How to Deal with Price Cutting Photographers

We have all been there, you pitch for a job and some other photographer has come in so much cheaper than you that the client would be a fool to not go with them. In this video I go over how to deal with these photographers. 

I get it, it is incredibly infuriating to see some other local photographer just slash your prices for the same service. You lose clients, you lose income, and you probably lose your temper to. However, I am a firm believer that there is another way to deal with this. 

Rather than trying to compete with someone by racing to the bottom, why not move on?

In this video I look at the options that you have when you find that (often new) photographers are pricing you out of your market. It has happened to me in the past so I am sure, if it hasn't already, that it will happen to you. So rather than feeling down like I did, hopefully the advice that I was given will help you out of this rut. 

Even though it may seem odd, I have always found that the best way to deal with price cutting is to increase my fee and my service, and not by a little bit either, I find that doubling them is a good place to start, of course the work has to move with this and sure we all hit a plateau at some point as to how good we can become, but if faced with this issue, I doubt we have reached it yet. 

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12 Comments

Wilbur Nelson's picture

You think that's bad -- check fiverr -- we're all Uber drivers now.

Ted Mercede's picture

I looked at fiverr thinking i could get some fill-in work with editing, very quickly found out that this was a waste. There really is no way that an American can do work on that site and make any money, its the foreigners working there that the dollar means more to them than to us.

So this "foreign" marketplace is lessening the value of what we do here.

Wilbur Nelson's picture

I hear you -- reminds me of the line from Aliens: "...I don't know which species is worse, Burke -- you don't see them f---king each other over for a g*ddamn percentage."

i buy local. i mean from local stores, local workers/services and local grown food. well as far thats possible. reason twofold. first my neighbor gotta eat too, second environment impact. second doesn't apply so much on digital works.

Deleted Account's picture

I still have to believe your high quality portfolio wins the day, Scott. The adage... "one gets what they pay for," still applies. Maybe some percentage of the price hackers are good, but I emphasize "hack."

And... very wise to "move on," too. It makes sense to work with a client that values quality. 😎

I have always thought that there are three levels of photographers and clients. Low - Medium - High. Like Scott says if you and your clients are in the same level it works. If not on the same level...things might not be so good.
If you get all of the jobs you bid on, it maybe time to raise your fees. Or move to a higher level client.

Robert Montgomery's picture

I think it's not worth getting worked up about . The client you loose to a cheaper competitor wasn't one you were going to get anyway. Don't underestimate your own ability or your works worth. You get what you pay for is a good outlook .

Tony Clark's picture

I agree with Scott. You will never be able to convince a low budget client that you're worth more than they're willing to pay. Our professions mid level talent has been decimated by these websites that promote "easy" jobs. One needs to be realistic about the level of images you produce and work every day to improve. Otherwise, you will continue to struggle to make a living and devalue the Industry.

These days many newer photographers have learned their trade via youtube, the online "Hi, guys!" classes and workshops. They may have a grasp on technique but not the business side. They didn't assist another photographer and learn about usage and why this shoot is worth $500 and this one is worth $3000. Many don't know what to bill for let alone how much.

So a $1500 shoot for ABCXYZ Corp sounds great until you find out they paid the previous photographers $4000 for the same project. Now that $4000 shoot is worth $1500 in the eyes of the ABCXYZ.

Once you are pegged as the cheap guy/gal you are the cheap guy/gal.

Deleted Account's picture

I once missed a job because someone was 8x cheaper than me.
Now, some could say I'm too expensive but it was the same pricing I use for everyone else in that sector. (Beer photography)

I don't normally bother asking anything if I miss a job,That's just part and parcel of making a price offer. However I was told 8x cheaper so I took the bait and asked why.

The purchaser was new to the marketing department of the company and she was kind enough to explain.
She had a friend who was getting into photography so she was doing cheap jobs. ( I cringed)
She added 'The budget left over we can Photoshop the images to look good' <- I KID YOU NOT.

I wished her good luck and looked forward to hearing from her in the near future to reshoot the project properly.

A month later I was reshooting the job properly.

Robert Montgomery's picture

Once got a job from a new client at the time after they went low ball. They brought an example of what they were looking for. The example was my shot. Needless to say been doing work for them for 15 years now. At my contracted price.

Daris Fox's picture

I closed my studio because I found it near impossible to compete with a constant stream of low-ball photographers. You can throw people appreciate value, but these days people have the memory of goldfish with the focus of a moth on a candle just to get their next dopamine kick.

Each geographic location is different but when you have a devalued market it's impossible compete especially with a diminishing client base that's willing to pay your rates. Add into the costs of running a business with fuel, business rates/taxes, marketing all with clients unwilling to pay more. So I shut the studio and moved on to another industry. Even today the amount of times I hear that getting into Weddings is a great idea, you'll earn thousands for a 'few hours' work. That shows the average clients ignorance.

The advice can be sound if you have the geographic population and client to work from, but unless you're in a major population centre and have the cultural appreciation then you're probably screwed.