Portrait Photographers: How do you charge your work?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by alaine_mangabay, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. I am thinking about doing some wedding and portrait work on the side while I am going to school (majoring in photography). I have photographed a wedding already, but have not done portraits yet. Anyways, my mom has been taking my portfolio in with her to show to her co-workers and even passed out my business cards to them. Now some of them are starting to ask what I would charge to do portraits. I have no idea how to go about charging. So my questions are: What do you charge if you are a portrait photographer? How did you come up with your price? \
    Any advice would be great!
  2. What do you charge if you are a portrait photographer? How did you come up with your price? \​
    This is actually a fairly easy question to answer. Since you do not have a established name nor a portfolio, I would suggest you come up with a minimum $/hr you are willing to work for; keeping in mind you are attempting to build a portrait portfolio.
    Many people breaking into portraiture tend to underestimate how long it takes from shoot to delivery, so whatever you come up with, add 30% more time (i.e) if you're guessing 10 hours, figure on 13.
    One word of caution; in the scenario you spelled out, get ready for people to expect a whole lotta' service for very little dollars. At a minimum for you, and if you are pretty good (better than JC Penny) start around $30/hr.
    What usually happens for photogs starting out is a tendency to undersell yourself, then they get desperate... then finally wind up on craigslist shooting weddings for 200 bucks.
  3. You say you have photographed one Wedding, but have done no portraits. What do you call photographs of people and groups at a wedding?
    I suggest that your pricing start very low indeed, if what you have written is any statement of your knowledge and professionalism.
  4. I have never charged for a portrait session. I have only done it for friends and family and for class and didn't charge, which was a mistake because of how much I put into it. I do have a small portfolio of work and know what all goes into portraits, I just don't know what to charge. Thank you kevin for your answer it helped.
  5. Alaine....it doesn't really matter how large your portfolio is. What matters is.....How good are the Images. THAT will determine how much you should charge.....so what you really need is some expert opinions on your work.....not just a blind "how much"? Robert
  6. Right now I have just passed the stage you are at. I did a whole lot of research before I set my prices. From my experience I have learned that pricing depends on the area you are in,the quality of your work, your experience and the equipment you are using. To start out look into at least three different photographers or studios in your area. Based on those prices, ask yourself how do your photos compaire to the ones taken at those studios. Ask youself how does your experience compair to those places. The next thing you will want to look into is the cost of the prints you are offering or are you willing to give your clients full use rights of the photos you took. Compair the cost of printing to what you are thinking of selling your photos for. Then ask yourself again if you think with your experience and equipment if this is a fair price. Remember you are just starting out and the price of your photos will increase with the experience you will gain. It's ok to change your prices at a later date. There are all kinds of online sites these days that you can upload your photos to and that site will do the selling with your stated pricing and printing without you having to do much. Right now I am using adorama.com in their pix section. It's easy to use since I haven't completed my website yet. I hope this info helps you out with your new business and remember that you are just starting out and this should all be a fun experience for you. Don't stress yourself out yet, that will come later ;)
  7. This is not such an easy question to answer. There are a few factors that come into play. What is your competition charging. How good are your images. What are you offering for your payment. I have played around with different options and have come up with the following that works in my market. $100 per hour for that they receive unlimited digital images either in my studio or outdoors at a location of their choosing. They also get 4 (10 x 8) prints from 4 images that they choose including digital enhancement. I charge an extra $20 for any other images to be digitally enhanced. See my web site for more information. http://www.mccoshphotography.com
  8. What is your competition charging.​
    With all due respect, this is not a good yardstick when you are starting to charge for work; esp just breaking into portrait photography.
    The competition may be experienced; Alaine is not as yet.
    I've yet to see a craigslister or beginner garner what experienced shooters can; unless you can back up your claims of doing excellent work with references.
  9. Your missing my point. What the competition are charging comes into play in setting your price. It's no use charging more than what they are charging. As I said it also depends on how good your shots are. If you think they are not quite as good as the competition then your price has to reflect this based on the Competion's charge. Ie maybe 50% or 75% of what they are charging. Therefore what your comprtition are charging still comes into the equation. As also stated it also depends on what you are offering for your charge. If your shots are not as good as the competition but your offereing more in other ways then maybe you could charge 90% or even the same as your competion.
    What your Competition is charging has to be your starting point from where you base your charges based on the other two items in the equation. How good your shots are and what you are offering for this price.
  10. You say you have photographed one Wedding, but have done no portraits. What do you call photographs of people and groups at a wedding?​
    This is so far from portraiture it's not funny. Lining people up against a wall and taking a picture of them is not portraiture.
    As for what you should charge, it depends on a lot of factors, including what your time is worth, what (if any) is your overhead, how much the market will bear, etc. Basing your pricing on "what the competition charges" is definitely not the way to do it. That is a recipe for disaster.
  11. "Lining people up against a wall and taking a picture of them is not portraiture." (Quote from Dean)


    There are other ways of tastefully and creatively constructing images of groups and individuals besides that of "Lining people up against a wall". That's the old "Firing Squad" style of portraiture, and is not much in vogue with photographers these days.....
    Well Robert, it is a bit of an exaggeration, but I think you got my point. There's more to portraiture than just getting people to stand still in front of the camera.
  13. Dean, You have just contridicted yourself. You said one of the factors is "how much the market will bear" IE what the competition is charging. If you think for one second what the market is charing has no bearing on what you can charge then you are living in your own little private world.
  14. Dean, You have just contridicted yourself. You said one of the factors is "how much the market will bear" IE what the competition is charging.​
    John, it's actually not a contradiction at all. By what the market will bear I mean what the customer is willing to pay. True, that may be a result of what others are charging in that market, but if you want to charge say $300 for a session fee and customers are used to or only willing to pay $200, then you have to adjust.
    In my market I'm sure there are photographers who charge more than me and probably some that charge less. I really don't know. I charge based on what the client can afford to pay and what i need to make a living. I don't base it on what other photographers are charging. I guess if I was charging way too much it would be obvious.
  15. Dean....there is another way to look at this.....The customer doesn't really object to what the price is...what they really care about is what the VALUE is.

    If you go to the Porsche Dealer to buy a 911 you will pay the price because of the value of the item to you, and NOT because you can buy a Smart Car cheaper.

    So, this is where the issue of Quality/Value comes in. Are you selling Porches....or are you selling Fiestas?

    THAT is what is relevant to the client.....not just price comparisons, but value comparisons.
  16. Dean, what others are charging is what sets the market price. We are saying the same thing just saying it differently. What sets the price is supply and demand and wither you can offer something extra that your competition can't. This is what Robert is referring to above. I know wedding photographers who charge $6,000+ for a wedding and others who are under $1,000. What is the difference between the two, the experience and final results of the images one receives. Portraits are similar but not quite such a large difference in price. You need to look at the market rate for what your offering and base your charge on that, Charge too much above that and you will be struggling to get work, charge to little for too long is dangerous as you could start a price war as your competition will need to drop their price to compete. By all means start off with competitive pricing to get established and get a portfolio. As soon as you have done these then increase your price to the market rate. Photography is different from other products in that you’re not selling a standard item that your customer can compare prices from one photographer to another. Each photographer produces a different product and this will reflect on your price. Also the supply and demand has a Bering; if you can find a niche market that is not already covered you can charge a premium for this.
  17. One thing you also need to remember is that you'll need to be licensed and pay taxes to the city, state, and federal government. Every city and state is different in the laws pertaining to this, so you need to be educated in that area and factor those costs into your business plan.

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