The real reason we charge what we do!

Today, everyone has a camera and access to places that will print their photos.    So, why does Infocus NT professional photography charge $125 for an 8"x10" photograph that can be printed for $8 at Harvey Norman or Officeworks?

You, the customer, are not just paying for the actual print; you are paying for our photographer’s (Michael McRostie) time and his 35 years of expertise, just like in any other service industry. You are paying for portrait artistry...for a piece of art that will adorn your walls for years to come.    Rarely do iPhone "snapshots" make the grade.

An Average One-Hour Portrait Session  - what is involved:

• Initial telephone conversation or email correspondence with client to discuss how and what we do at Infocus NT Photography and book the initial get together for the Design appointment. Planning your portrait session will create a beautiful piece of art wall.

• Initial get together to discuss location, clothing, different combinations and the client ideas.

• Travel to the location or if shoot is at the studio, set up the lighting, if outdoors, scout the location (often done prior to the actual shoot)

• Shoot the images

• Put away studio lights and/or pack up gear from a location session and travel from the location

• Unpack & clean gear

• Load images onto a computer and back up the files.

• 3 – 6 hours of Lightroom and Adobe® Photoshop® time, including retouching, cropping, contrast, colour, sharpening, and backing up edited photographs.  If custom artwork is involved, add even more time.  One photograph can take hours to prepare, depending on the work involved.  While in the past this editing was done in the darkroom - with digital technology it is now done on the computer.  

• 3 - 4 hours viewing of digital proofs, answering questions, receiving orders and payment, ordering prints, receiving and verifying prints, dealing with faulty prints (i.e. transit damage) and all the other unexpected issues that can arise in any small business.  

The one-hour photo session can easily turn into an 8-hour day plus.  So when you see a professional photographer charging a $150 session fee for a one-hour photo shoot, the client isn't actually paying them $150 per hour.  The fee does not go far after the time behind the scenes as well as the overheads and expenses are considered.   Obviously as you order more the individual print prices drop that means you can save 20-40% off the individual prices, depends on what you order.

The expertise and cost of doing business

Capturing professional photographs is a skill acquired through years of experience.  This is our 25th year in the business and we are thrilled each time we "get that shot". Even though a DSLR now costs under $2,000, taking professional portraits involves much more than a nice camera. Most professional photographers bought their first camera years before they tried to make money in photography, not to mention their subsequent purchase of lenses, backdrops, filters, props, tripods, calibrators, software and the like.

In addition to the financial investment, portrait photographers actually have to have “people skills” to make subjects comfortable in front of the camera. Posing people is a skill in itself.  While Lightroom does wonders for a poorly exposed image, northing can be done for an image that has been poorly posed or faces that are clearly unhappy because of the photographer's lack of people skills. 

Professional photographers are just that – professionals. No different than a mechanic, dentist, doctor, lawyer or electrician.  One analogy to think of is this: “A pair of scissors costs $1.50 at the local chemist. Still, most people will gladly pay a lot more to hire a professional hair dresser to cut their hair”. 


We love what we do and hope to continue doing it for years to come.  This post is just meant to explain a bit about what goes into the process of professional digital photography today.   Of course, not every occasion requires a professional photographer and many home snapshots are to be treasured forever.  However, if you want to hire someone to capture a special moment, this might help you understand all that goes into it.


Thanks to Pamela Pauline from Sydney for her inspired words that help us to create this post