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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 05 Jul 2012 (Thursday) 23:50
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Changing Up Prices...

 
ColeSales
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Jul 05, 2012 23:50 |  #1

Although, I'm still a high school student..I'm still looking for ways to get more sessions under my belt. Currently I've taken {ONE} paid seniors pictures this year. I'm looking for suggestions and tips to help me re-construct a new pricing structure.

My Top Competitor:

All-Inclusive Senior Session $150
Includes:
• Photographing senior for up to 3 hours
• Unlimited outfits and props (car, pet, etc.)
• Up to 10 photos retouched/artworked
•Rights-free CD with all finished photos and proofs

All-Inclusive Family Portrait Session $80
Includes:
• Photographing family (up to 6) for up to 1 hour
• Up to 5 photos retouched
•Rights-free CD with all finished photos and proofs

Competitor Two:

Session Fee Senior Photo $75.00
2 Hours of Photography
2-3 Locations of your choice
Unlimited Clothing Changes
Online Proof Gallery for 6 months
24 image Proof Book

Family Photo $175.00
1 Hour of Photography
Location of your choice
Clothing change (optional)
DVD of images
Online gallery for 6 months

I'm not looking to copy them, but to find a good medium between the two to bring more clients in to my website and business.

Any ideas/suggestions will be considered.

View My Current Pricing Structure Here:

http://www.colesalesph​otography.com/Services (external link)


Starting in Aug. I will mostly be focusing on Portraits, Sports, and Event photography.


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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jul 06, 2012 00:31 |  #2

•Rights-free CD with all finished photos and proofs

Remove this. That is all your leverage. There is money in prints. There is no money if you include a disc at a low price.


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mike_311
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Jul 06, 2012 05:43 |  #3

^^^^^ agree

try this:

session fee $50, but dont go so low you lose money on the job if they dont buy many prints, undercut the competition, plus it lowers the customer risk for trying you.

they can share the watermarked proofs you give them, and then sell the prints for a very high price, say a 20% markup over the printer costs. if you sell two 8x10 prints, you have equaled your top competitors price, if you sell more (wallets, 5x7s, etc) you've outsold him. if you are good, when they see your prints they will have to buy them.


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rjx
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Jul 06, 2012 06:36 |  #4

Instead of worrying about pricing, at this stage, i'd focus on improving your portfolio by working for free to get more experience and to improve your skill-set. I applaud you for what your trying to accomplish and if you maintain your determination you'll have a great chance for success.


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ColeSales
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Jul 06, 2012 09:33 as a reply to  @ rjx's post |  #5

I think I'm going to offer a $65 session fee and they can then buy digitial downloads and prints off my website as they wish. But how long of a session for a $65 fee..? Two hours.?


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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jul 06, 2012 10:16 |  #6

ColeSales wrote in post #14678418 (external link)
I think I'm going to offer a $65 session fee and they can then buy digitial downloads and prints off my website as they wish. But how long of a session for a $65 fee..? Two hours.?

Don't just offer things online. That gets people to put off and put off and then never buy. When you schedule the photo session, schedule the ordering session ~2 weeks later. You probably don't have a studio, so offer to do it in their home.

You aren't just a photographer now, you are creating their wall art that they will cherish for decades. And with wall art, there is an expectation of expense. Call it an ordering session, not a proofing session to set their expectation that they are going to order. If you are in their home for it, they are at ease because they have home field advantage and you can give suggestions on "Wouldn't a 20x30 look great right here?"

Make a little suitcase that has prints of various sizes and styles that you can bring. Dress nice and be personable. Don't put anything online before your ordering session. Don't put anything online that they didn't purchase.


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GerryDavid
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Jul 06, 2012 23:38 |  #7

mike_311 wrote in post #14677674 (external link)
^^^^^ agree

try this:

session fee $50, but dont go so low you lose money on the job if they dont buy many prints, undercut the competition, plus it lowers the customer risk for trying you.

they can share the watermarked proofs you give them, and then sell the prints for a very high price, say a 20% markup over the printer costs. if you sell two 8x10 prints, you have equaled your top competitors price, if you sell more (wallets, 5x7s, etc) you've outsold him. if you are good, when they see your prints they will have to buy them.

