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Pricing Photography: Too High? Too Low?

Pricing Photography: How high should you be prices be?

Last week I ran across a photographer online who listed her prices in the sidebar of her blog/website. Her bio indicated that she was a “professional photographer” which of course is often used loosely in 2010. She said she had 5 years of experience shooting weddings, portraits and pets. In my opinion, her work did not appear to compete with many professional photographers I see daily.  Her prices: $60 for all your photos from a portrait photography session on a disk. The print prices were extremely low.  And that fee of $60 included the photo session too.

I not only questioned how this might lower the bar for photography as a whole, but how she could make a living. Then again… maybe she is not earning an income from photography.  She may be doing this as a “hobby” and just want gas money.  She also may not be a legitimate business.  And she may not be paying taxes.  There are so many variables.

I decided to post about this discovery on my Facebook Page thread. And the emotions, opinions and questions stirred. I know pricing is ultra controversial amongst professional photographers.  Some photographers develop their prices based on what they want to make in a year, figuring in expenses, taxes, and other costs. Many photographers start out unsure what to charge. These photographers may pick numbers out of thin air.  Many photographers research what other photographers in their area charge, and build pricing based on those numbers.

I would love to get a dialog going here on the MCP Blog answering these questions in the comment section:

  • Do you consider yourself a professional photographer?
  • How to you determine your pricing?
  • Do you feel you are priced too low? high? or just right?
  • Do you price yourself based on others around you?  Based on your experience?  Or based on what you want to earn?
  • How does it make you feel when you see someone charging $60 for all photos on a disc, including the photo shoot?
 Pricing Photography: Too High? Too Low?

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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74 Comments

  1. 1
    Amber says:

    1. Yes I consider myself a professional. I am also a legit business and have to pay those lovely taxes :)
    2. I determine my pricing by what others around me are charging and based on my clientele. I am only 21 years old, so I get a lot of my old high school friends as clients. Being 21-24 most of them cant afford high prices. This is my main reason for my pricing. My portrait sessions run from 100-150 (this is including the CD with copyright release). My weddings range from 900-1750.
    I dont technically feel underpriced, but I do edit EVERY photo, so I work a lot of hours editing. So I would like to charge a little more, but for now I think I am fine.

    When I see people charging $60 for a shoot, it makes me hope that my clients dont see it lol.
    I get more mad when I see people choose photographers who are overpriced for their quality. There is a local photographer in my area that is very expensive and the quality in my opinion isnt worth the price. What do you think about those people?

  2. 2
    Leeann Marie says:

    GREAT post, and I agree that it can be uuber controversial. To answer your questions:
    1) I determine my pricing based on my current non-photography salary and how my husband and I want to live. We know our expenses. We know what we want to do. We know what he makes. I know what my number needs to be, and I don’t really care about anyone else’s! I want to quit my day job and have recently transitioned to part-time. I did some math to figure out what I should make for each wedding as profit (including paying TAXES!!) and charge accordingly.

    3) However, in starting my business, I knew this number but felt uncomfortable with it given my level of experience. If I EVER got an uneasy feeling about what I “wanted” to charge – I lowered it to where I felt my true value to the clients was. Right now I feel as though I am charging exactly what I am worth with my knowledge, skill, service, and products. In comparing my work to others in the area that do charge similar prices, I feel as though my clients can see my value.

    4) Nope, again I base my pricing on what I personally want my lifestyle to be.

    5) Sounds like they’re a beginner, and unfortunately people will think that “that’s how much photography should cost”. However, there are clients in the area who do value what I (and other professionals in the area) do, and are willing to pay for it. I don’t try to sway people otherwise, they’re just catering to a totally different market than I am.

  3. 3
    Carrie Evans says:

    That is way too low! I have come across this sort of thing time and again in the area that I live and sorry to say, but to some people a picture is a picture and they will go to the cheap photographer who’s work is not polished or even in focus.

    That being said, some in other areas of the US might consider my prices too low. I live in a lower income area and people aren’t going to pay upwards of $400 for a session and prints. It’s just not gonna happen. Especially in this economy. I feel I am in the middle ground for my area. I still want to be affordable, but make a good profit.

    However, if I ever move, you can bet I will be raising my prices to reflect the area market.

    great topic!

  4. 4

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  5. 5
    Karen Cupcake says:

    Yes… I am a professional photographer, and have been (on my own) since 1996. What makes me one? ALl my experience (photo lab technician for 11 years, worked with mentors as assistant for 3 years, managed portrait studio 1 year, and then opened my own business in home, and finally just opened stand alone studio three years ago)…….. I base my prices on area prices and what my market of people will bear. I make changes every couple of years depending on how things swing. I feel I am priced just right… but that the newbies (mwacs, whatever!!!) are NOT pricing right and are ruining my market, and ALL of our business with their “too cheap” prices because they A) dont need the money B) think they are not “good enough to charge what you charge” C) are not paying their taxes!!!!
    It brings our whole industry down. It makes my days so stressful trying to figure out HOW I can compete with these people… when of course at THIS PRICE it isnt a competition. Its like Walmart opened up the doors and said ” ALL FREE TODAY”. Makes me spend hours trying to figure out what new career I can cough up at 44 years old, since all I have done since birth is dying on the vine because of things I cannot fix. :O(
    So yeah……..its a bit of a touchy subject here in my universe…. especially since my business is our sole means of making a living. To have my clients go to another photographer after 3,5, 10 years of loving me, just because someone else is ” cheaper” makes it hard to swallow……on all accounts.
    And no matter what you and all the other advisers post, and I share with the girls I am mentoring……….. they STILL refuse to listen, and answer back with endless excuses as to why they have to keep doing what they do. My photo friends keep saying the tide will change……….. I just hope I can keep afloat while that happens!

  6. 6
    tina says:

    As a newly established business owner, I can totally relate to pricing issues. I don’t live in an where there are a lot of people with a lot of money, our main source of jobs comes from a local military base…with that being said, I feel my prices for my area are good. Not too high, could be higher (will change that after the new year), but high enough right now to weed out the type of clients I don’t want. It was hard to tell a potential client that I was sorry my prices didn’t fit her criteria, especially since (my mistake) had done BEAUTIFUL images for her during my portfolio building process for virtually free…mistake learned. For me, it is a business and though I’ve only been in business for a year, I’ve been a photographer for much longer.
    So, with that being said here are my answers:
    1) I do consider myself a professional…not only photographer, but designer (I am a graphic designer by trade). Not only do I feel I take great photographs, but I know how to edit them properly, which now adays with digital photography is part of the “package deal”
    2) I determined my pricing on local photographers in my area and then adjusted it to what I felt I was worth…I’m realizing I’m worth WAY MORE! hehe!
    3) Right now my pricing is great, I’m getting great bookings, making actual print orders and not just cd purchases, but I will be raising my prices after the New Year (previously mentioned) to fit my changing needs and clients.
    4) I’m basing my prices on others around me and my experience compared to theirs. Just because they have taken pictures longer doesn’t make them better…
    5) Makes me feel sick. It makes me wonder…makes me sad for those that do work hard, but at the same time, you get what you pay for…

    Thanks for the topic, it is definately a daily struggle! Love your blog and love your work!

  7. 7

    This is a great post and I can’t wait to see the comments!

    1. Yes, I consider myself a professional photographer. I do still have a regular full-time job, but I’m hoping to transition into photography full-time as soon as possible. But for now, I’ve got to pay the bills.

    2. I just increased my prices in June and I based them on how much it cost to run my business (annual/monthly required expenses), how much it cost to shoot a wedding/session (aka, my products, time, etc.), and then factored in taxes. Once I got my base price for what I’d have to charge, I multiplied it by 3 to create my retail price (which would include my profit). At times I did feel like the ultimate price was too high so I lowered it. Ultimately, I followed Stacey Reeves’s pricing guide: http://www.forbeyon.com/download/greatestpricingguideever.pdf

    3. I feel I’m priced at what I’m worth right now – and at the same time priced where I can safely say “yes, I’m willing to give up my weekend and hours out of my life for this shoot.” Unfortunately, because I did raise my prices significantly, I have not received many inquiries (and no bookings) since raising my prices. So that’s making me question whether I’m now too high….. But it’s too late to worry about that!

    4. When I first started out, I priced based on those around me – taking into account how long I’d been in the business. When I did my price increase, I priced based on what I wanted to make and how many weddings/sessions I felt comfortable taking, along with my experience and quality of work.

    5. $60 for the shoot and the disc is crazy low. And it irritates me. Because it means that clients will more often than not choose that photographer because her/his prices are so much lower than mine and everyone these days is out to save a buck. At the same time, I’ve recognized what type of client I want. I want someone who appreciates photography as art and WANTS to spend the money to have it done right. I don’t necessarily want to market myself to clients who are willing to settle for $60 sessions. This was another factor I considered when raising my prices – what type of client did I enjoy working with?

  8. 8
    Jim Poor says:

    1. Yes

    2. Initially, by looking at what those around me were charging. I placed myself just about square in the middle of the range for my area. Now, I’m easily in the top 80% range of the pricing in my area for pet portraits. For dog sports, I’m one of the most expensive around for prints, but people pay it because I can deliver in conditions where others can’t.

    3. Just right for portraits in terms of sitting fees ($200) probably a hair low for prints, but I’m certainly not cheap. For dog sports, I’d love to be able to charge even more, but in that area I’m pretty much topped out already.

    4. I did initially price based on those around me. I believe pricing on experience is a trap. One can have years of experience delivering totally crap, or weeks of really quality work. I price based on what I feel my work is worth and what the market will allow.

    5. I don’t much care about the low priced photographers in terms of how they affect my business. They aren’t my competition. They’ve always been around and always will be around. It’s a cycle. Yes, there are those who will think that budget pricing is the norm, but there are those who have learned the hard way that you get what you pay for. If a photographer asks for advice, I’m happy to give it. I’ll tell them if I don’t think they are charging enough to sustain their business, but as I said, whether or not they survive has very little to do with my business.

  9. 9

    Do you consider yourself a professional photographer? Not yet. Not comfortable charging people but, I do have a LLC set up and all the business to go with it.
    How to you determine your pricing? I add up all my equipment, time, etc. and determine what I need to make per hour or what a sessionis worth. COGS
    Do you feel you are priced too low? high? or just right? High right now but I do (will) discount prices when I charge in the near future. Just want people to get use to the prices so when I am ready and fully operational it will not be a surprise.
    Do you price yourself based on others around you? Based on your experience? Or based on what you want to earn? All of the above.
    How does it make you feel when you see someone charging $60 for all photos on a disc, including the photo shoot? Sad. So much time, energy, education, equipment, etc. goes into photography and becoming a photographer. Other people should understand what goes on behind the seens and when you see a price like that they think that is what it is worth.

