Pricing your photography; a constant battle most photographers have to fight on the regular. It’s a landmine of questions such as how to price your photography services or how much you should charge for a photograph. There is no easy way to determine what to charge as each photographer is different and has placed different values on their work. And once a photographer sets his or her’s prices then there is the constant haggling from potential customers that a photographer has to deal with. Pricing your photography and trying to stick those prices is a roller coaster ride of emotions within a photographer and it’s almost daily.
Here is a common scenario most photographers have had to deal with at one point or another. You’re talking to a potential customer and they like your work, you have availability and then the big question comes, “What are your prices?” This is a trying moment for photographers. Palms sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti… Ok maybe not Eminem drastic, but it is a terrifying time. Do you give them your already defined rates or is your business been slow and you need the work so you charge less? What if you charge too much and they go elsewhere or the dreaded, “Another photographer was offering this price, can you match?”
Here is the deal. You as a photographer should know your value whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned veteran. Only you know how much your photography business needs to run and make a profit. Most customers think all you do is push a button and why does it cost that much if everyone these days has a camera?
Running a photography business is pricey. Here is a list of some of the expenses a photographer has running a photography business:
- The cost and maintenance of your camera gear
- Advertising and marketing costs
- Software like Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop etc.
- The cost of running and maintenance of your website
Other things to factor in when pricing your photography is the cost of labor. The amount of time your spend after the shoot editing the photos dwarfs the 45 minutes to an hour you spent shooting. Your clients wants flawless skin and those pesky pimples removed. Do you think they know how long that takes? What if you have to edit a wedding and go through over a thousand photos; do you think they know how long that takes? When setting your photography prices you need to add the cost of labor into your pricing.
Wedding photographers charge differently than boudoir photographers or sports photographers. Photographers should check what their competitors are charging to gauge if their prices are inline with what others who photograph the same things as them. Also remember that experience costs more, so don’t think because you just bought a camera you can charge Chase Jarvis rates for a commercial shoot. We need to be realistic about how perceived value. You don’t want to charge astronomical prices that you won’t get any business and you don’t want to go so low that you’re basically shooting for free.
There is no magic formula for pricing your photography. I wish there was, it would make life so much easier. Only you know how much it costs to run your business and how much you need to make to turn a profit. It doesn’t matter if you charge by session, by hour or by photos, you set the prices that will help you stay in business. Too many people try to deviate from their rates and end up taking less just so they can work and ended up going belly up because they didn’t make enough. Don’t go belly up because your prices are so outrageous that no one wants to hires you.
Once you’re established and you do amazing work people won’t be trying to low ball your prices as much. Sure some will try, but your work reflects the prices you set. It may be a struggle in the beginning, but once you find the right formula for your business, success is all up to you.