I recently had a client who was a little surprised by the cost of hiring a freelancer. I told the client why and to help the world understand I will share my points here.
When working on a photo project there are actually not that many hours of photographing compared to the total time spend on the project. A lot of time is spend on pre and post production. Preproduction is talking to the client, deciding the look of the photographs, making shotlists, how should it be delivered, when, where, price and so on. The overall idea is made in the preproduction.
Then there is the production. Because you have made your homework with solid preproduction this part can be relatively short compared to the total time spend. This is what throws most people off. How can something so short be so expensive - but they are only looking at a small part of the picture.
Post production can also be time consuming. Sorting the photos, picking the keepers, download them, edit them, put them away, look at them again, edit and lastly delivering the finished product. If it is a video production postproduction usually takes up a great deal more time.
Another factor many people seem to forget when considering price is the time it would take one to figure it out themself. A lawyer is also bloody expensive but they can (for the most part) solve your problem quickly because they know the law. How long time would it take you to find the right laws and understanding them thoroughly? They save you time - thats what you pay for. The price should somewhat reflect the time the client would have to use to achieve the same result.
Photo gear is expensive. A lot of photo gear is very expensive. When hiring a photographer you are also hiring the gear. Not saying it is necessary to have expensive equipment (LINK) to shoot great photographs, but some equipment is necessary. A carpenter needs tools to build a house as well. The carpenter has tools most people don’t have which one would otherwise have to buy. The same is with photographers.
Most photographers either self-taught or students have spend countless hours on educating themselves. Photography is a craft that is not easy to master. Hours on hours are spend perfecting ones skills and learning new things.
So remember that there is spend more time on a project than the shooting hours, the photographer has gear to pay and spends a lot of hours on education.
I hope this explains a little about why photographers and other freelancers are "so" bloody expensive.