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Saturday, February 25, 2012

What's Your Worth? -- Phoenix, AZ Photographer

{ The Tale of the Skinny & Fat Piggy }
Is your piggy bank starting to look a little too thin?
Do you need more green to feed it and to fatten it up again?

When photographers are starting out in business, they often make a similar mistake:

They let their little piggy go hungry.

Very hungry.

But what they don't realize is that that piggy bank becomes the bacon off of which they and their family eats and it's important to set a price that is not only fair to clients, but to his or herself as well.

It is important for a photographer and a client to:

Value time.

Value effort.

Value what is being invested into. 

When I first started photographing as a business, I was charging $50.00 per session. It seemed like a good thing at the time because I was new and thought, "Awesome, I'm making money!"

But was I really?

After spending a few months in the business, I realized just how many costs go into making photography a business--and there are many hidden costs that really add up. I want to highlight them here for both the photographer and the client.
{ These are just the bare bone essentials of what goes into a photo shoot } :

There's the cost of gas to drive to the location and back.

The taxes that are paid on 4 different levels
{ here in AZ it's city, county, state and federal on product and services }.

There's the 1-2 hours out on site to take the photos.

The 2-4 hours at home hand editing each photo from the session.

The time it takes to upload and process an order at a lab.

The shipping of the photos from the lab to photographer.

The shipping of the photos from photographer to clients.

The cost of the product themselves.

The cost of packaging.

The cost of credit card processing.

The cost of posting the photos online in a proofing gallery.

The cost of electricity to run the computer to make all that magic happen.

I'm not including the other costs--maintenance of gear, maintenance of car, licensing, business cards, etc.
As a photographer, you have to take these things in mind as you set your prices for your clients.
As a client, you have to take these things in mind as you search for a photographer.

Photographers, are you being fair to yourself and your work? Do you value it?
Clients, are you being fair to your photographer and their work? Do you value it?

I wouldn't expect a person to work and not get paid.
Would you?
Some of you photographers, why are you working for free and not charging enough to cover your costs? Why are you not charging your worth as an artist?

Some of you clients, why are you expecting to get something for near nothing?

Why is that?
We wouldn't expect to get a diamond for a cubic zirconia price, right? So those of you photographers who are exploding with talent, why are you pricing yourself as a cubic when you're really a diamond?

Do you want to work with a client that doesn't value your work at the level that it's at?
Could it be that you're setting your prices lower than they should be because you're afraid that you won't find people who will value your work?

People pay for what they value.

Listen: Price isn't the issue. The perception of value is.

Some people value one thing over another.
My goodness, have you seen the rise in fights that are happening over a pair of sneakers out right now? People are fighting over shoes! Shoes! Enough to call in riot police! People buy what they value.

I'll give you another example.


Disneyland is expensive.
I know.
I used to work there.

What is the breakdown of the bare bones of a trip?

1 adult ticket is $80.00 for a 1 day, 1 Park ticket.
There's the cost of parking.
The cost of meals throughout the day.
Drinks throughout the day.
The cost of a locker.
The cost to get to the Park { gas or airline }.
If you're from out of town, the cost of a hotel or motel.
Not including souveniers, it's pretty pricey...

But people pay it.


It's hot in the summer. Lines are endless. Crowds are pushy.

Because of memories.

There is value in going to Disneyland.
People are willing to pay for the magic that Disney creates for them.

I used to be a part of making that magic and I know how very special that can be for a person or a family.

People pay for it, because memories are valuable.

You could go to the local carnival.
It's cheaper.
But the experience is not the same by far.
I guarantee you're not going to get the same experience that you will at Disney!

The same thing is true of a professional photographer.
A client could go to a local store or mall store and get their photos done.
But you get what you pay for.

It's like eating a cake without the frosting.

You can't expect to price yourself the same, because you're not the same. 
Clients shouldn't expect to get you at the same discounted price because as a professional, you invest more into their photos than they'll ever be able to get at a local store or mall studio.

A professional photographer is valuable because he or she is capturing memories in a professional way.

A photographer creates and captures memories.
In their best light.
In the most artistic way possible.

It's funny how people view pricing sometimes.

I wouldn't expect to walk into Neiman Marcus and ask for something at Kmart prices.
I would probably be laughed out of the store for even asking such a thing.

Each place is priced differently for a different crowd of shoppers. Some can afford one price. Some can afford more. Some can afford less. We each shop at the level that's most comfortable to us.

Just like with shopping, there are photographers at several different price ranges for a variety of different clients at different price ranges.

If you're priced fairly and someone can't afford you, you don't have to feel bad and change to fit their budget and expectations.
You set your prices fairly and the right clients that value your work and can afford your price range will be the ones to hire you.  

Skinny piggy, fat piggy....

What's in your wallet?

It all depends on the value you and others see in your work.


  1. Thank you for taking the time to share this!!

  2. THIS is awesome! Great post!! :D

  3. Thanks for posting this! I am definitely one of those photographers that doesn't charge enough! I am charging $40-$50 per session! And then I spend most of that on prints to give the client as a gift. If I want to take this seriously, I need to smarten up! Thanks for the advice!