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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.

 
Christopher ­ Steven ­ b
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Jan 03, 2013 06:06 |  #16

@Thomas: Do you not think a given photography market should exhibit a full range of pricing options that are at least in part commensurate with the ability and experience of the photographer ? Is it not possible that the OP is providing a 'professional quality service' and yet is nonetheless on the lower end of the creativity or experience spectrum and should be charging accordingly ?



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Jan 03, 2013 07:44 |  #17

Caffrey123 wrote in post #15436986 (external link)
(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)

This is your hobby, from which you are making some money. If you took some time away from your primary job to set up your hobby more like a business you would possibly make more money from your hobby and perhaps quit your other job in order to make more money from your passion for photography.

Caffrey123 wrote in post #15437791 (external link)
I have one camera, one lens. Work from my home office. 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.

This is a very creative way to go about running a business, no backup plan? You are making money, if you were making enough money you would have more than one camera and one lens but could you pay yourself enough to puy food on the table?

Caffrey123 wrote in post #15438225 (external link)
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.

And this has captured your entire issue with those that are actually running a business. You are making money from a hobby and you are opening yourself up to legal problems. First one is you just stated that you are working from military base housing. Do you have permission from the base commander to do that? Don't tell me that "everyone does it", just look up the legality. How much insurance do you carry for liability, let alone equipment replacement? How is your accounting system, do you pay your taxes?
These guys run a business from which they have medical insurance, health insurance... Your price structure and business model is vastly different from them so just know where they are coming from.


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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jan 03, 2013 08:55 as a reply to  @ post 15438225 |  #18

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.

And I recommend that most photographers start out like that. Because many find out that they don't really want to be in business. That is exactly how I started out. But I didn't start out shooting $500 or free weddings, either.

@Thomas: Do you not think a given photography market should exhibit a full range of pricing options that are at least in part commensurate with the ability and experience of the photographer ? Is it not possible that the OP is providing a 'professional quality service' and yet is nonetheless on the lower end of the creativity or experience spectrum and should be charging accordingly ?

I absolutely believe there should be a lower and higher end with many options in between. However, I don't think people should be pretending to be in business while not charging sustainable rates.

What other industry do you see people charging money, but intentionally losing money at a business? What other industry do you see people pretending to be a professional before they have acquired the requisite skills and experience? Why is photography so different?

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.

No, it is absolutely easy to say you are unprofitable. But you possibly aren't paying taxes. You possibly aren't charging sales tax. You are taking a little cash on the side for your hobby.

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 don't need to know every little accounting you have to know that $225 including a disc is an unprofitable venture. I don't need to know who you are. I don't need to know how little gear you have or anything of the sort. I do need a solid understanding of the industry and the costs associated with running a small business - which I have.

it cannot be said that it is unprofitable in my circumstances.

It absolutely can be said and you can't refute it with anything but emotion because you don't understand your true costs of doing business.


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J ­ Michael
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Jan 03, 2013 16:00 |  #19

You have a nice looking website and some nice portraits. I'm puzzled about the handing off of the digital files to your customers. I think it's unfair to saddle your customers with the responsibility of executing the most important part of your vision, the final images. I would team up with good printer who will get to know how you expect your work to look and let her handle your prints. Extra points if she has the capability to handle presentation (mounting on nice substrates, etc.) Charge accordingly. Sounds like you are in a reasonably good market even if you have to expand a bit geographically.




  
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Christopher ­ Steven ­ b
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Jan 03, 2013 16:20 |  #20

^ You're presuming her customers want prints. Maybe they don't. Were I to get married, I don't think I'd want any more than 1 print at the most. When I look for a wedding photographer, I'll look for the ones offering a disc of images.

@Thomas - Not everyone can afford $1000 or even $500 for portraits. Isn't it better to have a developing (and genuinely passionate it seems to me) photographer like the OP to do photos for those people rather than an uncle ?



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Jan 03, 2013 16:26 |  #21

Thomas Campbell wrote in post #15438771 (external link)
It absolutely can be said and you can't refute it with anything but emotion because you don't understand your true costs of doing business.

So. Perhaps you could explain to the OP and the rest of the photographic world - unemotionally of course - what the "true costs of doing business" are?

Because if you can't, you've wasted a whole load of time making silly, unhelpful and discouraging points for free to someone who just asked for our help.




  
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Christopher ­ Steven ­ b
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Jan 03, 2013 16:37 |  #22

^ Thomas needs no defenders, but the dude clearly knows what he's talking about and has laid out (in another thread) at least a glimpse of what a good COB assessment looks like. I just disagree with his notions of what a healthy photography market should look like and think his advice while good, isn't necessarily relevant at every stage of development for every photographer.



