Being a professional photographer comes with a price. Well, quite literally. If you haven’t done your math right, there might not be anything left for a rainy day. While the popularly held belief remains that it’s quite easy to be a photographer, the daunting task of pricing correctly makes it a very challenging profession as well. Without an appropriate evaluation of your expenses and requirements and a full-proof pricing plan, you are most likely to receive a nasty shock while paying all the bills.
So what are some of the factors to look into when pricing your photography? Here are a couple of must-knows:
Have a cost model
Before setting up the prices for your photography, make sure you have a cost blueprint together. From expenditures to savings – document everything. Decide upon how much profit margin you wish to have. Remember, this profit margin will pay for your new equipments, photography contests and other expenditures crucial to your photography business development.
Now prepare a cost model which would decide how much you should charge per photo to earn adequate profits. The cost model would include the per-photo pricing as well as the packages you wish to offer to your clients.
Review Your Competition
Before closing your prices, know what other leading photographers are charging. Make sure your charges are not bizarre yet not under-priced. Underpricing can set your standards low, while over-pricing may deprive you of genuine prospective clients. A good way to go about pricing is to keep a pricing range. This approach gives flexibility to clients and keeps you well within your profit margin as well.
Gauge your perceived value
Evaluate and know the quality of your product or service. Experience undoubtedly entitles you for good prices but being a beginner too, don’t opt for extremely low prices. Charging too low from the start can decrease the perceived value of your product and service in the market. Keep a fair price and you could run a special portfolio building discount for your clients.
If you are an amateur to photography and in the process of creating your portfolio, don’t opt for extremely low-pricing. Keep your standard rates and run a special discount called portfolio building discount for your clients.
Calculate your Cost-of-Goods-Sold (COGS)
COGS is the total cost of production of a good or service which includes its labor and material cost as well. If you are providing your client with a 8×10 print, the COGS isn’t only the cost of printing it from your studio.
Remember what Benjamin Franklin said – time is money! Many photographers do not factor in the labour cost and fail to earn adequate profits. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, charge your clients according to the time spent at the wedding as well as in the production process.
As a landscape photographer you may include the cost of exclusivity in your photograph.
Know about your Copyrights
While requesting price, it is imperative to factor in what rights you are handing over to your clients. As a wedding photographer, you may choose to charge more if your client wants a full copyrights to their photograph and do not wish their photographs to be featured in your portfolio. You can charge slightly less if the photographs are helping you build your portfolio or if you are giving out a print for a single-time use. Copyrights usually depend on how the client aims to use the prints once developed.
Collect the Service tax
Whenever you are providing your customers with any tangible product (CD / DVD/ thumb-drive), make sure you charge an appropriate service tax from them. Photographers who don’t pitch this face difficulties while filling the annual tax.
Well-structured pricing practices for photographers are key to success for a photography business to reap profits. Hence, figure out where you stand in the sea of things: What are your reasons for pricing the way you do? Do you invest a thought before pricing or do you simply toss out the print with a price tag?
Having asked yourself these questions, do keep in mind the industry price fluctuations, any seasonal factors that might affect your pricing and rework your costing plans. Eventually, pricing plans can only take you so far. A sound approach to photography pricing would entail ‘going with the flow’ and being dynamic in your pricing at all times.