A complete pricing model is very important for every professional photographer. It will serve as a pricing blueprint that can be easily adjusted based on several factors, including, but not limited to what the client needs and where the location is. Sadly, recommended pricing models are sometimes forgotten by some Filipino freelance photographers, thinking that they can just do guesswork or copy the market price.
A while back, I shared an article about the Event Photography Rates in the Philippines. This, by far, is one of my most viewed posts and it made me realize how important it is to have a photography pricing guide that Filipino Photographers can access. This guide is meant to guide every photographer in any level of experience or area of specialty to have a structure on how they can price their photography services without ripping themselves off.
Like any industry, there’s this thing called the standard professional photography prices. However, when the age of digital photography, new software, and social media came, the photography business quickly changed.
The photography services that can only be done by professional photographers before are now within reach of beginners and hobbyists, and when they got a hold on it easily, some tend to set their prices low.
This is why I think professional photographers need to reassess their services so they can start charging what they are worth. They need to ask for a proper price for their services based on both talent and experience.
Aside from these, some factors that add value to your photography services are your brand and identity. These are what sets you apart from other photographers and what will make clients want to pay more for your services.
Ideally, the base price should be your expenses + profit + labor and manpower. However, there is a lot more to consider if you really want to up your game in your photography services.
Factors to Consider
Different factors contribute to how much a photographer should charge. There are times that a photographer just computes on top of their mind that they tend to forget the small factors that greatly contribute to the pricing. This, in turn, makes their price bid lower than they should have been charging.
Just like any usual business, there are lots to consider to finally come up with your pricing. As you start to explore your photography business, you need to consider the operation costs, the cost of goods, labor costs, taxes, and profit. Proper documentation is one efficient way to keep your business up and monitored. Coming up with a cost blueprint is a perfect idea to start. The cost blueprint contains all the fixed expenses all throughout the variable costs.
To determine your operation costs, you must consider the following pointers:
- Cost of equipment – To come up with the pricing for equipment costs, always include the wear and tear, repair, or replacement costs of all your equipment from lenses, camera, down to lighting equipment.
- Office costs – For a photography business, a studio is a necessity. This factor undeniably can add up to your costs. Make sure that you include this to your list whether you are renting an office studio or you conveniently use your extra room at home. You may set a certain fair value for your space and see to it that your business pays for the set fee.
- Marketing costs – There are a lot of things that you can do to grow and be big in this industry. One way is to have marketing strategies that will soon be beneficial to your business yet still requires operational costs. As you aim to attract and grow your network of clients, you will need to exhibit your output. You may also join photography contests, create a website introducing your portfolio, or join digital marketing events. Mentioned activities will surely add up to your costing, however, it may give you a great deal of shot to get more clients.
- Professional fees – A photography business will not function without the help of professionals such as photographers, assistants, and accountants. The professional fees for these skilled workers should take part in your list.
- Other expenses – Do not forget to include other expenses that are of value as well in determining your pricing.
Goods and Equipment
Calculating the cost of goods sold includes labor and the cost of materials used. Let’s give you an instance: Providing your client with an 8×10 photo print.
The total cost of goods sold should not be determined by the cost of the finished output. The cost should also include the post-prod charges such as shipping and packaging charges. If in case you are offering a service of photo manipulation or photo retouching, you should transparently declare it into your pricing sheet. Doing the same service offered for batches of photos, the price should vary depending on the time allowance committed, the quality of the service, and the photo. For a more specific guide, you may also check a photography service that provides detailed pricing. That way, you will get a handful of ideas on how to factor costs when it comes to photo servicing.
Be more transparent and gladly declare all the hidden costs included in each service you offer. Storing, proofing, and delivery of digital files also associate charges. Hence, these should be considered in the final deliverables.
Time and Labor
Time and labor are a big factors in photography pricing. Determining the value of time and effort that a photographer will invest in a project will greatly help him earn adequately.
However, some photographers fall short when it comes to computing the costs for time and labor. Time is money too, they all say. For instance, client inquiries about your wedding photography service. Before you declare your pricing, you should consider the pre-production engagements like meeting up with the clients, travel time and expenses, the time you should spend setting up the equipment, and during the shoot. Also, this should include the post-production services included in the package. You should be more practical and realistic in doing the costing. More so, you should also consider the possible timing delays during the production.
