Why is it so hard to put a price on our own work? We love what we create. We know it has value. So why was it so hard to come up with pricing models for SessionBoard? Taking pictures, designing this website; that was fun and much easier. Thankfully, this critical business process is behind us, and we feel comfortable with the outcome.
That being said, going through this exercise helped us realize how difficult it is for photographers to create pricing for their business services! If that sounds like you, we have three professionally backed models to price your work.
When In Doubt, Go To The Pros
We’ve had access to several professional and semi-professional photographers that have assisted us in designing SessionBoard. They come from all different areas of photographic expertise – portrait, wedding, product, and social media, to name a few. Over the course of our discussion, each photographer was asked about their pricing model.
Here’s what we learned – the pricing models generally fell into one of three categories. We’ve shared these categories below along with tips on how to use them for your photography business.
1. Pricing Your Time
We’ve all heard that time is money. Well, charging for time spent on a photo session would seem straightforward and a pricing model that most clients should understand. The reality, however, could be a price tag that’s hard to swallow. If this pricing model appeals to you, take time to create some different scenarios that identify all your activities – preparation before a session, during a session and edit work and delivery.
Then try applying an hourly rate to each action. If the total price seems high, consider different hourly rates for each process. Perhaps you charge a base fee with an additional fee for the session time and the delivery package. This also lets you include a rate for assistants if you use them in your session.
We also came across another form of pricing time – a flat fee that covered the delivery of a specified number of photos generated during a specified period of time – typically a month. This approach is often used for social media posts where multiple shots from a single location reducing prep and session time. For example, photos shots from a coffee house, a series of images from a chiropractic practice office, or other product shots from local businesses.
2. Pricing Your Images
Another popular pricing model requires setting a fee on individual images or packages of images – either printed or as digital files. This can be a great way to generate additional income. Photographers we talked to shared several great tips that help grow your income when using this model:
- Provide full-resolution images from a session. Include a small number of edited images in the price of a session, but charge an extra fee for the full set of photos taken during the session.
- Provide water-marked images for social media posts. Clients order prints through the photographer who removes the watermark in exchange for the price of the image.
- Provide additional print options like photo-books, metal prints, framed prints. Clients can order these items through a 3rd party vendors, but many prefer to go direct and have the photographer provide these items.
- Provide stock photos for sale by shooting additional images during product, event, or portrait sessions. This requires the appropriate copyright & model releases, but this is a great way to make extra income from a paid for activity.
3. Pricing Your Style
Are you the next Ansel Adams or Anne Leibovitz? If your friends or clients tell you they would recognize your work anywhere, then this could be the pricing model for you. We uncovered several photographers whose work is unique or whose business application stands out from other photography studios. Because of this, they are able to set their prices at a higher rate than others in the same area. While uniqueness can be in the eyes of the beholder, differences we uncovered and worth considering:
Photographic Style – Some photographers have a consistent, personal style. It doesn’t always have to be unique, but that doesn’t hurt. This could be a particular color palette, composition choice, depth of field, etc. Photographers in this category have websites, FB pages, Instagram feeds that consistently show images in their style.
Versatile Style – This is the exact opposite of a personal style, but works for certain people. The ability to capture images following a style or vision provided by your client is a skill that can set you apart. Photographers in this category are great listeners and have websites that describe what the customer was looking for and how they capture that requirement in the images they created. Sometimes they give the style a name to help categorize images based on the approach used. This shows that there is an intentional difference.
Business Style – This is a broad category of the non-photographic things that can set your business apart. This includes your logo, invoices/contracts, packaging of prints, thank-you notes, and many other items.
While there are other pricing models out there, these three models seem to rise to the top. Hopefully, one of them will work for you. If you have a proven model that has worked well for you, we’d love to share it with our followers.