Photography Pricing for Beginners

Many visual artists have extreme talent, but no idea how to even charge. What's too much? What's too little? In too many cases, they stop the debate and don't charge for their services altogether. My goal is to start the wheel and get your business in motion. This post and video will give you a starting point.

The starting point is important because we're aiming at the "comfy" spot, somewhere that you can sit for a minute to catch your breath and rest, but still create an income. It's where you do not feel taken advantage of, but it won't make you rich either. 

I suggest re-evaluating yourself every 10 inquiries to see how the market reacts to your pricing and services. Then you cut a little here, add a little there to increase the profits in your business. 

What Is an Inquiry Considered?

An inquiry is anything that means someone is asking about your business services. With technology, inquiries can come from Instagram DMs, phone calls, in-person, email, or just about any medium that allows back and forth correspondence. Comments on your Instagram post do not count! People often leave a comment with no intention of responding or no guarantee they'll see your response back. 

Editorial Photo Shoot, Walid Azami

Editorial Photo Shoot, Walid Azami

Why 10?

Anything under 10 inquiries simply lacks the data you need to make a strong observation. Realistically, you'll need even more than 10 points of data to make a decision about your pricing, but this is merely a starting point, and odds are that you're a newer business. Gathering 10 inquiries could take a few months of your time. 

What Should I Do With the 10 Inquiries?

I tell people who are starting out to aim for booking 50 percent of the inquiries about their services. After 10 reach-outs from your potential clients, you should book about five of them. That's a healthy amount, as you never want to book everything that comes your way. 

If you book nearly all of the inquiries, you're grossly under-priced and will be working a lot for a smaller amount. That can lead to exhaustion and a terrible reputation that you're the cheap photographer. If you book only about a couple of the 10 client inquiries, then perhaps you're overpriced for what the market wants to pay. 

This is exactly when readers will say, "but there are other factors to consider too like work quality," and they are correct. This is assuming your work is good with no major issues. This is assuming that you have a website, a good gallery, and are great at getting back to clients. 

The video goes into more detail about moving your pricing around to find what the market will support. Sometimes, changing a number behind the dollar sign is easier than reformatting a website. Often, we have people in our lives that say your work is amazing, but the truth is: they love you and the market has no emotions.

Watch the video to get all the points that will hopefully push you closer to charging your clients.

What Is the Perfect Price Point?

It will take some time to find the perfect price point. Tech companies have done a great job with this, but even they do constant price adjustments and listen to the market. For example, the latest iPhone is a price drop from the former model. 

You've found the perfect price when the market complains but still buys. That's your bulls-eye, and it's not something you find overnight or even in the first year! As your product changes, so will your pricing, and constantly looking at the data is part of the business. 

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15 Comments

Teresa Oldenbourg's picture

Probably need more articles on how to transition from TFP to clients.

craig salmon's picture

This may be the dumbest article and the reason why every other profession does NOT respect artists. You’re basically suggesting the pricing is pulled out of the air. This is not the case, pricing at the most basic level needs to first and foremost be based on the business’s CODB. After that you can deviate up depending upon your clientele and the requested licensing. To suggest to professionals starting out that they don’t first need to do some basic accounting and figure out their CODB is just bad journalism.

And on a side note, beginners should not think of themselves as cheap professionals, they should be encouraged to take on assisting work, develop their book out of their own pocket, go to school, did I say assist other photographers. It seems like the millennials joining our profession want to throw away decades of knowledge on how to run photography businesses because accounting isn’t hip. This profession was not created in the last decade it was created over a century ago. I see asmp is running their business seminars again this year maybe suggest taking the workshop would be more productive than beginners basing their pricing on ten phone calls. You did title it Pricing For Beginners
Statistically how many calls would one even have to field before having a true idea, way more than hundred?

Adam Peariso's picture

The highest price you're comfortable with plus 15%. Done.

Catherine Bowlene's picture

Good point, that's exactly how I calculated mine.

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