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When it comes to someone hiring you (a photographer) for a special occasion/event or a portrait session, one of the most important factors to consider is the pricing. However, pricing alone should not be the sole determining factor in your decision-making process. There are several other crucial aspects that you need to take into account in order to price yourself properly.
In this article, I’m going to shake things up a little bit and share some personal opinions that go against the grain of what some educators teach.
In this article, I will also discuss five things that your ideal client is considering when it comes to researching photography pricing from both you as well as your competitors. After all, the pricing that you charge doesn’t exist in a vacuum – and your ideal client is educated.
Many photographers hide pricing on their website entirely because they don’t want to resonate with price shoppers. But then why do brands like Ferrari and Rolex show their prices online? Because their audience is educated and they simply want to prequalify themselves and not waste their time. Your wealthy audience values their time more than their money. Keep that in mind.
Right away, drop any ego attached to what you think of yourself and your body of work. You need to be completely objective about the perception to your brand – because your value is only a perception.
With this, and as you know – it’s a saturated market in nearly every area around the world (or at least, it can feel that way). And on top of the vast number of photographers, many of them are incredibly (and truly) talented.
And the issue when it comes to pricing here is that many of these incredibly talented photographers aren’t charging high prices – simply because they don’t know what to charge, how to structure their pricing, and the fear of having too high of price and not booking clients.
With low pricing, your website visitors/prospects can actually feel that something is wrong. After all, why would something incredible be so cheap?
This is where most photographers sit out of fear of not being booked at a higher rate, but this area also balances volume with profit. That also said, most photographers get stuck here because their portfolio, branding, press, awards, and relationships never really surpass “the average.”
This is where quite a few of the “expert” photographers are – and rightfully so. But as you have probably seen, some photographers charge WAY more than the middle pricing tier (tens of thousands more) – but is is really worth tens of thousands more (luxury pricing)? The answer to that: it’s worth whatever someone is willing to pay.
Here, we are talking tens of thousands of dollars if not over $100,000 for a single photography job. And yes, there are clients who pay that. But what makes the photography so different to garner that type of rate, you ask? In short, you’re missing the fact that it’s not all about the photography itself – but it’s about the experience of the photographer, the branding of the photographer, the reach of the photographer, and the overall experience with that photographer. You want the “Oh my gosh, you worked with ____?!?! That’s so amazing!!!” vibe. If you don’t have that yet, you will have a tough time pricing yourself at the luxury rate (yet). Want to get there faster? Build a gorgeous, modern, and stylish website with stylish clientele throughout your body of work, win some of the worlds leading photography awards (or at least get top 10), and build relationships with the worlds influential people that are related to your niche. Referrals go a long way inside of the luxury pricing world.
When considering photography pricing, one of the most important factors to take into account is the photographer’s experience and expertise. A seasoned photographer will have a vast portfolio showcasing their previous work, allowing you to get a glimpse of their style and capabilities. By reviewing their portfolio, you can see if their aesthetic aligns with your vision for capturing those precious memories. Sure. Most of us get that.
But where photographers don’t put much time into is high-end press, high-end awards, and other things that can build the brands value when attached to things like this.
Imagine for a second these photographers:
Without knowing anything about any of the above photographers, which do you think would be able to charge a higher rate, have an easier time in their sales process, and have more demand within their business?
Answer: Jane Smith.
Moreover, client reviews can provide valuable insights into a photographer’s professionalism and ability to deliver exceptional results. Reading what previous clients have said about their experiences working with a particular photographer can give them confidence in your skills. Positive reviews highlight not only technical abilities but also the ability to make clients feel comfortable during photo sessions. This creates an environment where authentic moments can be captured naturally due to that additional trust that has been laid down at the absolute foundation.
Transitioning into the next section about the quality of the final product, it is important to mention that while experience and expertise are crucial in selecting a photographer, they’re just the first steps towards ensuring that your ideal client receives stunning photographs that truly capture their special moments.
