Just a note about the photography business in general...

elizpage

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This may turn into a rant of some sort.. but some people may resonate with what I'm saying..

I guess if you have more work on your portfolio and more people you have worked for that inherently enables a photographer to charge more? Currently, I'm up to my highest asking price ever which is $50/hour. Maybe it's my insecurity that I don't feel confident enough with my work to charge more. It inherently puts more pressure on me to charge people. The shoots I've done for free have turned out the best for some reason. I also have never charged a friend, because I just don't feel right doing it.

I just don't see how anyone could ask $3000 for an hour long shoot. The pressure, ahhh! I just looked at a photographer in my area who charges about that much, but honestly.. some of her work is blatantly OOF. Maybe it was for artistic effect? Some of it is wonderful though. It's a pretty large base of work. I guess people like her if they keep hiring her. Now that I am a "photographer" (whatever that term means) I am SO picky about others' work, but even more picky about my own honestly.. I think my work is **** right now, and I have SO much room for improvement it's not even funny. But the fact that she asks that much.. I mean, wow..

I guess if you are good enough at what you do though, been doing it long enough, and have a large enough network you can ask for a higher price.

Meh. One day.


/rant over
 
To run a successful photography business it has a lot to do with your perceived value.

When money is involved, there will be expectations. People pay you and expect results. As a professional photographer who charges money to perform a job, you must be able to deliver. There is no way around that. If you can't handle that then don't charge people for money and continue on with it as a hobby. I know it's blunt, but it's the reality.

I went through the same phase that you are going through, comparing myself with other photographers and hating my own work. Put it this way, if a less competent photographer can get work and I can't, then he/she's doing something right and I'm not. You need to believe in your own work before you can sell it to other people. There is no perfect photograph and digital photography is not helping. For me, it is the imperfection that makes your photographs unique. It's a part of who you are as a person and as a photographer. The moment that you truly believe in your own work and what you're doing, it's when you're free to be creative. So stop worry so much about how you stack up to other photographers, or about other photographer's work. They are not your clients. I shoot weddings for a living. I can careless if other "better" photographers think that it's uncreative, repetitive, cookie cutter, etc. Heck, people on this forum have told that to my face. :D It doesn't change how I run my business a bit. My clients love my work. They pay a lot of money for me to do what I do, because they believe in what I do.

If someone can get people to pay $3000 for 1hr of shooting, I want to learn all about her secrets. I bet that didn't happen over night. So put on your big girl panties and do work! :D

BTW, I have tripled my fee since a year ago. I don't feel anymore pressure than when I was charging 1/3 of what I'm charging now. :eek:
 
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a product or service is worth exactly what someone is willing to pay for it.
value, like art, is subjective.
My work is considered "boring" by many, but it doesn't stop me from getting $400 for a 2 hour shoot.
Im on the down stroke as far as photography goes though...the more flight time I get, the less I feel like working behind a camera. Once I transition to flying full time I will probably stop handing out cards altogether, and im OK with that.

honestly, I wouldn't worry too much about other peoples work or what they charge, except in the sense that it IS kinda nice to know what average prices are like in your area for the service you are offering.
pricing for services like photography I think is often just as much salesmanship (salespersonship?) as it is actual product quality. You need to have a good sales pitch to match a good product.
 
@elizpage
I understand completely where you are coming from! I think that overtime you will gain some more confidence in your work and feel justified charging more. I struggle with charging people, I just started, and I am completely undercharging them. You have to remind yourself that it takes time to arrange the shoot, get to the shoot, do the shoot, and edit. Plus you are using your $ camera and equipment to do the shoot :) So, just keep reminding yourself you are worth the $ and overtime you will feel justified charging more, because it is your time and energy. Basically everything @Vtec44 said :)
 
Disconnect your perception of the quality of your work from what you charge.
There are mediocre photographers out there that have great business skills that are making a nice living.
There are very talented, even gifted, photographers that can't make a dime because they have zero business skills.

If you want to stay in business and make a living income, what you charge has to be directly related to your cost of doing business (CODB), your cost of goods sold(COGS), and what you consider a living income.
No doubt you need to at least make nice photos but your clients and potential clients won't be as critical about your photographic skills as you are.
Note: Whatever salary/hourly wage you pay yourself (income) is part of your CODB.

It is way easier to lower your price, or offer a discount, than it is to raise your price significantly.

Lots of retail photography businesses today don't make enough money to cover CODB/COGS, and have to be supported with other income.
Which likely makes the 'business' - a hobby.
By charging $50 an hour can show on your financial records that you have sufficient revenue to cover your CODB and COGS?

The IRS has business/hobby criteria for federal tax purposes
. . . The IRS presumes that an activity is carried on for profit if it makes a profit during at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year . . .

. . . Generally, an activity qualifies as a business if it is carried on with the reasonable expectation of earning a profit. In order to make this determination, taxpayers should consider the following factors:

  • Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?
  • Does the taxpayer depend on income from the activity?
  • If there are losses, are they due to circumstances beyond the taxpayer’s control or did they occur in the start-up phase of the business?
  • Has the taxpayer changed methods of operation to improve profitability?
  • Does the taxpayer or his/her advisors have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?
  • Has the taxpayer made a profit in similar activities in the past?
  • Does the activity make a profit in some years?
  • Can the taxpayer expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used in the activity?
 
This may turn into a rant of some sort.. but some people may resonate with what I'm saying..

