One of the most important questions you will eventually ask as a photographer looking to make money is this: How do I price my photography? Pricing your creative talent is incredibly difficult on multiple levels. Although there is no official set of guidelines, there are a few pointers to follow when you start the pricing process. I’d like to offer a couple of thoughts from my experience.
First, I am assuming that you already have people wanting to buy your photography, but you are just looking for a way to start pricing. If no one wants to buy your stuff yet, take a couple minutes to read my last two posts. Also, try begging your way into 2nd shooter jobs for other photographers in your area. You need sample work…and tons of it.
Get to know your specific photography market in your specific geographic location. For example, if you live in Cincinnati Ohio and you shoot landscapes you need to know everyone who is selling landscape photography in Cincinnati. Familiarize yourself with their work, what they charge, how long they have been doing it. Repeat this until you have everyone researched and understood. Without this information you will have no way to come up with price or demand.
Zac and I shoot weddings in Ohio, primarily out of Dayton. It has taken us years to get a grasp on the ever-changing wedding photography industry in our area. Because there are a ton of photographers fighting for jobs in our area, we have to remain on top of the prices and packages of our competitors. While no one wants to admit that other people affect their price, they absolutely do.
Since I am primarily a wedding photographer, let me give a couple of thoughts on getting into that business with a proper price. First of all, one necessary disclaimer is that we live in a increasingly competitive photography world. Cameras are becoming cheaper and higher quality every year. This is both good and bad as it allows many new people to enter the space, creating more competition for the consumer, but it also makes great photographers harder to find.
First, I would highly recommend getting on http://www.theknot.com and searching your area for photographers. This is a great starting point in getting to know the market. There will be a bunch of photographers listed and you can get a good grasp on prices. Next, find the cheapest photographer for a full day package and start $50 below their price. You are now the cheapest photographer in your area…congratulations.
This is not comprehensive way to do pricing, but it is a good place to start. You have to get as many weddings as possible in your first few years. Whatever you can do to book a wedding for a profit, do it. Brides want examples, lots of them…and they want experience. Until then, you aren’t really in a position to raise prices very much.