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What Do You Charge? by Durango CO Photographer

This is the question I usually receive when someone is making an inquiry about my photography services.  It’s also a very hard question to just answer with no other information.  For instance, if they in asking about wedding photography, I need to find out their wedding date, where they are getting married, how many guests they are inviting, how long the ceremony will take, where they are getting ready, how long they plan to have the reception and is everything at the same place.  Most of this information is to help them figure out a time line so they know how many hours they will need to hire me for.

For weddings I have several Collections as well as a la carte items from which they can choose.  I really want to help them get the most bang for their buck so they aren’t just paying for a few hours and a cd of the images.  While the cd is important in this day and age, I am a firm believer that a wedding album is so important because it is the first family heirloom that will be passed down to their children and all future generations.  Studies have shown that 95% of people never do anything with the cd of wedding images and my unscientific inquiries show the same thing.  I even know many photographers who have never done anything with their own wedding cd.

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The same issues apply to a family who wants a portrait of the wife, husband, and kiddos.  A cd will more than likely be put into a drawer and will become useless in around 5 yrs.  A wall portrait, an album, an image box, and gift prints are so much better than a few 5x7s or 8x10s printed at Walmart (which has terrible prints due to cheap paper and ink and they’re way too glossy).  I realize it may seem expensive if you just look at the total investment, but take that amount and view it as a lifetime of having those memories for yourself, and all later generations.  As my tag line says “Portraits are not expensive, they’re priceless”!


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Here’s your CD hanging on the wall:{

Now, I realize there are a gazillion other photographers out there.  Many do terrific work and I have no problem with people hiring them – many of them are friends.  Then there are the “photographers”  who bought a nice camera, set it on auto and let the camera decide the exposure.  They claim to be “natural light photographers”, which simply means they don’t know how to use off camera flash or strobes.  It also means you will probably have raccoon eyes and dark faces, or they’ll face you into the sun and you’ll be squinting.  Neither is a pretty look.  If  you really want to have beautiful portraits, hire a professional.  You really do get what you pay for.

When I photograph families, seniors, wedding parties, and almost everything else, I always use an off camera flash with a white umbrella which makes nice soft beautiful light.  When the flash is off the camera the shadows sculpt the body it makes for a more 3d look instead of flat 2d.   I always put my subjects with the sun at their back or to their side and I try to shoot at the time of day that has the best light.  These are things professionals know how to do as well as using the camera and flash on manual for complete control, how to pose subjects so they look their best, how to instruct them on what to wear and the best locations.  I’ve invested a lot of time and money to learn these things and practice to perfection because I want happy clients.

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Fall Family Portrait


So, now it’s your turn.  I would like to hear your opinion on professional photographers, what you have done to get your family or wedding portraits, and anything else you would like to add to this post.  Thank you in advance!

by Karen Skelly, Durango CO Photographer


About karenskellyphoto

Hello there! I'm a Certified Professional Photographer serving the entire Western Slope of Colorado, including Durango CO, Cortez CO, Silverton CO, Ouray CO, Telluride CO, Pagosa Springs CO, and Farmington NM. I love photographing the emotions during a family session or wedding; the love, hugs, kisses, tears, and laughs. Please view my website at, and read the "About" page for more information. Thanks for looking. Karen

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