| Decatur IL Photography | Studio Prices, Products and Business … Just some thoughts |
Saw a photography business announce it’s going out of business this week and it made me sad to see. There are so many reasons that photographers choose to close up shop but one I see too often is that they get burnt out working long hours, late nights, weekends and holidays and don’t get compensated for their work. I’ve had clients say just about everything about my rates from ‘Oh, that’s not bad.’ and even ‘You should really charge more.’ to ‘Wow that seems expensive!’
I know pricing is something that is difficult for many photographers, including myself. I’m always analyzing my prices, collections, products and sessions to see if I think they are fair, valuable and profitable. While we don’t want to ‘price gouge’ our clients (fair) and we want to ensure that the product they receive is quality, unique and personal (valuable) but at the end of the day we have to also build a business and ensure we can not only cover costs, but re-invest in the business to grow and to finally to earn a living ourselves. One of the first things, us photographers overlook is actually paying ourselves, but in order for our hobbies to be sustainable businesses that’s a must!
It really made me sad this week to see such a talented photographer decide to close her studio. Now, I do not know the reasons behind the close and I only hope it’s not due to the undervaluing of their beautiful work. Ryan will be the first to tell you that I am 85% (or he might even say 95%) artist/photographer/designer and 15% business woman at heart, but a photography business must be the opposite to thrive so we often have to wear our businessperson hats far more often than we would like.
Photographers, this rant of mine today is here so that you never have to close up shop before you want to. I’m not saying you need to charge more, but you need to charge enough. And KNOW what enough is through product, profit/loss analysis. Programs like Successware can take this analysis to the next level! And know your costs… Your 8×10 isn’t just a piece of paper… It’s everything that went into it including: the prep time for the session, session time, time processing that image before the client sees it, production time (retouching, mounting, unpacking and repacking) all the way through delivery time. This is not to mention the equipment needed to create that product: camera, lighting, stands, cards, lenses, computer, software, printer, paper, desk….. You may have hours of work and thousands of dollars of equipment that you are never calculating into your cost of a single 8×10. When it comes to this, don’t just guess… know!
And clients, this post is mostly for my fellow photographers as I fear for us/them and mourn the loss of a talented photographer from our industry. But I hope you all know that more than anything I want you all to have your beautiful portraits and your dream order every time you walk through my door. And it has nothing to do with profit, I want you to have these images because I created them for you. Unfortunately, for me to continue to create them for you and your family for generations to come I have to charge you enough for them. My goal is never to ‘rip you off’ or gouge you, but to charge what I have to in order to make this my living not just my dream. And don’t worry, if I win the lottery (which would require buying a ticket), I will continue to provide portraits and follow my dream and passion and I’ll give you a TON for FREE, because if I could, I would!