This one should be a no-brainer, but the higher the quality of the photograph, the higher the price point you will naturally convert at.
Just keep in mind that a “quality” photograph is partially subjective to the viewer. Some people prefer that light-and-airy aesthetic, others prefer cinematic, some people really like the contrasty & vibrant vibe, and others something totally different.
Whatever style you put out there, ensure that it’s consistent, and ensure that there is demand that exists for that final result for your desired price point.
As an example, let’s say that you absolutely love the contrasty & vibrant style. There’s obviously nothing wrong with that at the surface but research your market. Identify if you can even find a singular photographer within a 2-hour drive from you who has a similar style AND equally charges that rate that you want to charge on a consistent basis.
If you can find that other person who is doing what you want – great. That means that you just found market viability. Go for it.
If you can’t find even a single other photographer who is doing what you want in your market, take that research data seriously and tread carefully as you carry forward. You might hit a glass ceiling and feel stuck at some point in your career (super common).
It can also mean that you are a genius for approaching an untapped market and you will have your monopoly share of riches in the waiting.
That said, the latter is extremely rare.
In short, there is no wrong answer here.
Yep, the exact answer you were hoping for, right? (joking)
Believe me, if I could just say “Do XYZ and you will have the perfect pricing model” – it would make my job as a photography business coach so much easier.
Bottom line, as mentioned earlier – I have seen literally every single one of these options work.
A la carte works.
A blended option works.
Print/artwork credit works.
Session fees work.
Retainer fees work.
What you need to decide (very simply) is what is first in alignment with what you want to offer, and second, what your ideal client avatar wants as part of their client experience.
As an example, someone who is spending $10,000+ on their photography might want more of the hand-holding throughout the entire experience. The pre-meetings, an incredible experience while in front of your camera, as well as an ordering appointment, and possibly even the finishing touch experience with you or someone on your team physically delivering and installing/hanging the artwork in their home and/or office.
The mid-budget clients – I’ve seen wealthy people quite boldly say that they don’t want to go through multiple appointments, don’t want to “waste time” with in-person sales appointments “unnecessarily” and they simply want to pay for digitals, artwork, or a blend of both.
Personally, I am in that camp.
I will pay thousands of dollars for quality photography & artwork – all while *not* wanting to go to any in-person appointments.
Don’t simply assume that your ideal clients want to meet face-to-face before or after the session/wedding/event. If they want to, feel free to make that decision if you equally want to. This is your business, not theirs. You can run your business however you want. There’s no wrong path here. Just set your own boundaries and attract who you want to work with.
Cost Considerations / CODB & Yearly Income Goals
Take into account the overall cost of your photography services. What things go into your cost of doing business (CODB)? How much money are you wanting to make per year? Be sure to do some proper accounting in your business. If you struggle there, I wouldn’t even bother learning it and mastering it to be frank – just hire a proper CPA.
Depending on how you want to run your business, you can also be flexible with your pricing. (Notice that I didn’t say with your clients). You can have mini/limited edition sessions periodically, you can offer off-low season rates, or you can even offer discounts if your client chooses a particular day(s) of the week.
As an example to this, some portrait photographers charge extra for weekend sessions.
But instead of charging extra for something, why not just have that “higher” price be your normal rate, and simply have a discount for weekday sessions?
It accomplishes the same exact thing, and now your prospects/leads think of this as a deal – and not being up charged for your inconvenience.
When your ideal client is inquiring, it’s crucial to be friendly, quick, and professional in your responsiveness. A prompt and timely response indicates your level of professionalism and dedication to your clients.
Additionally, evaluating your communication style is essential as it’ll determine how well you can convey your vision and expectations for the session/wedding/event – as well as your overall experience.
Do you lead them?
Or are you rambling on and just overwhelming & confusing them more?
Are you friendly, approachable, and attentive? A good photographer should be able to make their clients feel comfortable and at ease during the entire process. You should listen actively to the client’s needs, answer questions promptly, and provide clear explanations about your ideal clients FAQs *before* they even ask.
