Pricing your Photography Services

cwrivera

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Hi all!

I am new to the business, have been photographing for years, went to art school for college, but just now decided to officially open up my business in the community.

My dilemma is how to price my photography services, prints, albums, etc. I've tried to compare to other photographers, but the prices are so different, some charge very little while some charge way too much. For session fees, I've been generally comparing myself to other photographers and picking a good round number that I think is fair for me and for the client. For prints, I try and lo-ball it to be affordable for now, but not too low so that I don't cheat myself out (5x7 prints start at $35). As for albums and other additions, my rule of thumb is to take my costs, and approximately double them, so that I make that amount in profit.

I'd like to know how you all figure out your pricing for sessions, prints, albums, etc.?? Any suggestions?

Thanks!
 

tirediron

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After "What camera should I buy" this has to be the second-most asked question on the board. The short answer is: You have to charge what you need to.

This handy calculator is a good guide, and can help you factor in things you may not have thought about. This should be part of your initial business plan.
 
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cwrivera

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Thanks for the responses guys. However, to be honest, I've already tried that tool, and didn't feel it really helped me too much in the practical sense. If you're just starting out, working from your home as a side job until you get started, dont really have that much equipment, and cant really calculate how many jobs I will get in a year, and are basically just working off your talent, the calculator wasn't too much of a help. Based on my expenses (which I tried to keep to a bare minimum), and only a few jobs in a year, I am supposed to charge a minimum of $2,500 per day. Obviously I can't do that, so... does anyone have any practical suggestions to start out, until I get up and running, and can utilize the calculator tool more effectively?
 

budskiphotography

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for me I started out cheap, usually just charging to cover travel costs, but as that I kept every receipt and kept track how much time I was spending. From there I started rising my prices till I found a good spot of getting work, but not being swamped.

It always hard to give a straight answer to "how much should I charge?" because everyone’s enviroment/area/client/expensies are different. The best thing is it to make sure you charging at least enough to cover you basics and go from there.
 

colinrayner

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If you're just starting out, working from your home as a side job until you get started, dont really have that much equipment, and cant really calculate how many jobs I will get in a year, and are basically just working off your talent, the calculator wasn't too much of a help.

This is exactly my problem. It's a part-time thing at the moment as I'm retired and I don't have anything to base charges on except what others are charging.

Colin.
 

STICKMAN

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I am in the same situation at the moment. Trying to figure out what to charge for my emergency services photos. These men and women (firefighters/ems etc) love when there actions are caught on camera. I got to figure out some pricing as demand is growing quickly and I am tired of giving them away.
 

rub

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I'm just starting out as well, and i have found that is is a very careful balance between what I want to make per hour, my expenses, what level of service I am providing, what the(my) market will bare, what my competition charges, what my skill level is, and a standard value of prints (based on a cents per sqr inch basis)

When I looked at all of these factors, it actually wasnt hard to set my price. The hard part was finding all the info I needed to make the right decision.

Oh, and NEVER low ball your prices. I am just about to have my website published, and I called the designer and up'd my prices. There is a demand for my services right now, I am getting booking on a regular basis (1-2 per week) and people can't wait to see my site. If I have to compete on price, I would rather give a discount or special. Selling yourself short is never good business.

Good luck!
 

budskiphotography

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Oh, and NEVER low ball your prices. I am just about to have my website published, and I called the designer and up'd my prices. There is a demand for my services right now, I am getting booking on a regular basis (1-2 per week) and people can't wait to see my site. If I have to compete on price, I would rather give a discount or special. Selling yourself short is never good business.

Good luck!

correct, this is very common with wedding photographer who lowball there prices. Ive hear countless stories about wedding photographer who didnt get any work really till they raised there prices.
 

PictureThis

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I am just starting out as a photographer. I am going to school at the Art Institute and I am being asked by friends to do shoots for them. Various things from head shots to senior pictures for their siblings. I don't know what I should charge and at this point I am curious if I should just be getting my name out there associated with my work.
 

DRoberts

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I try and lo-ball it to be affordable for now...

Not a good idea. In business low balling is very much despised by fellow practioners in any field. The main problem with low balling is, it decreases the value for everyone in that field in the area. Forcing them to lower their prices or loose business.
It is better to work with photographers in your area. Start with a good reputation for business ethics and you will get referals from them, when they have scheduling conflicts, or request that are outside of their scope of practice or style.
It is not immoral for business people in a certain geographical area to get together and set minimum and maximum "standard" prices. Of course specialty project prices will be different.
I would start by seeing if there are any photographer associations in your area and get with them. If there are none, then look into photo clubs.
Good luck!
 

manaheim

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Low balling also sets the expectation that you're an amateur. It's kind of maddening because it makes sense to charge less as an "introductory fee", but people clearly would rather pay through the nose for someone clueless with the nerve to price high than someone who is really good with no nerve at all.

I see this general behavior throughout business. It's weird, but it's definitely there.
 

Nimitz

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If you shoot what other pros in your area shoot then you would be wise to set your pricing competitive with them. As someone mentioned it is much better to offer 'specials' & sales then to start out cheap & try to raise later. If you shoot more speciality work that others in your area don't you can command higher prices. Just be sure your quality is there to demand that type of pricing.

I'm lucky in that there is no one within 500 miles of me who does what I do so I could probably charge even more and people would pay it. It also helps that I can show my clients that my work has appeared in calendars & magazines which helps with justifying prices.

I am also fortunate in that my mentor is a 30+ yr studio professional who taught me the business side as well as the creative side. I learned very quickly that my price is my price, if it's too much for you I understand but that's the price. I'll wait for the next client to come along. I also didn't take any paying clients until I was sure the quality was appropriate (by my mentor's standards - not mine).
 

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