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Professional Photography Pricing Is All Over The Place & The End User Has An Opinion

Pricing and Special Offers Collage
Photography pricing is in the eye of the beholder. No matter what your photography pricing is as a photographer, there are two things that will likely be true:

1) No matter what price point you are at, there will always be a market. For example, there are photographers who do weddings for $500 and those who do weddings for $20,000 and both stay busy.

2) It's really about the perception of the person asking about your services. Do they like your work? What do they consider a acceptable price for the services being offered? Do they have the budget to pay for your services? Even the photographers that charge $99 to burn all the images to a CD will not be a fit for everyone. Those who are flat broke cannot even afford $99 and those that have larger budgets will likely not consider the $99 photographer because of quality concerns or things like they must be new if they are that cheap.

Complicated Pricing Model...
There is no need to complicate your pricing model to the point that you lose business because of it. I was recently hired to do headshots for someone that shared a pricing model story with me. It's kind of like one of those offers of get in the door for peanuts but to get what you really want, you leave broke. That doesn't leave the client feeling good. Don't get me wrong, I understand upsells, etc. But don't make the process so complicated. Make your pricing model as easy as ABC not *#^X%D@!

Here's how my pricing model works: A) This is what you get. B) This is what it will cost. C) If you want more, it's X. That's easy as ABC and can be understood without a lot of thought.

Value To The Client Pricing...
A veteran photographer told me a story about charging $6,000 for family portraits. Sounds like a lot doesn't it? Well, it wasn't a lot to the family using his services. He later found out that the lady stated that although his quality was great that she could not refer him to her friends because she usually paid $12,000 to $15,000 for similar services. Yes, this is a true story. Don't undersell yourself.

I have a similar story that I will not share the dollar figure with because I shot myself in the foot with my quote. The quote was for a full day commercial photoshoot for a big brand with an assistant. When I provided the quote, I could tell that the lady on the other end of the phone thought it was a great value. I did get the project and I did build a great relationship with the person who hired me. But it taught me a lesson. Price is in the eye of the beholder based on the value that he or she associates with the services being provided.

The opposite of the above is also true. No matter what you quote, it will not always be in someone's budget. You are likely going to here things like "that's a little more than I was expecting to pay" or like a fellow photographer friend of mind said some stated about her "she's expensive." Just to put the "She's expensive!" into perspective. My friend quoted something like $350 for a photoshoot. That may be expensive if the person getting the quote usually pays half that for similar service. BUT I know that my friends quality, experience and professionalism are well worth the price different.

When Price Is The First Question, Then, Hang On
One of the key things that I have learned about answering phone calls concerning my headshot photography services is that when the very first question is "How much do you charge for a headshot?" vs. the caller saying "I need an updated headshot for Linkedin, Publication, Website..," the scheduling ratio is higher on those who DO NOT ask about pricing as soon as I answer the phone. As a matter of fact, I close the majority of headshot inquiries that DO NOT ask about pricing first thing. 

I'm $125-$190 for a headshoot shoot that includes lots of variety and basic editing which is extremely competitive for the Raleigh market but not as low as a photographer who may be working out of his or her home and definitely not as low as JcPenney.

To Summarize...
1) No matter what you charge, there will most likely be a market for that price point.
2) Don't complicate your pricing model. Make it as easy as ABC.
3) Pricing is in the eye of the beholder.
4) Figure out your response when the first question is "How much do you charge for X?"

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David Williams

Short Bio About The Author: I'm David Williams a professional commercial photographer focusing on corporate and business clients with some personal branding, lifestyle photography in the mix. My love for photography began in late 1981 while still in High School. I started making money with his camera in 1982. Brenda, my wife, and I started working together in photography in 1988 shortly after we met. Brenda and I married in 1989 and have two adult daughters. Please be sure to get a quote for services if needed. Call or Text: 919.723.8453. Please reach out to connect with me on LinkedIn.