Determining what will be your profit margin comes last after you set the pricing for the cost of goods sold, time, and labor. Profit, in a nutshell, will be your take-home pay. Take note that the profit margin should vary depending on the nature of each project.
So now, you may ask yourself, how can I set the right value for my profit? Here are some guidelines that you may consider to finally hit your target profit margin.
- Keep a price range among your competitors
Good research is a great idea to hit your target pricing. You can make inquiries with other local photography businesses depending on the niche- commercial, wedding, or portraits. See to it that you keep your pricing set at a competitive level. Why? Because clients initially make inquiries with lots of potential photography service providers and compare pricing. If you give them a competitive range and high-quality portfolio, there is a big chance that you could turn them into your clients. Do not think of lowballing your price range to get clients as it will only put you into a low-standard business. However, overpricing may push your potential clients away. Keeping a price range is the safest way to be competitive and keep a fair profit margin as well.
- Know your value
Knowing your value in this business is important. You should not lowball the quality of your services as it may drag your business into a low-quality standard service provider. Your experiences should define your value at this point. Charging your clients too low can lower the potential client’s expectation of your goods and services. That is why we mentioned that lowballing may put your business into a bad reputation.
- Professionalism and portfolio quality
As you set your service pricing, you should also consider the benefits that are included in the package. You should present the clients with how well-trained are professionals in your team, the quality of the equipment that your business uses, and the flow of pre-production and post-production services that you willingly provide. Your training as a professional will determine your value which in turn will assure your clients of your good service that in a single opportunity, you will be able to do the job perfectly. Having the best and top-of-the-line equipment such as cameras, lighting, lenses, and software will increase your market value. Having an office studio and website portfolio is a great addition to increase your market value. It will be a fair justification of your charges that will reflect in your set photography pricing. Your website portfolio will speak of your work professionalism and the quality of the services. Make sure that you regularly update your portfolio as it will make your clients convinced and assured that you can do the job well.
Aside from the aforementioned factors, there are also these that are easily forgotten when creating your pricing blueprint. Taking into consideration of these overlooked factors can save you a ton of loss profit in time.
As a professional photographer, you will be handing out printed-out and digital images. For the digital images, you have to be clear about who gets the rights for the project.
Ideally, every photo that you take can be added to your portfolio. However, when a client requires full rights, meaning you can’t use the output for your portfolio, then it only makes sense to charge higher for that project. Because you will be selling the rights to your photos as well as the photos themselves.
Having said that, the final usage for the photo should also affect your pricing. A good example of this is the difference in pricing between a photo that will be used for a local billboard ad, and a photo that will be used in an ad for a national newspaper.
Another factor to consider when pricing your photography services is the tax. In your invoice to your client, you should be clear if the price mentioned is tax-included or tax-excluded.
If you choose to have it tax-included, you have to compute for the tax and add it on top of your computed price. Otherwise, just include the final price and then add the percentage of tax.
You may head on to the Department of Trade and Industry website if you have already registered your service as a business. Check the percentage that you should be paying for tax, so you can add that on top of the client’s final bill.
Like in any other industry, there will be times that unpredictable things can happen. Imagine having just the right amount of projects for your expenses and then you suddenly broke your tripod, or one of your lighting equipment got wet, or your external flash was pushed by running kids, this horror list can go on.
These accidents can be a nightmare for any photographer. We may not know when it is going to happen, but it CAN happen, so being prepared for it is a good idea.
You can opt to add a set price of a percentage to all your contracts and just keep it away in a stash or a separate bank account. Think of it as your emergency fund for your photography services business.
Onboarding your Clients
One sign of professionalism is having everything covered when a client says yes. Having a good sales system is a great way to ensure that everything is in place and that nothing will be forgotten, this will also guarantee a smooth sailing project for all your clients.
Questions to ask
Before sending out your proposed price to a client, you need to know some basic information from them. It’s good practice to have a form that you can ask them to fill up, or you can personally fill out the form while you are meeting or talking to the client.
This will ensure that all the points that need to be considered will be addressed, so it will limit the need to call or text the client for additional information because it was forgotten or overlooked.
Determining the scope of work
To be able to calculate the associated costs, expenses, and finally the final price for the client, you’ll need to determine the scope of work.
Photography, like any other niche in the creative field, is a complex business. There is no one-size-fits-all in this industry. Every contract you have will be different from the next one.
