Home Forums Main YANAP Discussion Forum Charging Customers!!!

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    Some of you know me on here now and I have explained that I am trying to start a legitimate part time (semi-pro!!!) business. I recently did my first booked family shoot for work colleagues sister in law. This comprised of Mum, Dad, two girls 3 and 4 years old and a baby boy 14 weeks. I carted my gear to their house 12 miles away in the next town, was meant to last an hour but ran on to 2 hours. They were running late, had to sign contract and model releases. We talked for a few minutes and sorted out exactly what they wanted and I shot the 3 kids together, some of the whole family, just the 2 girls, dad and baby, mum and baby, mum dad and baby, baby on his own etc. They ended up with 25 edited images which I then watermarked, jpg in low res for them to download and use on FB etc. I included a free 10×8 in the price and they said they were looking through all of the images with family etc to order more. They LOVED the photos so no complaints.

    As the shoot was for a friends sister in law I reduced the rate to £40 for an hour, as I said it ended up as 2 hours. I now have the price set at £50 for up to 2 hours with the hope that I will make some good money back on reprints.

    I know this is a crappy price but local togs (good ones at that) are charging £35 for a similar shoot. Reprint prices usually aren’t listed so I assume they charge a fortune to make up the money lost on the sitting fee. I know “Venture Photography” (in the UK, not sure about US) charge about £25 for an hours family sitting and then around £1200 for 3 framed prints!!!!

    I’ll admit it’s a struggle to find a balance between pricing for profit and pricing for customers these days.


    ANYWAY – The client just sent me a message asking how much I would charge for a CD of the high resolution images. I actually added this to my website in anticipation last week and set it at £250. Now you guys all know why I have done that but I’m wondering what the rest of you are doing in terms of print pricing, sitting fees, selling digital copies of images etc.  It’s driving me nuts as I knew the business side of this would!

    Sorry for such a long post too….


    It depends what kind of reprinting rights (if any) that people are asking me for… when I’ve done it previously, I’ve always done 10, 15, 30, whatever images, etc. with reprinting rights on a disc. I, personally, like other photographers I’ve seen and worked with, NEVER offer a flat “you can have the entire session on a disc for this and that;” it feels too mass-market portrait studio, and then people will go get prints done at Walmart or wherever and they will look terrible, and then the client blames the photographer because their prints don’t look like what they expect because they don’t use an actual decent lab.

    The mass majority of all my “disc” purchases are online-only use rights, because people want things for their facebook, websites, whatever. That way, they don’t get them printed so they can look original quality, and they can use them as many times as they want — send to grandma, whatever. I think it’s the best of both worlds because people aren’t disappointed and they can still have files. But that’s not to say it’s even necessarily “right” or “wrong.”


    I understand where you are coming from. The problem is, you can give a client the full res copies with an “Online-only” license but they will still go and get them printed. That fault lies with Asda (walmart), Boots, whoever for not checking who created the images. I’m all for this digital age idea, hence the reason I let the client use the selected images on FB. I have kept them watermarked and low res specifically because I know that otherwise you lose out on print profit. I charged £40, minus the £6 it will cost me for their free print, minus fuel, minus my tax contribution, minus class 4 national insurance here in Britain, minus cost of electricity for editing, my public liability, my monthly website hosting fees  etc etc. I worked around 9 hours for the client and have made less than £2 per hour!!! Or less than $3 an hour. I’m trying to build and run a successful business. Why do people bother contacting photographers if they don’t want to pay for the work? They clearly know the images are better than something they can produce, otherwise they wouldn’t use photographers at all. The kick in the nuts comes when they realise that the photographer actually has to CHARGE for the work. I’m sure some people think that they could go out, spend $6000 on a camera, set it to auto and produce the same stuff we are charging for. They seem to think they are paying to rent your equipment, not for an actual service. I feel like telling them to go buy a really expensive hammer, a bag of screws and some wood and build a house! You have the most expensive hammer right? Then you must be able to do it….


    Sorry, I should have mentioned that the images I do for online-only are not set at enough resolution to print.

    I know how you feel on the other comments. I die a little inside every time I’m told “Wow! Your camera takes really nice pictures!” and I just feel like firing back something along the lines of “Wow! This is really good food — you must have a wonderful stove.”

