How much have you charged when you started?

Jethro

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Hey guys. So I have this question for you..how much have you charged for photos when you just started taking money for pictures?
I'm asking because I've been thinking about starting to charge something for a while, but I've never had the courage to ask people to pay me because I've been always saying to myself that I'm not that kind of pro, not that good etc, that I would scare them away...but now this girl wrote me a message saying that she saw the pictures of a friend I took and that she loved them and she asked me if I could take some pictures of her too. AND she asked me how much do I charge - therefore kinda saving me the part where I say "pay me". On one hand I'm really happy that she thinks I am good enough to get some money, on the other hand I'm really confused because I just dont know how much to charge since I don't consider myself to be some kind of super truper pro, but I also don't think I am a noob. And I also know this girl - we're not a great friends or something, she just went to the same high school. But still, I checked the pricelists of some photographers in my city and they're charging around 40-50$ for and hour of work in exterior and +-10 edited pictures in printing quality. So do you think it would be okay for me to ask her for something around 20 bucks? (there's not going to be any contract or something - this would be my first payed work)
 

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Contracts don't have to be complicated affairs of legal jargon and their primary purpose is to ensure that both parties are under full agreement and understanding of what the transaction is to comprise of. In addition they are there to protect both yourself and the client - they are also something physical and usable which can be used in a dispute; word of mouth is binding as a contact, but is also almost impossible to use for support in any dispute situation since unless the worded contract was recorded it becomes a case of one persons word against another.


As for what to charge a few thoughts:
1) Are you just the weekend warrior doing a few shots for friend
2) Are you the pro going to make it into a legitimate and proper business.

Either way I would say do as you have done, research the local prices that studios have and then offer a competitive rate (that means competitive not undercutting, which only harms the industry itself and is something you don't want to start on if you're aiming to make it into your business).

For the situation you are in I think checking local rates then minus a bit cause she's a friend/associate would be fine. However if you want to start down the serious route then its important to understand that the price of a shoot is based upon covering your living and business expenses as well as allowing for a healthy amount of profit and for balancing your work hours against how much you earn.

There are some calculators out there which help you calculate what you need to be earning (and thus charging) based upon your expenses and overheads.
 

2WheelPhoto

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If you have to ask about charging $20, I suggest shoot for free.
 

JoeLewisPhoto

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People who charge so little (like the ones you have researched) are the ones KILLING this industry. Have confidence in your work and in yourself. Throw a higher number out there, and include a couple prints to sweeten the deal, but dont just give your work away. You would be amazed, if people want quality pics, they don't mind paying for them. Remember, just as fast as word got around that you take nice pictures, the word will spread even FASTER that you do it for $20. Next thing you know, you have tons of time and effort tied up into something you are actually losing money on.
 
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Jethro

Jethro

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Okay, thank you guys :)

About the prices of the pros I've researched: You have to consider that you and I are living in very different countries, so you cant really compare czech prices with american on anything..cause..take iPhones - in the US the new 4S is how much, around 500$? Here the price is double..
 

JoeLewisPhoto

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ok, well the same principals apply. if you undercut other photographers by a lot, your killing the industry there one job at a time. just have confidence in yourself and your work...throw a number out there that you think is worth what you are doing....all she can do is say no....go from there.
 
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Jethro

Jethro

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Okay Joe, thanks a lot :) I'll be saying this to myself everytime I will have any doubts :)
 

bazooka

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That's the thing Joe, these people that are "killing the industry" are just charging what they're worth, and some people find that acceptable or they end up with cut-rate quality photos, or they simply can't afford higher quality photos so they have to go with the low quality or lesser experienced photographers. They get what they pay for. I'm sure you work hard and charge a fair amount for your work, and some people recognize that extra quality and are willing to pay for it. Therefore, you're not in competition with the people who are undercutting price, because they are also undercutting quality and customer service, right? Either that or they're going out of business because it's not worth their time.

Btw, when I say "these people", I'm *NOT* using that as a derogatory.
 

raider

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is this really the pro forum?? the answer is ZERO. that is until you register with your country's tax system - whatever that may be. plus the myriad of steps to starting a business. but really, off the record, you could charge only what it costs you but you still have to claim that. don't forget your business plan.

and how can you suggest prices when you don't know the quality of the work? it could be worth setting it as the pros in the area or it could be worth pennies or clamshells - whatever currency it is.
talk about killing the industry - it could be random advice given and the false praises of family/friends.
 

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