While it is good to have packages to simplify your pricing and the inclusions. It is still best to sit down with the client and determine what they need for the project they want.
Consider small details like the output. Do they want digital copies of their photos? Or do they prefer receiving a printed photobook, do they want them both? These will add small costs that can eat up a photographer’s profit if not computed properly.
Laying it down
After determining the final pricing for the project at hand, it’s time to lay it all down for the client. Having a well-detailed contract with all the inclusions and details is good practice. This will ensure a smooth transaction as well as serve as your and your client’s protection.
Some popular Pricing Model
Pricing models can be quite different from one photographer to another. This is why having your own pricing blueprint for your own services is a good idea when you navigate through the business of professional photography.
However, on top of having your own pricing model, you still need to be aware of the current pricing trends, so you won’t be too high or you won’t be too low.
Here are some popular pricing models to help you strategize your personal pricing better.
Image-based pricing is widely used in the advertising field. This is for when the client is expecting extremely high-quality images of their subject.
These are usually used for television ads, national campaigns, and billboard ads. It can also be for a website or a local newspaper. In this pricing model, the more prominent the campaign is, the more expensive the image is.
Aside from the basic pricing of the image itself, the usage is an additional factor that you should not forget. The more people that are going to see your photo, the more expensive it should be.
These images are often for photography of food, products, interiors, architecture, and corporate portraits.
Hours-based or Project-based
For projects such as events, weddings, birthdays, school events, etc., hourly or project-based pricing models can be used.
In events where there will be a set time like 3 hours for every event. In these cases, it is easier to offer a package price, since you already know what usual add ons and services newlywed wants. You may offer a tiered package with the most expensive one having the most coveted features of your services.
While creating your pricing blueprint, it is also a good idea to have an hourly ideal rate for yourself. In this way, you can compute better without ripping yourself off.
Aside from the two pricing models, your rate can still vary depending on the experience you have in the field. Take the following as examples.
- Amateurs and Hobbyists – both amateurs and hobbyists may not follow the standard professional photography practices as they may have other work and are just doing it as a hobby. They sometimes charge P1,500 – P3,000 per hour or a package deal of less than P5000 for images that are normally used on small websites, local advertising, and blogs.
- Student Photographers – When a photographer is more serious than a hobbyist, they start to take courses or training for their profession. This means their rate also increases as their knowledge does. Their hourly rate is usually P3,000 – P5000. Factors that can add up to the rates of a student photographer are their level in school or what school they are studying in.
- Entry-level Photographers – They may also have other work but they are more committed to the profession. They usually charge P2,000 – P7,500 per hour or P1,500 – P5,000 per image.
- Experienced Professional Photographers – Once a photographer gains experience, their rates go significantly up. Professional photographers with experience usually charge P5,000 – P15,000 per hour or image. They usually have their profession as their source of income and they have dedicated their time and money to it.
- Top Professional Photographer – Once an experienced professional photographer gains traction in the market and start being high-profile, then they become coveted as high-end photographers. They are the ones that VIPs call for their photography needs. They usually charge P15,000 – P30,000 per hour or P10,000 – P60,000 per image.
One more pricing factor to discuss is the specialty or field of expertise of the photographer. In all stages of the life of a person, they are bound to need a photographer in one way or another.
If a person wants to have their portrait taken, they call a portrait photographer. If they get married, a wedding photographer. If they give birth, a newborn photographer. If they have a product to launch, a product photographer. If they have an event to launch, an event photographer. You get the idea.
One photographer can have different fields that they can handle, but those who are serious often focus on one niche.
Here are some of the common price ranges for each specialty.
- Portrait Photography – usually charges P7,500 – P15,000 per session.
- Wedding Photography – depending on the location of the wedding, a package can range from P75,000 – P200,000 for the basic needs and can go up to millions of pesos for intricate services.
- Website Photography – usually charges P1,000 – 7,500 per copy.
- Product Photography – depending on where the client will use the photo, rates range from P1,000 – P7,500 per image.
- Event Photography – Professional photographers are called upon to cover events. These services can range from P5,000 – P15,000 depending on the event and the inclusions.
- Newborn Photography – This is a very delicate but lucrative profession. It can range from P25,000 above for a session.
I hope that this pricing model guide is able to give you a clearer view of how you can charge for your professional photography services and how to make sure you will not be ripping yourself off.