"Why so much?"
"You must make so much money?"
"Did you start a photography business to make extra money?"
"I went to __(Insert large chain studio)___ and they only charged X amount for my prints!"
"Wow, I can't believe you just show up with a camera and make money!"
You name it , we have heard it & I completely understand you work hard for money and want to make sure you are spending it wisely. I feel the exact same way when I buy my son shoes and think "Do I really want to spend that much on something he will grow out of in a month?" However photos are an investment, photos are something that you can look back on with your grandchildren years from now. This is how you will remember your wedding day, your high school years, even those crazy toddler years. Photos are not something that you will grow out of or will lose it's luster after a month.
1. Why do we charge what we charge?
First I think it's beneficial to know that I did not start out charging $250+ for sessions, I actually worked my first full year working off of tips. I put in the time to learn as much as I could about the camera functions , lighting, posing & marketing before I set a certain price for sessions. If you are a new photographer, don't feel like you have to charge a certain amount just because your competitor who has been photographing for 5+ years is charging a certain rate. Some newer photographers may feel pressure to charge a certain rate because in their eyes they feel that it makes them look more "Professional". I however feel that you should earn your rate, take that first year or so and second shoot for others, attend workshops , do all that you can so when the time comes for you to lead photograph your first wedding you are 100% ready.
A few questions new photographers should ask themselves before pricing their work.
1. How do you feel about the quality of your work and your finished product?
2. How confident are you as a photographer?
3. What is the total cost you are spending as a photographer during sessions? (Travel expense, printing expense, etc.)
4. What would you rate your experience level? Have you photographed harsh lighting situations, posed a large group, understand 100% of your camera capabilities ?
2. What about prints vs. digital images ?
I know most of you may receive coupons in the mail or online from larger studio chains with deals that provide prints & wonder why am I paying this photographer and I still have to print my photos myself ? I understand the feeling, however we are now in such a digital age that releasing your images for your own printing purposes in my opinion is worth much more than only providing an 8X10 and a few wallets. The great debate between photographers is should we charge a sitting fee and charge separately for images? Or should we charge a flat rate and include images? This is all up to the photographer and what they envision for their business. Personally, I release your digital images & to be honest I probably actually lose out on possible profit by doing so in the eyes of must more business savvy photographers. But this is what I feel is fair & benefits my clients. I am not a huge sales driven person, I do not want to sit with clients after sessions and do a sales pitch on why they should print a canvas or try to sell print packages. Again, this is what works for me but if you feel you should charge for images feel free to do so if that benefits you and your clientele.
3. Did you start doing photography for extra money?
Absolutely not, I did this because I really felt passionate about photographing events & I felt that it was an area full of so much growth possibilities. Every year I look back at the previous year and see improvements, don't get me wrong I also am my biggest critic and may not be fully satisfied with my photos but in the end I see growth and that's all that matters to me. The public may perceive photographers as a person sitting back collecting huge amounts of money daily , but there is actually quite a bit of an expense in this business. Beyond the obvious pricing of the gear (Yes, my dream lens is over $2,000), there is also the cost of your domain, photography insurance, computer software, marketing if you chose to pay for advertising, travel expenses, styling expenses for portfolio work, the list goes on & on. This is why as a photographer you want to make sure you price yourself in a way that will cover your cost and provide you with a balanced profit.
4. Tips for newbies
Do not be overwhelmed with the stress of pricing your sessions, you will have clients ask for discounts or maybe even make you feel bad about your rates (I was once called a scam) but please stay firm on your rate and your worth. Personally I want to give discounts to everyone but I also have to sit back and think realistically. If a client appreciates your work & knowledge they will understand that your work is an investment. If a client is not willing to pay your rate then the two of you were just not meant to work with one another. It took me a while to learn that last one, I wanted to reduce my rates for everyone to make sure they were happy but then I found myself feeling unappreciated and that's just not a good feeling.
I hope this was informative , I am not here to act as if I am the end all and be all when it comes to photography. I will be the first to tell you I am always learning & growing in this business but that's what I love about it , there is always something new to learn.
Happy Thursday :)