Today’s question is from Alex who asks:
Table of Contents
- Question: What should I charge for a photo shoot?
- In today’s episode: What should I charge for a photo shoot?
- Working out your cost of doing business
- You must know your cost of goods
- Session fee can help cover your costs
- Your local market will determine what you can charge for a photo session
- Listen to your customers, they will give you hints on your pricing
- Keep your pricing simple
Question: What should I charge for a photo shoot?
My prices haven’t been updated since i started my business. My costs have increased and my skills have improved enough that i feel comfortable to increase my prices.
I sell prints, albums and digital files. I don’t charge a session fee, should i be? What is a good starting point for my prices.
In today’s episode: What should I charge for a photo shoot?
- Working out your cost of doing business e.g insurance, monthly charges, equipment
- Working out your cost of goods e.g. print costs, packaging, postage etc..
- The NPPA have a calculator to help you get started.
- Session fee can help cover your costs
- Prices can also be dictated by things out of your control. Local market and skill level as an example.
- Listening to your customers
- Business tips for photographers
Alex thanks for submitting your question and good on you for getting the courage and the confidence to raise your prices.
We should all be doing that every so often to keep on track with making more and more money in our business but as you’ve mentioned the increase in your costs, so vendors may be raising prices and that’s something we should always be aware of because otherwise we’re just wasting money and not making a profit, we’re actually losing money.
It’s one of those things where it’s very hard to give you a definite answer but what I want to do is go through a couple of tips to get you in the right direction and things like working out the cost of doing business is a good start.
Working out your cost of doing business
It looks like you’ve done that before and what I do recommend is going to the NPPA website and it actually has a calculator and this calculator basically has places where you can put in different things like electricity, costs for accounting fees and other subscription fees, you know, things like for your web hosting and software subscription like adobe creative cloud, write down the things that you pay for on a weekly, monthly, and yearly … And add it all together and then divide it by 12 and that will give you your monthly costs or breakdown of how much you need to make per month to keep the business running. And that is before we’ve even made a profit.
You must know your cost of goods
Now the other thing is things like cost of goods. So you mentioned that you sell prints, you sell albums and you do digital files.
The cost of goods directly applies to anything that you physically do but also digital as well in fact. So things like printing costs, you know, your printers, postage, packaging, delivery costs if you’re doing it personally or obviously postage if you’re sending it out and how much does it cost to actually edit a photo or even a session if you’re just doing digital files and that’s something to always be on top of because that changes the most because a session could be shorter, it could be longer and that’s just something you need to keep on track of.
So if you put a little bit of buffer meaning that you know you add … Put a little bit of extra charges in there to counter for that you won’t get yourself into trouble.
And you know, adding those two together; the cost of goods and the cost of doing business will get us a very minimum cost before we even make a profit and that’s just to get our products made and to keep our business running.
And multiplying these costs by two and a half, three times, four times, is a good starting point and by doing so when you’re multiplying it you’re actually building in profit into the prices there.
Session fee can help cover your costs
Another point is you made a point that you don’t charge a session fee. By charging a session fee you do a few things. You can actually put your cost of doing business into the session fee so if it’s $150 a month for your cost of doing business then just one session fee could pay that off which is excellent and then everything after that is just profit or even a buffer for on a rainy day for the slow periods.
So I do recommend that you do charge a session fee and also a session fee weeds out people that are not sure if they should be booking or if they put it tentatively booking in and then cancelled last minute which is painful. By getting them to pay a session fee you’ve got somebody in there booked and of course you can always reschedule if anything happens.
Your local market will determine what you can charge for a photo session
Now other aspects that go into pricing is the local market. If a lot of people within your local market are selling you know prints say $300 or $400 and you’re selling prints $800 and $600 I think it’s going to be very difficult for you to convince people to buy your products because a lot of the market is selling it at a much cheaper price so that’s just something to think about.
It’s something that’s not directly related to your skills which unfortunately some people when they do do portraits, sorry when they do purchase portrait sessions and products and choose a photographer they don’t always think about the skill. They sometimes think about the money first which is a shame but that’s something that’s out of your control.
Listen to your customers, they will give you hints on your pricing
You know you should be listening to your customers. If your customers give you hints of like “Wow, this is an excellent price considering other people within your price range put out some weird and wonderful filters and make the photos look ugly.”
Then you know it’s kind of giving you well, it’s telling you two things. One, that your editing is far superior to them and you should be charging more for that.
Two, is they’re comparing you to people that potentially are of low quality and therefore you definitely should be raising your prices Alex. So that’s something you should always be doing. Questioning your customers, why do they choose you?
How do they feel about pricing? You know, if someone comes up and says “Oh I can only afford $1000.” Well then that’s fine there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just if everybody’s coming and saying the same thing and you’ve got collections that are $2000 and $3000 and $4000 and you’re finding it hard to convert people then that’s something you may have to tweak because of just how the market is in your area.
Keep your pricing simple
In regards to prices in general keep them simple. Make it easy for people to be able to do addition in there head. You know, if you’ve got some $37.82 then you’ve got something else that’s $22.92, like you know, just make it simple you know? You put it to the nearest five so it’s like you know $85, $295, $290, make it around $300, you know?
That type of thing so it’s easy for people to calculate. And you know there is a little bit of psychology about if you’re selling something that’s at say $999 as opposed to $1000 you know some people see … Obviously it’s $1000 right but people will see the lower figure and may actually think “Well, it’s a little bit easier to …” I guess, it’s just the psychology in the whole thing where people just perceive it to be cheaper even though if it’s only just by $1 but you know, that’s just something to keep in mind and having prices at $799 or $795 there’s a slight difference, it’s only $4 or $5 but it could actually be the difference between actually getting a customer and not. So it’s something to keep in mind.
There you go Alex, there’s a few tips to get you started. I hope you do raise your prices to the point where you are making a good profit and you’re enjoying your photography. Thank you very much for your question and all the best for the future.