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Thread started 02 Jan 2013 (Wednesday) 19:48
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Sorry, another 'How much should I charge' but this is a little more specific.

 
Caffrey123
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Jan 02, 2013 19:48 |  #1

http://imgur.com/UWAm5 (external link)

Here is my website www.samanthalovettphot​ography.com (external link)

I have been working as a professional family photographer for one year (starting as an absolute beginner and shooting for free one year ago). I am feeling completely comfortable with my art now so I am looking at raising my prices for 2013. Thoughts?

I know what price I am looking to charge based on my prices last year but I am interested to hear your thoughts?

A little info; I am in California. To keep things simple I offer digital packages (I also have a full time job and don't have the time yet to offer a whole bunch of products and further advertisement of those products)

My Family Sessions are at beautiful locations in the area lasting around 1.5 hours. My competition (many bad, many good, many mediocre) offers the same for anything from $45-$1000. I include a disk of high resolution edited images, anything from 25-40 images. I select the best, edit individually and deliver to their home with printing rights.

Thoughts?




  
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Jan 02, 2013 20:18 |  #2

Where in CA?

Prices are going to be different from LA to the IE and to SF etc.

I can't see the current pricing on your website anywhere, but I'd say the camera doesn't turn on for less than $400 judging from the quality of the work if you're in a major city.


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 02, 2013 20:20 |  #3

From another thread I posted in...

Your minimum pricing (1) ultimately gets set by your costs and working capacity, your maximum pricing (2) will level out at what the market is prepared to pay for the product/service you offer.

If 1 is a lot less than 2, happy days.
If 1 is close to 2, get ready to feel stress regularly.
If 1 is more than 2, give up and find another career.

No one can tell you the base price you can charge and be in a position to break even as no one else knows your figures.


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Caffrey123
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Jan 02, 2013 22:18 as a reply to  @ memoriesoftomorrow's post |  #4

Thank you for the replies.

I am in Central Coast California, north of Santa Barbara but not close enough to have a Santa Barbara clientelle. I live on an Airforce base so most of my clientelle are military although I am trying to branch out into the local communities, expecially Santa Ynez Valley.

I am working on my pricing right now so there is nothing on the website. My price for a family shoot in 2012 was $150, this includes the digital files I spoke about above. I know this is under priced so I was looking at $225 for the new year to be the price for my Family digital package. I stayed with $150 for so long as I was still learning and gaining experience. I now have a steady number of sessions a month on top of my day job.

Thank you all for any further thoughts.




  
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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jan 02, 2013 23:10 |  #5

Caffrey123 wrote in post #15436986 (external link)
http://imgur.com/UWAm5 (external link)

Here is my website www.samanthalovettphot​ography.com (external link)

I have been working as a professional family photographer for one year (starting as an absolute beginner and shooting for free one year ago). I am feeling completely comfortable with my art now so I am looking at raising my prices for 2013. Thoughts?

I know what price I am looking to charge based on my prices last year but I am interested to hear your thoughts?

A little info; I am in California. To keep things simple I offer digital packages (I also have a full time job and don't have the time yet to offer a whole bunch of products and further advertisement of those products)

My Family Sessions are at beautiful locations in the area lasting around 1.5 hours. My competition (many bad, many good, many mediocre) offers the same for anything from $45-$1000. I include a disk of high resolution edited images, anything from 25-40 images. I select the best, edit individually and deliver to their home with printing rights.

Thoughts?

As long as you are delivering digitally rather than selling prints, you will more than likely remain unprofitable.

My price for a family shoot in 2012 was $150, this includes the digital files I spoke about above. I know this is under priced so I was looking at $225 for the new year to be the price for my Family digital package. I stayed with $150 for so long as I was still learning and gaining experience. I now have a steady number of sessions a month on top of my day job.

Just burn your camera. It will be less painful and more profitable. You are losing money at $100-200 per session. Unless you have a physical studio space and are doing 30 minute sessions with no editing at this price and have a line out the door, you are losing money.