Lastly, flexibility in communication methods is another aspect worth considering. Does the photographer offer various ways of communication such as phone calls, emails, or even video chats if needed? This shows that they’re adaptable to different preferences and willing to accommodate their client’s needs.
Considering all these factors can help determine whether a photographer has strong customer service skills and effective communication abilities. By assessing these qualities alongside responsiveness, it becomes easier to evaluate how well a potential photographer may meet your expectations.
As we move into considering the next section about ‘considering the photographer’s professionalism and reliability,’ it’s crucial to examine every aspect of a potential photography hire thoroughly.
When photographers think of the word ‘budget,’ scarcity mindset goes straight to them assuming that there’s not much money involved.
But equally, clients can say they have a budget of literally any number. Or no budget at all and they just want the best.
Your ideal client just wants to research. They are looking around for a multitude of important factors to consider the overall bang for their buck when it comes to photography pricing.
It’s not just about finding the cheapest option, but rather finding a photographer who offers budget flexibility and provides value for money. This means considering both the price, experience and the quality of their work – on top of the “brand” and notoriety of the photographer they are choosing to inquire with.
Remember, your ideal client is not price shopping. Price comparison is simply crucial in determining whether you are getting a good deal. They are simply educating themselves. They are simply taking the time to research and compare prices from different photographers in the area because they do not want to make an uneducated decision. It’s not in their nature.
Keep in mind that while price is an important factor, it is not their sole deciding factor. They will look at portfolios and reviews to assess the quality of your work. Remember that ultimately, your ideal client wants photographs that capture their special moments in a way that reflects your personal photography style and vision.
A: I cannot answer that for you without digging into all the variables on a proper coaching call. But, let’s say that you want to do roughly $100,000 per year as a wedding photographer. And now let’s say that you only want 20 weddings per year.
Example: Charge $5,000 per wedding, photograph 20 weddings, and make your $100,000. Doesn’t get much more simple math than that.
If you can’t book at $5,000, identify why. If you can’t identify why, join my mastermind. The why will help you identify the steps necessary to make a higher income.
Now let’s say you want to make $100,000 as a portrait photographer, only want to work 46 weeks out of the year, and want 2 sessions per week.
2 sessions per week x 46 weeks = 92 sessions. $100,000 divided by 92 sessions = A little over $1,000 per session as an average. If you cannot book at $1,000, identify why, then work towards the solution of surpassing your goal session dollar number.
A: Always refer to your basic demand – as well as the perception to your brand. Are you getting better and better than your competition in your area each year? Are you physically getting more leads in your inbox? Are you not even able to take on all the inquiries? Are you getting more 5-star reviews, more notable press, and more baseline experience? And what about the economy itself? Is inflation going up and up?
In conclusion, when it comes to photography pricing, there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration. First and foremost, the experience and expertise of the photographer play a crucial role in determining their pricing. A photographer with years of experience and a strong portfolio may charge higher rates compared to someone who’s just starting out.
Secondly, the quality of the final product should also be considered. It’s important to review the photographer’s previous work and assess whether their style aligns with your vision. Remember, you’re not just paying for someone to take pictures; you’re investing in memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Additionally, package inclusions and pricing structure can greatly impact your decision-making process. Some photographers offer all-inclusive packages that include extras such as prints or albums, while others may charge separately for these items. Make sure to carefully review what’s included in each package before making your final decision.
Moreover, communication and professionalism are key factors when selecting a photographer. You want someone who’s responsive, attentive to details, and easy to work with. A good photographer should be able to effectively communicate their ideas and understand your specific requirements.
As you can see, it can be incredibly complex. Especially because there is no golden answer. And if any educator ever says there is one – I would treat that with extreme caution.
If you would like to have an experienced and award-winning business coach (that has a solid track record of success helping others), consider joining my mastermind program for photographers.
Since you are here reading all about pricing for photographers, you might be interested in these other related articles around my website:
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