How Photography Prices Will Change After Lockdown

With the high probability of a large recession following a worldwide lockdown, every industry in under threat. Here is how I think photography prices will change in each niche as well as how I am adapting my work.

Over here in the U.K. the lockdowns are being lifted and we are heading back to work. For many of us this means a very short term boost in jobs whilst we help clients play catch up, but the mid and long term forecast isn't looking so good. Pricing in photography is always tricky, especially in a profession that ranges from bargain basement through to obscene amounts of money per day that many of us don't make in a year. It is also varied in the types of work we do, from business to business through to working with private clients and stock photography.

In this video I first discuss how much I have been charging and how much I will charge in my particular niche of commercial photography as well as looking at how most of us feel the industry will change in the mid term. I then go on to discuss how I feel it will impact other genres of photography as well as looking at ways to try to keep us all afloat. Staying lean with your business over the next few years could make the difference between going bust or staying afloat and I believe that their is a lot to learn from the previous recessions when looking at the photographers and studios who came out the other side and those who sadly didn't.

How has the lockdown and lockdown lifts affected your work this year?

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12 Comments

Michael Krueger's picture

Photography was never my main source of income but I did make some money photographing the local music scene. Haven't made a penny since March and that probably won't change any time soon.

Scott Choucino's picture

Yeah the music scene over here has come to a complete standstill sadly.

Derek Johnson's picture

Scott touches on some valid points, though, I think he missed noting that a lot of these productions will likely hire locals in relation to the shoot. I don't think there will be much traveling, especially with crews!

Scott Choucino's picture

Yeah I am not sure how much change their will be with photographers locations going forward. Strange times we are living in.

Jan Holler's picture

I think you are right. Wedding photography is very hard work and more often than not does not pay well. There is time now to take care for the portfolio. But I think that is better done in good times when you feel well and confident about the future. We see that in other branches (advertisement, events, leisure, hair dressing, vacation, ...). People are not going to let their hair cut more often afterwards or do twice as much events.
(May I suggest that you stop waving your hands around all the time. It is hard to concentrate on your face and words when there is a constant nervous waving.)

Scott Choucino's picture

haha I am not sure I can, its my Spanish heritage coming through.

Jan Holler's picture

:-) Then please never mind. Thought you do so because that started a while ago like a plaque in a lot of YT-videos. And I thought the Spanish laugh about the Italian just because of that.... Cheers!
Edit: I do so as well in discussions and have been told many times because here around people normally do not. Fortunately I don't do YT-videos ;-).

aurèle brémond's picture

Good point often overlooked : reducing your price when your time is a limited ressource is useless. You can't take more client because you don't have the time for it when you laready do 6 days of work / week.

Scott Choucino's picture

Thanks. Yeah not a good time to be doing that :)

Lee Christiansen's picture

A wise man once told me never to reduce my rates, but perhaps offer a few extras to incentivise instead.

I've done very little work since early March and it is looking grim for the rest of the year. My market is mainly commercial / PR but everyone is too nervous to do much or is still in recovery mode, so I'm certainly hurting financially.

I'm sticking to my rates, but I can offer clients a few extra things that add value but don't detract from what I would normally earn from them. So bolt-ons that they may not normally ask for but add perceived value or additional flexibility.

I might charge a premium for a rush job, but now I might not. The client only requires 1 retouched image, but I might offer them a second one for extra flexibility. I might normally spend an hour on a retouch but I might spend two to get that extra quality, (and I'll make sure they know). Or I can prepare a mini website for their presentation for their convenience. I can pop over to do a recce where I would normally see the location first time on the shoot day...

These are things that I might charge extra for, but usually don't get to monetise because clients don't often need them. So I'm not effecting my bottom line.

But I have plenty of time on my hands - so I have time to offer a few little extras. It costs me nothing and I'm not losing money where I wouldn't usually get to have clients buy into these services.

Where I feel clients would usually pay for services - well, these stay at my usual rates.

So we can use the downtime to our advantage where possible. And when things pick up we can be more stringent with our time.

I was offered a TV grade job recently. It is 4 days budgeted work, and I can do this at a certain quality in that time which will certainly satisfy the brief. But if I spend 6 days, it will look even better and put me in a good place for future projects. Normally I'd do what I could in the 4 days, but I have time on my hands, so I'll spend 6-7 days delivering a highly refined masterpiece.

Better to offer a few bolt-ons or better delivery to encourage clients that sit on our hands proudly sticking to an hourly rate.

We don't cut our rates, but we can offer a little extra.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Not changing any pricing, especially with regular clients. Photography is dirt cheap compared to video. I'm not sure clients worry much about photography cost in commercial work. Probably the video industry can be more affected.
The trend right now is a higher cost for most items you can buy, food or anything and dropping the cost of photo services would not make any sense.

Doug Levy's picture

If you reduce your pricing now, say 10%, that means you then have to increase it MORE to see a small increase over where you started. Hence you're setting yourself back years. If you charged $100 in January for something and drop it to $75 now, a year from now it won't be $110, it'll be $85. Then 5 years from now it'll be $105 instead of $150. It's a dangerous cut that will hurt for a decade.