Probably one of the hardest things to do as a Photographer is pricing up your work. Because you don’t want to make it too expensive that people can’t afford it, but you also need to live and pay bills. I want to give you some insight into how I’ve priced up my photography from my own experience.
Now, what I’m NOT going to do is get you to do a whole big formula that is going to map out your price. Because to be honest? Pricing can be subjective and it really does depend on SO many factors!
Pricing is a Process
Understand that you don’t always have to get it right the first time. Meaning, the price you start with can ALWAYS be altered. It’s not like it has to stay that price forever.
As your photography business grows, your skills get better, and your equipment gets more expensive, you’ll naturally increase your prices. When this happens, I’m a big advocate in giving clients notice when a price increase is going to happen, instead of just coming out of the blue and saying “oh btw, my prices increased and now they’re double what you used to pay”.
It’s all part of your client communication and nurturing them.
Understand WHO You Serve
When I started my business, I started out serving small businesses. I still do! And the thing is, majority of small businesses don’t have a big budget to work with, but they’re a lot easier to book as a client as opposed to say a well known brand. I took this into consideration when pricing up my services so that I could cater to this target market.
Really think about WHO your dream client is and what they can afford. This is where filling out a client profile comes in SUPER handy!
Understand Your Expenses
To be honest, I never actually wrote out all my expenses on paper and then said, “ok, this is how much I need to charge per session or per photo in order to cover these”. Nope! I worked out how much I wanted to earn per month that would cover my bills and then some; worked out a rough price for my services that FELT right to me at the time; and calculated how many clients I needed to book per month.
Having said that, I still recommend being aware of your expenses. For example, when I upgraded my camera from a $1000 camera to a $3000 camera, you bet I upped my price! Better equipment meant better quality which meant a slightly high price!
Here are the expenses I take into consideration:
- Cost of my camera body: $2300
- Cost of my lens: $1000
- Cost of Editing programs Lightroom, Photoshop & Premiere Pro: $28 per month
- Cost of Accounting program: roughly $49 per month
- Cost of Email marketing: $29 per month
- Travel fees: I include this on a case by case basis if I need to travel longer than 30min to a job
- Location fees: I include this in my per photo price for my clients on a case by case basis
And the you have all your other living expenses: rent, phone, electricity, gas, etc,
Check Out What Your Competitors Are Charging
This actually helped me a lot when I started. I looked at other photographers who were roughly at the same stage as me and looked at what they were charging.
People WILL price hunt! And so many of them will make their decisions based on price and price alone, as opposed to how amazing your work is. Especially if they have a small budget to work with.
We want to make sure we’re not too much outside of our competitor’s pricing zone, otherwise booking clients might become difficult.
Understand the Value You’re Providing and What You’re Worth
Let’s say you’re a product photographer and a client uses one of your amazing photos for an ad to advertise their products. That photo could potentially make them hundreds if not thousands of dollars. So, if you’re wayyyyy undercharging but your work is DAMN GOOD (and you’ll know the quality of your own work because let’s be honest, we compare our work to others we look up to), you’re missing out.
You kind of have to balance this with understanding who it is you’re targeting and what feels comfortable for you.
For example, when I started out doing product photography, I charged $21 per photo. Some people thought I was too expensive at that price. Some people were happy to pay that price. And mind due, this included me buying any props I needed for the shoot, styling, shooting and editing! When you map the process out like that, $21 per photo is actually quite cheap.
I then upped my price about a year later to $30 per photo for product photography. I increased it this much because I KNEW my work deserved at least that price tag on it.
And now, I charge anywhere from $30-$45 per photo depending on the logistics of the shoot. E.g location, props etc.
There are so many things to take into consideration. Do YOU need to organize locations, do YOU need to take 2 hours out of your day to go and get props for a shoot (because yes, I do sometimes), do YOU need to travel one hour to get to a photoshoot, do YOU need to take the time out of your day to source models or go location scouting…
It’s about educating our clients and potential clients to make sure they understand why we charge what we charge and HELP them see the value in our services. I utilise my Instagram and email marketing for this so that I can freely talk about these topics and help people gain more insight into the behind the scenes.
When Should You Increase Your Prices?
I usually like to increase them each year but only by a little bit. However, to be honest my price jump from $21-$30 at a 70% increase is probably looked at as a lot. But I KNEW the quality of my work improved SO much and that’s what I KNEW I deserved to be paid.
I probably wouldn’t go ahead an DOUBLE your prices straight up, but make sure you increase them (when the time feels right to you) to a price that you’re comfortable charging AND your target client can still afford.
Over time we also identify things that should be additional charges. For example, I used to include props such as fresh flowers in the per photo price). However, if someone only orders 4 photos from me, the cost of buying the flowers already cuts well into my profit. So now, I add on props if my client specifically requests them, as well as travel fees when I’m travelling out on location.
Just make sure you take into account any extra things your client requests.
I don’t think there’s any hard and fast rule for pricing up your photography services. We’re all at different stages in our photography careers. For example, when I was just starting out, I wouldn’t be able to charge what another photographer charges who is 2 years into their business. Because we NEED to factor in experience and QUALITY of work as well.
It’s about finding a healthy balance between all the factors I mentioned above and doing what feels RIGHT to you. And don’t forget, when it no longer feels right, it’s time to increase those prices. Just make sure too you’re also consistently checking out the competition and industry averages.
Got a question on pricing up your photography work? Leave me a comment below and I’ll be more than happy to answer!