Stylized and custom shoots are what sets professional photographers apart from the cookie cutter chain stores, malls, and hobby photographers. Not bashing any of those because there is a market out there for them and these places do offer very affordable services. I don’t understand why people are shocked when they contact a professional photographer wanting a custom session for next to nothing and are told no. I would be surprised if the professional photographer didn’t outright laugh at them. I am going to be honest with you in hopes to overcome some misconceptions when it comes to professional photography pricing. Many people assume that if the photographer charges $200 it’s all profit. The simple fact is that $200 charge equates after all expenses to maybe $10.00 an hour profit for us. Just like you I work hard and want to be able to provide for my family, this is not a hobby but an income I depend on. I have made huge investments in equipment, lighting, props, and education to get to where I am today and will continue to learn and invest in myself and my business because I want to grow and become one of the best of the best. I get a lot of inquires from folks raving over my work, saying they really want to book a session, then comes the “I can only afford $50”. Please don’t think I am being rude, but $50 now a days won’t even buy your family dinner out and you expect me to legally operate a business, cover my expenses and feed my family on $50? You don’t go to a professional baker and order a custom cake and tell them you only want to spend 14.99 on it. You go to a chain store and order the sheet cake and have them write Happy Birthday on it. I know this because I do it and am fully aware that the cake I end up with is not going to be that great tasting or fancy, and that if I wanted a yummy delicious show stopping cake I would need to fork over money and hire a pro. I would never dare call up a pastry chef and ask them to create a unique one of a kind cake for me for 14.99. I understand not everyone will be able to afford custom photography, or they may not wish to spend several hundred on print products. That is okay, you have other options available, do not get upset with me when I tell you my prices are what they are because of the quality, customization, and costs associated with my business to produce such beautiful images and suggest other photographers who’s work better reflects your budget. Professional photography is a luxury much like a designer handbag, or super bowl tickets. Department store photography is cheap because it’s the same blah backdrops, poses, and product and your images look like the other hundreds who mill through their studios. Hobbist are those that either just recently acquired a camera, or that have not yet mastered the art. They also don’t operate as a legit licensed business, they simply show up snap several hundred pictures and hope to get a handful of images to pass on to you. Again nothing wrong with either of those avenues, just realize the difference and know you are getting what you pay for. If you really want that custom session with a photographer who gets to know you, your style, and what you want and will be there to guide you from before the session to hanging the final products on your wall consider saving up, or ask about a payment plan. Think of it this way if you splurge on that $6 cup of coffee every day, hiring a professional to create beautiful memories you and future generations will have, doesn’t seem that expensive after all. I have never heard anyone say, I regret I did not go with a cheaper photographer, but I hear people all the time say they wished they had spent the money and hired a better photographer for their (wedding, newborn, maternity, senior, engagement, family, baby’s 1st birthday, etc.) because those are moments they never will have again.