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Thread: Creating a price basis for your photography

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    Creating a price basis for your photography

    I thought this might be a good read for those who are wanting to make money from there photography, in a realistic world.

    First: What are your expenses? Off the top of your head - since you’re sitting here in a coffee shop - add up your mortgage or rent, car payment, insurance, and incidentals. You just want a sense of that number. Now, add up the expenses related to your business. If you’re a Pictage member, your subscription, etc. What about gear? How much did you spend? How long will it last. Dividing what you spent by the number of months you expect it to last gives you the cost of your gear. (If you’re a tech junkie like me this number might be a little scary!). Once that’s done add all of the numbers up and you have your monthly expenses.



    Second: Do you have other sources of income? Many photographers are able to offset their expenses with a day or part time job. Many others are married or partnered with someone who helps defray expenses. If that’s the case, you can apply that income against your living expenses - but not your business expenses. (that’s cheating). Doing this will leave you with a realistic number that tells you approximately how much it costs to be you on a monthly basis. That’s an important first step.



    Third: Think about whatever your specialty is and the time, from beginning to end that it takes to do it. If you’re a portrait photographer how long does it take you to shoot a portrait session? Count preparation time, the shoot, editing time and time associated with delivering product. When you look at it this way, it’s amazing how the hours can add up! The fee you charge for any service must offset the expenses you incur during the time it takes to deliver the service. Otherwise, you’re going backwards. If you figure out how many of these sessions you realistically shoot in a month, then you can compare the hours of work to the cost of business and living and dividing the cost by the time will tell you how much you have to charge to break even. (take a deep breath first).



    All of that was simply to get us to a starting point. Some of you may be encouraged by what you see. If you’ve kept your expenses low then the hurdle is low enough to see your way clear without too much effort. However, if your expenses are higher it can be pretty sobering. (This is one of many reasons why I think consultants who tell photographers that they need expensive cars, watches and other stuff to impress high end clients are hurting more than helping. Your wealthy clients - the really wealthy ones - won’t notice what you’re driving. They couldn’t care less. I had the chance to sit next to a multi-billionaire having dinner at a restaurant bar in Florida. He was wearing a swatch. Do not extend your debt because you think that pulling up to a client’s house in a BMW is going to get you the job. Lots of other things yes. This one, no.) Ok - off of that soap box.



    On to Pricing:



    The number you figured out above is the number you need to make to break even. Breaking even makes your business a “going concern.” Breaking even means you can pay your bills and live to the next month. (Provided your bills don’t increase). Most businesses don’t break even so if you’re breaking even pat yourself on the back and be happy. But you need to do better than break even. You need to be putting money away. That’s really where pricing comes in:



    Most photographers have either base-plus or package based pricing. Base-plus is more relevant to portrait photography. You charge a base amount, say $300 for a session, five digital files and one print, plus - any options the client chooses, IE for multiple poses, settings, etc. Package based pricing is more prevalent in event photography.



    For some reason Photographers like to price packages in threes. Basic, Standard, and Super-Hyper Good are the norms. (though your naming conventions are better than mine). Pricing psychology tends to drive consumers to the center. If you are experiencing a situation where people are picking your base package it is because you aren’t doing a good enough job - from a visuals and value perspective - of selling the center package. (You have too much good stuff in the base package.) Or - Your site or price list is formatted in a way that makes the base package look more attractive than the other two. Either way, if this is happening you need to take a look at your packages.



    Your pricing for each one of these packages needs to reflect the work you put into them. Setting your price by getting pricing from three other photographers in your area is a bad idea. Their expense structure may be different than yours. They may be charging more because they’re getting more business from referrals. There are lots of things involved in that. Your pricing should be based on the time it takes you to complete the services in the package, plus a profit margin that reflects your confidence in your business. More confidence = more profit (and an increased likelihood that you will walk away from under-paying jobs).



    Here’s why this is important. When the client negotiates you have to be able to articulate the basis for your pricing. “I charge X per hour and this package includes 8 hours of coverage (8X), plus 10 hours of editing time (10X), plus 4 hours of delivery time (4X). If you want to pay me less let’s see if we can trim some hours.” Being able to articulate it this way means to your client that your pricing isn’t simply a made up number that you put on your site in hopes that someone might actually pay it. It is based on thought, labor and experience. By suggesting that you may remove a service - IE creating their DVD with the digital files on it - 3 hours of editing, formatting and file transfer time (3X) you tell them that the negotiation is a two way street. They understand that if they want to pay less you will do less. It’s compromise. You’ll be surprised how many people go back to starting to talk about adding things on.

    This is from jim collins blog.
    http://lifenotes-justuff.blogspot.co...ew-series.html
    Last edited by stevemack; 06-03-2010 at 11:27am.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    If this is quoted off another site? you need to post the source, as it could be construed as plaigarism.

    Some interesting thoughts in there, and it certainly gives a good summary of the type of things a person needs to consider.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Don't know if this has been posted before but if you saw the OP give this a read.
    http://www.mcpactions.com/blog/2009/...om-jodie-otte/
    Thanks Steve
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    Nearly all photographs that people that request from me report to "have not money/budget or resources to pay" for shots. that really does p me off a bit - maybe a lot.

