This is one question I have heard far too many times, both directly and indirectly: “Why do photo/video services cost so much?”
In short, there is a lot that goes into making professional quality productions. Whether it be photo or video, from planning to post production, there is a lot of hard work involved to achieve polished media.
This business isn’t only expensive for clients, it is for the producers as well. For argument’s sake, let’s just use a wedding for example. Let’s say a wedding videographer charges $4000 for their services. Let’s say this includes an entire day of coverage with professional equipment, a second videographer for the day, and a whole bunch of post production edits like a music video and a full cut of the ceremony. Uninformed people might think, 10 hours spent at the wedding, $4000, a few hours of editing, that’s like $300 an hour! Let’s talk about the expenses of a shoot from the perspective of producer like myself. First, to get into this line of work, you have to invest thousands and thousands of dollars into audio/visual equipment. All of my investments add up to nearly $10k into my business.
Aside from the investments made, clients also pay for the training involved to get to this point. At the University of Minnesota I learned the tools of the trade — how to operate a camera, sound equipment, how to edit it all together, etc. Those skills are not cheap to learn, which means it’s difficult to make them cheap to access.
When you call up a plumber, a professional in the trade of plumbing, you aren’t just paying for what he fixes, but for his expertise and analysis of your plumbing situation. He has the skills to diagnose problems and then fix them. Sure, almost anyone can turn a wrench — heck, some people could even fix common plumbing problems themselves — but what you’re paying for is an expert to diagnose your issues, fix it in a timely manner (because a plumber is much more efficient than you can be), and finish the job with the right equipment and professional work. The same applies to video/photographic work. Not only are you paying to rent the camera and all the accessories, you are paying for those experts who are operating these devices. You are paying for someone who knows more than just picking up a camera and turning it towards a point of focus — you are paying for someone who can turn raw, unsorted footage into a beautiful finished product. The editing, the process clients never see, is also a long, and sometimes painstaking process. Uploading the footage takes hours and lots of computer power (the more footage or photos, the more power needed) — and with video, the files are significantly larger than that of even a collection of photos. Then the footage has to be sorted, stitched together so it all makes sense, color corrected, the sound has to be timed right, music added in some cases, and then it all has to be rendered and exported. All this takes time and energy to execute (much more than a few hours).
Now of course, there are always cheaper alternatives on the market (and cheapskates looking to pay next to nothing for the skills and equipment) — the cheaper alternatives always have less professional equipment, less qualified and skilled operators (when I was a student my services were very cheap as I was still learning the craft), and in the end this all adds up to a lesser finished product (inexperience leads to mistakes). There is a reason it is so cheap. In order to get professional quality services, professional type pricing applies.
One thing to always remember, going back to the example of the wedding scenario: things like food, cake, flowers, place settings, decor, alcohol, a DJ, the venue, those things are fleeting, but most are considered a necessity for weddings — they are gone the day after the event. Wedding photos and video help the memories last a lifetime.
Documenting any special event is a worthwhile investment.
If you have any questions for me or inquiries about pricing, please contact me and we can chat more.