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Thread: My photos are generating interest :)

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    Member Bonnie's Avatar
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    My photos are generating interest :)

    My photographs are generating interest with potential clients. I am still only amateur, but it is my intention to become a professional photographer. I have started a business course and began to purchase more equipment. But my question is, in the mean time what do I charge for sittings?

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Whatever the cost of doing it is, plus an amount to keep up a certain lifestyle for yourself.

    If you own a shopfront that costs you $100K per year to run, and only get 10 sittings per year, then your costs are $10K per sitting, you would charge $10K plus any amount to provide you with enough money to live on for the year.
    So if you need $20K for your personal expenses, then you charge $2K extra above the $10K. total cost of the sitting is then $12K.

    This is the much simplified version of the amount you should charge based on outrageous figures for the point of generating a bit of humour to the thread.

    There is really no point in asking another photographer how much they charge so that you can charge a similar amount.

    if you want that, simply look at any one of those franchise operations like StarShots, and have a figure to work on via their pricing structure.
    Note tho, that this will only give you a guide to how much people are willing to pay for a session. Their prices are not something like an industry standard.
    Just a rough estimate of the general public is prepared to spend.

    If you're expecting an established photographer to provide you with what they charge, it won't be an accurate figure for you to work with because your set up will be(may be) different to theirs.
    Some people work from home, others from their neighbours garage, others from fully fitted out uber cool and expensive shop fronts in high volume shopping centres.


    Many of these StarShots shop fronts are based in large shopping centres(we used to deliver their prints to them many moons ago) and they can be quite busy(that I've noticed as a bystander).
    it at least gives you an indication of what the market may be.

    So if you decide that $300 is what someone is prepared to pay for a cheap session, you then work out how much all the necessary logistics will cost you to run over the course of a year. Figure out how many clients you expect to receive in the year(you said yourself you are becoming more in demand.. so an estimate shouldn't be hard).

    Once you got the figures of how much it will cost you, work out how many clients you expect, and what you should charge is relatively easy number to work out.
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    As AK says, work out your costs.

    How much does your printer charge you to print an 8 x 10? You need to know this, so you don't charge $30, when the printer charges you $29.95.
    You need to sit down, work out your costs. If you are travelling to people's homes etc, what sort of mileage do you get from your vehicle? What if someone who lives 2 hours away wants to use your services, all your profit could be eaten up on car expenses, if you haven' considered that. There is a lot of difference between the cost of running a Kia around to a Nissan Patrol.

    So as AK says, you need to sit down and work out your costs, before even looking at what to charge, cause everyone has different expenses.
    Having said that, do some 'cold calls' to other professionals in your area and ask them how much a sitting is for a portrait session. Google them, see if they have any pricing on their websites (some do, some don't).

    Oh and post some photos for critique here, after all the quality of your work is what any customer really wants to know, so post some and get a bit of peer feedback.
    "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

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
    Nikon, etc!

    RICK
    My Photography

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    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    As above.

    What to charge? The answer is what people are willing to pay.

    First step is to develop a business plan with a knowledge of expected business costs and figure out what people are willing to pay for your services.

    Some businesses will run at a loss in the initial periods so you must be adequately capitalised. That does't mean spending bib on gear but having enough cash or other income to survive.

    The business plan is indicate if the venture is viable. If you want to keep it as a hobby, as much cost recovery as you can manage, the rest is icing on the cake.

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser Hypop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonnie View Post
    My photographs are generating interest with potential clients. I am still only amateur, but it is my intention to become a professional photographer. I have started a business course and began to purchase more equipment. But my question is, in the mean time what do I charge for sittings?
    Hi Bonnie,
    Congratulations on starting to get some recognition!

    The photography business is a very competitive market but I would suggest firstly to build a nice portfolio, build a nice website and get it live.

    I have quite a few friends who have built their photography business up the past few years to the point where customers/clients are contacting them for their service without them looking for clients any more.

    Thanks.
    Paul

    HYPOP

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    Well done mate!

    Wonder if * removed - members with less than 50 posts cannot post links to other site. Refer to the site rules. In particular rules 3-7* might help at all (last updated 15 December 2011)? ...one further click in there to view or download.
    Last edited by ricktas; 14-01-2012 at 7:55pm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonnie View Post
    I have started a business course...
    Good on you! That is a fantastic start.

    We have to assume that you are asking about domestic portraiture as you asked about a 'sitting fee' so I can advise you based on that assumption.

    Many people starting out decide on a flat rate (of let's say $250) and charge this amount upfront in exchange for the creation of the images and a disc of files. In my opinion this doesn't leave much room for maximizing the potential income from each job and will probably mean you wont be able to sustain a full time career. That is why most professional portrait photographers charge a nominal sitting/session fee (so maybe $50-100) and back themselves to create images that the clients will love and then 'have' to buy. In this instance, the importance of you session fee is negligible and your print pricing more vital. Heck, you could give your sessions away as long as you are very upfront to your client that they will love and want to buy the images individually.

    In my experience people value and WANT prints (as apposed the files) so that is what we aim to create from the outset. The key to successfully doing this is education about what it is you do and why. Especially the 'why'.

