I had someone question my business practices and pricing the other day. I tried explaining, but it fell on deaf ears - she was beyond explanations. There's a reason (or two) why that 8x10 is "so expensive".
There’s an art to portrait photography and all good photography, really. It’s not just the photo session that you’re paying for. It’s the hours spent before, designing a session tailored to your vision. Then comes the time set aside just for you, with professional equipment, location scouting and posing by a trained professional. Later, there’s about 10+ hours of culling, editing, and prepping those images for the big reveal. Then, it’s the time and energy spent with you choosing the perfect heirloom art pieces for your home and to pass down to your children when they’re older. The photographer still has to spend more time preparing the files to ensure they’re perfect when printed out on archival materials to the requested size.
Artists don’t pocket all that money. And because they’re self-employed and have to pay tons of taxes, about 1/3 of profits (yes, that’s AFTER we pay for your products) automatically go to Uncle Sam. Then there are all the costs of running a business – liability, equipment, and health insurance, subscriptions to software, professional dues, maintaining and replacing thousands of dollars worth of equipment, backing up files so your memories are never lost, etc. I want you to remember that you’re not paying for the files “that cost nothing” or the 8×10 that costs $5-10 to produce. Sure, I could sell you a piece of photographic paper for $5, but if you want a photo on it, you're going to have to pay extra for that. :o) You’re paying for years of experience and expertise. You’re paying for the very best portraits of you, your family, or your furry best friend.
There’s a huge difference between a professional artist and a "picture people" employee or $250-for-the-CD photographer. But if you can’t see that difference, then by all means, go that route.
I'll leave you with this to think about... In 30 years, the professionally printed portraits of your loved ones will probably be one of your most valuable possessions. If that’s not worth more than $500, I don’t know what is.