  10. 10

    Do you consider yourself a professional photographer? yes, I earn a living (albeit not a good one yet :) ) with my photography. I worked hard to provide a high quality product for clients.

    How to you determine your pricing? I base my prices on my business plan. In mu business plan, I include what my costs of doing business are (taxes, salary, equipment, etc) as well as my costs of goods sold (prints, albums, cards, etc) to figure out what I need to charge to meet those costs. I adjust as necessary, as I am constantly revisiting my plan to see how I can make it better for me.

    Do you feel you are priced too low? high? or just right? Well, for me I am priced just right :) However, I do worry I am priced too high for my area. So I am revisiting to be able to make adjustments so I can meet my bottom line and provide a product my clients will want.

    Do you price yourself based on others around you? Based on your experience? Or based on what you want to earn? All of the above :) They are all a factor. However, at the end of the day, I base them most on what I need to earn.

    How does it make you feel when you see someone charging $60 for all photos on a disc, including the photo shoot? This is a tough one. I try not to think about those photographers, because honestly, I can only control myself. I wonder if they are really a business (ie. do they pay taxes, have a business license). If they aren’t, that makes me angry because I do everything legally…which means I have to charge more to cover those expenses. It isn’t fair. I also look at the quality of their work. If it isn’t good, the people who are going to those photographers aren’t the same people who would come to me. It is obvious they choose cost over quality. It is when they are talented and charging next to nothing. That is what hurts those of us who are really trying to make this business work. Clients start thinking that everyone should be providing a high quality product at a very low cost. It just can’t be done! Those who aren’t charging enough must not be taking everything in to consideration…because you simply can’t run a profitable business charging such low rates.

  11. 11
    Luis Murillo says:

    I don’t consider myself a professional photographer, despite that some people do consider me to be, but a serious hobbyist with a great interest in the craft.
    I’ve shot a wedding, some other events and portraits and have charged a small fee, as this is not my main source of income I do charge a small fee and wouldn’t be able to maintain my family with that income. I always try to educate people on the value of photography and how the large amount of “photographers” out there have caused for the value to come down and how people can’t really put a value to digital data because it’s not something physical.
    What I charge is just to cover the costs of the film used to take the photos requested and don’t give the client a large number of photos.
    I do strive, however, to have really professional looking photos and mostly shoot for myself.

  12. 12

    Jodi, I agree, GREAT post. I recently have come across people such as you describe above, and it absolutely infuriates me. Not so much because they are undercutting the well educated and/or well skilled photographers who are truly professional, but also because, well, they are just so NOT professional! It’s obvious from their photos – getting one decent shot out of every 25, and clearly using all automatic functions on the camera, including the pop up flash on her pro-sumer model that produced red-eye, is not coined PROFESSIONAL. It bugs the crap out of me…

    I consider myself professional, yes, as I’ve been a photographer since the mid ’90’s, have gone to school for it and earned 2 degrees in it, and am in school for yet another grad degree in it (MFA, Photography), and have taught and was a Professor and Dept Chair at several well-known universities in the field of photography. And, yes, I feel that I have the technical knowledge to produce vivid and beautiful photographs, which coins me into the term “professional”, since I have a legitimate company LLC’d and pay taxes, and use the income for my livelihood.

    I’m very bad at pricing, honestly. I keep changing it because I’m not sure what the ‘right’ pricing is. However, I’m pretty comfortable with my current pricing structure, which is $125 for a session fee for up to 3 people, and $200 for a family, all of which does not include images or prints. Actually, I sell digital files for $150/ea, after a certain minimum is reached. I definitely don’t think I’m the most expensive, but I’m not a $60 all inclusive session either.

    Quite honestly, if someone calls themselves PRO, and has the lack of skill that one person in particular exhibits, it’s an insult. I even had this one particular person try to copy and duplicate images of mine and slap her name on it, images I had in a gallery show that were sold as limited edition items! That’s the same wonderful “photographer” who charged a similar rate. I seriously wonder if people “get it” sometimes, as she has 300+ fans on FB, and her work is AWFUL.

    Anyway, that’s my $.02.

  13. 13
    Marie Wally says:

    I am a professional. I am so because I pay taxes, business insurance and I have a passion and strive to give my clients the best that I can.

    I set my pricing at what will make me money after all my expenses. I do not and can not afford to do this for free, if I am going to take time away from my family, at the end I have to have money made to justify it.

    I never used to care what other charged, but lately have learned that despite the fact we want our art to show case us, in the end where I am, price wins. Clients will always go to the gal down the street who charges $120 for the DISC! I charge that for just the session fee — so guess who has business and who does not. I would love to say that type of photographer is not my competition, but in this economy where everyone is saving where they can and so many say well for $500 that I would pay you I can get a camera and do it my self, it’s not likely I can continue to ignore them. More then likely I will close my doors after five years in business, because I just don’t want to compete with the shoot and burn photographer who has not a clue or care about a real business model.

  14. 14

    This was a great post…really got me thinking about my own business. Any feedback is welcomed and appreciated about my responses.

    Do you consider yourself a professional photographer? Well, I don’t know…I’m still in my first year in the business just trying to see if I should stay in it or hang it up. I took some classes and have done a lot of research and experimenting and I’m just trying to improve as I go. Although, the first thing I did was get an LLC and a vendor’s license because my husband and I agreed that if I was going to do this, I was going to start out right. So, I do pay taxes and all the things I have to pay.

    How to you determine your pricing? Well, this year, I don’t expect to make a profit at all – and that’s a part of the plan. I’m still new in this and I still make mistakes sometimes. So, I definitely didn’t want to overcharge. Also, I live in an area that has one of the lowest cost of living in the country, so I kept that in mind as well. This year, as opposed to making a lot of money, I’m really looking just to get experience. I do plan on raising prices as my experience grows and quality grows.

    Do you feel you are priced too low? high? or just right? Honestly, I don’t know. When I look back at some of my earlier stuff, I’m probably just right. I think I am improving though, and that’s why I’m going to raise the prices effective 2011. There are other photographers in the area that charge more than me (who have years of experience on me) and there are other that charge less (some who have years of experience on me as well, and some who I think don’t have the quality of photos that I do).

    Do you price yourself based on others around you? Based on your experience? Or based on what you want to earn? Right now, it is mostly based on experience because I am so new. That will change to include all three as I improve and gain experience. I can understand the frustration of other photographers on this issue, but I am just starting out. I do not plan on staying in this mode much longer. Plus, as I said, I’m not the cheapest in my area.

    How does it make you feel when you see someone charging $60 for all photos on a disc, including the photo shoot? I saw someone in my area who charges $350 for a wedding and that gets them the disc – this is almost half of what I charge just to be there and shoot. Right now, I look at it like that’s their business if they want to do that – if their photos don’t look that great, I figure they don’t put as much time into post processing as I do either. Since I’m still new, I don’t have as much confidence in my own work right now…some of you pros out there may look at my work (especially my earlier stuff) and think I should hang it up and find a different career. And, you’re welcomed to take a look if you want to – if you think something is bad, please try to be constructive about it – don’t make me cry lol :-)

  15. 15
    Jamie Lauren says:

    Do you consider yourself a professional photographer?
    I do consider myself a professional photographer. The problem is – what consitutes a professional? Someone who gets paid for their work. It certainly doesn’t mean you’re good or worthy of being paid for your services, unfortunatly.

    How to you determine your pricing?
    My pricing was determined based on other photographers I feel I’m on par with. Not necessarily in my geographic location or anything. I also invested in the Easy as Pie series and that helped me understand how to price everything from my session fee to my 5×7’s. It was an awesome investment!

    Do you feel you are priced too low? high? or just right?
    I feel I’m priced a touch high. Not TOO high, just high enough that I can offer a discount here and there and not have to kill myself for having done so.

    Do you price yourself based on others around you? Based on your experience? Or based on what you want to earn?
    As i mentioned above – I’m not so concerned with others around me. I price what I think is right. I price what I think I’m worth. There are people everywhere who shop at Louis Vitton – they don’t change their prices regionally.

    How does it make you feel when you see someone charging $60 for all photos on a disc, including the photo shoot?
    I have to say, this is starting to bother me more and more recently. I never used to and in fact, I used to think people got a little too crazy with what others were doing and charging. Recently, however, I had a client pull the ol’ “But so-so studio only charged me $50 for a CD of 200 edited, high resolution images! You charge more than that for ONE FILE!” And I wanted to scream. The truth is, this person is obviosuly NOT my client and I had to let it go but it certainly annoyed me. I could have said, “well, they’re probably a crappy photog.” Or, “Well, if their prices are so great, why aren’t you using them again?” But what purpose would that serve? We’re never going to be able to control what other people do, we’re never going to educate the public completely, we’re never going to be able to compete with Sears prices – but hey, if you want to bring your kid to Sears and plop him down on a dirty square of carpet and pay $100, good on ya! You’re not my client. Period – end of story. I am okay with that. I will charge what I know is fair and I will stick to it. I’ll roll my eyes at the MWACs and the people who get a blog and charge $60 for their biggest package, but I won’t waste energy on it. I can only be concerned with myself, paying my taxes, being legit, making my clients happy, constantly learning, growing, improving my craft, etc. That’s it!

  16. 16
    Mandy Sroka says:

    Such a timely subject!
    1) Yes I do consider myself a professional – although I’m not full time yet by choice. I am raising a family currently
    2) I used to set my pricing based on others in the area, what my former mentor told me, and basically out of thin air. Recently (because of this blog) I purchased the Easy As Pie & Pastry Shop guides by Alicia Caine & feel my outlook has been totally revolutionized! I’m up for a pricing change over one year (to ease my current clients in to the big change) to charge based on what I want to make, taxes, cost of goods sold, etc. It’s all so wonderful to be shown the light when so many around me in my area wouldn’t share anything at all. It’s like pricing is a no-no sharing topic.

    3)So based on the above question, I’m currently too low, but on my way up!

    5) To the photographer charging $60 for the whole shebang – I’ve been there, but you are worth more. I recently found a photographer charging less for the same thing. I took a leap of faith & kindly emailed the following: If you are charging $60 for everything, think about that broken down in to an hourly rate. Session prep – 30 mins, travel time – 45 mins, time with client – 120 mins, travel time back – 45 mins, upload & back up photos – 60 mins, editing – 120 mins, burn disc – 15 mins, package & mail – 30 mins. All adding up to about 8 hours. $60 for eight hours of work is about $7.50 an hour! My babysitter makes more than that. Just something to think about.

