How much should I charge for *fill in the blank* type of photography? This question gets asked so many times around the internet that you’d think we would be able to answer that by now. But no, even after several years in business, it seems that most photographers are no closer to answering that.
Do you charge by the hour? By the project? By the day? Do you figure out your Cost Of Doing Business and divide it by the number of days you want to work? That’s the fast track to out-pricing yourself, says Scott from Tin House Studio. In this video, he explains how photographers need to approach their pricing these days to remain competitive.
Scott explains that every market and every job has a ceiling. That’s why in Spain, for a local shoot, I can’t charge the same as a photographer in Atlanta, USA might, for example. The local average wage is different, the value people put on photography is different, and what they are willing to pay for it is different.
International-level ad campaigns are, of course, a different story, Scott explains, because the market for that is global. Unless you are Tim Tadder or Annie Leibowitz, you probably aren’t going to get hired for those jobs.
In each genre of photography, there is a ceiling as to what people expect to pay for a certain level of photography. This is why you’ll have $1200 wedding photographers, $5000 wedding photographers, and $10,000 wedding photographers. It is similar in the commercial world, Scott explains.
He says that there are smaller agencies that will pay $800 for a day or $1200 for a day. However, they won’t pay more than that. It is pointless pricing yourself out of that market if that’s where you are at.
What will the market bear?
You have to ask yourself three questions, says Scott: What will the market bear? Is your work good enough to be competitive within that, and can your business work financially at those levels?
Work backwards from the amount the market will bear. Then figure out your take home and costs from there, he advises.
I find this approach extremely straightforward and quite refreshing. I used to feel like I was pulling numbers out of thin air, not really based on much at all. It also explains why, after years of stagnant wages, increased inflation and higher cost of living, I have found it difficult to raise my rates.
In order to find out what those ceiling rates are in my location, I asked another established commercial photographer. He was kind enough to tell me what his day rates were, and I was able to figure it out from there. Some photographers can be cagey about this, so you might get a no. However, it is in all of our best interests to be transparent about this information.
How do you figure out your pricing for photography?