There are a lot of people out there who think those of us working as professional photographers are living the dream. Not really working, just walking around taking photos and "playing" all day every day. There are an equal number of us photographers who WISH this was the truth! Unfortunately, the life of a photographer isn't always as glamorous as it may seem. There is a TON of behind the scenes work that goes into it that most people aren't aware of.
As any small business owner will tell you, everyone does everything, (this includes cleaning the toilets, just FYI), and if you are the only full-time employee, then YOU do everything.
I consider this pie chart to be one of the most accurate graphics I've seen depicting the breakdown of what I do. (The International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers originally posted it in 2009, and not much has changed. You can see the full article here.)
While taking photographs and working with clients is one of the most exciting and fun parts of the job, it ends up being one of the smallest parts. There are bridal expos to be worked, there is equipment to clean and repair. There's marketing to be done, and oh so many decisions to make about what products to offer to clients.
Like many of my photographer friends, I strive to find the best possible product for the price for my clients. I want you to walk away with an heirloom. Something that you can look at and be proud of for years to come. This doesn't just happen. There are hours spent researching different products and evaluating cost versus quality until I finally find the right balance.
There are computers, multiple back-up drives and a web site to maintain. Facebook and blog posts to write, and let's not forget about all that editing... for every hour shooting, you can count on at least that many hours editing (but probably more).
One photographers interviewed for the article linked above estimated that his company put around 90 hours of work into each client/wedding they booked each year, and if you consider that we only spend around 10 hours actually shooting photos of the client, that leaves 80 hours of behind-the-scenes work, which includes responding to emails, timeline planning, readying equipment, editing photos, posting them online, ordering prints and designing and ordering albums...
Oh, and, let's not forget about those toilets...