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25+ Ways Photographers Can Respond to “Your Prices are Too High!”

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25+ Ways Photographers Can Respond to “Your Prices are Too High!”

Every business, including professional photographers, probably has heard a prospect or customer complain “your prices are TOO HIGH” or “that’s more than I want to spend.”  It is easy to quickly get frustrated, angry and even defensive.  If you respond with “they are not” or “we are less expensive than other photographers” or even “you get what you pay for,” you may turn your client off from your product or service. While there is no surefire way to tackle this question, I posed it on the MCP Facebook Page for photographers, and got a plethora of responses.

A few thoughts, if you keep hearing that you may be attracting the wrong clients. As one commenter explained, “Do people walk into a BMW dealership or Nordstrom and proceed to tell them that their prices are too high?” If you have solid branding in your marketplace, you will start to hear less of this. When you build a reputation, your brand will set an expectation of a certain quality, service, product and price point.

Some people truly will not be able to afford you, and those are NOT your potential customers.  Unless you want to do some charity work, which is admirable, they will not fit your pricing. This goes for both high and low priced photographers. On the flip side, many will not place value in hiring a professional and experienced photographer. They do not value the service and experience.  If you cannot easily help them understand why your provide something they need, they may also not be your target customer. Even millionaires prioritize what is important to them.  It may be an expensive car, huge house, diamonds, designer clothes and accessories or it may be custom portraiture.

Another valid point made on this Facebook thread was “instead of always throwing the blame back to the clients for not appreciating or understanding what goes into custom photography and running a business, make sure you really ARE worth premium pricing! Some of us definitely are, some of us definitely aren’t, or at least not yet!”

Below are some of the ways photographers have dealt with answering the question, “why are your prices so high?” or the attack “your prices are too high!” Read through them and in the comments, tell us which you feel might be the most effective! And the least effective.  Also share with us what has worked best for you. Keep in mind some of these were shared but might be sugar-coated when delivered to a customer.

  • “You get what you pay for!”
  • “I understand that my services are not in everyone’s budget. I hope that you’ll keep me in mind if your budget ever increases.”
  • “There’s a value to the product – and if you can get the same quality, satisfaction & service elsewhere at a lower price, I challenge you to do so.”
  • “I understand you may think that but I take pride in my work and give great service and believe you get what you pay for. I know my services may cost more than some but I promise you will not be disappointed in my work or I will give you a full refund.”
  • “I hope you find someone within your budget.” No need to defend my pricing to someone who is not a good fit for me.
  • “Custom photography is a work of art!!! During your session AND after. Each photo is handcrafted to perfection. If you want Walmart quality, go to Walmart!” (and I say that with love)
  • “Thank you for considering me. Would you like to be notified about mini-sessions and specials?”
  • Explain that the session is about more than just the prints. I go on about how the session, time, talent, travel to and from location etc.. how this all incorporates in the fee. Then they either accept or call back or don’t…
  • I give them Walmart or Sears phone number and tell them that they are very reasonable and cheap and they will get what they pay for.
  • “I’d rather do one shoot for $1000.00 than 10 shoots for $100.00.”
  • “What is your budget? Let me show you what I can do for the budget you have!”
  • Then I offer them “package B”…a sugar fed monkey with a point and shoot.
  • ‎”I understand. Money is tight all around, but capturing these memories is very important, so I do offer a sort of layaway plan if budget is your concern.”
  • “Anything else ‘Custom’ isn’t cheap!!
  • “Why yes, yes my prices are high compared to discount stores. They push a button and collect your money. I offer creative talent, experience, passion for the art, professional retouching, and much more. Does Target or Walmart give you that, or do they have a minimum wage employee that doesn’t give a care about you, little Johnny and Jane or what you want out of your ‘shoot’?”
  • “I understand your concern, especially in this economy. I offer a different service than chain style photography studios. Each session is specifically designed around your personality.  You are more than just a number on a sheet or a quota to meet. I also have a wonderful information piece on my website that discusses this very thing and explains our editing process as well.”
  • Start calling your cost “investment” instead of “price.”
  • “Photos are not just images, they are memories.”
  • “I do not respond at all…”
  • “My creativity is priceless.”
  • “Our prices reflect the quality that we strive to give every client.”
  • “Thank you for your interest and I hope one day we can do a session together.”
  • Occasionally I hear those words, but it’s usually followed with “but we really want to, so we’re saving up… we’ll be in here next summer.” (and they are). But, for the few who complain, I remind them that it’s a business and I need to charge the amount it’s worth for me to take time away from my family. They seem to respect that even if they don’t choose to hire me.
  • “How much is too high?”
  • “Custom portraits can be a real investment. I offer a payment plan that can help you maintain your budget AND receive some beautiful, priceless images. May I ask what your current budget is, so I can show you all we can do for you?”
  • I think a big problem is the over-saturation of shoot and burners. I have people tell me that so and so will give me a whole CD for only $50, to which I reply “I’m sorry but I can’t offer that.” Another favorite is “Don’t all my pics come with my session?” I think the biggest problem is they don’t realize how much time actually goes into a session.