    It shocks me at the absurdity that seems normal in photography when applied to other professions — people don’t have problems paying for similar beliefs that they suddenly toss up for photography. I mean, you’re probably going to be willing to pay for a dentist, instead of having a friend go at your mouth with a syringe instead? Of course, photography isn’t usually life or death, but it comes as a shock to some people the cost to be in business, because it just isn’t the same as the places with hundreds of studios that can get away with charging 20 bucks for a disc. People think that we’re charging outrageously for that new yacht we’ve been dying to go out and write a check for! 😛



    I’m about to give you a little slap of reality here.  Keep in mind that I am not a pro, part time pro, or semi pro.  I’m just someone who has flirted with the idea enough to research and learn as much as possible about the business end of things.  I COULD be completely full of crap over here because I haven’t put any of this into practice (I don’t believe I am, but I have yet to have an established pro but in and tell me I am WAY off.  and some of what I am about to say is just my opinion only) , but here it goes anyway.

    If you are serious about making money as a portrait photographer, you have to price yourself for profit, not to be affordable for everyone.  Portraiture is a luxury item whether we want it to be or not.  It is not a necessity.  You are selling a custom portraiture service.  You are not a faceless chain studio, or an under the table faux, and you cannot afford to try to compete with them, or try to attract their clients.  You have to price your services in such a way that you are making what you want/need to make AFTER all of your expenses, and pricing your sessions like you currently are, is NOT going to do it.  Only small business togs who don’t pay taxes, don’t offer full service, not insured, etc can afford to work that way (and even THAT is questionable).  That is unless you do a LOT of quick sessions per day ex: booking 4 or 5 mini sessions (15 minutes to half hour time blocks) at say $50 per (and even that is iffy as to how much profit there is to be made vs work load, but some togs swear it works for them).  Your prices should be service based.  I strongly believe part of that service is providing finished products, but by pricing your sessions to completely cover yourself even if prints are never purchased, is very important for your livelihood.  You will find that customers that pay more for your services, will also value your service and products more, and have a better understanding as to why you don’t give away high res on disc or drive (JMO I think your high res disc is priced too attractively to help you sell what you are actually trying to sell, finished photographs) .  I think it’s very important for people to be able to share their photos.  Offering web sized/web friendly pictures is a must these days, whether included with the sitting fee (which is how I would do it) or not, they should be easy to obtain and share.  It’s what people want, and it’s silly to think you can fight that tooth and nail , and still get referrals and repeat business.  I don’t think these files absolutely need your watermark.  Your clients paid for them, you need to let it go.  So what if they print them at walmart for Grandma Jo.  Especially when they have purchased prints from you (and they will be more likely to, if prints are included as a package with your sessions, and/or your services are priced more legitimately).  Grandma jo’s walmart print will pale in comparison, and it might just help you make another print sell.

    I guarantee that these clients only asked for full res after they saw your watermark or after they were told by so and so that they should have gotten high res after so and so saw your watermark on the images they shared.  Believe me when I say word of mouth still is the very best way to promote your business, not facebook likes or potential clients looking you up after seeing a picture that was posted by your current client with your watermark on it, but by people inquiring “Who took these photos for you?  tell me about them.  Can you link me to them?  This is not to say that the photos you share on fb to promote your business shouldn’t be watermarked, I think they should be, and clients should be asked if you can tag them in the photo/photos, asked if they could share the photo of them that you want to use for promotion yadda yadda.  But this is you advertising for yourself, not asking for your clients to wear your banner all over facebook and on their blogs and all over their emails etc and asking them to PAY YOU to be able to do this for you.  (I hope I was able to explain this as clearly as I want it to be)

    Reality is… Most togs just starting out on a part time basis (legitimately that is), have to price between $150 to $200 per session + varying print sales just to make an equivalent to minimum wage after everything is said and done, and all business expenses have been figured in.  This is just to start.  Like portfolio building, very new, just starting out prices, that will eventually need to be raised as your business and business expenses grow.

    You want your clients to value what you do?  Time to start valuing what you do enough to charge appropriately so you are actually making money.


    I charge 200.00 an hour, edit about 30 images and give them copy-right and all. Because frankly, by the time I’ve spent a hour out in the sun–upside down trying to get their child to smile. I’m beyond finished with seeing their faces. Does that make me horrible? I’d rather then just have the release, print them where they want, and be done.