A rant? Ok, ducking for cover. Rant on.

I guess if you have more work on your portfolio and more people you have worked for that inherently enables a photographer to charge more? Currently, I'm up to my highest asking price ever which is $50/hour. Maybe it's my insecurity that I don't feel confident enough with my work to charge more. It inherently puts more pressure on me to charge people. The shoots I've done for free have turned out the best for some reason. I also have never charged a friend, because I just don't feel right doing it.

So hit facebook, unfriend everyone.. bam.. instant client list. It's genius!

I just don't see how anyone could ask $3000 for an hour long shoot. The pressure, ahhh! I just looked at a photographer in my area who charges about that much, but honestly.. some of her work is blatantly OOF. Maybe it was for artistic effect? Some of it is wonderful though. It's a pretty large base of work. I guess people like her if they keep hiring her. Now that I am a "photographer" (whatever that term means) I am SO picky about others' work, but even more picky about my own honestly.. I think my work is **** right now, and I have SO much room for improvement it's not even funny. But the fact that she asks that much.. I mean, wow..

It's a funny world. Some folks are firmly convinced that the quality of what you will receive is based on price, so some folks will pay much more for the same service even if it's not necessarily any better just because they think if it costs more it must be better.

Then you have folks that will select a service based solely on the cheapest price and nothing more. It's a funny world. So really it's kind of up to you to find a happy medium, to charge enough that you feel comfortable and get enough business to make it worthwhile.

I guess if you are good enough at what you do though, been doing it long enough, and have a large enough network you can ask for a higher price.

Meh. One day.


/rant over

Charge whatever the market will accept. I suggest you start with One billion gagillion fafillion shabadabalo shabadamillion shabaling shabalomillion yen per hour, and work your way down from there. Lol
 
I'm up to my highest asking price ever which is $50/hour....the fact that she asks that much.. I mean, wow..
Actually, $50 sounds too cheap to me. I mean; take your CODB, add in your ROI (return on investment) and profit, and I don't see how you can make a living at that rate. I understand that you might not be charging someone that much all day all week, but you've decided to become self-employed and presumably self-sufficient, meaning your housing, food, utilities, auto expenses, clothing, etc. , so making sure you're still in business next year is kind of important.

As for your competition; if she gets the customers at that rate, then good for her, and why aren't you getting more than you are?

Start adding up all your costs, ROI, profit, and come up with a realistic figure. Whether you figure your weekly income or by the hour, the two rates need to correlate. My guess is you don't have a very good handle on your own financial condition.
 
Thanks guys, you all made me feel a bit better.

I also have another full time job.. Photography is part time for me, so that's why I *can* charge $50/hour and be just fine.

However, I will start charging more. I am worth something dammit!
 
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Thanks guys, you all made me feel a bit better.

I also have another full time job.. Photography is part time for me, so that's why I *can* charge $50/hour and be just fine.

However, I will start charging more. I am worth something dammit!

You have a full time job so you have the opportunity to work on your perceived value. You should focus your time on that. Some people call it arrogant, bragging, self-centered, etc. I call it marketing yourself.
 
Thanks guys, you all made me feel a bit better.

I also have another full time job.. Photography is part time for me, so that's why I *can* charge $50/hour and be just fine.

However, I will start charging more. I am worth something dammit!

You have a full time job so you have the opportunity to work on your perceived value. You should focus your time on that. Some people call it arrogant, bragging, self-centered, etc. I call it marketing yourself.

Good point. I think it is important to be humble, but perhaps not while doing business.
 
Good point. I think it is important to be humble, but perhaps not while doing business.

It is important to be humble. However, your potential clients may see it as a sign of weakness, uncertain, unsure, inexperience, lack of confidence. Clients will not hire someone that does not have the confidence in his or her own work.

As far as your hourly rate, I can't really say if that's low or high without knowing your cost of doing business. To some it's great because they have no over head (especially home based business). To others it may not be. This is on top of your perceived value. Do you have enough perceived value to command the price? Having confidence in your own work is one thing, having the right perceived value so people will pay for it is another. High perceived value may or may not correlate with the quality of your work.
 
I don't know if any of this matters to a part-time photographer, but my plumber charges $120/hr. I figure $60 goes to the owner of the company, and $60 goes to the plumber (who has to pay taxes).

The owner of the company has invested in equipment, materials, and office space. The owner's overhead includes the buildings, the office personnel, advertising, taxes, utilities, and profit. You should probably correlate that to your own situation.
 
Good point. I think it is important to be humble, but perhaps not while doing business.

It is important to be humble. However, your potential clients may see it as a sign of weakness, uncertain, unsure, inexperience, lack of confidence. Clients will not hire someone that does not have the confidence in his or her own work.

As far as your hourly rate, I can't really say if that's low or high without knowing your cost of doing business. To some it's great because they have no over head (especially home based business). To others it may not be. This is on top of your perceived value. Do you have enough perceived value to command the price? Having confidence in your own work is one thing, having the right perceived value so people will pay for it is another. High perceived value may or may not correlate with the quality of your work.

That's true, I agree with what you are saying. I guess I'm still relatively new and trying to get over that confidence hump.

I don't actually know much about the cost of doing business, which makes it so helpful to post here.

What do you mean by perceived value? Just what people view my work as being worth..?
 
if you feel like your work isn't very good right now, why are you charging money or trying to operate a business in the first place?
 

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