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  1. Brook on November 29, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Great comebacks, all of them! Defending your pricing can be difficult. I ended up writing a blog post on my website to explain the cost to customers. http://www.brookrieman.com/blog/2010/07/16/portrait-photography-a-lot-like-hamburgers-bloomington-portrait-photographer/

  2. Steff on November 29, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Thanks, I really needed this. I have a client who missed the discount I had placed on her session. She lamented over the price of an size restricted disc and is bummed that her tiered discount is at 10% because she waited. It is still early in the business for me so I am struggling with my people pleaser tendencies.

  3. Mike Sweeney on November 29, 2010 at 10:47 am

    The one I disagree with (actually more than one but this one is important) is this:””I’d rather do one shoot for $1000.00 than 10 shoots for $100.00.””I know a photographer who is making a very good living at selling wedding photography for 500.00 dollars. But, and here is the important piece, he upsells every single time with albums and wall prints. To the tune of several thousand dollars each wedding. He is very good at this and make no bones about it that it only works this way if you follow the entire set of directions which sound risky. Me? Have not tried it yet.. I’m thinking about it because I’ve heard it again and again from several pros whom I respect. Risky? you bet.. good pay off, ah, yeah.. is it for everyone ? not a chance. Some of the other come backs are just not professional and I would personal would not use them. Nor would I give out Wallmart or other cut rate number. I had one client tell me this a few weeks ago going over print print pricing comparing what she got for her weddings vs. what I was charging for prints. I told her straight up that I would not have shot her wedding on those terms, thats not what I do. But I did offer to work out a custom package and pricing for her budget and get her some prints. Which I did and she bought them. Did I make as much? nope.. did I have a happy client who will be back? yep. So it all works out.

  4. Heather Johnson Photography on November 29, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Great responses–I am going to print this out and have them on my desk. Thanks for these always helpful posts!

  5. PaveiPhotos on November 29, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Ohh that was good and entertaining! I loved some of those answers. Made me laugh out loud. Though I do think a good answer is that it’s an investment!

  6. Kimberly Gauthier on November 29, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I’ve used something similar to this one a few times: Explain that the session is about more than just the prints. I go on about how the session, time, talent, travel to and from location etc.. how this all incorporates in the fee. Then they either accept or call back or don’t”_I really like this one: “Custom portraits can be a real investment. I offer a payment plan that can help you maintain your budget AND receive some beautiful, priceless images. May I ask what your current budget is, so I can show you all we can do for you?”I’m a newbie, so I haven’t had too many of these conversations. Usually people looking to spend $50 or less on photography don’t call back. I’m just happy that they contacted me in the first place, because it means my SEO is working and my name is getting out there.I always wish people the best if I do speak with them and ask them to keep me in mind in the future. I’ve found that I get more referrals with this tactic than if I discount my prices to match their budgets.

  7. Brittani on November 29, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Wow this is so helpful! I’m just starting my business and feel like I get this all the time. I will be bookmarking this for future use!

  8. Angela on November 29, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    I like, “Our prices reflect the quality that we strive to give every client.” Then maybe try to see what you could do for the budget they have in mind. Some of those comments sound a little harsh, which is understandable if someone is rude to you, but sometimes you have to ‘grin and bear it’ to avoid losing a customer.

  9. Clipping Path on November 30, 2010 at 5:16 am

    excellent post! thanks a lot for sharing..

  10. Robert Waczynski on December 1, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Most of the time clients will toss a low bid just to see if you will go down in price. I always say stay high and go down… Once your down to the lowest number you can never go back up again. Let’s say you want $2,000 for the shoot… Charge $3,000 then you say “Okay, as a first time client, I will knock off $400 and since your a nice guy I will add in a free something and okay that’s not good enough? I will drop it to $2,000 to meet your budget.” You walk away happy with your desired rate in the first place.

  11. Holly on August 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Thank you! This is wonderful! xo

  12. Mohammed on October 29, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Great post.I would try to ask the client as to what they expect from me as a professional – both in terms of quality as well as price.Maybe that would make them realize for themselves that ‘peanuts only attract monkeys’

  13. Tomas Haran on October 23, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Kimberly, fantastic response.If the customer is not a right fight. Thank them on finding you and exploring your website and ask them to keep you in mind in the future. This way you stand by your pricing, aren’t mean and aren’t brushing them off. Great responses on here.

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