    This is also I should point out, a hobby of mine that just happens to pay. If it were my career and main income then I think I’d feel a little different. But for a quick 800 bucks in one weekend. I’m happy to just edit, share, and “release” out into the wild.


    And for all of those that don’t feel the same, let’s keep in mind that nearly every ‘mass market’ studio is going under. Sears released a huge thing where they were shutting down their studios, Walmart as well. Because yeah, they had an 8.00 sitting fee but charged out the end just for the prints. My clients like to make snapfish books because it’s easy, user friendly, and they can save time and money by having the album all at once.


    My husband gave me the best advise when I was trying to come up with a price for my quick hobby that I enjoy (but also want to get paid for), and he asked me how valuable my time is. So keep that in mind as well.


    IHF is straight on target imo.

    On the flip side, if I shoot on assignment, I charge 200/hour for my time and tbey can have all the images, but that time includes travel and edit.


    this is slightly off-topic, but Walgreens does ask for a print release and so does Walmart apparently. A few years ago I had a bunch of prints made for the fair I enter in (where color quality isn’t super important; I was going more for convenience at the time) and I had a few portraits. When I picked up the photos i had to speak to the manager because “Release Needed” was scribbled on the envelope. It took some convincing that I shot them. And last year a girl I knlw who now does freelance modeling had some self-portraits she took on her own point-and-shoot with the self-timer printed at Walmart just to give to her husband for fun. She said they weren’t even professional quality by any means but she did some kind of piknik editing to them. Walmart would not give her prints to her and even after she spoke to the manager he apparently discarded the prints in front of her! The employees in that photo lab obviously can’t tell the difference in a pro-quality photo and a selfie from a point-and-shoot, probably due to all the stupid fauxtogs using them to print client photos!


    I charge $150/hr for a basic shoot.  Weddings…much more as there is more involvement, more people, more photos and editing.  When “professionals” start lowering their prices….professionals suffer and customers end up with shitty photos, and so they should.  The old addage “you get what you pay for” is truth in advertising.  I dont believe cell phones will ever truly replace professional cameras…they can’t zoom, bokeh or do most of what a professional camera can do.

    With that said, check out this guys “professional” photography.  LOL  I go to his site just for a laugh sometimes, but I’ve seen him also on the edge of getting arrested because he posted some pretty revealing photos of a girl in high school…UNDERAGE!  If you look closely at his “work” (very very loose term here!), you will see how he tries to shoot up womens dresses and get them as naked as possible for his own gratification.  How do I know this?  I’ve seen him shoot and warned some of the girls of what he was doing.



    @Karin720 this guy is def a perv. He even has a couple of pics he took of girls laying in the sun.   Terrible!!!!  Some one should chop off his hands for jerking off sooo much!


    I had a look I actually LOL’d at one particular image it’s just wrong.




    I’d have to agree, that is a horrendous shot.

    He does seem like he has gone out of his way to get them to take as much clothing off as he can get away with……just creepy.



    Hey, let’s not hijack Thomas’ post here with unrelated topics. I would say put that in the “Fauxtogs Who Should End Up On The Main Page” thread if you want others to see/comment on it.


    Thanks for the feedback everyone. Ill take a long hard look at what Im doing here. No more favours, no more free stuff, if you want my services you pay me accordingly.  You all had some sound advice, cheers.


    With all that being said, Thomas, bear in mind there are times when it is all right, and encouraged, to do a shoot for free. For instance if you are trying out something entirely new (techniques, lenses, etc) or perhaps even for charity. If you pick up a lensbaby or a lens you’re unfamiliar with, don’t let the paid shoot be the first time you use it in a professional setting. Grab a friend and go to town, delivering the same kind of quality you would a client.
    As far as charity goes; we had a bad fire here in Colorado last summer and many families lost their homes. That means a lot of family photos went with that. Many local photographers were offering either extreme discounts or free shoots to the families affected provided they booked within a certain time frame. That kind of publicity is good but it doesn’t give clients some false expectation that you do that all the time.
    Overall, I want to reiterate what everyone has been saying: Charge what you’re worth. Your service has high value and you deserve to make money for said service. Don’t sell yourself short.

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