• Welcome to Long Island's leading women's portrait photography studio. Established in 2007, Susan Eckert was the first female only Long Island boudoir photography studio. But new things are about to happen! Along with a new space, Susan will be launching an exciting new line of women's portraiture. Stay tuned!

What should professional boudoir photography cost?

I’ve been shooting boudoir for about 8 years now. It’s rewarding but tough. Making the decision to run a physical studio is also rewarding. But also tough. It’s expensive. Really expensive. Particularly here on Long Island where commercial space can cost 2 or 3 thousand dollars each month. Camera gear is expensive. Lighting is expensive. Liability insurance, taxes, and other costs seem to go up every year.

At the same time, discount sites advertise photography for “$99,” and weekend shoot-and-burn amateur photographers who charge next to nothing and give all their images away confuse the public.

Although I continue to stay busy, I often find myself having to enlighten prospective clients on just how much work goes into creating the professional albums they will enjoy for years to come. Sometimes I wonder if folks really think we just snap a picture and we’re done…

Amateur photographers might. But for serious professionals, there’s sooooo much more involved.

Whenever a prospect asks why I charge what I do for boudoir, I launch into an explanation of all that goes into it. Usually, the response is “Wow! I didn’t realize it was so much work.” But once in a while, there are those who just don’t seem to quite get it. Even after all the explanation.

You see, a professional photograph is not just a picture. A professional album is not just a book made out of paper. And a professional image is worth more than the paper it’s printed on. Isn’t it?

For a fun little exercise, I sat down and tallied up how much time I spend from start to finish on a client job. When I multiplied the hours I spend by what I felt would be a fair hourly rate for a professional photographer who’s invested in education, licensing, insurance, and professional equipment, I fell over. That final figure was so very far from what the average person tends to think boudoir photography should cost.

So, indulge me in this exercise…conjure up in your head a figure, a number, an hourly rate you think is fair for a fully licensed professional photographer working out of a legitimate commercial studio space here on Long Island.

Got it?

Ok, now write that number down on a piece of paper and set it aside.

 

Here’s the breakdown of what I can spend on average on a client engagement:

THE INQUIRY PROCESS (note: this process can span 2 weeks or 4 months)

3-5 phone calls: 1 hour

10-20 emails: 1.5 hours

1 in person visit: 1.5 hours

Conceptualization and prep for shoot: 1 hour……………………(5 hours)

 

THE SHOOT DAY (for full one-person boudoir shoots; generally it’s an 8 hour day)

Studio/set prep: 2 hours

Makeup/hair: 1-1.5 hours

Shoot: 2.5 hours

Studio cleanup/reset: 2 hours……………………………………..(13 hours)

 

THE POST-SHOOT PROCESS (now the work begins)

Load hundreds of images onto computer, back them up,
and cull and prep images for presentation to client: 2 hours…………………..(15 hours)

 

THE REVIEW SESSION

Generally, I will spend as much time as a client needs.
On average it’s about 2 hours: 2 hours……………………………………………….
……….Time Check……………………………………….If you’ve been counting, you’ll see we’re already at 17 hours and so far this time has been compensated only by the retainer fee (minus fees that likely already went to hair and makeup crew).

 

So multiply 17 x whatever number you set aside. What did you get? Is it in line with what you think a reasonable retainer fee might be?

Let’s continue…

Now that the client has chosen her images I pull the chosen images
and process the RAW files for the best quality images I can create: 1/2 hour………..(=17.5 hours)

Photoshop–while there is a wide range here, here’s  how it tends to break down:
Basic editing and stylizing, including blemish and stray hair removal: 1/2 hour/ea image
Cellulite removal: add 15 min/image
Scar/tattoo removal: add 15 min/image
Blotchy skin: add 30 min/image
Body shaping: add 20 min/image
Outfit tweaks: add 10 min/image

Multiply this work by 10 images and you’ve got: 10-20 hours worth of work………(=37.5 hours)
by 20 images and you’ve got: 20-40 hours worth of work…………………………………(=57.5 hours)
by 30 images and you’ve got: 30-60 hours worth of work…………………………………(=77.5 hours)

And that’s not even considering the artistic value of a creative, professional image.

But we’re not done:

 

THE ALBUM CREATION PROCESS

Album layout and ordering: 1 hour

F/up calls; checkins by client: 1/2 hour

Unboxing/Quality checking/Repackaging/Note writing/Shipping: 1 hour

Which leaves us at………………………………………………………a possible total of 40 hours for 10 images;
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………60 hours for 20 images;
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………80 hours for 30 images.

Multiply 40, 60 and 80 by that hourly rate you set aside and email me your figures. What did you come up with? Would you be willing to pay that? If not, does it shift your thinking about what professionally shot, creative boudoir photography should really cost? Let me know! Shoot me a note.
Best,

Susan Eckert
631.398.4487
LIBoudoirPhotography
Illuminating the Power of the Feminine(R)

Susan Eckert owns and operates Long Island’s Leading Boudoir Photography Studio and is author of Body & Soul, a meaningful approach to boudoir photography which is now available on Amazon.com and as a boudoir photography resource on Barnes & Noble

Long Island

Long Island’s Leading Boudoir Photography Studio by Susan Eckert

 

 

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