    Thanks again!

  17. 17

    Okay, I’ll play! :)
    I consider myself a semi-professional…really just getting off the ground, and doing this on an extremely part-time basis. No official website yet, but I’m well on my way to having a nice portfolio/gallery ready for when I launch one.

    My pricing is set two ways: the session, based on number of subjects, and for prints/CD. I’ve initially set my print prices to about double my cost. The more I assess other photographers’ print prices, however, the more I feel I have set mine much too low. Still, I am comfortable with them at this point, but will most likely be revise them in 2011.

    For the area I live in, my prices are pretty reasonable, but are not Walmart-low. I’m competitive with some pros in this area in terms of both pricing and quality of work, but then other professionals are WAAAAAY more expensive than me. Of course, they have the years of training, experience, and thousands of dollars of equipment and studio space to justify it.

    I did quite a lot of research on session and print pricing, in both my target market area, as well as looking at other photographers whose work I admire. I did not set my prices on a whim; I considered how much time it would take me to process a session, and the quality of results I can produce. Therefore, charging $60 for the session and a CD, to me, seems absolutely ridiculous and hardly worth the time and effort. Knowing what I know about my own work and abilities, my hunch is you may get what you pay for with a person who charges so little.

  18. 18
    Rebecka Jeffs says:

    *I am a student photographer earning my degree in visual arts with photography emphasis.

    *I base my prices on my level of experience and note this in my blog that I am a student and pricing will change as I gain more understanding and experience.

    *I feel that my pricing is too low, but it seems like the only price people are willing to pay in this economy, and some are not willing to pay it even at the low price I offer.

    *I based my price on other armature photographers pricing & my skill level.

    *feel that some photographers earn the right to charge more by the quality of their work. you should charge based on demand of your work and skill level. You noted that the photographers work was not as good as others you have seen. So maybe she hasn’t earned the right to charge a higher price…. an example would be Louis Vuitton, he sells his merchandise for thousands of dollars per piece and you can find knock offs for less then $20, but in the end, you get what you pay for.

  19. 19

    It makes me upset. I may not even be “PROFESSIONAL” and certainly not the best around, but I’m certainly trying and learning every waking moment! This isn’t my full time job (only because in THIS economy, I’m frankly scared to do that!) but I’m working toward that as my goal and part of that aim is LEARNING as much as I can! When I see prices like that, it makes me really wonder about their ability. And, if I can be so bold, it makes me angry when I’m trying SO HARD only to be undermined like that.

    I determined my pricing based on the talent I have and those pricing in my area with about the same level of skill as I have. Does that make sense? When I was portfolio building, I only charged gas money and the actual cost of prints. I didn’t charge more until I actually went PRO.

  20. 20
    Jill E. says:

    wow this is exactly what i have been fighting with this week and am trying to really get a good handle on it.

    1)i say i am a professional but i am in the “building my portfolio stage” i have a great habit of talking down about myself and my skills and as far as starting a business i hear that is not the best thing to do. so i feel if i present my best i will produce my best. it still make me nervous. i know i am not the worst of the bunch but i have lots to learn and am working hard at that. i also am only doing this on the weekends and am hoping to transition like Leeann Marie into doing my full time part time and photography part time and eventually full time mainly because of the money.
    2)i have been trying to base my pricing off of people in my area as well as what i need to make to be profitable. so i am currently setting my prices where i want to be in a year and offering a discount. still not sure where that is though.
    3)because of my answer to #2 i am not sure.
    4)sadly i started with the whole free thing but i never made that known on my website/blog. i am starting to charge more but i make it known that this is just what i charge you and with each client it is changing and as i have been taking on more clients and want to be consistent.

    question: i moved to south florida about a year ago and have been contacting people i would say a little under 30 people, to see if any one is looking for an assistant or second shooter mainly so i can get into weddings but i have had no luck. does anyone have any advice on this?

  21. 21
    Lynn says:

    I’m just a serious hobbyist who would love to improve enough to become a beginner professional if there is such a categorie. I would have to say that there is a market for every price level. Those who are willing to pay for boutique photographers and can afford it would not be satisfied with the less intimate service of a low price photographer. There are also people who can not afford very much but still desire to capture memories with more than their own snapshot. Fortunately, for everyone there are many price tiers. Please don’t be mad at me. It’s just the way I see it. I have also worked as a waitress through college and whenever there were more restaurants in an area business did better. Not worse. And it didn’t matter the price range either.

  22. 22
    Rebecca says:

    My mom, sister, and I were just talking about this last night!
    1. Yes.
    2. I determine my pricing based on experience, knowledge/education, quality,style, time, equipement upgrades, the type of photography I do (weddings, portraits, newborns, etc.) and desired income. Recently I have decided instead of being a “general” photographer I am going to focus and specialize on one or two things that I excell at, setting me apart from others.
    3.Depends on who you ask. I did a lot of research for this area to make sure I wasn’t under cutting other photographers. There was nothing to go by so I came up with my own pricing structure based on the above. To this town I am too High(I have been called ridiculously priced when truly I should be charging twice as much)
    4. See above answer.
    5. It makes me feel unrespected and degraded. It pisses me off that I have spent years educating myself and developing this talent, saved and saved to be able to afford a quality, high end camera and other equipment(now considered ancient compared to the awesome ones that have come out over the past few years.) and some wanna be who’s husband has a “good” paying job goes out and buys a camera and a couple of lenses and says “I’m gonna be a stay at home mom and take pictures of people for free!” Everyone needs to start somewhere, I get that, but don’t devalue yourself or ME by charging little to nothing for your so called “professional photograhpy business.” I feel that over 95% of photographers today are just people with hobby wanting to undercut those of us who have spent hours getting to where we are now.

  23. 23
    Gretchen says:

    1. Yes I do consider myself a professional photographer. And with that comes operating as a business not a hobby, belonging to professional photography and media organizations.

    2. I actually have a couple of different formulas – it depends on what I’m shooting. I do a good bit of work with non profits and of course their end prices are lower. I handle that by actually invoicing the regular full amount, but show a discount/donation on the invoice that brings their price down. My print work, often the price is set by the publication. My normal/fall back formula is essentially the same as would be used in any service business, I know what it costs me, what I need for an acceptable profit margin and work from that.

    3. Based on comparisons to others in my geographic area – they would appear too high as our locale is flooded with MWACS doing things for darn near nothing. I cannot and will not even try to compete with them. I will not lower my prices to do a 500.00 wedding. Actually the number of hobbyist studios popping up and charging next to nothing is what caused me to leave the wedding/portrait area and focus fully on finding a niche in the outdoor industry. In that area my prices come in a little bit lower than average (only about 8 – 10%) as I’m still getting established and working on branding and recognition in that particular area.

    4. My prices are based on the difficulty of the job, the amount of travel involved, any comps provided by the customer (free lodging, hunting, guide service etc) and the conditions – For instance if I’m having to back pack in to the back country..the price is obviously going to be higher..same as shooting waterfowl hunting in horrific winter weather ( that’s when the huntig is the BEST LOL) But the bottom line is the bottom line, and I have to show a profit.

    5. I could do an entire blog post about that sort of thing makes me feel. It’s annoying, it demeans the profession, it kills the competition, and makes those of us who are true professionals look over priced to the consumer. I can’t tell you the number of times folks have come to me with their 60 dollar cd and asked if I can work some kind of photoshop magic or make these photos better. Nope – you got what you paid for!

  24. 24
    Anonymous says:

    Pricing has been a huge struggle for me. I am a college student majoring in communication/graphic design and started taking pictures for families as a hobby about two years ago. I came up with a business name and priced my sessions very low, because I wanted to build my portfolio and felt that I couldn’t charge what others were charging in my area. Now, two years later, I am beginning to realize I may have made a huge mistake in starting my business so early. Now, I’m wondering if I can make a career out of photography or not. I have learned SO much over the past 2 years and feel that my craft will only continue to improve. I think I’ve done- and am doing- a lot of things right. However, my pricing strategy has come back to bite me in the butt. I’m realizing what an impact it makes when photographers undercharge for their hard work.

    One lady in my area is charging $25 for sessions in her hometown which INCLUDES 25-50 images on cd. $45 if she travels to a town a half an hour away. Another girl in my area who is a year younger than me is charging either $50 or $75 for a session and photos on a cd. She uses PICNIK to edit her images!! Some people don’t care, though. They’ll go to her because she charges less.

  25. 25

    great insight from everyone. I love hearing what drives our industry and what puts “dents” in it. “Warehouse brand printing/pricing”definetely does. To answer your questions:
    1.) Yes, I am a professional. Have been for 5 years. Although just started to expand my on location photography to include studio(mobile and in-home) sessions. I worked with a Nation-wide portrait company in their school/sports division, and worked as a second shooter/assistant for various portrait/model photographers.
    2. I price my packages and sessions based on what the industry in my area has been. I account for my time/talent/expertise, expenses including travel, and overhead. I like to think that if I feel the need to underprice myself because Sam/SuzieQ just bought a new DSLR at a warehouse and “good enough” portraits” is fine, then what I really am doing is undervaluing myself and my talent. It has taken me years to perfect my style.
    3 I don’t think I price myself to high or to low. Given the area and research yearly on pricing, I try to keep 5-10% (-+) within the industry price trend.
    Lastly, I feel very frustrated when I hear that someone is price gouging or undercutting. I mean, there are thousands of photographers that are wonderful artist and they prices their work accordingly, but then “Sam/SuzieQ” comes along and puts a great big dent in the area by underpricing themselves, thereby undervaluing all the other wonderful hard working photographers in the area.

  26. 26
    Monica says:

    Very interesting topic as I have just run into one of these photographers myself that is taking a lot of my business! I have had a great “in” at a local school because my children have attended the school and I do most of the school dance pictures…. I wondered why my senior bookings weren’t that great there this year (it’s a smaller school) and found out that a parent of one of the seniors was offering sessions for $50 and that was for the session and a CD with all images on it! The guy is an attorney and just enjoys photography!!! I am a single mom, trying to get my business going and it really hurts my business when someone like this starts “doing” business!! It really makes me want to send him a letter telling him that that is great if he enjoys doing it, but at least charge competitively! to answer your questions:
    1) Yes, I consider myself a professional photographer
    2) I figure out how much it costs me to print and package, then I figure out how much I want to make and kind of come up with a magical number! I know it’s probably not the best way, but it’s also competitive with others in my area that I consider my competition.
    3) I am not sure….for other areas, I’m sure I’m too low, but here, I think I’m right in the middle of the pack.
    4) As stated above, I think I actually do a little of all of that. I checked other competitors pricing, I think about what I want to make and how much it costs.
    5) Also, as stated above, it pisses me off when I see “photographers” charging like that. I would much rather compete based on my work than on what I charge. And for those that think those photographers don’t affect their business, they need to think again! I see some photographers who do great work (like the one I mentioned above), and if a client has to choose between me and him, they are going to choose him because he only charges $60 for everything. Even though I consider my work a little better than his, his are good enough that people will choose him based on price.

