Home Forums Let’s Talk Photography Pricing for Newbies. Value vs. Cost Reply To: Pricing for Newbies. Value vs. Cost


Yep, so many photographers that are not going to make it, all because they don’t understand pricing.  They price themselves like a high volume discount studio like sears or walmart, and offer boutique and full service personal photography services and products.  Couple that with small business overheads, and crash and burn!  Along with taking the value down considerably for everyone else trying to make a living.  It drives me nuts, and makes me sad.

It reminds me of a salon that was bought privately in my Mom’s small town.  They are walk in only, and price like a high volume salon, and pay their sylist hourly, yet they are full service, and take on average an hour or more per client.  This leaves everyone unhappy, and makes it very difficult to make a profit.  I saw how things worked while waiting for my mother to get her hair cut, and just sat there in disbelief, as 7 people walked out the door because of the wait, 5 phone calls came in asking if they could make an appointment, and were denied, and a small child wiggled and sat for 55 minutes getting a hair cut and style while Dad made phone calls explaining to people why he was running late.  I told my Mom “They will be out of business within the year if they don’t decide which business model to use”.  Sure enough it was sold and is now ran as a booth rental salon.

You can’t price yourself as a high volume shoot and burn and done business while offering full service and fully finished products, and expect to make a profit.  I don’t even think high volume shoot and burn is viable as a self run photography business regardless. They want to give the very best they can, yet make their clients happy by being “affordable”. In a perfect world maybe, but this is reality people.

I will never understand it.  Why would you put all that work and effort into something to only get paid minimum wage or less.  Why?!  Why would anyone do this?  Even crafters or any sort of hobbyist will price their goods for a profit, or at the very least fund their hobby.  I see a lot of people going into debt being “in business” buying props, actions, templets, textures, workshops, equipment, etc etc and not charging appropriately for their service or products.  Basing your pricing on skill level or some sort of skewed “What would I pay?” basis is silly.  Prices should be about how much it costs you to be in business and what you need your profit to be per client to stay afloat.  Once you figure this out, then it’s a matter of finding people that are willing to pay that amount for your services.

With all that said, maybe this photographer isn’t quite established yet, and is only pursuing this part time and hoping to grow their business?  I’m not a pro, and don’t claim to know what needs to be known about running a business, but… when I contemplated/played with the idea of being for hire,  I figured my first few years I would only pay myself the equivalent to a minimum wage salary (plus product sales), and raise from there.  Their prices don’t anger me as much as most I see.  They are priced at a good legit starting point I believe, depending on their product costs and IF they are legit and paying taxes, insurance and whatnot.