The pricing of any product or service can be a thorny issue. Too cheap and you run the risk of undervaluing the product, and being a busy fool; too high and you may alienate your target audience and restrict your income stream.
Photography can be a tricky product to sell because customers are buying a promise; the promise that the photographer will create some fantastic images that make the subject look amazing. And a promise is a hard thing to sell.
This is why so many photographers work on the basis of charging a nominal shoot fee of say £50 or even giving away the shoot for free, perhaps even telling the customer that they have won the shoot in a prize draw (when in fact everyone ‘wins’ the prize draw). This method works on the basis that the customer buys into the shoot because it is risk free. They feel excited and special to have ‘won’ the shoot and they come along with nothing to lose. Once the shoot is in the bag, the photographer banks on the customer loving the pictures so much that they purchase a stack load of products which are often over-priced – because the photographer has to claw some money back towards the cost of the actual shoot. The after-sales process is often wrapped up as an experience, set in a swanky viewing room. It’s accompanied by glasses of bubbles and usually run by a very persuasive sales person who is rather adept at encouraging the customer to part with often thousands of pounds for a number of beautiful products.
When I first turned professional as a photographer back in the 00s. I worked in a studio specialising in family portraits. They worked in exactly the way I have described above and it was part of my job to ring the ‘lucky competition winners’ every week to invite them in for their prize shoot. Roll on 20 years and I am now in the amazing position of setting up my own studio and working out what I should charge for a shoot. After a lot of research, I was shocked and a bit saddened to find that the majority of portrait photographers still work in this way.
But this way is not for me. I want to take a more open, honest and upfront approach to my work. I don’t want to invest in a fancy viewing area, or a pushy sales person. I’m not a sales person or a marketer; I am a photographer and I simply want to be commissioned to take amazing photographs and be paid a fair price for my years of experience and expertise, and time and attention I will spend on hand finishing each image.
This is why after lots of research, soul searching and debate that I have decided to structure my price list with an open and honest approach, and in a way that charges fairly for the shoot and the number of hours it then takes me to finish, refine and polish the images. I can arrange for my customers to buy some of the beautiful products to make it easier for them, if they so wish, but there will be no hard sales involved because I don’t need you to buy the products.
There are other services that are sold on a promise – such as an architect, an interior designer and pretty much any creative and bespoke service – and these are sold to the customer based on the previous work done and the accompanying reputation of the professional. I hope that my reputation and the images that I share on my website and on social media will engender the trust that people need to have before booking a shoot. I may be being naive but I think that an honest approach will be welcomed by many people.
Do get in touch if you’d like to commission me for an honestly priced children’s, corporate headshot or personal branding shoot.