How many times have you heard this about pretty much anything these days?

Why is that so expensive? Why do photo booths cost too much?

We live in an age where access to a good camera is so easy these days. Look around you. Everyone has access to a phone and that phone has undoubtedly, a very good camera built into it. Almost everyone owns a dSLR – Canon, Nikon, Sony… you name it. As they say, the best camera is the one in your pocket. Everyone's a photographer.

You're so expensive! Isn't that just a camera and a computer in that machine? So how much can one expect to pay for an average 3-hour party?

My response has always been a range. I always tell people that they could expect to pay anywhere between $200 – $1500! And while the cheaper end of the spectrum might sound very good, remember the old adage – “you get what you pay for”.

When prospective clients ask us about our pricing, we start the conversation by walking them through our services and the experience that comes with it. We are there to help provide a form of entertainment to their guests. We're there to engage their guests and show them a great time. All of our hosts have three things in common – GREAT personalities, fantastic communication skills, and the ability to make guests comfortable in front of the camera. Simply put, we help make the party epic!

Once we go over these items, we start talking about our pricing packages and the way they're structured. Even though a client might opt for our 3-hour package, they are essentially paying for more than just the three hours that we have the photo booth open. So here's a quick breakdown of how a typical 3-hour event runs:

  1. 1 hour travel time to the venue (we live and work in the SF Bay Area)
  2. 1 hour of setup
  3. 3 hours of photo booth operation
  4. 1 hour of breakdown
  5. 1 hour travel time back to the office

Once I'm at the office, I start uploading my files to my Drobo and within minutes, it stores these new files on Back Blaze , an online cloud backup service. You can never be too careful so always have redundant backup whenever possible. Average time: 30 minutes

I then prepare the images to be uploaded to the galleries so that our clients can start viewing them and sharing them with their friends and family. Average time: 1 hour

Once the galleries are uploaded, I do a quick blog write up of the event. While I don't necessarily have to do it, its fun to do so plus it sets the stage for excitement and anticipation since we add sample photos to the post. Average time: 30 minutes

Are you keeping track? Just on time spent alone, we're already talking 9 hours. You can see how a three hour package quickly escalates into several hours of work. Let's not forget the up front time of spending time with your clients explaining what the differences in your packages are as well as creating the templates and preparing for the event. The next thing you know, you've spent 12 hours on this effort. Hard to believe but that's what goes into securing every commission that comes your way.

Now let's talk about the business side of things. Here are a few things that are just part of the costs of running a business:

  1. a business license (you can search online for a business as long as you know the city they work from and their DBA)
  2. insurance (most venues require a standard COI with $1,000,000 per person per occurrence)
  3. equipment (cameras, tablets, lights, props, backdrops, printers, and other peripherals)
  4. web hosting
  5. online account management software ( 17Hats , Tave, Check Cherry, BoothBook, etc)
  6. online gallery ( Pixieset , Smugmug , etc)
  7. photo booth software (we use three different software and apps combined due to the variety of our booths)
  8. cloud storage
  9. staff salaries and rent
  10. Oh and YES! We pay taxes!

By the way, did you notice how under the equipment category I mentioned everything in plural? It's because we have double of everything. This is for those odd situations when something breaks (god forbid and knock on wood).

So there you have it. This is by no means all of it. I'm certain I'm missing a few more key points here and I'll be updating this as I go. I just wanted to go over these points so that the next time someone asks you why you charge so much, here are a few reasons why.

Final thoughts: You are being hired for your reviews, your experience, your expertise, your service offerings, the quality of your work, the experience you will offer, and your pricing. You are not being hired because you can compete with the local Groupon promotion. If a client asks you to match a Groupon rate or someone else' rate that you know offers inferior services, maybe it's time to politely decline and walk away. You have to remember that you are running a business.

As always feel free to LIKE and SHARE this post. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. We always love hearing back from you!

Happy boothing! Ciao!