Whether you’re a semi-professional or professional operating a full-time photography business, pricing your photos begins with your mindset. What this means is that you must have an entrepreneur’s mindset with the primary purpose of making money as a photographer. It’s fine to approach your photography as an artist when the camera is in your hands, but your first allegiance is to capitalism: generating more gross revenues than gross operating costs resulting in gross profits.
An important factor to help you decide the price of your photos is to understand the complete financial structure of operating your business. As a business owner, you should have an accountant; and he or she should review with you all the details of your operating costs. A good accountant will know the hidden costs or those you haven’t considered. Without knowing what it costs to operate your business, you can’t set realistic prices for your photos.
Although knowing what your competitors are charging for their services can be helpful, you should avoid pricing your services according to their prices. Quality is the true measure of what you should charge for photos because that is what prospective clients want. If you can compare your portfolio to your competitors and are confident your images reflect a higher quality, then you’re likely to find customers who are willing to pay a higher price for your quality. You may have better equipment than your competitors, but that isn’t as important as whether you can produce higher quality images with your equipment.
A common pricing mistake of many photographers is to calculate their pricing schedule according to the time required to provide the service. Your and your accountant should certainly determine an hourly target, based on the number of hours per week you work in your business and the weekly income you require. Again, quality becomes the true measure. If you can deliver a high quality product much faster than your competitor charging an hourly rate, then you can charge according to quality, not time.
Although there are many sources that may recommend pricing methods for your photography, there are no proven formulas or models. Quality may be a very important factor, but your geographic market will also have an effect. An affluent market has more disposable income for photography than a lower-income community or neighborhood, but it would be a mistake to think that moderate-income consumers won’t pay your prices, if the quality is evident. The secret is to be able to explain and convince any consumer that your work is worth the price you are charging. Don’t be surprised, however, if you must adjust your prices as you gain a better understanding of your market. Of course, you don’t want a wide fluctuation in your prices during a relatively short period of time; but that is the reason to learn from this article, consult with your accountant and research your competitors, so you come as close to the right price structure from the first day of your business.
Another typical mistake of many professional photographers is trying to be all things to all people. Define exactly what kind of photography you shoot, so you can concentrate on identifying and marketing to a specific target audience. A prospects’ list of 100 highly qualified potential customers is much more valuable than a database of 5,000 names that may or may not be your best customers. When you’re able to identify your target audience accurately, you then know that these potential customers are more likely to pay the higher price for the higher quality, specific kind of photos you shoot.
Don’t feel bad if this is a challenge for you; it’s the same for many small business owners. When creating a pricing schedule for your photography work, you can’t be afraid to ask for the money.
Image credit: tang90246 / 123RF Stock Photo
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