    I tell them that my gear and time costs a lot ... I spend X*N hours + learning to take the images they want and they all turn out their pockets - even the wealthiest City Council in the region (City of Stirling Council - WA).

    Any tips on how to crow bar people into actually paying for images?
    Last edited by enduro; 17-03-2010 at 10:53pm.
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    Member RLeadbetter's Avatar
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    This is an interesting read.. can be applied to a multitude of industries not just photography.

    Any tips on how to crow bar people into actually paying for images?
    Contract and/or minimum deposit before you start ..... don't know how effective this would be for a photographer, but when we do custom work (nothing to do with photography) we ask for a payment of about 50% or higher to start the project.
    We do get some people that turn their noses up at it but we tell them we've been burnt before and it's to cover our expenses if the project is terminated.
    Last edited by RLeadbetter; 17-03-2010 at 11:35pm.
    Criticism is always welcome..... Training in Progress

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    Member Ozzi Paul's Avatar
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    I have a similar issue to Enduro, but I live in a small country town of around 2000 people.
    Even those with money don't want to pay for an image. Some people have wanted small 6x4 images but it is hardly worth me doing them that small. Others think $50 is to much for a good quality 12x18 inch print. They don't think about the time and effort and cost to the photographer, they just think they are getting a picture on a piece of paper.
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    Some valid points in the first post

    EDIT: Just noticed it was sourced from another blog ( referenced down the bottom of the original post )

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    What about giving them a 640x400 (with a watermark) for free to entice them to purchase the "proper" version?
    Fabz

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    Quote Originally Posted by enduro View Post
    Nearly all photographs that people that request from me report to "have not money/budget or resources to pay" for shots. that really does p me off a bit - maybe a lot.

    I tell them that my gear and time costs a lot ... I spend X*N hours + learning to take the images they want and they all turn out their pockets - even the wealthiest City Council in the region (City of Stirling Council - WA).

    Any tips on how to crow bar people into actually paying for images?
    Yep, sadly know the feeling and wish I knew the answer also.
    Osprey Photography

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    Some stalk, some chase and some pursue... but I hunt.


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    Member Omytion's Avatar
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    This always reminds me of those kind of conversations which I'm experienced a few times as a freelance animator.

    (contains swears!)

    http://www.27bslash6.com/p2p.html

    The relevant bit I think it this:

    Client: "All I was asking for was a logo and a few pie charts which would have taken you a few &*%$ing hours"

    Designer: "Actually, you were asking me to design a logotype which would have taken me a few hours and fifteen years experience. For free. With pie charts"

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    I use a debt collector it works.

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser OzzieTraveller's Avatar
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    G'day all

    I've had these conversations many times over the past 40 or so years - too many people think a) that they could do it easier & quicker than you anyway, and b) they don't understand darkroom work (in the old days) or pp today.

    In the end I just shrug my shoulders, look 'em in the eye and state "the washing machine repair bloke and I are just the same. We both have lots of skills & experience, we both spend a number of hours doing your bidding ... so what would you expect to pay the washing machine bloke for a call-out to your place and four hours of professional time?"

    Some I win, some I lose

    Regards, Phil
    Of all the stuff in a busy photographers kitbag, the ability to see photographically is the most important
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    Everyone has a camera these days and a lot have some kind of PP program...they can do it themselves...but how well? As pros we need to show them why they need us and why we charge x amount.

    My first 2 corporate portrait clients told me I was too cheap ($150 for a disk of images) and gave me huge tips. I have adjusted my prices up accordingly and nobody has complained.

    I go to a lot of live music gigs and always take my camera. Have built a relationship with the organiser of a weekly gig I go to...my hubby and I now get in for free ($20-$30 saving) and I sling her a few low-res images for advertising. In the past 6 months I have established a rep for getting great live shots and have now had a few paying jobs from it.

    Initially I had other pro togs saying I shouldn't give my stuff away. I see it as I now get in free to a gig I was going to anyway, I get to experiment with techniques, it's free advertising for me and as it has lead to paying gigs, I think it has been a bit of marketing brilliance! I do live in a regional area where word of mouth probably stretches further.

    On non-paying customers, I never hand the work over until the work has been paid for. This is established as part of the terms when taking a job on.

    all and any feedback welcome
    http://www.natsky.com.au

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    Member chrislummephotography's Avatar
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    Good read.

    I've only just begun getting some work from my photography so this will help me work out a solid pricing structure.

    Although, I don't think you can totally disregard what others are charging for the same thing. At the end of the day, definitely cover your expenses but if you're charging too much people will always go with the cheaper option.

    Sucks to hear about others being ripped off for their photos. I hope I don't have this problem as I'm getting work with real estate agents :S

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    very interesting post. i have just done my first portrait shoot, and still have no idea where to price myself...reckon it is all about learning and having faith in ones ability...all i can say is don't undersell yourselves...

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