What is a session fee, a breakdown of a photo session, and more….

As you can see while looking around for a photographer to shoot your next family portrait- there is a fairly wide margin for pricing.  While most photographers are similarly priced, you will stumble across something for just about any budget.  So what does it all mean?  Starting with a session fee- without rambling on too much- think of it as product (vs) service (your dish washer repair man charges ‘X’ to service your machine, but the necessary parts to fix will always cost ‘Y’).  The same goes for your photographer- while a session may last 1-2 hours, plus time for editing after the fact (the service/session fee) – your prints hold their own intrinsic value (your product/parts that make the job complete).  As for the pricing differential between photographers – another dishwasher analogy here -you could find the cheapest fix-it man (or lady) in the area- and they might work out- but they may not have all that much experience-  and leave you with a mess/ no refund and you still want to have that darn machine fixed.

By now you may be wondering…why all the dishwasher talk?- well I’ve been doing dishes by hand for the past 4 years- so no, a dishwasher is not a necessity to everyday life- but gosh darn it they sure are nice to have.  See the connection?


So, what should you expect during your portrait session?  Look for a photographer that offers between 1 and two hours of shooting time.  This will give you plenty of time to become comfortable and relaxed around someone who is often times a complete stranger.  This also often allows time for outfit changes, different locations to shoot and the occasional uncooperative kiddo.   Remember- this is time for your or your family to have fun- laugh, smile, run, flirt with your hubby or fiancé.  Not every photo needs to have all eyes on the camera- just be yourselves –trust your photographer direct you —-that is the formula to a great photo shoot.

Be sure to assess and communicate your needs to your photographer.  Will your pictures be this year’s Christmas card, your kiddo’s 1 year old portrait or just some fun family art for your walls?  It is important for your photographer to know this (preferably upon booking your shoot) to be able to deliver exactly what you want.  Some photographers offer upfront for announcements, photo cards and books, large print canvases and more.  If this is something you are interested in and do not see it offered on your chosen photographers website- be sure to ask- they may have the ability to offer these products to you.  If not, this will give you the opportunity to inquire about the cost of print releases to have these items custom made elsewhere if they are not offered by your photographer- or the opportunity to search out another photographer who fits your needs.

Don’t be afraid to ask about using ‘props’- these don’t have to be the traditional ‘posing with a soccer ball because I like soccer’ (but by all means they can be) kinds of props- having a few shots of the family playing a mini soccer game can yield fantastic- or at least hilarious photos.  You and your fiancé into your motorcycles?- ride them out to your shoot and include them- This is your photo session- so don’t forget about the things that make you- well, you.  Be sure to bounce a few ideas off of your photographer before the shoot – they can help guide your idea or concept and offer ideas that can really make your shoot shine.


Some additional Tips and Tricks:

Shooting with kiddos? Bring along a water bottle and a small snack- towards the end of a shoot kiddos can get cranky and a snack can be just the trick to not having to cut your shoot too short

Bring a water bottle for yourself- especially if your shoot is outside during the summer- remember – adults get cranky too 😉

Don’t let the rain get you down- still committed to shooting on a rainy day? Have fun with umbrellas, colorful rain boots and big puddles.  If not- see if your photographer will be able to reschedule on a better day.

Have an uncooperative hubby or fiancé? Bribe them to grin and bear it- then follow through  =)


Another little tidbit- just for your consideration—You may look into the larger franchise owned portrait studios—and they sometimes offer great solutions to your photography needs- they are in studio and are often speedy, going from your half hour portrait sitting to ordering and delivering your prints in under 2 hours.   However, while they may seem quite budget friendly- most of their portrait collections still begin at well over $100 and can reach over $400.