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Photography Pricing Made Simple

Pricing your work is one of the things most photographers worry over far too much in the beginning. I understand (and remember from my own experience) that if you’ve never had to price products and services before, you may be in a quandary about how to do it. As a result, you might end up being vague about your rates, or even put off having clear prices for photo shoots and packages, just because you are not sure how much to charge!

Being vague about your prices does NOT encourage trust in you as a professional photographer in the eyes of potential clients.

Hence the best thing to do is do the ground work, make your calculations and decide on prices and just test them out. You’ll soon find out whether you need to make any changes to your pricing structure. The important thing is to have something clear to tell your potential clients, and to feel confident about your prices.

When it comes to fees and prices, vagueness is only going to make people avoid hiring you as they don’t know exactly how much they are expected pay and what exactly they are going to get for the money they give you. Think about it – you wouldn’t want to feel like that when you need to hire someone to do a job for you, would you?

How to price your photography?

First of all:

  • Research your competition so you know the ballpark figure for professional photography in your area.
  • Assess the quality of your work compared to your competition so you have an idea whether you are less or more skilled than they are.
  • Don’t forget to take into account the overall service you give your clients, including products and personal touches – not only the quality and amount of photos you provide compared to others. People appreciate good, personal service which you can show in the way you treat your clients, the presentation of your website / private online photo gallery, the quality of the photo books, albums and everything else they receive from you.

Then:

  • Calculate what you need to charge to cover your time and expenses at this point in your business. If you come up with a figure that is considerably bigger than your competition’s rates are, you need to make sure you give your clients something extra/different that warrants the higher price. (Or some might say, hire a bloody good marketing expert if you don’t happen to be one yourself.)
  • Don’t forget that in your pricing strategy you need to cover your fixed as well as variable business expenses, including studio rent, insurances, computer hardware and software, updating your camera gear, taxes, travel, assistant, etc. You will find help here: Calculating your break-even point.

People are internet savvy and will be comparing prices online, so if your pricing is way off the ballpark figure, you will need to communicate clearly why. If you differentiate yourself from every other good photographer in your area by providing something that others don’t, you can charge more for your services. Think of a unique thing you can give or promise your clients, and build that into your brand.

The psychology of pricing

Don’t get upset when you see someone offering to shoot a full wedding for £200 including 1,500 images. Those photographers are NOT your competitors, and they sure as heck aren’t able to run a profitable business with pricing like that.

And if someone hires them for that kind of fee, those people were never going to be your client anyway, so there’s no need for you to cry over losing business to the cheap cowboys. You want clients who appreciate good photography and are willing to invest in top quality work, done by a proper professional who takes pride in the quality of their photos and treats their clients with the dedication and care that they deserve.

What to say when someone complains that your prices are too high?

Short answer: “Sorry to hear that I’m not within your budget. I hope you find someone good who is.” But if you end up having a conversation about your prices, it may be helpful to remind them that:

  1. They are not paying only for the two (or however many) hours that the shoot is going to take. They are also paying for the time it takes to plan the shoot, admin (preparing estimates, contracts & invoices), all client communication before and after the shoot, post processing and delivery of the photos – all of which typically take 2-4 times longer than the shoot itself.
  2. They are paying for your expertise; all the years it has taken for you to hone your skills, the courses you have taken and the time spent for endless practice.

If they don’t appreciate the above benefits, suggest that they grab a random person from the street to take their photos. Then they are truly paying for two hours’ work. But they’d still need to add professional camera + lenses hire which is not cheap.

Remember: if everyone who enquires about your services ends up hiring you, you are not charging enough.

Don’t expect every enquiry to turn into a booking. Your prices are set to filter out the people who don’t either appreciate good photography or honestly can’t afford to pay for professional photography. It is absolutely fine to be too expensive for some people. Not everyone is your ideal client.

So to recap, do the ground work on finding out what your competition charges in your area, as well as calculations on how much you need to charge in order to make a proper profit from your photography. Start with calculating your break-even point. Then make up your mind about your pricing and just test it out. If needed, you can adjust later.

The main thing is that you don’t put off having clear pricing for your clients, so that you can start charging for your photography with confidence.


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