As photographers, and creatives in general, we must remember that we have been granted a gift. For photographers, this gift is commonly referred to as “the eye.” Not everyone has this gift which is why consumers pay you, the photographer, to supply them with timeless memories and gorgeous images.
When I decided to take the leap from being a hobbyist to going pro, my number one question, among many, was “What should I charge for my services?” I knew hourly was the way to go, but I was all over the board with my price points. Even after researching “standard” rates, my initial rate was deathly low… I did a couple of shoots and it increased before the month was out. My next price point was better but still extremely low verse others in the industry. Within a week I increased it again to a price that finally complimented the product I was producing.
I am saying all of this to say: Know Your Worth. Being new to the field does not mean you need to give away your product. If you’re trying to build your portfolio, feel free to have a special deal to bring in new clients and start creating your name, but also be sure not to collapse your brand (and the industry) at the same time. Something like 25 photos for $25 is ridiculous – retouched or not. Remember how much you paid for your camera, lens(es), and other accessories? Now compute how many $25 shoots you would need to complete including the hours of processes 25 images per shoot to make all of that money back if your equipment was damaged. We tend for forget the cost of doing business when we start out, yet the cost of doing business plays a pertinent part in helping you decide how much to charge for your services.
Do your research. Decipher the price points and packages of other photogs in your area, especially if you aware of your specific focus (such as headshots, products, or infant photography). Become familiar with the “competition” and know what sets your shooting style apart from theirs. A great deal may easily attract a buyer, but if the end product isn’t what they are looking for they will never recommend your services and word of mouth is detrimental to your business. This is why it is also important to understand your target market. Focus your marketing at clients who are searching specifically for what your brand offers. Similar to my post Shoot Smarter, Not Longer, I advise that you minimize the work yet maximize the profit. Why shoot ten clients a week at $50 per shoot to earn $500 when you can shoot just 1 client at $500? Imagine what happens when you shoot 2 clients a week at $500 per shoot…
Starting your own photography business is rarely a smooth ride, but consider the notes above to help you avoid a few pot holes!