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Your Photography & Video Pricing Strategy For 2017 In The Raleigh NC Market

I specifically put "Raleigh NC Market" in the headline of this post because every market is not the same. If you are in the heart of New York City like Peter Hurley who charges around $1,200 for a headshot session, you have a better chance of getting that price. However, I think you'd be hard pressed to consistently get $1,200 for a headshot session in Raleigh NC. Whether your market is local to Raleigh or a different part of the country or world, my philosophy is "Know Thy Market!" In other words, know what price points will work in your market.

Although I don't go into video pricing much at all in this post, you can still use the same ideas to help determine your video pricing rates.

Before I dive into further thoughts about pricing, I wanted to share a link to "How Much Should Photographers Charge In 2016?" Oh, but it's 2017 as of this post. Well, "How Much Should Photographers Charge In 2017?" will likely have a new version out in the first quarter of 2017 (FYI, do a Google search.). If not, just use the 2016 one as a guideline. Notice that I said guideline because at the end of the day you have to decide what profitable pricing looks like in your photography and/or videography business.

Ah, PROFIT! It's not a bad word.

Profit is how you stay in business long term. What's profitable for you may not be profitable for someone else. Here's a real world example: In my case, I have employee's, overhead outside my home (studio), insurance for the business (every real business owner should have), a CPA that bills monthly for services and more. So what's profitable for you if you work from home with low overhead may not be profitable for me. You may be able to do a couple of projects a week bringing in $500 to $1,000 per week and make a comfortable living. In my case, $500 to $1,000 per week would put me out of business. However, don't price your services so low that you cannot buy the necessary gear ( needed not wanted ) you need with cash not credit and potentially become full time if that's your goal.

I see too many wanna be photographers that have a primary job that want to make money on the side in photography treating it more like a hobby than a business. If photography is your hobby, treat it like a hobby and don't charge for your services. If photography is a part-time sideline business ( keyword business ), treat it like a business and charge fair market rates.

How do you know what fair market rates are?

If I asked you the following, "Can you spend 2 hours at the local park with my family taking photos with that "nice camera" you have? Then, Can you spend some additional time cleaning them up before you give them to me ( you know that software stuff  - Photoshop )? Then, Can you burn all those images to a CD for $49 ( because I don't value your time )?" ........... Would you ( part-time, wanna be, photographer ) think that is a fair market rate? Will this type of pricing help you buy the necessary gear you need to grow? Will this pricing cover insurance costs for your gear/business? Will this pricing support your family? Will this pricing lead to being a full time professional? I'm guessing ( but I could be wrong ) that your answers are No, No, No, No and No. If you agree, then make a commitment right now to stop charging crazy low prices for what are supposed to be "professional services."

Other professionals charge for their services, why undermine photography?

Would you hire a $10 an hour plumber to fix a major plumbing issue? My guess is that you'd expect to pay $80 to $100+ an hour for plumbing services and likely the same for a licensed electrician. Would hire a $50 an hour for attorney? My guess is that you'd expect to pay $150 to $250+ an hour for an attorney? So why can't a photographer be expected to be paid fairly? Photographers can and do get paid fairly. The ones who don't have a perception that people will not pay for professional photography services in the digital age. Stop thinking like that if you want to get to the next level in photography and/or videography.

How do you know what to charge for your services?

There are formulas online that can help, but I have found them to be somewhat complicated. Another way is to look at what others are charging, but that doesn't mean you'll come up with a profitable pricing model for you. However, at the end of the day, it will take a combination of research online, asking those you know, looking at your overhead, setting income goals and determining what the market will bear as well as other things to come up with a good, fair, profitable pricing model. I can tell you that a good baseline is referring back to "How Much Should Photographers Charge In 2016?" which is not a cure all, end all, be all, but it is a good reference point to put in the mix of your research. However, I will not leave you hanging and will share some of the ranges that I have found to be consistent in the Raleigh market.

In 100% of the examples below, there are exceptions. In some cases, the pricing can be much higher for full time veteran photographers. The pricing below is purely based on what I have discovered to be ranges in the Raleigh market.

Wedding Photography - $2,000 to $3,500+ 
Professional Headshots - $100 to $250+ 
Family, Pet, Engagement & Other Consumer Photography - $150 to $500+
Real Estate Home Photography - $100 to $200 (Average Size Home)
Commercial Photography Full Day Rate - $1,500 to $2,000+
Event Photography - $100 to $200+ an hour

It's also important to note: The pricing above does not indicate what is included at the price listed. For example, let's look at professional headshots. As of this post, I typically charge $150 for a standard, one outfit session, at the studio not on location that is 30 minutes or less ( but includes lots of variety ) and it comes with ONE final edited image.

On the general portrait side, I've found someone else in the Raleigh market ( pricing on the website ) that goes on location, shoots up to 60 minutes and includes 10 edited images for $100. I can almost assure you that those 10 edited images are not edited to our level. If so, this photographer is WAY undervaluing their services because 10 edited images to our standards would be an additional 2 1/2 to 5 hours of editing. As mentioned previously in this post, this is an example of a price point ($100 on site 10 images) that would not keep me in business long term. FYI, I think this photographer is talented and charging way too low for professional photography services. I'm also guessing that this photographer has very low overhead.

Photographers deserve and should make more than just a little over minimum wage. All photographers should do the math on total time invested divided into what they charge. For example, travel to location, shooting time on location, travel back to office (even if at home), time editing, time uploading/delivering, back and forth before, during and after with the client, time and/or money spent to obtain the client. With that said, let's say it took 6 total hours for a $100 sale. That equals out to $16 an hour. If that's where the photographer wants to be and that is a sustainable long term income, I guess that's fine. But once purchasing new gear, taxes, insurance, cost of living and everything else life throws at us, it's hard to make a living at that rate. However, what about the employee option.

Maybe working for someone is a better option

Not everyone is cut out to work for themselves. It's not easy. It's a lot of work to build a sustainable, profitable business. It not only takes MASSIVE amount of time, but it is also hard to build a business without some financial investment involved. There is no shame in doing what you love while working for someone else. According to some research that I have done, all of which you can do in 30 minutes or less, the average hourly wage for a photographer is about $18 an hour. That works out to a little under $40,000 per year on a full time basis. That may not make you rich, but photography is probably the wrong business to be in if you are looking to be rich. How do you define rich anyway? It's in the eye of the beholder.

I hope that I have said something that may help you in your endeavors into the amazing industry of photography and videography. Please be sure to SHARE this post using the icons below and/or comment using the comments sections.

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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.