Not another pricing question, darn it.......

Tight Knot

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Hi all,

As some of you know, I spent the last 4+ years in Israel, and have recently moved back to the good 'ol USA.

I am in the planning stages of starting a photography business here (and here means South Bend Indiana).

I will be shooting the same type of events as I was in Israel (from now on known as "the above categories"). Family functions and events, (excluding weddings for now) ie. birthday parties, bar/bat mitzvah's, social gatherings, pets, portraiture (no boudoir sessions!!!), corporate headshots, architectural and real estate, and photography for businesses (whatever is needed, from products to brochures to staff to food photography, etc.).

I am looking at pricing myself somewhere within the low-middle range. In the past, I have always tried to price myself higher, because I can always lower my prices if needed, but it's far more difficult to raise my prices.
But here, I feel I have to get my feet wet, and start lower (not too low of course) to get myself into the market.

I know that I am going to be told that I have to figure out my costs, and my profit margin, and how much I need to live on etc. Now, having run many businesses before, I am aware of this, but I still need to know what is classified as low-middle range pricing. I will eventually work up pricing on different package deals etc. but that is still a little further away. For now, I just need to get started, and I need a base price range to work from.

So, here comes the million dollar question........

Can anyone guide me on real numbers that are being charged in middle America. Not large cities, not small farming communities, but average suburban areas. Ranges of different prices for each of the above categories (and any others that you can think of that would help get me going) would be really wonderful.
AND,,,,, if you could also tell me what is classified as normal in regards to how many images are given, how the images are given for client proofing, and what is usually offered for prints and albums etc.

Last question (for now), do I add the pricing to my website (due to getting ready for this, I am restructuring my website)? Or just have a contact link for potential clients to reach me to discuss pricing directly (I always prefer discussing final details in pricing with the client, but should I be putting in a range of pricing for each of the above categories?)

I know this is a lot, and I want to thank anyone profusely who gives me real info up front.
I also know there is a lot that I am not asking here, but that will all be part and parcel of my due diligence before I finalize anything.

Thanks all,

Bruce
 

tirediron

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I live in western Canada, so I'm no help with respect to your questions on pricing in the mid-west USA, BUT... I will say that what others price their work at should NOT be the primary consideration in your pricing; probably not even a secondary consideration. Do your cost of business calculations and determine what you NEED to earn based on your circumstances. Then look around and see where others, producing similar work, are pricing themselves and then adjust as you feel appropriate. You're right about prices being much easier to lower than raise!

As to the question of displaying prices, that's right up there with, "Should I use a UV filter for protection?" I have my session prices posted on my 'site, but nothing else. I will give clients or prospective clients the prices for specific products if they ask, or if I suspect that maybe they're ordering more than they can afford.
 

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The real numbers are all over the map, and as such are pretty much an unreliable way for you to make sure you actually make any money.

From the new-to-the-business-of-doing-photography TPF member planning on charging $350 - $500 for 15 corporate head shots, to the 10x more $3500 - $5000 I would charge, if I were not retired, to do the same job.
$150 for each head shot ($2250), plus creative fee if I have to go to them (travel, set up, tear down).
$1650 for the use licensing of 15 images (400x400 px) on a web site for 1 year.
 

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When doing the Business Plan for a new business one of the first things I always do is shop the competition. You need to know who's doing what and for how much in the area you plan to setup.
In every case (three) I ended up modifying the business plan to find a plan that allowed me to make a go of it.
The internet, this forum and a lot of phone calls will provide the data you need to make a valid decision.
 

kathyt

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Questions for you......
-Do you want to sell digital files?
-Would rather sell products by showing proofs. (This allows you to upsell, but takes more time) must have SAMPLES!!!!!!!
-what would you like to se as the finished product as you deliver them to your client?
-how will you show your clients thier proofs? Online or in person?
 
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Tight Knot

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I live in western Canada, so I'm no help with respect to your questions on pricing in the mid-west USA, BUT... I will say that what others price their work at should NOT be the primary consideration in your pricing; probably not even a secondary consideration. Do your cost of business calculations and determine what you NEED to earn based on your circumstances. Then look around and see where others, producing similar work, are pricing themselves and then adjust as you feel appropriate. You're right about prices being much easier to lower than raise!

As to the question of displaying prices, that's right up there with, "Should I use a UV filter for protection?" I have my session prices posted on my 'site, but nothing else. I will give clients or prospective clients the prices for specific products if they ask, or if I suspect that maybe they're ordering more than they can afford.
Hi John,

Thank you very much for your reply. Sorry mine was so long in coming. I have had a week and a half from hell, and am only now getting back to "taking care of business".
I hear what you are saying about doing my cost of business calculations, and I understand. I guess I was hoping for a "shortcut" list of prices, and then I could see if those prices would fit within my projected earning needs.
I'll have to do this the hard way I guess :).
As to putting prices on my site, I like your idea of only putting session pricing up, and maybe adding that events can range from $X00.00 to $X0000000000.00 (okay, maybe getting a little ahead of myself here with all the extra 0's :)) depending on the package and the individual needs of the customer.