  27. 27
    Brenda H. says:

    Yes I am a professional photographer – 11 years in business.
    I determin my pricing based on what the “going rate” is around my town based on other photographers who have similar work as mine – then I nudge it up from there. I do not worry about the photographers who have bad websites or work that isn’t good.
    People who charge $60 – well it goes back to the motto – you get what you pay for – I wouldn’t want to be a bride and pay someone $60 then find out after the fact that it was a big mistake – because what can you do then? Often my customers question my prices (believe me they should be a lot higher for the effort) or want a disc of images for $100 which I will not do. You have to stick to your principles and I have noticed that if you put a value on your work, others will too. Treat your customers with honor and they will refer you even if they think you are expensive. 90% of my customers come from word of mouth – so it does work.

  28. 28

    1. Do you consider yourself a professional photographer? Yes
    2. How to you determine your pricing? I started way too low, and then got a mentor. My mentor showed me several places online where I could plug in numbers and figure out what I need to make monthly. I went somewhere in between. My rent is much lower than some, and much higher than others. I also carry insurance so that my equipment is covered, and I am covered in case anyone ever tries to sue me. People forget these kinds of expenses. I also pay for my website, and online newsletters, etc. And my time, people, MY TIME! lol
    3. Do you feel you are priced too low? high? or just right? I actually struggle with this daily… I feel my prices are too low, but at the moment, I can’t get anyone to hire me but for commercial work, which is fine. It is much easier to collect from commercial accounts.
    4. Do you price yourself based on others around you? Based on your experience? Or based on what you want to earn? yes, yes and yes… and then i always feel bad and throw in discounts, which is bad bad BAD.
    5. How does it make you feel when you see someone charging $60 for all photos on a disc, including the photo shoot? Makes me mad. My biggest pet peeve is when someone picks up a camera, and one day they are a youth counselor at church, and the next day they are putting up a website advertising deals like this. Oh, hey, i’m a photographer now. I think of it this way: My minimum order for a portrait shoot is $160.00 If i sell a disc for $60, I’m out $100… then remember, there might be residual sales, canvases, etc. You’re out all of those, too, because they’ll go somewhere else to print that stuff at cost. Oh, and don’t forget, they take your images and do whatever to them, and if they aren’t up to your standards, you look like an idiot when someone sees that it was you that took the images.
    Sorry, pet peeves. Thanks for letting me vent!

  29. 29

    Love this discussion! Especially when it’s with other photographers and not used defensively with un-educated customers.

    I consider myself pro. Officially since the beginning of this year, but have some experience and intense schooling under my belt. I’m still growing my business.

    I have a formula I use for pricing, actually. I give myself an hourly wage for my time: to/from the session, upload and editing. I charge session fees and do the rest a la carte, but for weddings, I then add in the different product cost, including little charges for my online proofing, website, etc, to cover my costs.

    Then I take everything and mark it up. Usually by 30%.

    Right now I give myself an hourly wage of 15/hour, based on my experience and quality level. That will rise as I grow. Additionally my mark-up will increase as I acquire studio space, increase my equipment, and overhead costs expand.

    I’m so glad to hear that one person mentioned a business plan and thinking all these things through. I wouldn’t advise just picking a price that everyone else uses.

    As far as the $60, it really bothers me.. but there’s nothing I can do to change that. I try to educate my clients and tell them that I care too much to hand them a DVD and send them on their way. I keep my print prices reasonable, so they can order everything through me and still have beautiful, professionally-printed products. I do care, but who doesn’t want to be cared about?

    Also, I had an instructor that once said, if they can’t tell the difference between your imagery and the “other guy’s” DVD of pictures for $60, they can’t value yours like they should. If there’s a difference in quality, talent, and personality from a photographer, it will get noticed.

  30. 30
    Brandi Jo says:

    I recently moved to an new area/state. It is a small town of about 12,000. I did a lot of research of the area, not only including what other photographers charged, but also saw where I fit in vs. quality, but I also researched the incomes people made in the area (high in ratio to low). Then I determined what my expenses are for an entire shoot and break down what I make per hour. My disk price is not included. That price stands by itself. I feel that my editing time is covered by my print/digital image price. I have also priced myself with time and equipment invested. Once I get more under my belt and more equipment, my value and quality goes up… and therefore, my prices do. I stay consistent in my area so I feel that I have priced myself just right. Not too busy, but also not dead in the water. Over time I have learned what I am worth, what my bottom dollar is, and what my time is worth away from my family.

  31. 31
    Krista says:

    No, I am not a professional photographer, I only love to take photographs and I learn more everyday, therefore I charge a small fee to cover gas but I am definitely not earning an income.. would I like to? yes.. but I have a lot of learning to do and would never ever call myself a pro until I know the complete ins and outs of photography… I know enough to get by but wish I could get my brain around the “why” this setting is correct or “why” it’s not… so I have a lot to learn and proudly call myself and amateur! :)

  32. 32
    Sarah says:

    Adding my $0.02 as an “in between”

    1. I consider myself semi-professional and my clients are aware that this is not my full time profession. I do this because I love it. I do not depend on it for a living, and in all reality probably never will, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have the right to charge for my time and my services.

    2. I determined my pricing by determining what my costs are (time, travel, equipment, etc) and by what I would ideally make from this a year to supplement my current income. Right now, because I still trying to build a portfolio, I discount those prices. When I have built up an appropriate portolio, I will no longer give the discount. So far, all of my clients have been completely understanding of this.

    3. For my area and my experience, I think I am in the right range.

    4. All of these, see above comment. :)

    5. I want my clients to chose me because they love my photography. I’m lucky enough not to depend on this for a living, so if they chose someone else, yes, it hurts, but it doesn’t affect if I can eat or not this week. That being said, I think we can all agree that $60 is an absolutely ridiculous price for all of that. Hopefully, the clients that I am targeting are able and willing to spend more than that for quality images, customer service, and the willingness to build a relationship.

  33. 33
    Cally Olson says:

    I am new to trying to make a business out of my hobby, and while emotionally I want to price myself crazy low or even do all “free” sessions I always have to give myself a pep talk.

    Short history:
    I want this to be full time for me but I cant afford to quit my current job and do this full time and not make money. I make a decent living at my job but it does not fulfill me the way photography does.

    Here is my Pep talk to myself:
    You make good money now, you can help support your family. How can you put your family at risk by giving up a job to do photography full time?

    Then my emotional argument:
    But I wont get jobs at a higher price, then I wont get experience, and then I wont have any reason to even do photography at all!

    And this goes on and on…

    SO my compromise:
    Post the prices on my website for where I want to be when I “hope” to go full time, but also post a comment saying I am currently running a portfolio building discount…

    So then where do I want to be?
    What would it take to make my current salary now with photography:
    My goal (once I go full time) would be 4 clients a week at $xx amount.
    THEN the struggle was how to split that $$ amount into prints vs session fee. I have posted my prices online as best I can calculate for now and once I get to that point in my photography career I will go with those prices for 1 year and if I need to readjust at that point I will. But my hope is that any clients I get in the mean time will know what to expect later and I wont loss anyone who is just looking for the cheapest photographer.

    I understand and empathize with both sides, every day I find myself on a different side of the fence. For me it boiled down to taking out the emotion and looking at this as a business. **If I cant be successful and make a living then I can’t make it a business.**

  34. 34

    I consider myself a hobby photographer. The second I’m under pressure to use photography to pay my bills, I start resisting to pick up my camera for the things I WANT to document, like the day to day life with 4 kids. I don’t feel like I’m even close to having it all down, so I just experiment and learn new things. It’s definitely not about being “better” than someone else. We all have our own styles of expression, so I just strive to make images that make ME smile. At the end of the day, if I like the images I take…then I could care less what anyone else thinks. So far I’ve had good luck with people liking my work, and thats how I got into taking pictures for others in the first place.

    I do my pricing so that it covers my costs and is still affordable for people to pay. I don’t advertise…all my work is word of mouth, or someone sees photos I’ve posted and asks if I’d be willing to take photos for them. I do enjoy doing a shoot here and there for a little extra cash, but am not interested in doing photography as a career.

    Sometimes I feel like I’m priced to low, but I don’t want the price to be the thing that stops someone from getting family photos, so I try to make it as reasonable as possible. It would make me sad for someone to NOT have photos, and I’ve played around with the idea of doing free work for people who could really use it, just because if I can capture something meaningful for them and present them with something they’d never have otherwise, thats more rewarding than a big paycheck.

    I offer and edited disk for $130. I’m not sure what that makes me…I think offering unedited shoots makes the photographer look really cheap and you can expect to get what you pay for. I think edited shoots are acceptable and cut down on time for me. Because the images represent ME, I make sure they are of professional quality, but do offer clients the disk. I feel like anyone with a digital camera can pass themselves off as a “professional photographer” and then theres those with all the schooling that want to make it out like they are superior to those without schooling. I don’t think schooling or experience makes you if you don’t have the gift, to be frank. You have to have the vision to capture an image before the settings on your camera even come into play. In the end, I think people need to choose a photographer with pricing, style, and attitude they can work with.

  35. 35
    Morgan says:

    I consider myself more a semi-pro. I know I still have a lot to learn, but I personally am one to believe no matter how long you’ve been doing something, there is always something new to learn. It’s a complete side business for me, as I never intended to make it a business until people started asking me for shoots. Even then, when I set my prices, I didn’t want to detract from some of the reputable photographers in the area, so I priced what many seem to think is high. And by many, I mean many of my friends and acquaintances “claim” they can’t afford me. So of course you can guess what kind of people they are picking. “Photographers” just like the one you mentioned about. I just saw a friend’s photos from a so called professional, and personally I felt that it was terribly obvious she did not know what she was doing. There were out of focus photos, all of the photos had over saturated neon green grass (I practically gagged), and it was pretty obvious she was experimenting with textures but didn’t fully know how to use them appropriatly. This friend had asked me about my pricing, which I shared, so I was curious to know what this girl was charging. I think most of you can guess that she was cheap, right? Yeah, normal rate is $60, but she’s running a summer special for $40. That include session and all edited photos on a disk, and a little selection of prints. How in the world, am I to compete with that?! That girl was all booked up, while I’m only doing a couple shoots a month at best.

