Monday, March 28, 2011

How much do you spend???

Its really a quite simple question isn't it? How much do you spend on photography? Think of all of the equipment bought, think of all of the hours and time spent, think of the creative exhaustion, think of all classes taken, blogs read, youtube watched. All of this... to make you a better photographer than the next person.

Next time you are shooting, time yourself on all aspects of the shoot: Pre-production, Production, and Post-production. I'll venture to guess that you spend around 1 to 2 hours on Pre production, 2 hours on production, and 2 - 4 hours on post-production. A conservative guess is that you are spending 5 hours on a shoot.

This next part some of you aren't going to like but it needs to be stated. How much are you charging? I look through the classifieds from time to time, and all I can say is WOW!! You are really going to charge $25 for a session and give them a CD of all of your images at the end. You are basically pricing yourself out of business. lets do the math.... $25 divided by 5 hours.... yup thats $5 an hour. At that rate you will never be able to find success in photography. You would do better to work in fast food for $7.50 an hour.

The worst part of this scenario is you are letting everyone (potential clients) know that photography is a cheap commodity, and that it shouldn't be taken seriously. Not only are you hurting your own business, your hurting everyone else's. People are starting to expect to pay less for photography. How much easier would it be to state your price knowing that people are expecting to pay a premium?

Now you may be saying, "I cant charge a lot, i am only learning right now" that may be true but look at the time your spending on a shoot and figure in all of your expenses. No matter what your charging, you need to come out in the positive. Also, you need to remember. WE ARE ALL LEARNING!!! have confidence in yourself and your abilities, no matter how limited. People will feel better about paying you more, if your confident.

I wrote this post because some of my students have a hard time in this area. They feel a cheap client is better than no client. Truthfully it can be hard to turn down clients because they don't want to pay. I promise this... if someone turns you down because your too much... you didn't want that client anyway, they would have been the worst client ever. Picky! Picky!

I would love to hear thoughts on this... please forward and comment.




  1. haha, thanks Jed. I think this may have been directed at me. :) And the part I really have a hard time with is that I live in a "poor" area and people are always asking me to do shoots for them. I know they can't afford much, so I agree to it. But like you said- I am coming out in the negative when I have spent so much time shooting, preparing, and then editing. You are right. I need to be more confident. Thanks!

  2. You should post the advice you gave me about offering a family and friends discount. Now when people ask how much I charge, I tell them my ideal price, but because they are a friend, they get 20% off. It lets them know they are getting a discount, without making me feel I'm cheapening my worth. I'm getting more confident with my prices now, because I know how much work it is. And frankly, I don't "need" the extra work, so if they don't want to pay my price, I don't care. :D

  3. Rachelle, This was not intended for you specifically... more like everyone! i think you are progressing a ton and should be proud of your work. I will admit that our conversation did spark the idea for the post. I just want everyone that wants to be a photographer to be successful. I think you are definitely taking steps in the right direction.

  4. Lesli, thanks for reminding me of that... that is a great way of offering your services while your starting out. It helps relieve some of that pressure and allows you and your client to feel like your getting a win win.

  5. L.A. Harker- I don't know you, but thanks for the idea. I like the idea of letting a client (whether family/friend or not) know what you WOULD charge, but that you will give them a discount. Now I just need to figure out my pricing in general!

  6. MaKell & I were just discussing this very thing. I don't think I charge enough but there are photographers in my area that charge a THIRD of what I charge! It amazes me that I still have business... I agree with you 100% that the cheap clients are the most picky and you DON'T need them anyway! WELL SAID!!!

    PS On a side note... you are so very talented! AND MaKell misses your adorable wife and son. Congrats on your new addition!