As a bonus, you are hurting all the photographers in your market by undercutting them. In return, you will get to see the market rate for photographers go down in your area, limiting your future earning potential.

Keep the day job or run it like a business with intention to profit.


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Caffrey123
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Jan 02, 2013 23:28 as a reply to  @ Thomas Campbell's post |  #6

I have explained that I know my prices last year were cheap in comparison but my experience was next to nothing. I do not feel comfortable (regardless of results or talent) to just pick up a camera and charge hundreds and hundreds of dollars within the first year.

I have one camera, one lens. Work from my home office. Beautiful locations within 10 miles. Other than tax, my minimal equipment upkeep and webspace etc I have next to no outgoings. I am most definitely making a profit if I charge $200+ a session. All of my advertising is free through word of mouth and Facebook. This is possible when living on a military base.

I am interested to know what other professionals think my product is worth in this area as I am new to both the area and business. If I went full time, I would be offering print packages but currently I just do not have the time for that. Working late into the night and creating a personalized disc for someone is working very well for my schedule.

I am very conscious of not being "that photographer" who undercuts other professionals; hence why I am increasing my price. Even at $150 a session last year I was one of the most expensive among my community and others were charging $35 for 30 minute mini sessions (These photographers were not bad). I am biting the bullet and increasing my prices because I respect the industry and I want clients to respect my work. This also attracts a different, more appreciative client too.




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 02, 2013 23:34 |  #7

Thomas Campbell wrote in post #15437728 (external link)
Keep the day job or run it like a business with intention to profit.

Whilst ever she has her day job it doesn't matter a great deal what she charges so long as she covers her costs and make something on top of that.

I never buy into this "hurting the industry" stuff, the only photographers who ever moan about being hurt are the ones with poor business models which aren't adaptable to the modern industry. The only competition who is hurting at the moment are the other ones at a similar price point.

My personal point of view is, for the domestic market at least, if you can run either part time or be home based you can undercut the studios all you want. Keep the your costs/overheads very low and you can afford to charge less and in many instances be more profitable than they are as they simply can't compete on price. I even mentor people how to run their business this way.

If done right you can run a home based business at between a third and a half the costs of someone with a studio. If you can do that whilst having another job so you are not solely reliant on a photographic income you can charge less than the studio but still earn more pro rata. Over time as your product / experience / service etc improves you can raise your prices even more as the client is buying "you" as opposed to just "the photos".

Even when you then continue to grow to full time (provided you still run without a studio) you can still undercut the studio based competition by either charging less or offering more value. In each instance they can't compete as their baseline costs are so much higher.


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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jan 02, 2013 23:35 |  #8

Caffrey123 wrote in post #15437791 (external link)
I have explained that I know my prices last year were cheap in comparison but my experience was next to nothing. I do not feel comfortable (regardless of results or talent) to just pick up a camera and charge hundreds and hundreds of dollars within the first year.

You shouldn't charge anything when you aren't providing a professional quality service.

I have one camera, one lens. Work from my home office. Beautiful locations within 10 miles. Other than tax, my minimal equipment upkeep and webspace etc I have next to no outgoings. I am most definitely making a profit if I charge $200+ a session. All of my advertising is free through word of mouth and Facebook. This is possible when living on a military base.

You don't understand your costs of doing business.

I am very conscious of not being "that photographer" who undercuts other professionals; hence why I am increasing my price.

Apparently not since you are charging $250 or less and including images on disc.


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 02, 2013 23:38 |  #9

Caffrey123 wrote in post #15437791 (external link)
I am very conscious of not being "that photographer" who undercuts other professionals;

Don't be afraid of being "that photographer" if your circumstances allow it. It is how I got to where I am today. If you are running in any way as business (even part time) then it pays to not be emotionally affected by what does or doesn't happen to your competition. They don't pay your bills or put food on your table.


