How I base my pricing

October 09, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Hello.

When you contact a legitimate photography service you will notice a pricing difference between them and your weekend photographer/craigslist photographer.

We all want to save some money, I get that. The way I shop for material goods is to find the best product at the best price within my budget. I approach service professionals completely different. When you purchase a service you aren't purchasing a commodity or a good, you are purchasing the product of their work along with their service; professional or lack thereof, which consists of having the right equipment, experience, ability, aptitude and imagination. You are essentially paying for an valuable and exchangeable product which should, when used correctly and in the correct places, return money to you.

First let's look at a couple of other fields.

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If you had need for a house painter, would you rather use someone with a license, insurance and bond who cannot disappear if the paint falls off in a year? If you needed a plumber, would you choose the unlicensed cash only guy or a company that guarantees their work? If you had the option of choosing a CPA that could save you thousands versus a college student that flunked out of accounting school but can give you a great price, what would it be?

If you have the time I recommend you re-visit an earlier writing on choosing the right photographer. It might help you , if you are looking for one.

Without inundating you with words there are a couple of other important posts in the past including my view on the value of a portrait and the absolute importance of image in business.

So what does it cost to be more than a fly by night "company" or weekend photographer?

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Here are some of the expenses one has to confront before you go about pricing services. Obviously, if it costs you more money to make a photo than you get from it, then you are doing it wrong. That would be financial ruin in short time.

Some of the expenses are:

Equipment purchasing, maintenance and upgrades. This includes; cameras, lighting, accessories and computers. The weekend photographer will have some of this, the professional will have everything they need or access to what they don't AND have certainty on using it.

A studio or location to shoot from which includes utilities and rent (unless you shoot on location) in which case;

Gasoline and car insurance to travel and a vehicle sufficient to haul equipment

Equipment insurance; if you depend on your equipment to survive then insuring it is a good idea.

Liability insurance; what if you mess up someone's wedding and get sued?

PR/Marketing expenses including creation and maintenance of a website; without this key point who will ever find you?

Business license cost including tax software and/or an accountant; if you don't stay legal the government comes a knockin.

The above expenditures costs thousands of dollars every year. Period. But they are business expenses. And they are only PART of why an estimate will be X dollars.

This though should explain why $60 for a headshot doesn't work. This is why a $500 wedding doesn't work. Compare photography to another technical skill:

Car mechanic; they have to buy tools, have a location, insurance and everything mentioned above. They charge anywhere from $80-100 an hour not because the oil change is complicated, but because they have all the tools and the space to do it in, with ease and fast and with seriously less chances of performing the amateur mistakes of say twisting on an oil filter too tight and cracking it. Those specials of oil change for $40 or whatever, is because they get their materials at wholesale prices and can get it done in 15 minutes. Times 3 and you have your $120 an hour. They have to make a certain amount of money every week or month otherwise they close.

 

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Photography on the other hand is a creative art that when done correctly, can aid you in personally and in business, potentially returning thousands of dollars to your business because an image instills confidence and trust before you even open your mouth. So what you are paying for is not my expenses, that's part of it sure (I have to make sure I don't operate at a loss), but you are paying for the value I bring back to you with professional imagery.

That is the real point here.


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