Pricing your photography (or any service or product for that matter) can be tricky. I'm not talking about understanding the cost of doing business (CoDB), where you know how much it costs you to produce what you sell - that needs to be understood before you can see how you break down your pricing. NPPA has an online calculator that is a tremendous tool to help you figure this out.
Many other factors that go into determining what you should charge (CoDB plus profit plus production specific costs), what everyone else charges, how what you bring to the table impacts your pricing and why some photographers can charge less than others and make a larger profit (while delivering superior images) if they are smart about keeping their overhead low.
Last week Rosh Sillars (@RoshSillars) invited me to be a guest on his photography pricing channel and talk about how I structure my pricing - not that this is anything new, I've been talking about using this pricing strategy for years - but you can watch our discussion here:
Problematic pricing perceptions
The biggest problem I've consistently seen in pricing is based on a perception on the side of the client and the photographer.
There are two common pricing philosophies in professional photography: either you charge a day rate or bill by the shot. Both of these are charged in addition to the fixed expenses of a shoot, such as locations, assistants, crew, models, etc. (Read more about how to estimate an advertising photoshoot in this post.)
Day rate pricing disasters
Day rate: charging a set fee for a specified length of time, usually 8 - 10 hours, regardless of how many images are created in that time.
I don't know if you've ever experienced this, but I have:
A clients has been talking about a certain amount of shots when we were estimating the production and we've been anticipating to shoot lets say 20 shots. But those twenty shots magically turn into 25, 30 or more shots.
I don't mind shooting a few extra shots in a day, but at some point the quality of the images will suffer, when you've planned to create 20 and you end up shooting 50 in the same time.
Per shot pricing problems
Per shot: charging a set fee for each image, regardless of how much time it takes to produce.
I see the most potential problems with this pricing strategy: on the one extreme the client will want to spend as much time on each shot, while the other extreme is the photographer who wants to shoot as many images as possible. At least that can become the perception.
If we stick with the example above let's take the same production that should take one day to create 20 images. If you take either extreme to the absurd you'll see my problem. Image a client insisting on you spending one day on each photograph for 20 days or a photographer that wants to bang out the 20 images in an hour.
Here's how I have been successfully pricing my work for the past 2 decades: