With many photographers now moving into digital photography, the choices, pricing and quality issues are becoming even more confusing. The quality differences in digital photography can change drastically from photographer to photographer depending on how good their cameras are. Digital cameras range from a few hundred dollars for consumer grade models to $10,000 for top pro brands. Don't trust anyone willing to charge you while using an amatuer grade camera.

  In photography, like any other business, the cost of human labor is one of the most costly components of the total expense. Not only are you hiring a photographer to photograph you, you are paying for editing, processing, and minor retouching [once done in the photo lab they are now done by the photographer.]

  While the aforementioned items explain the variables of time and effort spent by the photographer, they do not address the issue of talent, skill, schooling, technique and experience level. The time and labor of an expert full time photographer is more valuable on a per-hour basis than that of a raw beginner or weekend only hobby photographer. These important points will reflect in both the esthetic and technical quality of your images and need to be carefully considered.

  Some photographers use multiple flash units firing in synchronization to give the resulting photos the illusion of depth and dimension. This extra step alone makes a tremendous difference in the visual appeal of photographic images. Specialized lights and lighting techniques require advanced levels of skill, and multiply the photographer's equipment costs.

  All experienced professionals have at least one back-up for each critical piece of equipment he/she brings to a shoot. If they use a $3,000 camera, they surely have 1 or more spares available in case of equipment failure. However, a less experienced photographer using less sophisticated equipment may have no back-up at all.

  After human labor and equipment costs, other variables arise in the areas of business overhead and costs of materials. Some spend a lot on advertising, others don't. Some pay dues to a professional trade association, others don't. Some routinely attend training seminars or otherwise endure training costs to keep their skills current; others don't. Some carry insurance to protect your wedding investment, while others don't.

In Summary: while all professional photographers are in the business of taking pictures for you - the similarities end there. There is a wide range in levels of personalized service and in the quality and quantity of your treasured photographs. Asking a photographer on the telephone "how much do you charge" is not unlike calling a clothing store to ask "how much are your dresses?" In the end, if you don't like the dress and it doesn't fit - it doesn't really matter how much it costs.



CC's Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Do you shoot film or digital?
A: These days I primarily shoot digitally, though I have many years experience with film and darkroom processing. I was lucky to be closely involved with emerging digital technology and had a Canon 1DS before anyone could afford such a camera.

Q: Do you use a professional grade camera?
A: Yes, currently I use a professional grade full sensor Canon 5d and pro lenses. I also have backups of all of my equipment including extra bodies, lenses, flashes and strobes.

Q: Do you perform photography full time?
A: Yes, I freelance full time for a living. I work closely with many local photographers as an assistant and retoucher, and rely on my professional photography to pay the bills. I am no weekend warrior, and it shows in my work.

Q: What type of photography do you do?
A: I consider myself more of a Creative Photographer, not just documenting life but creating imagery that fills the viewer with emotions and memories.

Q: How many years of experience do you have?
A: I have been in the photography industry since 1994 working for photo labs and wedding studios.

Q: Did you study photography?
A: Yes, I have studied photography since high school and recieved my associates and bachelor degrees in photography. I am proud of my Photography BFA from Massachusetts College of Art; that is where I took my photography to a whole new level of creativity.

Q: How many weddings have you photographed?
A: I cannot give an exact number, I have shot 10-20 weddings a year consistently for the last 5 years. So at least 50.

Q: What is your worst wedding experience ever?
A: In 2008 my car broke down driving to Anoka for a wedding. I was only a few miles away and I called the maid of honor [NOT THE BRIDE!] and had her pick me up. When she asked me what I was going to do about my car I said "I don't care, leave it, let's go to a wedding!"

Because I always try to show up at least an hour early for out of town weddings, that day I was only 15 minutes late. I told my beautiful bride "hopefully this is the only thing that will go wrong today". And it was. We had a beautiful outdoor wedding that day.

Q: Where is your studio located?
A: I have a small studio in South Minneapolis, MN.

Q: Do you shoot in RAW format or .jpg?
A: I shoot RAW for the highest quality of images.

Q: Why don't you quote prices on your website for your portrait and commercial services?
A: I often provide packages that are 'customized' to a clients specific requirements or budget. I believe that it is easier to provide a quotation upon request. This quotation will always be the actual amount that will be payable, with no hidden charges!

Q: What type of paper are your photographs reproduced on?
A: Prints are printed on professional photographic paper, processed through professional machines. This paper has been carefully chosen because of its outstanding archival characteristics (rated 50 plus years), and its ability to reproduce the full range of colors and densities from an original image.

Q: Why can I can get 10cent prints at my local drugstore?
A: The prints are not on professional grade photo paper and do not have the same archival properties. Ever noticed when you frame some of these prints they fade within one year? That will not happen with my prints.

Q: Where do you prefer to shoot? Location or Studio
A:  Studio is about classic simplicity and beautiful controlled lighting. I can light a subject perfectly in the studio with no weather concerns.

Location shoots bring other wonderful elements into the photo. Interesting landscapes and lovely natural light are just two of the reasons to choose a location shoot. If the location you choose has a special meaning, it can add even more depth to the photo.

Q: Which lighting situations do you have experience with?
A: Indoor, outdoor, night, natural, strobe, mixed lighting sources (incandescent, tungsten, flourescent, candlelight, etc). Don't get me started on my understanding and ability to see degrees of Kelvin, it could blow your mind!

Q: We can get our wedding photography on Craigslist for $500 (or less) and we get the digital files. Isn’t this a good way to save money?
A: Like any other service, there are people operating at all levels of experience and expertise. Pricing is one way to distinguish this. If the photographer will shoot all day and give you all the files for such a low price, maybe you are not getting the quality images you’d hope for. Wedding photographers at this level are normally beginners with little experience or part-time shooters. Most professional wedding photographers invest not only thousands of dollars on equipment but time to perfect their craft. Also, remember that running a small business incurs expenses and professional wedding photography is no exception. Those who charge low prices may not have the experience, backup equipment or insurance to cover in the case of an accident. 

Q: Why will you copyright all of your images?
A: In the field of photography, copyright is a form of legal protection that photographers have on their images, layouts, designs and other artistic works. This protection grants them the exclusive right to reproduce or display their images, or authorize others to do so. A photographer is granted copyright at the time the product is created. Copyright does not need to be claimed or registered to belong to the photographer, nor does a notice of copyright need to be present for copyright to be in effect. It‘s illegal to violate any of the rights held by the owner of the copyright. It‘s not necessary to obtain a transfer of the copyright to reproduce the images; a reproduction/printing release will serve this purpose. Transfer and reproduction releases need to be put in writing and signed by the photographer.


CC Photo Arts was founded in 2006, but CC has fifteen + years experience as a photographer. Over that time CC has spent not only time but money on developing her skills as a photographer and image worker. CC Photo Arts  not only uses professional equipment, but also carries back-up equipment, should the unthinkable happen and a camera body malfunction or a lens get damaged.


Don’t see an answer for a question you have? Feel free to email CC Photo Arts!