    I may not be in this “business” to make it my full time job, but nothing ticks me off more that someone who is making it very difficult for those who are trying to earn a living. My goal is always to keep fair competition alive by charging fair prices and aiming for the same quality as other pros out there.

  36. 36
    Heather says:

    1)Yes, I believe it is a title to be earned but believe since I was first trained by a company contracted by the DOD, days and hours I have put into studying this, I believe I have come a long way, and now my sole source of income (my groceries!)

    2)I determine my pricing based on cost of materials (ink, paper, DVD cases, CD cases, DVDs & CD) used in the shoot (of course brokendown to per item cost) Editing Time, Travel Time, Gas, shooting time, and worth. You are selling something people will have up in their homes for maybe decades. A memory. Your art is actually priceless and I don’t feel I am charging ENOUGH and I have to run a lot of sales in slow periods for family portraits but I will not do “cheap” portraits or lower my price because someone called and wants Walmart studio prices. They can go to walmart. People need to realize the QUALITY they are paying for. If you are paying for $6.99 pictures, you are going to GET $6.99 pictures… and why? When all you will be is dissapointed?

    Last question- If that is the photographer’s REGULAR price yes that would bother me. If it is a sale or a special or something then I understand because sometimes you have a slow month and need what you can get. BUT if this is a regular price I think it is a hobby. It does make a lot more sense that I have people calling me for $20.00 pictures trying to get me to go down really low for what I am giving them (every shot and everything on disc!!) I think people need to remember the theory of undercutting everyone in your area will just make people angry with you.

    I used Shuttermom University’s pricing guide to help me develop a pricing system.

  37. 37
    Jennie says:

    1)I consider myself a professional photographer since I make a living by photographing people

    2)I determine my pricing a couple of different ways. My sitting price is about average for mid-high level photographers in the Twin Cities area & it’s that way on purpose. I price my products based on the “Easy as Pie” method, local market value, & what I need to run my business. My digital images are the most valuable thing on my product list and I price accordingly. I really like the pricing list I’m using right now and will probably keep it that way for a while, maybe 6 mo. before tweaking it.

    3) It makes me die a little inside that someone is charging way less for their sitting fee + all digital images than I charge for just my sitting fee. BUT, I know my work is probably higher quality, so my clients are going to be better & will be willing to pay more for that quality.

  38. 38
    Celia Moore says:

    Sorry guys, I am one of those annoying low chargers. I am currently trying to build some sort of portfolio and am charging just for prints. My prints range from US$4.50 for a 6×4 to US$30 for an 18×12 basic unmounted but professionally printed print (The mark up on those is actually quite high for example on the largest size the cost of teh print to me is just US$3.75 (plus mailing fee)). Now as far as I am concerned i am in a different class to those charging more. A) I don’t have all the best equipment. B) I probably don’t have the same ability and technical know how. C) Am I their competition, NO, not at all, I offer a budget range service. No different than budget clothing, hairdressing, or musical bands starting out. Everyone has to start somewhere and build a reputation. Now if the time comes when I am getting many bookings, that is the time to increase my prices, as I will be seen as worth the expense to clients. What does get up my goat is so called pro photographers who have worse skills than me and charge a fortune. Makes me wonder why anyone uses them. Likewise I was planning on attending a workshop. I looked at the pro’s portfolio and to be honest, wasn’t that impressed, so decided not to waste my money. Not sure about the other places in teh world, but you can earn so much income before paying tax in the UK. I work part-time currently and am well under the tax threshold so it will be a while before I am liable to pay tax. So at the moment I am just trying to get a decent portfolio together, and hopefully then word of mouth willget me work. Also where I live people don’t earn that much and wouldn’t be able to afford an expensive photographer. There own point and shoot efforts maybe awful, so my efforts maybe cherished and adored for many years to come. We will see. I may never get any clients! Who knows? But I do think there is a market for all and if you are good enough chrge higher prices, if people are prepared to pay the low price for the “neon green” girl, and if she is that busy she must I assume take some decent shots or surely she wouldn’t get any business and if they are all rubbish she won’t keep clients or get new ones by recommendations so will be out of business before you know it. Survival of teh fittest I guess! But my long term aim is hopefully tobe able to turn “pro” in as much it will be my sole income. You can now all shout at me and tell me I am rubbish…… feel free! Here is one I took last night.

  39. 39

    I determine my pricing by my COGS (Cost of Goods and Services) in Excel.

  40. 40
    Pam says:

    * Do you consider yourself a professional photographer?
    Yes. I say this because my only source of income is my photography business. I say this because I’ve been a photographer for over 20 years. I say this because I run a photography business, paying taxes, maintaining a website, marketing, continuing education, etc. I say this because I have the technical skills for both film and digital, and invest in the equipment of a professional.

    * How to you determine your pricing?
    I have a different pricing structure from most as I do not charge a session fee. I have built that into my pricing. I don’t look at “cost of prints” as my cost of goods. I consider my cost of goods to include my time, my equipment, my computer, my continued education, my marketing and advertising. It’s not just about the cost of the print.

    * Do you feel you are priced too low? high? or just right?
    I think I am priced where I want to be. It might be on the higher side, but I also consider that there are clients in every range. They don’t choose me for my prices – they choose me for my work/style and for who I am.

    * Do you price yourself based on others around you? Based on your experience? Or based on what you want to earn?
    I base this on my cost of goods and what I want to earn.

    * How does it make you feel when you see someone charging $60 for all photos on a disc, including the photo shoot?
    Everyone is entitled to charge what they feel they are worth and what they think the market will pay in their area (do they research this or just THINK they know?). Not knowing what someone at the extreme low end bases it on, I would say that the $60 package deal actually costs them money if they sat and did the math. But I don’t feel that it takes any business away from me. I am flexible on my pricing when the situation warrants it, or if it’s something that I choose to do. But that’s what it is…..my choice.
    Just as it is their choice to do the work for $60.

    I know someone in my area who charges on the very low end. She is constantly working – BUT – I do about 1/3 of the work she does and make more money. There is room for everyone.

  41. 41
    Tanya Bready says:

    I do NOT consider myself a “professional” photographer …. YET! At some point I am hoping to get to that point. Right now my pricing is low. NOT because I dont think Im good and NOT to low ball others, but because I am building my portfolio. My question about this photographer is this …. has anyone seen her work? The saying “You get what you pay for” could really be truthful in this instance!

  42. 42
    meagan says:

    I would consider myself semi-professional. I am only in my first year of business and do it part-time as i still depend on my other job for my main source of income. I would love to be able to do this full time in the future and am slowly working towards that, but until i am sure that i would be able to sustain my current lifestyle, I am not willing to give up my steady paycheck!
    To echo everyone else, pricing is one of the hardest things i’ve faced in this business. There will always be someone cheaper than you. And I am also extremely self-critical. It’s been tempting to base prices off of what other photographers with similar experience around your area are charging. I started off that way. But each session i did gave me more and more confidence, and also took up more and more of my precious time away from my family. I have been steadily raising my prices to find a place i can be happy with but that will also still book clients!
    I have finally come to a place (and this is a place i can live with at the moment as I am not relying on my photography income to pay the bills) where I charge what i think my time is worth. I guess it’s probably high for most of the people I’ve given my pricing to since the last time i raised it because I’ve had a lot of inquiries with few bookings. But I am okay with that because i know who i want my target market to be and i just have to build that client base there. I cannot be all things to all people. I am focusing now on building my target market where i want it to be and setting my prices there.

    I really just came to a place where I decided it wasn’t worth the time away from my family to charge what i had been charging. So every time i doubt my pricing because someone asks for my pricing and doesn’t book, or i see local photographers charging just a fraction of my costs, I remind myself of how precious my time is.
    Not saying that isn’t incredibly difficult.. but I know my goals for the future and I’m holding to my resolve, knowing that I will get there.

    I don’t get as upset as some of these people do at the uninformed photographer charging so little for their pictures. It’s sad for them, but hey we all start out somewhere and they are doing the best they can with the information they have. They’ll learn one day when they are worn to a frazzle with no time for anything else and wondering what the heck it was all for!

  43. 43
    Kelly says:

    - I do not consider myself a professional photographer yet but am working towards being one. I still consider myself a hobbyist who is learning.

    – I’ve read various blog postings on pricing and downloaded a pricing guide (I think it was by Stacie Reeves – from a link on your site!) that was very helpful. There was an accompanying Excel spreadsheet that I worked through to determine my session fees and print prices when I do start charging.

    – Compared to the other “photographers” in my area, I think I’ll be higher. But I feel comfortable and confident with the prices I came up. Realistically, they’re not that much higher than buying a la carte prints from a big chain like Picture People.

    – I’ve come up with my pricing based on what I’d like to earn/need to earn. I figure that once I start charging, I’ll be worth that price. ; )

    – Confused. I don’t see how one can run a successful business charging so little. But, ultimately I try not to concern myself with those under-charging. I’m trying to just focus on myself and learning what I need to know to get where I want.

  44. 44
    Monica says:

    I consider myself a professional photographer

    I determine my prices by my experience, market, equipment, expenses, and time.

    I feel I am prices just right.

    This really stresses me out when I see someone charging $60. I am trying to make a living at this and $60 will not pay the bills! If you are doing photography for fun or a hobby, don’t call yourself a business! Maybe call yourself a charity, non-profit organization.

    It is funny this post came up when it did because I just came across someone in my area with the exact prices of $60 for session, CD with printing rights, 1 (8×10), 2 (5×7’s) and 16 wallets! I actually sent them a nice email and sent them some resources to check out so that it would be just me telling them how insane this price is. I beg you all to do the same if you feel the same way. This photographer was glad that I to the time to write to her.

  45. 45
    Sara says:

    I have been in business for about a year and it took off like wildfire! I didn’t even get into portrait photography on purpose, people just kept asking. I never call myself a professional… not sure what I think the requirements are. But I do pay taxes, because it’s the right thing to do. I only charge $90 for the session and disc, and am happy to do so.

    In my opinion, I am like Target. I take great pictures with mediocre equipment and do a really great job with kids. Boutique shoppers are not my clients. Target shoppers are my clients. Many Target shoppers cannot afford boutiques no matter how much they want to. So, they settle for Target products which get the job done within their price range.

    I think it is CRAZY when people say that cheaper photographers are dragging down the industry. Have you ever heard of CAPITALISM????

