a set of prints instead of an entire kit at a reduced cost if the client first invests in a wall display or book.  That way they’re investing their money into things they can enjoy instead of files that’ll never be enjoyed.  Plus I also provide non-printable sharing files for free anyways, so they don’t need them for that.


photos sitting on hay


I just want to add a side note that there are of course times when a job requires electronic files only, but these are cases that do not involve the general public consumers.  These are generally commercial jobs that can include things like realty, company websites, publications, celebrities, etc.  There’s many more, but understand that when files are handed over in these cases, there are plenty of professional people involved in making sure those images are produced the right way to make everyone look good.  Plus those files are not cheaply sold, but instead come with much higher fees, and sometimes royalties.  So don’t feel like the commercial world is getting a break on cheap digital files while the average consumer is getting hijacked.  I promise that’s not the case, except in the newspaper world where they almost never pay photographers anymore since there’s so many people freely providing images just to have their name printed.


If you found this post helpfully in anyway, please let me.  Please Like and Share this post so others can enjoy it too.  Thanks for reading.

Post by  at Brandon Malone Photography