Thanks again,

Bruce
 
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Tight Knot

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The real numbers are all over the map, and as such are pretty much an unreliable way for you to make sure you actually make any money.

From the new-to-the-business-of-doing-photography TPF member planning on charging $350 - $500 for 15 corporate head shots, to the 10x more $3500 - $5000 I would charge, if I were not retired, to do the same job.
$150 for each head shot ($2250), plus creative fee if I have to go to them (travel, set up, tear down).
$1650 for the use licensing of 15 images (400x400 px) on a web site for 1 year.
Hi Keith,

Thank you so much for answering.

These are numbers that I can deal with. It will help me to work things out a little better. Please read my post with a few new questions coming up, after I've answered the previous posters.

Thanks again,

Bruce
 
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Tight Knot

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When doing the Business Plan for a new business one of the first things I always do is shop the competition. You need to know who's doing what and for how much in the area you plan to setup.
In every case (three) I ended up modifying the business plan to find a plan that allowed me to make a go of it.
The internet, this forum and a lot of phone calls will provide the data you need to make a valid decision.
Hi Denny,

What you are saying makes sense of course. I guess it doesn't help me to know what others are charging 8 States away from me, and I need to know what is being charged and for what in my area. At the same time, it definitely helps to have a broad outline of the business, so I can see where I can grow, and what I can do that is being done in other areas, but not here, to help me carve a niche.

Please see the questions that I am posting shortly, and let me knwo what you think,

Thanks so much,

Bruce
 
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Tight Knot

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Questions for you......
-Do you want to sell digital files?
-Would rather sell products by showing proofs. (This allows you to upsell, but takes more time) must have SAMPLES!!!!!!!
-what would you like to se as the finished product as you deliver them to your client?
-how will you show your clients thier proofs? Online or in person?
Hi Kathy,

All excellent questions. I guess this is the problem, I have no idea what is standard, and my goal is to do more than what is standard, in order to build a name and a brand, and of course, to make as much as I can without losing customers from greed.

I would love to hear what you do, or see being done in the market as an answer o your above questions.

Please see my list of questions coming up after this post.

Thanks again,

Bruce
 
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Tight Knot

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One thing I am noticing here, is that photography is an entirely different animal here, than it is in Israel. In Israel, albums are done totally differently, and one of the most important things to customers, is how many images they will get. If they are told that they will get less than 2000 (two thousand) images for a wedding, they will not hire the photographer. It was great working for Anglos there, because they understood that 2000 images does not translate into good photography.
So it appears that I have a lot to learn about what is expected from a photographer here.

Based upon this, I have a whole new set of questions that I feel MUST be asked, in order for me to do my due diligence properly.

So, here goes:

1. What is standard in the industry as far as quantity of images for:

A. Corporate headshots (per person)
B. Photo booths
C. Bar/Bat Mitzvahs
D. Engagement Parties
E. Weddings
F. Studio shots (individuals)
G. Studio shots (couples/families)
H. School shoots (end of year, and prom)

2. How are proof images usually shown to the customer and how are final images presented to the customer and what is the difference in pricing of digital versus prints.

3. What is standard as far as albums go for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Engagements and Weddings.

4. What are fairly standard packages offered (including pricing if possible) for the above A - H.

5. What type of insurance should be carried (other than damage or loss to equipment).

6. How many photographers and or assistants would go out to the average wedding?

And now come the embarrassing questions.

Having never bought lighting here in the USA, and having left most of my lighting equipment back in Israel, what type of lighting kits would you recommend that could be used both in studio and on location (corporate, events) that also has a modeling light?
I am looking for something with around 200 Watt seconds per light, for a total of 4 lights, - 2 main, 1 backlight and a hair/spot light.
Where is the best place to buy booms and stands to hold accessories (like reflectors, gobos etc.) and what would you recommend?

I am currently shooting mostly with my Canon 7D, and have a T1i as a backup body. I still use my kit lenses for most of my shots 18-55, 55-250, and use a Canon 1.4 - 50mm, and a Canon 2.8 - 100mm. I also use a Sigma 4-5.6 - 10-20.
Would you recommend a different lens or another, better body than my T1i?

And the last question for now is what size, color and types of backdrops would you recommend (and which ones for what type of shoots A - G)? I brought my white, black and chroma green backdrops with me. I need to know what colors and styles are being used here currently.

I have a budget of around $2500 for equipment and lighting (I may be able to squeeze a little more, if absolutely necessary).


PLENTY of questions!! Sorry, and thank you for taking the time to go over these for me.

Really, any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks and Happy Holidays (Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year and what ever else is being celebrated by whomever else) to all.