    That's my 2 bob for the day.

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by farquar View Post
    In my experience people value and WANT prints (as apposed the files) so that is what we aim to create from the outset.
    I have found the opposite. With the very ready availability of cheap prints, anyone who has access to a local Hardly Normal, Big W, K-Mart etc will probably know they can get say 8x10 prints for about $3-4 and so are usually very reluctant to pay photographers $20-40+ for the same thing (in their minds - we know chains often don't use quality papers, inks, printers and calibration like a pro lab would) when they can get 5-10 printed for the cost of 1.

    There are a few exceptions, like older people who don't know about using memory cards and CD/DVD and how to use the photo kiosks or people in remote locations. I find people born in the 70's or later often just want digital files, so they can see them on their digital devices (PC, Mac, Ipad etc), email them to family/friends and so they can take it to the perceived cheap kiosk, when compared to photographer supplied $25+ print - we know pro labs usually do 8x10 for about the same as customers pay at kiosks, some cheaper and a savvy customer will seek the same lab out and get the same pricing as we do.

    I dare say many photographers will agree that enquiries from alot of their potential clients for portrait or wedding work will usually include a requirement or preference for digital files and none or minimal prints. That could probably be said for people who are not looking at spending in the high price ranges for that work. I know of the listings I see on a popular website that invites tenders from photographers, almost all of the wedding/portrait listings I get will state client wants disc, not prints.

    The days of photographers fleecing clients extortionate sums for prints are all but over, and those who are not exclusive, high profile operators will almost certainly get left behind by their competition as they too have had to adapt to demand and market forces.

    I think with the multitude of photographers out there who can produce a quality product, anyone who went into the portrait or wedding business with a model reliant on making the bread from extortionate print sales alone, is probably going to get overlooked by clients searching out photographers who have adapted to the market and offer digital options somewhat cheaper.

    Work out your costs, work out what you want to make and then think about how you intend to market. Now project how many clients you can feasibly attract. Then once you have an average price you need to achieve from each client, take a look at your competition and see if your output is of a similar standard. If the anser is yes, try to see what they are charging, because if the price you have determined you need to make is well above your competition in your particular market then you will have to be something special or offer something unique to differentiate and substantiate your higher cost.

    In the local area where I live, a remote but large QLD town, there is one operator who tries to operate with the moderate sitting fee/extortionate print price model, and they even try to extort for digital files, charging all but the same as for a print and they tell me that they don't do that much work and ask how I market (I don't because this isn't a money maker for me) because they want to get more work.

    I tell them that their extortionate print pricing model and holding files to ransom (they figure they should make the same $$ regardless of prints or files provided) is what drives people away. They used to display their pricing on their website, but found the site generated very few enquiries and it was clear that pricing would have been the reason, so they removed the pricing from the site and the number of enquiries increased, but once the same prices were sent by email or discussed, the client never came back. I explain that unless they change their pricing, business will not change much, but they refuse to budge, believing that they can demand their prices.

    On the other hand, a different fellow photographer gets plenty of work because their pricing is far more realistic for prints and files, and they tell me that they get plenty of clients who mention how much better value they are than the extortionate one, so it is clear the clients are shopping around and the extortionate one is losing lots of business to the value one. They also tell me that the majority of clients want files only with a couple here and there asking for prints.
    I personally get on average 2-3 enquiries per week from local potential clients either from my website or word of mouth, but I decline to even quote as I don't want the work, I ask them have they looked at other local suppliers, and they almost always mention the extortionate one, and how they think their website looks good, but the pricing is outrageous.

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    I find it tiring when people talk about "extortionate print prices" or "charging for digital files". At the end of the day look at what the total cost is for someone to produce a photographic portrait of something, someone, wedding, etc etc etc. Dont just think about the moment it takes to print it out, or the moment it takes to push the shutter button.

    Its a business model, and its like many businesses/industry, where a part of the business is produced as a temptation or introduction. And business models vary quite considerably in the photographic industry, the low (or many would call it uneconomical) portait sitting price is probably a thing of the past these days, with many photographer evolving with the time to produce something that produces a product that a client is happy to pay for.

    Clients always shop around and its certainly sensible to evolve with the times to produce a business model that is workable and has changed with the times.

    The original question is the Holy Grail for any business, and the only real way to approach this is to first of all ignore every photographer (who is charging) around you. Dont just assume that they must be doing ok and you can just discount their prices - after all you dont know if they're already producing at a loss, which would mean if you did discount their prices, you would make a loss even faster.

    So the only way to do this is to sit down and work out a proper business plan. And the first thing you need to take into account is your costs - which includes insurance, public liability, business expenses, capital investment, gear, future investments into new gear, computers, electricity, health funds, living expenses, wages to name just a few. And then once you've done that, you then can work out what you can expect to find per week, per month by way of potential photographic sales. Only then can you produce a price list which is suitable for your possible business.

    And finally good luck to the OP, as you've started with the right move to a business course. Having said that its one thing to get recognition for you photography, its another to get the combination of recognition and value - ie you may find that people are prepared to say your work is good, but getting them to buy something is another large step.
    William

    www.longshots.com.au

    I am the PhotoWatchDog

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    fleecing
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    extortionate
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    extortionate
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    extortionate
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    extort
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    extortionate
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    holding files to ransom
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    extortionate
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    extortionate
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    outrageous
    In one single post?

