WHY DOES PHOTOGRAPHY COST SO MUCH!?
This is often the question posed by clients, hobbyist family members and people just starting out who don’t really understand how to price their work. Now I’m going to put my disclaimer out there first. Every Professional Photographer has their own strategy around pricing. At the end of the day we do what works for us and by that I mean what’s easiest for our workflow. Now as a professional photographer I’m sharing trade secrets here and some may or may not like it but that’s ok. I need to share this with you so you understand why some of us charge $250 and others like myself charge $650. Because at the end of the day we aren’t walking away with that much money.
Here’s a breakdown of pricing strategies
- All inclusive pricing which means just that, they roll their session fee and their product(s) into one flat rate along with taxes if their State requires it. They invoice you ONCE the downside to this is that you may not have the option to select or change out what products are offered but you know what you are getting and what you are paying so it’s easy.
- Collection Pricing – With collections you have options. Often times the Photographer will group some of their most popular products into 3 different types of collections, you as the consumer get to select almost like car shopping. There will be an economy, mid-range, and luxury package. All are great they are designed to suit everyone’s budget and aid in helping the Photographer with workflow especially during their busy season.
- A La Carte Pricing- This one tends to be your most expensive option. I’m just being honest with you. Since we have no Idea what you’re going to order a la carte pricing tends to be where we place our highest markups. Clients could come in and order ONE 8X10 and leave. Never taking into account the HOURS of work we put into a session before even showing up.
- Scouting location
- Emails ( welcome, confirmation, location what to wear) these can be one or a series. I find a series works best that way your invoice does not get lost in the what to wear email and location email.
- Invoicing, Scheduling
- Driving to the session
- Research for the session (this looks different for every photographer)
- Treats for kids ( If you photograph children and Families)
POST SESSION WORK
- Thank you
- Viewing session email
Here’s where the money goes:
- I have a studio that rent, I want to know that I have a dedicated workspace ALL THE TIME. While I can shoot outside I don’t want bad weather to ever impact my livelihood. I always have a Plan B.
- Uncle SAM. In Philadelphia, we now have to charge a sales tax on our Digital products at a rate of 8% I’ve learned that clients don’t understand that so I add it into my invoice.
- Editing, Images are only as good as the artistic effects you add. Yes SOOC is nice but in order to stand out you need to edit your photos and that takes time.
- Products per package. I don’t just send my clients a Dropbox link they also receive their photos on a USB drive. I don’t trust technology, computers fail, companies close but if they have a back up on a flash drive I can, with confidence say I’ve done everything in my powers to ensure they have access to their photos.
But here’s the thing, you HAVE to want to make a profit from this. If people see you as a photographer then you should expect to be paid as such. The one question I ask myself when I feel like I’m having an internal pricing dilemma is how long and where will my photos be used? I KNOW the clients will be using them for web and social media. I know realistically, they will be using them more than once, so I need to price myself accordingly. How often are your clients returning to you for updated photos? The average client’s updates photos maybe every 6 months so you are giving them A LOT of your time and effort for little return. think of this way if you charge someone $250 for 25 images and this is keeping it simple for math’s sake, that’s $10 an Image. Now if they don’t return for 6 months you divide that $10 per image over 6 months. Is that really making money? Yes, this is about money it’s also about your livelihood and being ok with charging your worth. I understand that some people don’t want to charge more, they feel that their skill level may not warrant charging higher amounts or photography is not the main focus of their business, it’s just an add-on to services they offer.
I don’t want to get on a soap especially on this topic because I CAN ( and just had to delete a whole of copy to make sure I was on point here). I just want you to see there is value in what you are creating and it’s ok to charge for that. Don’t make excuses for your work.