So many people ask me this question, or at least some variation on it. The answer I always give is, “It depends…” Then, I go on to list the various criteria that factor in to determining an equitable pricing guide for your work. Here’s a couple of the factors that I’ve always considered when setting prices for work:
1. Location – Are you in New York, Colorado, South Carolina, or California? The cost of living varies greatly in each of these areas, and what might be a good rate for Colorado would barely pay the cost of gas in California. Consider your geographic market when pricing because the market can be a huge factor in how to set pricing.
2. Competition – What are others charging? Here you have to be careful because there is always going to be someone who can undercut you. I see ads on Craigslist and other places all the time where photographers trying to build a portfolio will offer to work for peanuts – or even free, just to get the experience! It’s kind of hard to compete with that, so consider the “competition” as those who are in the same boat you are in.
3. The “Target Market” – Tying all of this in is the target audience that you want to market to. If you want to bring in as many clients as possible, then you will have to market differently than if you only want to work 12 events or sessions a year. So, consider who you want to be your client list as this can be a huge determinant in your pricing strategy.
4. Type of Work – Are you a portrait photographer or an event photographer? Architectural photography? Magazine photography? How specialized is your field or niche? Different types of work can garner different rates, and rates can also vary based on hourly or flat rates depending on how you prefer to work. I know some photographers that charge based on the event, and others who charge hourly rates.
5. What’s included? – Are you talking about just the rate to capture the images or does this also include post production? What about image usage? Is licensing a factor and if so, what type of license is being delivered? if not, are you producing prints, is the cost of the capture time built in to expected sales, or are the resulting images going to be transferred to the client for their own use. This can have a huge impact on pricing because licensing fees can get pretty extensive, as can re-prints.
This is just the tip of the iceberg too…I’m sure others can offer particular insights and considerations to take into account when building out your price sheet. There’s a lot to take into consideration…and you know what’s coming – the reader question: What are your own considerations when building a price sheet? Do you charge by the hour or by the event? Have you included gear depreciation in your pricing? What about your hourly rate that you would like to actually earn versus that which goes to paying overhead? Sound off in the comments – I’d love to hear what others have included in their own formulas! Happy shooting and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow…