Pricing Your Photography

Thinking about revamping your pricing for the new season? Unsure of what your packages should look like or what you should be charging? You’re not alone! It’s a topic that a lot of photographers struggle with, especially as they are starting out.

The number one problem most photographers run into when they are pricing their work is that they base it on what THEY think their own value is worth, or what they would pay someone else for a service. Instead, trying shifting your mind to asking what you actually need to be earning to make a profit and pay the bills.

The second issue that photographers have is basing pricing on what other photographers are charging. When it comes down to it, you have no idea if they are profitable, how much they are shooting each year, and what their overhead expenses are. Their numbers could be way different than yours! So we suggest taking time to sit down and figure out the numbers that would make sense for YOU to be profitable.

Some of the things you have to consider when you are putting together your pricing list are:

  • How many sessions/weddings do you want to shoot a year
  • What your business overhead is
  • What you personal living costs are
  • What your goal is for what you want to make (gross profit- revenue minus cost of goods sold)
  • How much you need to set aside for taxes
  • How many hours go into a session/wedding from start to finish- emails, session time, editing, etc.
  • How much time goes into putting together your products- image selection, design, ordering, packaging, etc.
  • Future costs budget for upgrades on equipment and programs

For those who need help with breaking down the numbers, one of my favorite (free) guides that I’ve come across is this one by Stacy Reeves: Greatest Pricing Guide EverIt was orginally catered to wedding photographers, but she has since added a section towards the end for portrait photographers too. It’s a little long, but definitely worth reading all the way through! It walks you step-by-step through all of the formulas you need to come up with what you should be charging to cover your costs and make a profit. It’s a little bit of homework, but so worth it!

The first thing you will do is come up with a business plan based on some of the points we addressed above (how much you want to shoot and how much you want to make). Then you’ll determine your hourly rate. This is extremely important as it determines session fees, packages, and product prices. Your hourly rate is determined by:  Cost of Running a Business, Cost of Shooting a Session, Cost of Living (if you are full time), and Number of Sessions/Weddings you want to shoot each year. Stacy does an awesome job of breaking it down in the guide, so take some time to really work through the numbers.

Again, don’t base your pricing on what you would pay someone else. Because you are not your own client! If you price yourself the lowest in your market, you’re only going to be attracting clients who book you based on price. Then you’ll end up overworked, burned out, and with no real profits. This is time away from family, personal time, etc. so take an afternoon to sit down and really crunch the numbers.

Next week, we’ll be continuing this series by discussing how to get your clients to see the VALUE of your work and beyond the price.

When was the last time you sat down to figure out your true numbers? Or have you been playing the guessing game?



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