I think the OP needs to watch sal cincotta's live video cast this weekend, today/Friday was day one and he talked about senior reps, packages and other business stuff. Its been very interesting! I thought it was going to be a waste of time but I have a notepad full of information that I have to consider. :D They are repeating it right now, or you can buy the videos for $100 and im actually tempted to do that since im going to miss most of Saturday and Sundays videos. I think its 17 hours all together.

dont offer digital files, it will kill your sales. And charge for your time keeping in mind there is a lot more work behind the computer than there is behind the camera plus all the expenses of running a business.

If you price your packages right, you could make $1000 or more off of a senior portrait, offer digital files in your lowest package and you wont see those sales.

Be sure to offer many things including albums and wall prints/storyboards.


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LONDON808
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Jul 07, 2012 03:13 |  #8

rjx wrote in post #14677773 (external link)
Instead of worrying about pricing, at this stage, i'd focus on improving your portfolio by working for free to get more experience and to improve your skill-set. I applaud you for what your trying to accomplish and if you maintain your determination you'll have a great chance for success.

NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER NEVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

WORK FOR FREE ! ! ! ! !


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pstyle1
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Jul 07, 2012 06:41 |  #9

LONDON808 wrote in post #14682538 (external link)
NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER NEVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

WORK FOR FREE ! ! ! ! !

Care to elaborate? If you are just starting out, and need a portfolio, then what's wrong with this approach? Some photographer even PAY to take photos for their portfolios.


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Christopher ­ Steven ­ b
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Jul 07, 2012 08:43 |  #10

@op: if you have shot only 1 senior portrait session before, why are you considering charging in the realm of what the professionals (who presumably have lots of experience, backup equipment, insurance, references etc.) in your area do ? One somewhat reasonable answer might be that you're doing work that resembles theirs.

As for working for free, I don't consider working for 0$ to necessarily be working for free. For many photographers, especially those looking to build a portfolio quickly, working for zero or very little absolutely makes sense. Instead of money you're working for experience, for contacts, for confidence. When you get a lot better, you're working for these things + $. But we really shouldn't downplay the VALUE of the prior.

@London808: in addition to what I just said, I'd add the questions: what about work for a charity ? What about work for your mother ?



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Luckless
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Jul 07, 2012 09:24 |  #11

Before you even consider prices you need a business plan.

You need to figure out your costs and expenses. How much are you investing in this as a business? What are you actually having to put in as far as your time and money?

Then you need to figure out your market. How many customers can you possibly have, how many other photographers are offering what you are, and why are customers suppose to come to you instead of them. (If you fight on price alone, you will lose. No one in history has ever made long term profits solely by selling the same thing for less than their competitor. If they can afford it, their competitor can too, and they simply drop their prices to match. Trying to play business on price alone becomes a race to the bottom where everyone loses.)

After you have worked that out, you can begin to figure out what you need to set your prices at. Prices are not numbers you pull out of your backside, they have actual reasons for existing if you want things to be profitable.

The pricing you posted does not suggest much in the way of selling prints or additional services, and income per hour starts to look very low after you factor in any travel time for yourself, any wait time for the customer. (Two customers aren't going to want to pay you for your break between them. Shooting A for 3 hours at 9 in the morning, and not shooting B till after 6? What are you doing between them?) And never forget the time you will have to spend in post, as well as checking and testing gear.


As for never working for free? The Open Source Software community would strongly disagree. Thousands of jobs are filled monthly based on great projects in people's portfolios. Millions of dollars are generated and raised from projects that you and I are free not only to download, but to ask for all the instructions on how it was made so we can change it ourselves.

If you play your cards right, it is totally possible to have higher profits by doing things 'for free'. There is far more to life than just cash itself.


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JDPhotoGuy
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Jul 07, 2012 11:09 |  #12

pstyle1 wrote in post #14682786 (external link)
Care to elaborate? If you are just starting out, and need a portfolio, then what's wrong with this approach? Some photographer even PAY to take photos for their portfolios.

1 - You're taking money out of your own pocket or another person who does this for a living.

2 - You'll end up with "those" clients. The ones that expect a $1000 session for free and will threaten to sue you if they don't get it no matter how little they paid.