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Caffrey123
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Jan 02, 2013 23:54 as a reply to  @ Thomas Campbell's post |  #10

Thomas Campbell, I am afraid you are making some very broad assumptions of my product, knowledge and service. I came here for advice, not to be told I should give up my business. I am increasing my prices because I am becoming more and more popular so your argument is irrelevant.

A little timeline of my success:

2011 - I began shooting for free to build a portfolio.
2012 - Once I felt fully competent I spent the year offering shoots for an introductory price of $150 despite clients coming back 3 or more times, producing great results, clients themselves telling me I was too cheap and becoming very confident and competent. However, In my first year of official business, I will not charge $400+ regardless of talent or results like I said above.
2013 - I am giving my business it's first anniversary over-hall and charging more. This is why I came here for advice.

Memoriesoftomorrow has some very valid points. It seems that those willing to embrace the digital era are succeeding while many others spend too often complaining about it. Snubbing those who offer images on disc is not helping you gain any more business. If a client has an interest in professional prints, which I always encourage, I offer suggestions. Client meetings in my home, ordering prints etc is something I do not have time for and is not needed at the moment to put food on my table. If that threatens other professionals then I think they need to rethink their business model, not mine.




  
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Jan 03, 2013 00:08 |  #11

Find out what the McStudios (Olan Mills, Sears, Lifetouch, KiddieCandids, etc) are charging. Charge more. ;) Pricing is as much psychological as it is economic, sometimes you just need to move yourself beyond a certain bracket.


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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jan 03, 2013 00:45 |  #12

Don't be afraid of being "that photographer" if your circumstances allow it. It is how I got to where I am today.

Could you have not made it as a photographer if you weren't that photographer? You probably would have still made it if you went about it another way. Just like I took another path and probably could have still made it.

Thomas Campbell, I am afraid you are making some very broad assumptions of my product, knowledge and service.

I am not. I am responding to your statements and common business sense.

I came here for advice, not to be told I should give up my business.

And if you would get over yourself, you would see the advice. You are not running a sustainable business. What you are doing is hurting yourself in the short term and in the long term. You need to adjust your business practices.

I am increasing my prices because I am becoming more and more popular so your argument is irrelevant.

That made no sense at all.

However, In my first year of official business, I will not charge $400+ regardless of talent or results like I said above.

That is a poor business decision. What year of business you are in is completely irrelevant to the quality of work you can produce. I know people that could put us all to shame that shoot for fun and not for money. If they wanted to make money at it, they would be making well over a thousand for a shoot.

It seems that those willing to embrace the digital era are succeeding while many others spend too often complaining about it.

I fully embrace the digital era. But I also know how to run a business and you clearly don't.

Snubbing those who offer images on disc is not helping you gain any more business.

I'm telling you how to run a profitable business. If you aren't interested in that, it is no skin off my back. But you are the one that came here to ask that. But apparently, you just came on here to seek validation on the decisions you already made.

If that threatens other professionals then I think they need to rethink their business model, not mine.

When you start running a profitable business (as I do) you can start lecturing people on how to run a business. When you are giving away dozens of pics on disc for a couple hundred dollars and think you are the ****, you arejust another photographer with their hands over their ears while getting solid business advice.

You are never going to have a profitable, well run business by doing what you are doing. If you are willing to ignore the people that have made it as a professional photographer and talking down to them when it is clear you don't know what you are doing, I have a lot of confidence that you won't be in business in 5 years.

If you want to be successful, it is all about attitude and business saavy. From your comments here, it appears you are poor in each. You aren't threatening anyone. There are thousands more just like you.


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 03, 2013 01:00 |  #13

Thomas Campbell wrote in post #15437963 (external link)
Could you have not made it as a photographer if you weren't that photographer? You probably would have still made it.

And the problem with the way I went about it is what exactly? I care about my business, not anyone else's. If another business struggles as a result of what I do or how I do it just takes them out of the running.