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J ­ Michael
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Jan 03, 2013 16:45 |  #23

Christopher Steven b wrote in post #15440485 (external link)
^ You're presuming her customers want prints. Maybe they don't. Were I to get married, I don't think I'd want any more than 1 print at the most. When I look for a wedding photographer, I'll look for the ones offering a disc of images.

Sure, it depends on the niche you intend to carve out. In her market there should be a segment that is a) not driven solely by price, b) driven by quality, and c) interested in having nice images that survive the digital dark ages while providing suitable wall decor in the interim.




  
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JohnB57
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Jan 03, 2013 16:49 |  #24

Christopher Steven b wrote in post #15440567 (external link)
^ Thomas needs no defenders, but the dude clearly knows what he's talking about and has laid out (in another thread) at least a glimpse of what a good COB assessment looks like. I just disagree with his notions of what a healthy photography market should look like and think his advice while good, isn't necessarily relevant at every stage of development for every photographer.

Thanks for your assessment. I'm not sure the second part is correct though. Profit simply means that sales exceeds cost of sales. It just isn't within his knowledge or remit to determine the equation for the OP's individual situation and to make such a statement.




  
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Jan 03, 2013 16:51 as a reply to  @ J Michael's post |  #25

Thank you J Michael and Christopher Steven for your comments, I am soaking all of this in and looking into the future positively.

I want to be a little more clear on a few points that many seem to have picked up the wrong end of.

*I absolutely pay the appropriate taxes and am running a legitimate business in my area with permission from all the appropriate government bodies. My intention was never to spill figures and percentages to strangers online as I believe that is private.

*No professional is well seasoned and fully experienced from the beginning of their career. I look at myself as a beginner in the business but my work is still professional quality whether I call myself a beginner or not. I am being honest and modest and know I cannot charge the same as some of my favourite talented photographers whom I look up to. One day I look forward to calling myself "seasoned" in the business but I have never heard of someone being told to call it quits due to modesty. In fact, I came here thinking that I may be charging too much for my area.

*My back up plan for equipment is a fantastic warranty plan (last week I was sent a brand new 50mm f/1.4 the day after requesting it due to my other one having a focus issue) and a reliable rental store only one hour away. If all failed, I will not be losing my bread and butter because I am part-time, have a full time income and full benefits.

*This is not my sole income so I am not interested in making large profit margins and investing more than I need to. I have many benefits through both my current job and my husband's job. If this is to become my full time job in the future, I will begin looking at it in an entirely different way of course. I do not intend to give up my other career. I work for a non-profit whose cause I am passionate about. I am also passionate about photography but I will never be giving up my current day job while in this area no matter how busy or successful I could be. This may seem strange for some but I am more than happy with my current situation; I just thought it was time to raise my prices so looked to some more seasoned professionals for their thoughts.


J Michael - I understand that the final product should be and looks best as a beautiful print on a wall or in an album. There is nothing more complimenting than seeing an image of yours hanging on a wall in someone's home. From dealing with client inquiries and knowing the type of clientele in my area, my guess would be that 95% of my clients come to me because they prefer and are drawn in by the digital packages. I don't break the cost down online because I know that my clientele prefers a simple all inclusive package which has worked fabulously for me so far. If I were to break it down, my disc of 25 edited images is being sold for around $100. In 2013, I am charging $150. This price includes my editing time with the remainder being my sitting fee for 1.5 hours. Many successful photographers who I admire (my wedding photographer included) use this all inclusive system and are thriving.

We all do business differently depending on our experience, talent, genre of photography, different goals and needs for our family. My current system works well for me and my lifestyle. Admitting that I am starting out in the business does not make my work any less professional. I know I do not have the most fabulous business skills but I do not see any fault in admitting that either. It would be unfortunate and stupid to admit if I were full time and needed this to put food on the table but luckily I am not in that position. If in the future I plan on changing to photography full time, I will buckle down and work hard to create a sustainable, profitable business. In that situation, I would have been asking for completely different advice. I laid out the details of my area, competition and that I am part-time yet many are determined that I am still not profitable. I am supplementing my income a great deal, while still giving myself enough space and time to enjoy a great lifestyle. Yes, I could bump my prices way up and offer print packages, wedding packages, bump to baby packages etc but I do not have the time for that.

I completely understand where everyone is coming from (as business owners with employees, medical insurance etc) but I did not think I would need to repeat again and again that I am in a different position. Although I love it dearly, it's not something I am looking to do full time so many of their points do not apply to my current position.