3 - Ever hand someone a bill and have that "Oh, well I know XXXXX and you did theirs for free."? I don't care if you only do one session for free, the fall out from that will make the Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon look like isolated coincidence.

There is value in everything we do. NEVER EVER offer to give away free services in a field of expertise you plan on making a living out of. Period.


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CameraMan
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Jul 07, 2012 11:16 |  #13

I am having the same situation from a wedding I shot recently. Usually I shoot through a vendor and the person I shot the wedding for recently is up in arms because I did not charge the vendors rates which are way lower than MY regular rates.


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Luckless
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Jul 07, 2012 11:25 |  #14

JDPhotoGuy wrote in post #14683468 (external link)
1 - You're taking money out of your own pocket or another person who does this for a living.

2 - You'll end up with "those" clients. The ones that expect a $1000 session for free and will threaten to sue you if they don't get it no matter how little they paid.

3 - Ever hand someone a bill and have that "Oh, well I know XXXXX and you did theirs for free."? I don't care if you only do one session for free, the fall out from that will make the Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon look like isolated coincidence.

There is value in everything we do. NEVER EVER offer to give away free services in a field of expertise you plan on making a living out of. Period.

That is when you say "No."

Assuming you have done enough of your leg work to gain the skill and experience that your work stands on its own, then you should have no problems saying No. "I'm sorry, I did those shoots at that price to work on my portfolio. To cover the costs of my equipment and time my price is X."

Photography in and of itself Has No Value. Like everything else, its value is based purely on what people, the customers, agree it is worth. Don't believe me? Find out what the top paid photographer in the world makes for an hour long shoot, double it, and go out and find yourself a customer. Good luck. If you have no experience, if you have nothing to back up your word about what your skill as a photographer is worth, then you are going to have a next to impossible time convincing people to pay you a fair price for the work. And how do you propose one build a portfolio when no one will hire them?

Experience is worth a lot more than a few photo shoots. Why do you think photographers Pay to take classes? You have to start somewhere.

Basically the only things you need to keep in mind when you are offering to do photography for free from a business standpoint are these two things:
1. You are there to learn, practice, and explore. Use your time wisely to that effect.
2. Remember to Stop doing things for free or low cost! After applying point number 1 to good effect, you should quickly be moving above and beyond as you become a better photographer.

And if you're not becoming a better photographer, then may I suggest going to a trade school, or getting a science degree. Just because you love photography doesn't mean you are actually as good as you want to be. There is no shame in not being able to cut it as a professional photographer who makes a real name for themselves in the industry. Nothing says you can't enjoy it along side a common day job.


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JDPhotoGuy
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Jul 07, 2012 11:39 |  #15

Luckless wrote in post #14683515 (external link)
That is when you say "No."

Assuming you have done enough of your leg work to gain the skill and experience that your work stands on its own, then you should have no problems saying No. "I'm sorry, I did those shoots at that price to work on my portfolio. To cover the costs of my equipment and time my price is X."

Photography in and of itself Has No Value. Like everything else, its value is based purely on what people, the customers, agree it is worth. Don't believe me? Find out what the top paid photographer in the world makes for an hour long shoot, double it, and go out and find yourself a customer. Good luck. If you have no experience, if you have nothing to back up your word about what your skill as a photographer is worth, then you are going to have a next to impossible time convincing people to pay you a fair price for the work. And how do you propose one build a portfolio when no one will hire them?

Experience is worth a lot more than a few photo shoots. Why do you think photographers Pay to take classes? You have to start somewhere.

Basically the only things you need to keep in mind when you are offering to do photography for free from a business standpoint are these two things:
1. You are there to learn, practice, and explore. Use your time wisely to that effect.
2. Remember to Stop doing things for free or low cost! After applying point number 1 to good effect, you should quickly be moving above and beyond as you become a better photographer.

And if you're not becoming a better photographer, then may I suggest going to a trade school, or getting a science degree. Just because you love photography doesn't mean you are actually as good as you want to be. There is no shame in not being able to cut it as a professional photographer who makes a real name for themselves in the industry. Nothing says you can't enjoy it along side a common day job.

Then we'll have to agree to disagree. Only fools agree to internships. It takes a special kind of fool to self impose one. There are plenty of ways to "practice" without dipping into your potential customer pool.


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