    Boutiques are not worried that Target sells cute clothes and decorative items. They are in a different world. They offer a different level of quality and reputation. Same thing goes for high-end vs. wannabe photographers.

  46. 46
    Brittney says:

    1. I guess I consider myself a professional… I’ve been doing this over a year now and have built up quite a following in that short amount of time. I would feel *more* professional if it were my full time job, just can’t do that right now.
    2. I really just determine the hours I work…
    3. I honestly never really know. It depends on the client… a lot of cheaper clients think I’m high, but then another client will say “your prices are so reasonable!” – so I really don’t know!?
    4. Based on experience and other photographers in the area.
    5. $60 for everything is WAY too cheap…

  47. 47
    Sheryl Clark says:

    I absolutely consider myself a professional. I have been taking pictures since I was 9 (back when kids DIDN”T have cameras) and had my first paid shoot at 17!! While I haven’t had formal education, I am constantly learning and honing my skills with videos, blogs, books, conferences, professional affiliations etc. While those along don’t make me a professional, it helps build my credibility. It’s the technique skills, vision and business savvy that make you a professional.

    Just because you have a DSLR, doesn’t make a professional!!

    I own my own studio building and as well as Amber pay LOTS of nasty taxes.

    My prices are wobbling around right now. In my area and with the economy, I am also trying new pricing situations out. And with the influx of non professionals taking legit business away, it’s a constant battle.

    I will not allow myself to be cheapened. I work hard for my clients and expect to be paid for my services, but I also give back to my community.

  48. 48
    Ann Steward says:

    Agreed with all…awesome post. Super helpful to all, I think.

    The thing about photography is “professional” in this business sense is all subjective. Is it schooling? Years of Experience? Pricing strategies? Equipment? Eye? Style? Editing? No, it’s a combination of ALL of these things. Degrees in photography don’t mean near as much as in this business other professions. And there are many photographers that have been in business a long time, that charge a ton but in less than a year, I’m a better photographer in the eyes of many. Granted, I take my classes seriously, read a TON, and practice even more…but still. Side note – my editing has some definite issues (I have a tendency to over-edit and spend too much time in Lightroom/not enough time in Photoshop – yikes!) so I’ll be spending some serious $ and time w/ MCP soon. Cannot wait!!!!!!!!!

    Anyone who wants to take a stab at what differentiates a pro from a non-pro, please do. I am interested to hear peoples’ opinions on this including MCP’s.

    At the end of the day, it’s what the customer wants to buy. And unfortunately for us, there IS A LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS. Granted, as photographers (pro or non-pro), we have a VERY HIGH bar of what we want/will pay for in a photographer. But the reality of it is, most people are NOT photographers. They want photos of their kids that will take their breath away, true… but it doesn’t HAVE to be Annie Leibovitz FOR MOST PEOPLE (yes, I had to copy/paste that spelling). Same for prints! While WE may gag at the shutterfly prints, most people (aka our clients) really like them. Compare it side-by-side to a pro print, they will take the pro print for themselves but still order the shutterfly for the entire family and their desks at work. Regarding the boots discussion from Facebook, no I will not buy the Target for $17, yes I will buy the Uggs for $130, BUT no, I will not buy a Gucci-version for $1,500 regardless of superior quality and materials. Diminishing returns.

    This will continue to be a more and more heated debate as Canon and Nikon continue to crank out great equipment that is so user-friendly. In the days of film, noooooo one was interested. You couldn’t pay a soccer mom to enter a darkroom (me included). Personally, I just wanted to take great pics of my own kids, signed up for the awesome “Understanding Exposure,” bought a 7D (now I also have a 5dmkII) and BOOM, people were knocking down my door asking me to take their kids’ photos (thank you, people :)). And no, agreed, equipment is not everything. BUT give a mama that LOVES photography and is good with kids an understanding of proper exposure, an 85mm 1.2 and 7D and see what happens.

    I think the biggest point is to know your competition, as Jim Poor stated, and as I learned in the MBA program. You can’t CHANGE the competition or the market EVER. You sure AS HECK can monitor it and react to it, however. As much as all photographers despise it, most people want the cd…especially working professionals that are on the computer all day. If you photograph kids, chances are this IS your client. It’s already TO that point, now we need to ADAPT to it. Don’t spend time sulking about it, charge your clients for it. A great photographer and friend of mine recently told me that yes, she gives the cd but the client has to pay for it (emphasis on PAY). And she has enough clout to charge a lot. So if you are one of these people, maybe consider doing the same? But I would at least offer the cd, as much as it hurts. My opinion of the market, but I’m not expert by any means.

    Also, I took Kevin Focht’s Seniors course. He has a very strong sense of business and is very to the point. He said to not price yourself super low in intro. He totally encourages you to not say “I’ve been a photographer for 0 months,” and instead to say how long you’ve really been doing photography (includng the point & shoot days)…in most of our cases, YEARS. Personally, I’m not comfortable with this so I didn’t even address it on my website. To continue on this point, part of the course was to create our website and also do a facebook page. So maybe this girl put her website out there as part of a course?? That is what happened to me! I planned on eventually doing these things but Kevin’s course pushed me to do it immediately. As much respect I have for Kevin (mucho!), I am sure these tactics aren’t original to just his course, and lots of similar courses encourage these very obvious things.

    Pricing is such a learning curve. As far as my pricing, I hated charging people at first (sometimes still do). I asked around to lots of my mom friends to see what they would pay for the session and cd. I had to price higher than I originally thought to avoid being overloaded in photoshoots (and my friends told me I was being ridiculous to not charge a fair amount). I also did a flat-fee for all sessions but now I’m learning it needs to be higher for newborn and senior shoots.

    Finally, now that I see how many people are ordering prints (I have been suggesting mpix to people), I realize now I’m GIVNG away part of my business and it’s a huge mistake. So, while I’m good with my session + cd rate, I am being an idiot about the reprints. People will pay for the session AND order prints from me, as opposed to jacking around with uploading the whole cd themselves.

    I think it’s interesting to see what other people charge. There are a lot of photographers who charge too little and who charge too much. This all goes back to everything being subjective and the image only truly being worth what the client will pay.

    Sorry so long. Realize it’s ridiculously long. :) Thanks, MCP and to everyone who commented. I look forward to more discussions on this site! :)

  49. 49

    Yes,Iam a proffesional photographer and yes, part of me gets irritated at the fact that someone would charge only $60, but then again, I am confident in my work and I feel like if I were to compare my work to this person’s the prices wouldbejustified-soit doesn’t bother me so much. Hey- if the girl wants to work 6 jobs to make the amount that I make in one, go for it- I have a life anyways!

  50. 50
    Honey says:

    I have been following this post since the day you posted and am glad that I came across it.
    Yes – I consider myself a professional. I am a legitimate business, with dues, fees, advertisement fees and of course – taxes.
    My pricing is determined by several things – I like to compare with what others are charging for the same thing… and price accordingly. Also – my clientèle will make a difference in that also. Since I live in Hawaii, a lot of my clientèle is from destination weddings. That means I will only spend approx. and hour to hour and a half with them… so my pricing will be a bit more affordable. I do not consider my pricing to be too low or too high – but it will allow me to still make money, offer awesome product, excellent service and still make sure it was affordable. :)
    I like to ensure that I am priced competitively but still allow me to ensure that my pricing reflects my value and quality of my work.
    Here in Hawaii, there are many photographers (many great ones, ones that I continue to look up to for inspiration) and then there are those that could afford a good camera and snap a few photos thinking that that will make them a photographer. I love my work, I have loved photography all my life and will continue to love it… but when there are other photographers out there charging barely anything – it can be a bother. I run specials from time to time to fill a few gaps or other… but giving it all away is a different story. Sometimes – those that are not familiar with how to choose the right photographer, will end up thinking that this is the price they should pay and end of haggling other photographers for the same offers. Or – the photographer may just be beginning and trying to build a good portfolio. Either way, I am not one to judge – but hope it doesn’t reflect poorly on other photographers such as myself. I work hard to ensure my clients get great images… as do other photographers and we hope to keep the business we have coming in regardless of low priced ones.

  51. 51
    Patty Reiser says:

    1. Yes I do consider myself a Professional Photographer since people are willing to pay me for my work. Deep inside I feel that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to photography.
    2. A few factors have gone into my pricing formula. One is the actual costs of producing products for the clients. Then there is my time involved. I have also looked at what other photogs in my area are charging. The cost of business and continued education also gets factored in.
    3. At this time I feel my prices are just right. I know that no matter what price I charge, there are always going to be people who complain because they think I am charging too much and/or do not value my skills as a professional photographer.
    4. As for the “Professional” photographer only charging $60 for her services, disc, etc., this person obviously does not value her own work.

  52. 52
    Kristin says:

    * Do you consider yourself a professional photographer?
    Yes, I do.
    * How to you determine your pricing? * Do you price yourself based on others around you? Based on your experience? Or based on what you want to earn?
    I determine my costs, my market and my need for income. This is a business and if I can’t make enough to pay what needs paying, then I can’t last. I also base it on my experience – my first wedding price was lower than my wedding prices now due to a combination of my experience and what I now offer to the client.

    I have a vague idea of what others around me are charging but this doesn’t weight too heavily in my pricing structure. I can’t run another person’s business, only my own.

    * Do you feel you are priced too low? high? or just right?
    Depends on the day LOL I think I’m where I want to be right now but it’s always an evolution as I try to help meet my market more effectively.

    * How does it make you feel when you see someone charging $60 for all photos on a disc, including the photo shoot?
    I suspect that those who are drastically lower don’t have insurances, back up gear, accounting procedures, don’t pay taxes, don’t spend/commit to learning & professional development etc.

    It’s frustrating sometimes, but ultimately I have to decide if I want every client or particular clients then figure out a way to make that happen and create ways to educate my potential clients as to why less is not always more.

    At $60 for a shoot & disk, you’re looking at $20/hour maximum: one hour to shoot, one hour to process, one hour for meeting, correspondence, talking, delivery. But wait, what about the physical disk & printing? Oh and insurance, gas money, wear & tear on gear, keeping your computer & software up-to-date and all the other things involved in being a professional?

  53. 53
    Pamelala says:

    Jim Poor sums it up IMHO. Also, Anon, don’t underestimate picnik, ALL my images are edited using this programme! It’s just the tool I understand right now. I pass MCP actions blog onto loads of photographers and esp. those who use PS, they love her actions! One day I might use them myself! LOL. For now I enjoy reading all the informative posts like this!