    So much vitriol, so little understanding.

    *shakes head and leaves thread*

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    Bonnie, you decide whether you want business advise from someone who operates an actually photography business (one that supports 2 full-time wages) or someone who says "I decline to even quote as I don't want the work".

    Decide what type of professional photographer you want to become and importantly take everyone's advise with a grain of salt. There is alot of learning ahead of you...

    PS Beware of those extortionate luxury car salesmen who dare charge 100K for a single vehicle. EXTORTIONATE!!! You can actually get a car for waaaaaay less than that.

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
    In one single post?

    So much vitriol, so little understanding.

    *shakes head and leaves thread*
    Perhaps read again, some of the words you quoted are not my words, but those of others (clients - remember them? They are the ones who need to see the value not those making the product) who have given their opinions.

    To provide some perspective, if my local photographer as mentioned here did a portrait sitting for you, they don't need to travel more than 5 mins to get to you, and they have no studio, would you be prepared to pay for each individual print or file;

    $17.50 per 6x4 print, lustre paper
    $23 per 5x7 print high gloss paper
    $45 per 8x10 print, lustre paper

    and/or $60 per hi-res digital file
    on top of the $195 sitting fee (90 mins max), with a minimum print/file order of $450

    You would?
    I opine that those who would are biased in their thinking, because those here probably think this would be great for the photographer, now put yourselves in the average non-photographers shoes and I can't help but wonder if anyone would have a different view.

    [/quote]

    Quote Originally Posted by farquar View Post

    PS Beware of those extortionate luxury car salesmen who dare charge 100K for a single vehicle. EXTORTIONATE!!! You can actually get a car for waaaaaay less than that.
    A stellar comparison, clearly a Hyundai Getz is much the same thing as a BMW M5, that why one is 20x the cost of the other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    Perhaps read again, some of the words you quoted are not my words, but those of others (clients - remember them? They are the ones who need to see the value not those making the product) who have given their opinions.
    Clients? We have hundreds of happy ones. All who see the value in the images we create and are happy to pay the prices we need to charge to remain a viable business.

    I can't comment on other people's clients, but there are a multitude of reasons why someone wouldn't value the images they create.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    To provide some perspective, if my local photographer as mentioned here did a portrait sitting for you, they don't need to travel more than 5 mins to get to you, and they have no studio, would you be prepared to pay for each individual print or file;

    $17.50 per 6x4 print, lustre paper
    $23 per 5x7 print high gloss paper
    $45 per 8x10 print, lustre paper

    and/or $60 per hi-res digital file
    on top of the $195 sitting fee (90 mins max), with a minimum print/file order of $450
    If I loved the images they created for me I would consider those prices an absolute steal. If, conversely, I was just after some blank pieces of photo paper, those prices would definitely seem a little exorbitant. Do they come with images on them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    You would?
    I opine that those who would are biased in their thinking, because those here probably think this would be great for the photographer, now put yourselves in the average non-photographers shoes and I can't help but wonder if anyone would have a different view.
    Hardly. I can't objectively see how anyone could run a legitimate business with pricing so low. If I charged the above pricing I would be out of business in months.

    The above is very modest pricing. I can only assume that the photography is not the only income source in that equation.

    If you think $45 for an 8x10 is extortionate, you'd probably consider my pricing model a jailable offence.

    I know you think you're telling it how it is, Wayne, but you're not. *removed :bordering on a personal attack* I would suggest refrain from offering business advice regarding an industry you clearly know so little about. Just telling it how it is.

    Peace, Zeke.
    Last edited by ricktas; 19-01-2012 at 5:17pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    A stellar comparison, clearly a Hyundai Getz is much the same thing as a BMW M5, that why one is 20x the cost of the other.
    Thank you for reiterating my point. Albeit unintentionally.

    I would love the opportunity to impart some of my business knowledge (based of many years working full time in this industry - where does yours come from?) on the local photographer you mention (the 'extortionate print price model' one). I would like to be able to offer him/her some encouragement and to reiterate your advise "I explain that unless they change their pricing, business will not change much" but perhaps with a different slant. ie not telling them to charge less in order to make more. Perhaps you could PM me their website or something. Better yet, maybe tell them about this forum!

    Bonnie, was there anything else you are struggling with in relation to achieving your goals?

    (what are we supposed to use this one for?)

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    Let us remember that not all markets are the same. Now Zeke if you and Farquar can charge prices that I might think are extortionate or jailable etc, then it's great your market in which you operate will support that. My comments are in conjunction with my opinion (am I permitted one of those?) and direct feedback from the clients in this market, where the pricing I mentioned is clearly not as accepted as it may be in yours.

    One of the strangest things is that my local market has one of the nations highest mean incomes, yet my struggling photographer friend can't get a bite of the spending pie, yet my somewhat cheaper and more flexible photographer is doing great. Sorry to rain on anyone elitist parade...

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    Ok, let's all cop out and blame the market.

    Easy.

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