Yes, I get it. For most things that anyone spends money on, they likely have a budget in mind. But don't be shopping on the BMW lot for a brand new car that is fully loaded for under $30K. As a matter of fact, you'll be hard pressed to find any new cars loaded with every possible accessory for under $30K these days. But this post is not about car pricing, it's about photography pricing.
With photography, you should look beyond just the price. For example, you may think that $300 sounds expensive for a family photo session when you can find a photographer for $150 or that a wedding sounds expensive at $3,500 when you can find a photographer for $500. There are usually good reasons for price differences like how much effort, if any, goes into the final product.
If the family photographer that charges $150 simply drags and drops all the images from the camera onto your computer or a CD after a 90 minute session and the $300 family photographer spends 3 additional hours in post production after a 90 minute session, which one is really making the most money per session? In addition, I can pretty well guarantee you that straight out of the camera, no matter how good the photographer is, will not match up to post production editing quality. If price is more important to you than quality, this is a good example of how you can get something at a lower price in photography but not at the same level of quality.
There are situations in photography where all things may seem equal: portfolio, experience, reputation, etc. If that's the case, you have to decide what truly makes up the price difference in your mind. For example, had you rather have a pain in the rear, loud mouth, opinionated photographer at your wedding for $3,000 or another one that seems equally capable at $3,500 that you absolutely think their personality will work well with yours.
Photography, just like any other service industry, should not be purely based on shopping for the lowest price. There are multiple other factors involved. If you don't really have the budget for a professional photographer, you should ask a friend, a relative or a neighbor with a decent camera to help you out and buy them a pizza for their time. If you wouldn't ask a licensed plumber to work for free or offer him an insulting rate, don't do that to a "professional" photographer that likely has thousands invested in gear and is just trying to earn a living his or her chosen profession like the plumber.
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