  54. 54

    Yes I have been a professional photographer over 20 years. Once a upon a time saying your a photographer use to mean something to be proud off. This was a mark of a true craftsmen/artist . In today’s environment everyone is a photographer or so they say. The profession for true professionals is dying fast and now I am almost embarrassed to say I am a professional. The above example is all to prevalent today making it impossible to be the bread winner for a family. People are all so quick to say how wonderful it must be to do something you love. They don’t realize we are artist and a shame that we have to suffer for out art. This morning I was contacted by a Houston bride getting married in Horseshoe Bay a very upscale expensive location. This bride had the nerve to say she wanted an album , engagement & bridal imagery all for $1,000.00 . This is a true insult to our craft and all photographers are not equal as with any other profession and should be compensated according to their skills. Should this trend continue there will be no more professional photographers in the world because the majority are saying well its good enough.

  55. 55
    Kate says:

    I totally agree with the well-stated Sara at post #45.

    I am a MWAC and, due to taking lovely photos of my children, have been asked to do some commercial stuff and also have shot about 50+ families around my full time job. I am not a pro and have no itentions of being one. I make money on the side/under the table and no (gasp!) am not registered as an LLC for tax purposes. So I am also not receiving any business deductions for a home office, my equpiment, any workshops I’d attend, mileage, the clothing and props I buy for shoots, like the pros. I don’t have a website, I don’t have a blog, an I don’t consider myself a pro.

    I am apparently the enemy. That said, I will give you an eye into the mind of the enemy:

    I take excellent photos and have really been able to do some lovely pp in Photoshop. I truly feel I am providing boutique-quality work and I am doing it for about $50 sitting plus $12 sheets or $125 with disc. I do it as a hobby, to have a creative outlet, and because I like having some extra cash in my pocket. And I am not trying to be a jerk, but have turned out some really consistent work that looks scads nicer than much of the stuff I see on ILP or other pro haunts.

    So with that said, being one of these folks you are lamenting, I urge you to consider this:

    1. How am I, with none of the trappings of the trade, getting business? Either my work is good for the price and is more valuable for the price, or they don’t know you are there. Somewhere in that mix is the truth and it either points to a trade off about the pricing v/s quality, or the reach of your marketing efforts. If you expect to get $500 for a sitting and some prints…good for you. But you are NOT just selling photography, you are selling a BRAND. And that’s totally awesome, but don’t confuse it with someone who may be cheaper and isn’t branding themselves into a boutique. Yes, you get what you pay for. And some people don’t want to pay and don’t care to not get your service.

    2. Many on here are going on and on about being a professional b/c you have artistic integrity and style. What I see as an outsider are a bunch of people using the same actions to automate their work flow, copying the same processing because they admire Skye Hardwick or attended a Brianna Graham worksop, and EVERY last boutique photographer dolling little girls up in Matilda Jane Clothing or a bunch of layered junk like it is fresh to do so. If I see one more kid in a cornfield, girl draped on a rusty truck, baby in a wrap on a branch, or family posed on a ratty couch in the woods I am going to lose my mind. So which pro was the first to come up with each of those? Because if you have ever taken a shot like that you are chipping away at THEIR bottom line. Sorry, but that is not unique. That is not vision. That is just a bunch of people putting a trend into effect. In that way some of the pros parody each other much the way you lament the mwacs for copying the pros, no?

    3. And as far as mocking people b/c they have a pro-sumer camera that their husband bought so they could tinker? I find that interesting. How many of you would be here today if not for the digital revolution? How many of you have blown your highlights and had to use Nichole Van to fix them on photoshop? I bet you that highly skill photogs of yore, the folks who toiled in the darkroom and were amazed to get one great shot of our 200 just about lost their minds each time one of you bought your machine and took 800 shots on a SanDisk, just because you could. And photoshop….let’s not forget that being a great photoshopper or action user DOENS’T make you a good photographer. Sorry, but it is true.

    So anyway, sorry to be inflamatory, but I am not going to feel badly for providing some competition. That is life. That is the free market. How many of you made money babysitting growing up? Would you have just magically stopped because some daycare down the street lammented that you cut into their bottom line? And how many of you paid taxes on that money?

    You know who doesn’t get their bottom line undercut? The folks that build their brand, that make it trendy among an elite group of people to be their exclusive photographer, and who treat their customers with respect instead of saying “that cheapo isn’t my client.”

  56. 56
    Andrea says:

    Oh my, that makes me really upset to see someone working for free…they would make more money working part time at McDonalds than taking pictures.
    I do consider myself a professional. I have just started, and I do pay taxes!
    I determined my pricing by looking at other professionals in my area that offer the same kind of small studio and on location photography. I am pretty much the same as them. I think you can base your price on others and also on demand. I know of a handful of pros in a bigger city 25 miles from me and they charge triple in sitting fees, than what I do. But the pros around me don’t charge that much for sitting fees. But what we do have in common are our print prices.
    And again, I have just started out and it makes me more than mad to see someone selling all their prints for little or nothing. It’s hard to get people to pay for a session and then order prints when they can go to “so and so” and get a cd for nothing. Why buy mine for more? And I have found the people will settle for some really BAD pictures just to get a cheap CD? I don’t get it…..

  57. 57
    Nadia says:

    I posted the MCP banner on my blog! See it here: http://adventuresofrowan.blogspot.com/

  58. 58
    Bob Wyatt says:

    1. I do NOT consider myself a pro. I am a hobbyist hoping to break into the pro ranks this year. I have received money for images but I feel the definition of a professional encompasses so much more than money. It is a way of doing business in an ethical and forthright manner to the absolute best of your ability at all times. ALONG WITH A CERTAIN LEVEL OF EXPERTISE AT THE SERVICE THAT YOU PROVIDE.

    2. My pricing has developed based on what I see others in my area charge and my honest comparison of my work with others.

    3. I feel my pricing for my area puts me in the middle of the pack.

    4. Presently I price myself based on others and the quality of my work. As I improve and build up a clientele I will start to price based more on what I want to earn in comparison to the time I shall put in on each client.

    5. If someone wants to price themselves at $60 for all work on a disc given to the client that is their business. Obviously they do not realize they are losing money with this model and giving the public an impression that photography does not carry much value. Most of us are of the opposite opinion that images carry great value and they touch us and bring us to a place that we might not normally see except for brief moments in time. A good image lets us and those around us share those moments in time on an endless basis. In the real world there is some truth to the adage that you get what you pay for. Paying $60 or $400 or $2400 for the same service ( that is the same) is a no-brainer the $60 service wins. But it is HARDLY EVER the same service.

  59. 59
    KC says:

    Here is a lil tidbit I got way way back when, I listed my prices at where I want to be when I am in full business and discount accordingly. Currently 50% off while I pb …next summer will be 25% off and the fallowing summer I am hoping to be confident enough to charge my full price…which I determined by looking at others in my area and what I want to make at each session. It is not about the money but I want to run a self sufficient business meaning any camera or computer upgrades will be paid for by my business and lens or backdrops …same thing. So will I be rolling in the big bucks anytime soon no, but when I get there it will be that much more rewarding!

  60. 60
    Jen Prescott says:

    Yes I consider myself a professional although in the early stages. Yes I have a business license and will pay taxes this year!
    Pricing is a real challenge! I price myself on
    – what I need to earn in a year
    – cost of goods
    I do see what people around me are charging but I will never charge $9/digit image, how can you possibly survive?
    When I see $60/disc I hope people can see the difference in quality, I hope that speaks for itself.

  61. 61
    Sara says:

    •Professional photographer? YES
    •Determine your pricing? With business plan showing expenses plus what I’d like to make as personal income. I have a studio to maintain, so my expenses are high.
    •Priced too low? high? or just right? I’m happy with my pricing, but will increase every year or so.
    •Do you price yourself based on others around you? Based on your experience? Or based on what you want to earn? A little bit of all. I need to be reasonable in the market around me and take my experience into account, but I also need to feed my family.
    •How does it make you feel when you see someone charging $60 for all photos on a disc, including the photo shoot? ANGRY. Really angry. These people are undervaluing themselves and all professional photographers!!

  62. 62
    Lacey Martin says:

    OK so I found this post during my research on starting a photography business and while I was reading the post I started to think about my current prices. I was with you all the way up until I started reading the comments.

    1. I do not consider myself a professional at this time as I am still learning.
    2. I have determined my pricing mainly on what it would cost me to do the photo shoots. I am registered with the state and have done all of the legal paperwork needed in my area. I am a legit business even if my experience level is not as high some or even most.
    3. With my current experience and training I feel that I am priced just right and have no regrets. I do not feel that by charging what I do takes away from the other businesses in my area as they have built up a reputation for their work. Most of the work I do is for friends and family anyway.
    Lastly, when I see someone charging only $60 for the while thing I think they must be in the same place I am. That they are just starting out or are only doing this as a hobby. Not to offend anyone but the idea of paying $200 for a session and not getting any prints or even the cd is a no go for me. I am not saying that your work is not worth that, because with what I have seen during my research it is very much worth that but I could not allow myself to spend that much on something and not get anything out of it.
    The main reason I posted a comment is because I was very upset by some of the comments on here regarding people who charge low fees. I can personally say that I do not charge the low fees to hurt anyone’s business nor because I want to get all of the clients coming to me. I charge my fees because I feel they are reasonable.
    Everyone has their opinions and that is perfectly fine but to say some of the things that have been said about those photographers (being one of them) I believe was uncalled for. Art is art regardless of your training or expertise.

  63. 63
    Karen says:

    I’m working on building my portfolio and looking for advice on what to charge for a session! Or is portfolio building something that should be done free of charge??

  64. 64
    Cheryl says:

    Yes, I’m a professional photographer with a business and I’m also a full time art teacher. I’ve been struggling with how to price my work. I’m referral based and have started off with clients that were family and friends. Now I’m getting referrals only and my business is gaining momentum. I’m a mother of an 11month old and a wife to a stay at home husband with Crohn’s disease. I struggle with managing my time and single income but we make do. I would like to stay competitive but affordable. Currently, I feel that I charge too low for the amount of time that it takes to do the session and edit the amount of images that I’m giving to my clients. I’m only charging 200.00 for the session which includes 25 edited images on disc. I see area photographers who are comparable to my quality who charge so much more but I think of my current state and how, if I couldn’t take my own portraits of my son, I’d like to be able to afford someone who can produce quality artistic shots at a rate that I could afford. At the same time, I’d like to earn what I feel I’m worth and feel good about what I charge.
    I’m trying to develop a package that will allow me to earn what I feel is fair for the hours that are put into creating my images. I feel that as a professional I’d like to earn a professional rate. As a teacher I earn around 30.00 per hour. My goal is to get an accurate count of the amount of hours on average it takes to complete a session from start to finish including the time to photograph, upload, organize, edit, blog and post, and forward the images to the client. I’d also like to take into account the amount of money per year it has cost to purchase equipment. It doesn’t help that lenses and software can cost thousands of dollars but they make a difference.
    I think photographs are works of art and When I see that others are charging so little, I consider their quality work. If they are producing 60.00 “worth” of work and people are willing to pay for that then so be it; they obviously don’t appreciate a work of art. However, if their quality work is worth more than 60.00 than I feel sorry for the photographer and feel that they may be lowering the bar for photography (perhaps I’m doing the same). I want people to see my work and say it’s worth every penny but I’m considering many circumstances and variables.
    Honestly, I think that earning 300 per session would be fair but I feel that I’m worth more than that. However, I’d like to be available for the client who cannot afford more than that.