All the best,

Bruce
 

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So, here goes:

1. What is standard in the industry as far as quantity of images for: AFAIK, there are no industry standards. What I typically provide is listed below.

A. Corporate headshots (per person) 2-4 proofs, 1-2 finished.
B. Photo booths N/A
C. Bar/Bat Mitzvahs N/A
D. Engagement Parties N/A
E. Weddings Depends greatly on the client's wishes; when I do weddings (not often) I shoot with the intention of delivering NO MORE than 200 - 250 proofs for the clients to view.
F. Studio shots (individuals) 15 -20 proofs, as many delivered as the clients wants to pay for.
G. Studio shots (couples/families) 30-40 proofs, as many delivered as the clients wants to pay for.
H. School shoots (end of year, and prom) N/A

2. How are proof images usually shown to the customer and how are final images presented to the customer and what is the difference in pricing of digital versus prints. I always try and proof in the client's home, on my calibrated, large-screen laptop. If that can't happen, then I provide proof galleries on a secure part of my website and sent the client a link, username and password. Prints range in price based on my pre-determined ratio. Digital files are $65/each.

3. What is standard as far as albums go for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Engagements and Weddings. N/A

4. What are fairly standard packages offered (including pricing if possible) for the above A - H. I don't offer packages. I ask the customer what they intend to do with the images, where they intend to display them, and then I recommend sizes and finishes that I think would suit.

5. What type of insurance should be carried (other than damage or loss to equipment). I carry equipment damage/theft/loss and liability.

6. How many photographers and or assistants would go out to the average wedding? IMO, no more than two. All the weddings I've done have been solo.

And now come the embarrassing questions.

Having never bought lighting here in the USA, and having left most of my lighting equipment back in Israel, what type of lighting kits would you recommend that could be used both in studio and on location (corporate, events) that also has a modeling light?
I am looking for something with around 200 Watt seconds per light, for a total of 4 lights, - 2 main, 1 backlight and a hair/spot light.
Where is the best place to buy booms and stands to hold accessories (like reflectors, gobos etc.) and what would you recommend?

I am currently shooting mostly with my Canon 7D, and have a T1i as a backup body. I still use my kit lenses for most of my shots 18-55, 55-250, and use a Canon 1.4 - 50mm, and a Canon 2.8 - 100mm. I also use a Sigma 4-5.6 - 10-20.
Would you recommend a different lens or another, better body than my T1i?

And the last question for now is what size, color and types of backdrops would you recommend (and which ones for what type of shoots A - G)? I brought my white, black and chroma green backdrops with me. I need to know what colors and styles are being used here currently.

I have a budget of around $2500 for equipment and lighting (I may be able to squeeze a little more, if absolutely necessary).


PLENTY of questions!! Sorry, and thank you for taking the time to go over these for me.

Really, any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks and Happy Holidays (Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year and what ever else is being celebrated by whomever else) to all.

All the best,

Bruce
Answers (as best I can) in red. As far as the gear goes, that's a different kettle of fish. The Rebel line, while decent cameras are NOT, IMO up to the rigours of prolonged professional work, nor is the T1i a real competitor in today's market, especially in terms of low light performance. Unfortunately, being a Nikonian, I can't really offer a lot of advice; perhaps a used 5D Mk II? For glass, if you're going to do weddings, you really, IMO, need to be able to cover the 20-200mm range at at least f2.8; others will disagree.

On the topic of lighting, I loves me my Speedotron gear. You can EASILY get an 800 w/s power pack, and four lights for <$500 (more likely <$300 if you're careful) on eBay. This stuff is built tough, and doesn't have a lot of frills. It just works! As for buying, again, can't offer a lot of help, but I would think one of the large NY camera retailers.
 
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Tight Knot

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John, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to answer my questions. Thank you so much!! It is greatly appreciated, and will be taken very seriously in my business plan.
It is hard not knowing what I don't know. It is even harder knowing that that there is so much that I don't know and am so unfamiliar with standard business practices here, that without proper, thoughtful research beforehand, will do nothing other than cause me to fail.
Who was it that said "failing to plan, is planning to fail"?

I know that the best thing for me would be for me to get a job for 6 months or so with an event photographer here, but feel very duplicitous knowing that I am just getting the job to learn what I need to, in order to go out on my own after, and possibly in competition. Not my MO.
 
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Tight Knot

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Any ideas on what size, color and types of backdrops would you recommend? I brought my white, black and chroma green backdrops with me. I need to know what colors and styles are being used here currently.
 

tirediron

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I do 90% of my work on Savage Thunder Grey (seamless paper and/or muslin), but I also use a couple of mottled dark brown ones. The grey is nice because it's easy to create a mask if you want to digitally swap backgrounds.
 
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Tight Knot

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Hi John,

Thanks for the reply.
What about mottled blues? Does that go over well here?
As far as swapping backgrounds, I usually use my chroma green backdrop. Makes it very easy to mask and remove.
Where would you recommend getting backgrounds from?
 

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