Thomas Campbell wrote in post #15437963 (external link)
You are never going to have a profitable, well run business by doing what you are doing. If you are willing to ignore the people that have made it as a professional photographer and talking down to them when it is clear you don't know what you are doing, I have a lot of confidence that you won't be in business in 5 years.

You seem to be completely overlooking their very low cost base and that their business at present is part time. Just because someone doesn't run the same business model as you doesn't mean that it won't work nor be a profitable one.

You seem to have a chip on your shoulder about people entering the industry this way. Why is that?

Part time, home based and a low cost base is a very smart way entering into the domestic photography industry as it minimises risk and allows you to grow organically without over investing financially.


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Jan 03, 2013 01:50 |  #14
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Caffrey123 wrote in post #15437852 (external link)
I came here for advice, not to be told I should give up my business.
This is why I came here for advice.

You know what your competition charges, you know your area, you know your work, you know your costs.
What do you expect anyone to be able to tell you about what to charge when you know these things and no one else does?

Sorry but it sounds to me like what you really came here for was a pat on the head and to be told what you want to hear and ignore what you don't. You are being told exactly what you asked for, what other people think, and being told that, you are rejecting and complaining about it.
I believe there was only one thing you came here for and that was to be told what you want to hear not other peoples thoughts.

You may not like what Thomas is telling you but he is correct in everything he is saying.
That goes for your business and business knowledge and beliefs.

The very fact you come here with a " How much do I charge" question proves his point that you do not understand business. If you did, there would be no need at all to ask the question in the first place or be remotely interested in what anyone else thinks. You would know and be certain of it.
You can come up with excuses and rebuttals on that but those that do know business also will know it's the truth for the reasons I outlined above to start with.

And no doubt you'll think i'm being a bastard as well but the truth is the ONLY person that has the required information to know what to Charge is YOU.
If you can't figure it out, then again Thomas is correct is saying you shouldn't be in business.

What other people think is irrelevant but as I said, I doubt that is the real question or the replys you are looking for.

Instead of getting annoyed with what people tell you that you don't like, have a think about it and prove them wrong with realistic numbers and FACTS. If you CAN do that, you know your right and can go ahead with confidence.

If you can't, you should be grateful and congratulated for being smart and open minded enough to learn something that will be an important help to you.


From RDKirk: First, let me check the forum heading...yes, it does say "Business of Photography" and not "Hobby of Photography." Okay. So we're talking about making money, not about hobbies. By "business" I am presuming activities that pay expenses and produce a profit over the long term.

  
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Jan 03, 2013 03:45 |  #15

This turned ugly rather quickly!

Thomas and Glumpy, it seems that I have struck a nerve. Thomas's first comment suggested that I "burn my camera" and that I am "unprofitable" when he has no idea about me or my business so I apologize if in response I came off as a little annoyed! I tried my best to explain my area, my competition and clientele. A part-time, home-based Family photographer has very little investment and overhead in comparison to a seasoned wedding photographer. Charging $150 at the moment and averaging around 3 sessions a week (Holiday season around 6 sessions weekly) I feel like I am doing well for myself both short term and long term. Being new to the area I wanted to build a name for myself before charging $100-$200 more than the other photographers in my community. When I say I am "getting more and more popular", I meant just that. The demand for my services has gotten higher. When working another job full-time, I have to constantly turn people away which is unfortunate and a loss of possible income. Raising my prices will become too expensive for some of my current/prospective clients but I will continue to book sessions and cater to those willing to pay more. It seems like the logical explanation and best way for my business to move forward at this point. It is interesting and good advice to say that $225 is too cheap for the industry or area but it cannot be said that it is unprofitable in my circumstances. On the other hand, if you meant that I should "burn my camera" because you disliked my portfolio then I will take that, but a more constructive method of criticism may be nicer.




  
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Sorry, another 'How much should I charge' but this is a little more specific.
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