  65. 65
    Kat Pace says:

    1. Yes, but it took me about 10 months to feel professional. Now I have a almost a year behind me of charging for sessions so I feel professional now starting now. LOL! I studied photography before digital came out in my 20’s, now in my 40’s I have retaught myself.

    2. I determined my pricing based on my lack of professional experience at first. My pricing was crazy low. my first sessions were about $50 for a session to build my portfolio. Then to $100, now about $300-400 on avg. for a portrait session.

    3. I think my prices are good, but need more time to determine if they are too high. Every time I price too low I get a lot of interest and book easily. Now that my prices are with in the market value, things have slowed. I need to get my name out there more, and I will be shooting my 1st wedding in a few weeks. After I have some wedding pics in my portfolio, I hope I get some weddings!

    4.I bought the Easy as Pie pricing guide for photographers and that looks at how much you want to make annually, and goes from their. I took from that book and I look at the other photographers in my area to see what they are doing and make sure I am competitive but still at a good market value. My mark up for albums is about 2.5 more then retail. In the future as I get better I will increase it until it is 4 to 5x more. Once I have a doz. weddings under my belt, I will look at my pricing in terms of annual income and price out from there. As well as keep my prices in line with my talent. I am not going to be able to command prices like the famous Tamara Lackey that has a studio in my town. That will take me many years to get to her level.

    5. All the dirt cheap photographers that I have seen have very little talent and it is obvious that they do not have the lenses to do the job right. It doesn’t bother me because I am working hard to present myself in a higher end market. The client that chooses me will be comparing my work to other photographers like me, and since my pricing is reasonable and my work is far better then the cheapo’s, I think most families and brides would choose me.

  66. 66

    […] There are usually caveats attached: you’re only an MWAC if you shoot and burn, if you charge chain-store prices for your prints, if you blissfully ignore your taxes, if you still use your kit lens, if this, if […]

  67. 67
    Vana G. says:

    Jodi, great post! I’m jumping in a little late on this bandwagon but will jump in none-the-less…

    No, I am not a professional. I have a career in healthcare, but my passion has always been photography and have been photographing for 15 years. Before leaving for school, I worked with a photographer for one summer, so I could learn the ins and outs of a photographic studio. What I realized at that time, was that photography in South Florida was still a man’s world and women were not being taken seriously in this arena. This was back when film was in, right before the big digital break. I chose healthcare instead and financially it has been rewarding, but it sucks the creativity right out. Most days I feel stifled. It’s kind of hard to come up with something creative when you’ve been looking at sick people all day long! However, I continue to do it as a creative outlet and try to improve whenever I can.

    How to you determine your pricing? The little “business” I’ve had, has been friends and family, and they are people who would never, NEVER, EVER, pay for photography anyways. So usually they ask me it is because they know i have the equipment, I love to do it, and I’m always looking for models for stock photography (more about this later). However, when they’re friends have expressed interest I say $150 sitting fee. Yes I know what you’re thinking (“this is real cheap”) but in a city where everyone thinks they’re a photographer, it’s actually quite high.

    Do you feel you are priced too low? high? or just right?
    Do you price yourself based on others around you? Based on your experience? Or based on what you want to earn?

    According to the last few people who said “What?!? Babies R Us is charging $100 for unlimited prints AND the CD!!” I’m over priced. However, even though I only have one summer and one semester at the Art Institute studying photography, I would charge higher if I knew it would completely deter these type of people from ever asking (!).

    How does it make you feel when you see someone charging $60 for all photos on a disc, including the photo shoot?

    I think clients who are seeking photographers charging these prices, (are annoying yes) but they are also people who would never pay more than $60 regardless; and they are getting what they pay for! I don’t think that professionally educated photographers should lower their prices, because it’s the elite clientele your prices will attract in the end (if you have a good product behind it). An doctor’s house-wife living on the Key is not going to want to go to Babies R us for her photographs, she is going to want personalized service and want someone to come over and capture how beautiful her family and life is. Price will not be an object, she just wants to have better pics than her friends…:-)

  68. 68
    LMKM says:

    I still consider myself an amateur because I know I have a lot to learn. I’m honest with my clients and tell them I’ve been doing this for a few months shy of 1 year. I still charge based on what other photographers around the area charge though (about $50 less). I don’t want to have to raise my prices and lose my clients due to rising prices.

  69. 69
    Karen Elliott says:

    I am looking to go into business for myself. Right now I work for a big time wedding photographer. I travel with the studio I work for now… every weekend somewhere! It’s put some strain on my family so that’s why I wanting to go on my own and not just focus on weddings. I am having a hard time with setting prices. I’m not for sure what to charge. I want to do a few weddings a year and I have my prices for that. Pretty much the same as everyone else here in my town. When it comes to family, kids, babies….ect I’m not for sure how to price that. I have been shooting alot of kids to get use to it. So I guess I would say I’m a Simi Pro who has no clue what to charge :) Yes! It does drive me crazy when I see someone charging way cheap prices. I know how much hard work and time goes into a session (before and after) Well if anyone had any ideas about prices please let me know! I have been guilty of doing a session for $100.00 with the CD :) but that was family… Speaking of family… Do you charge your family, close friends??

  70. 70
    Allie Miller says:

    OMG.. great article Jodi!
    In reference to the questions….
    – Do you consider yourself a professional photographer? I do .. for some many reasons.. I am very responsible for my work ethic and How I make other photographers look via my work and style….

    – How to you determine your pricing? My work, Hours. professionalism, unique style… and competitive marketing in area where I offer services….

    – Do you feel you are priced too low? high? or just right? They are fair.. and very competitive.. and right for my work at this time…

    – Do you price yourself based on others around you? Based on your experience? Or based on what you want to earn? All of the above, and most importantly… on how I do and treat my clientele.

    – How does it make you feel when you see someone charging $60 for all photos on a disc, including the photo shoot? Cheapened, somewhat.. who will take you seriously???? really????

    :) {{ Thank you for this brain Teaser!}}}

    Allie

  71. 71
    Naomi says:

    -not a professional photographer. A hobbyist.

    I am on the other side of this coin. I make my living as a psychologist. I don’t ever intend to make my hobby (photography) my job…. (plus I don’t think I could ever make the money I make as a psychologist). The difficulty is… that I do not charge anything (nada, nothing) for session fees. I do it as a gift (for friends, for birthday presents, for wedding presents, for family members). Sometimes I even give it as a gift to complete strangers who are encountering a difficult life circumstance.

    I am a perfectionist, and so I purchase quality equipment, and I spend huge amounts of time getting educated! This is a life long passion for me! I have had SEVERAL local semi-pro or pro photographers in the area approach me to 1. ask me to charge 2. and to express their discontent toward me for damaging their business.

    I am saddened by this. I know it is very competitive out there right now… but blaming me isn’t helping their business. For people that come to me looking for freebies (I am very selective about who I give this gift to) I actually refer them on to the other local photographers!! It is troubling. I don’t like people angry at me (and I have considered charging just to appease). However I always go back to what I need and want from photography. I can’t lead my life around what other people do or say.

    This might not fit your criteria perfectly, but I thought I would offer the flip side.

    • 71.1
      Terri F. says:

      I don’t think anyone is blaming you its just a double edged sword. I mean, what if someone came into your practice and did exactly what you did, maybe better maybe slightly worse, but didn’t charge the clients. Its hard to feed your family/earn a living when the person next to you is providing the service for “fun”. Also, there becomes a sense taking away value when products or services are offered for nothing.

      You probably take amazing portraits and there is great value in that just as there is great value in your paying job. We are just asking the hobbyist to help retain the value in the art of photography.

  72. 72
    Erica says:

    A certain Portait studio chain nationwide charges around $60 for the cd (non released copy right) of the whole session and offers huge print packages at around $10. Their clients have gotten used to these prices. I can see someone going off that and charging the same. This studio however runs like a fastfood chain.. and doesnt have the passion or creativity that I’m sure every photographer has on this blog. Unfortunately this company has brought down the value of true photography and change most clients perspective. Their work doesn’t compare but is good enough for someone just wanting some photos

  73. 73
    Erica says:

    A certain Portait studio chain nationwide charges around $60 for the cd (non released copy right) of the whole session and offers huge print packages at around $10. Their clients have gotten used to these prices. I can see someone going off that and charging the same. This studio however runs like a fastfood chain.. and doesnt have the passion or creativity that I’m sure every photographer has on this blog. Unfortunately this company has brought down the value of true photography and change most clients perspective. Their work doesn’t compare but is good enough for someone just wanting some photos.

  74. 74
    Csaba F. says:

    Hi, Jodi.
    Just for reference, a lot of hungarian PRO-s (info from 2013. Wedding Shows) charge for a full wedding, 2 photographers, Photo Book, Usage rights, all images on Personalized, printed DVD Disc + Cover, some other extra items included) are between $650 – $1400 (rate as of 24 March 2013).

    There are a lot of self proclaimed “would be” photographers and MWAC’s that charge between $120-$340 for the whole wedding, some will also give almost all the above items, some will only burn a DVD hand written – and be still asked for due to being cheap. Many will do it for “reference” free.

    The other issues raised here is that most of these, and even “PRO”-s will hand over disastrous work and when asked how they are not alike the ones on their sites will say: the weather and the place was not right, could not bring out more of their camera. Mostly these people will have images like pro’s on their sites by going to cheap photo sessions and shoot what the session holder sets up, or if there is a person who will actually tell the models what to do and how to pose (1-2% of 100% here) will quickly snap it before the one setting it up and use the best ones showing as “moments from paid sessions”.

    Some will succeed to take some images by shooting 20-25 photos per minute. We have seen Double DVD handed over with >6000 images.As this is done frequently, customers think high number should be a demand as referenced as “standard” by others who already had their weddings…

    Quite sad.

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