Pricing Part 1

Lots of you have been asking me over the last few weeks to help you price different jobs. This is a task that will take you some time the first time around and will get easier the more you do it. I am going to go over two methods, outlining the pros and cons of each.

Using one of these methods you will be able to price your services with confidence.

The first method is an hourly rate. Using this method you tell the client that you work at X amount per hour and all expenses will be taken care of by the client. This method is easy for you as you don’t really have to do any costing legwork, you just show up and shoot and is therefor the usual proposal given to the client by new photographers. The downside to this method is that most of you will be starting with small jobs for small companies or individuals. Most small companies will want to know exactly what the final bill will be before they sign any contract. Having said that, I still use this method when pricing out some of the work I do.

The method that will get and keep more clients is quoting a final cost before you even begin. This is daunting the first time you do it (and will take a lot of time), but your clients will be much happier when you can tell them exactly how much something is going to cost before they sign a contract. The down side to this method is that if you make a mistake somewhere, you eat the cost. (You either go begging for more money or you don’t get paid what the job was worth.)

So how do you go about doing this? Those of you who are graduates of the Langara College program will have done something very similar in Catharine’s professional issues class (your day rate). Firstly, figure out how long the job is going to take you. Multiply that by your expected wage and add every expense you are going to have on the job. This will give you a quote for your client. (Don’t forget to add a little extra in because we never remember everything).

This method only works for a “one time job” and will not work if you have other overhead associated with running a business.

What things do you have to take into consideration when figuring out costs? Firstly, you need to ask a lot of questions of your client. You need to know EXACTLY what they want. How many images, how much retouching, what size are the images, when do they need it by, where is the photography going to happen, film or digital, how many products or people, what type of images, models, make-up, backgrounds, what size are the things to be photographed? The list goes on and on. You need to make sure that you ask the questions that need to be asked for your particular job.

Here is a BRIEF list of expenses that you need to take into consideration:
assistant wage, make-up artist, equipment rental, studio rental, travel expense, gas, parking, film, wear on your gear, extra equipment needed for the job, courier fees, cds or dvds, batteries, this list goes on and on.

How long is the shoot going to take you? Don’t forget to add in the time it takes you to retouch, burn cds, wardrobe changes, make-up and prep the final product for delivery among other things.

Each job has its own set of factors that contribute to the pricing of your photography, make sure that you see all the factors so that you can make an accurate quote. Once you have your quote, stick to it, if you give a discount, where is that money going to come out of… your wage.

*This is meant to be a guideline only. There are lots of other ways to price your work. My best advice is do your homework before and after every job to make sure you are actually making money.

If you’d like a personal consultation on your pricing, call the studio to arrange a visit. It’s only $96 per hour and it could mean the difference between staying in business or loosing your shirt.

Please visit our photographer’s page for more.