I would be interested to hear an answer to my original question if anyone cares to share thoughts? I probably should have mentioned that I am part-time in my opening post. If you believe $225 is too cheap with the disc included, do you think $300 is more reasonable? Please take a look at my work on my website if you are interested - www.samanthalovettphot​ography.com (external link). My more recent shoots can be seen on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.co​m …hy/113762992064​628?ref=hl (external link). Due to the busyness of the Christmas period, I have not updated my website much.

Thank you!




  
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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Jan 03, 2013 16:57 as a reply to  @ Christopher Steven b's post |  #26

Not everyone can afford $1000 or even $500 for portraits.

I can't afford a Ferrari, even though I want one. That doesn't mean that I am entitled to the cheapest car Ferrari makes at a loss just because I want it.

Were I to get married, I don't think I'd want any more than 1 print at the most. When I look for a wedding photographer, I'll look for the ones offering a disc of images.

Wedding and portrait business models are somewhat different. You can totally be a profitable wedding photographer while including a disc for weddings. The charge per wedding is much higher than your average portrait session and there is more room for profit.

So. Perhaps you could explain to the OP and the rest of the photographic world - unemotionally of course - what the "true costs of doing business" are?

It has been laid out many times on here in the past.

There is also the very free CODB calculator from the NPPA.

https://www.nppa.org/c​alculator (external link)

Now some things on there may not apply to every photographer. They also don't have a line for print products since it was designed for editorial photographers. But this is a very good starting point to start thinking about what your assignments actually cost you.

John Harrington also wrote a very good book called Better Business Practices for Photographers: http://www.amazon.com …hers-Second/dp/1435454294 (external link)

I haven't read it, but Sal Cincotta wrote a book about business practices for photographers recently, as well.

I just disagree with his notions of what a healthy photography market should look like and think his advice while good, isn't necessarily relevant at every stage of development for every photographer.

I just don't think people should be charging for their work when they aren't shooting professional quality work.

And I don't think people should be charging so little that they are not turning a profit if they are trying to run a business.


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Christopher ­ Steven ­ b
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Jan 03, 2013 17:07 |  #27

Hey Samantha. Here is what I think is your problem / challenge:

It seems that you're getting shoots largely by referrals. By upping your prices you may very well price yourself out of actual conversions by these folks, who perhaps have associated your work with your lower fees. In fact, many of your clients booked you because of your low rates.

My guess is that to maintain your level of bookings at a higher price point, you'll probably have to do marketing aside from the word of mouth that you have going for you. You'll need to reach folks who are totally willing to pay higher rates but who may not be in your circle at present.

Just for background, I'm one of these evil 'start a photography business with low prices and raise prices over time' photographers. It has worked thus far for me, but only because my approach to marketing has put me in contact with a really broad array of potential clients. If you aren't doing so already, I'd get to work on SEO on your site.



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Christopher ­ Steven ­ b
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Jan 03, 2013 17:11 |  #28

@Thomas: people who can't afford ferraris but who want a car have the option of buying a used car for $200. Used cars are part of the Automobile market. And newby / developing photographers are part of the wedding market.



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Jan 03, 2013 17:13 |  #29

Thomas Campbell wrote in post #15440648 (external link)
I can't afford a Ferrari, even though I want one. That doesn't mean that I am entitled to the cheapest car Ferrari makes at a loss just because I want it.

It has been laid out many times on here in the past.

There is also the very free CODB calculator from the NPPA.

https://www.nppa.org/c​alculator (external link)

Now some things on there may not apply to every photographer. They also don't have a line for print products since it was designed for editorial photographers. But this is a very good starting point to start thinking about what your assignments actually cost you.

John Harrington also wrote a very good book called Better Business Practices for Photographers: http://www.amazon.com …hers-Second/dp/1435454294 (external link)

I haven't read it, but Sal Cincotta wrote a book about business practices for photographers recently, as well.

I just don't think people should be charging for their work when they aren't shooting professional quality work.

And I don't think people should be charging so little that they are not turning a profit if they are trying to run a business.

This is very poor Thomas.

  • Quoting other people's crit with nothing of your own added

  • Totally ignoring the OP's real world situation

  • Not providing a definition of "professional quality work"


Define, in your own words (rather than providing a link) "not turning a profit". Go on...



  
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RandyMN
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Jan 03, 2013 17:18 |  #30

I want to be a Ferrari- Top of the line model. And I still want to keep my regular job while being a Ferrari part time, and only when I want to be one. I don't want to start my engine for any one but those worthy of a Ferrari.




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