There is nothing that causes new photographers more angst than pricing their photographs or their services. Many photographers make the big mistake of pricing too low. Then a year later they find that Canada make a living as a photographer or that they are virtually giving away their photographs.
It is only good business practice to find out where you are in the market place. If you are running a service business (wedding, portrait, industrial) you need to find out what the local competition is. You also need to find out what the National and International norms are. I know of wedding and portrait photographers who have built themselves a fabulous reputation and one that takes them far from their studio to shoot weddings or portraits around the world. Don’t sell yourself short!
Start by finding out what the norms and standards are by using one of the many software or online packages that can help you price your photography. Here are a few:
HindSight Photo Price Guide This is a direct quote:
“HindSight’s Photo Price Guide 2 brings new ease to properly and consistently calculating fees and granting rights for stock usage. Even though extensive pricing data is pre-installed, you’re given the ability to completely customize the numbers and can change any or all of the data. Use it as is or totally make it your program. An extensive pricing database is installed, covering an extremely broad range of usages, many of which are found in no other guide to professional photographic pricing.”
This is a very well thought out pricing package which has received consistently great reviews by some of the top industry names. I like the fact that you can view the authors pricing guidelines and create your own guidelines. This is especially relevant for service photographers whose local markets differ significantly from the norm. The price is definitely right at $99. http://hindsightltd.com/products/PriceGuide.html
Cradoc Bagshaw has been a major force in the stock photo market for as long as I can remember. His software PhotoQuote used to be just for stock photographers, but now includes a module especially for pricing assignments. He includes a feature that helps you price for both larger markets and for small markets. http://www.cradoc.com/
While you are there be sure to check out PhotoBiz. This is a full management package for freelance photographers. FotoBiz creates over 100 documents, forms, labels and reports. You can track assignments, develop estimates and quotes, track stock submissions, issue invoices and more. http://www.fotobiz.net/
PhotoByte is a free program (suggested $100 donation if you keep it) is an integrated back-office system specifically designed for photographers, by well know photographer, Tom Zimberoff. It includes a Copyright Composer module that writes the licenses for a wide range of uses, a Virtual Paper Trail that keeps track of your paperwork for jobs and fees, and a client contact manager. Good deal! http://zimberoff.com/photobyte.htm
When you sell stock, you are selling in an International marketplace and local research generally won’t give you any additional information. If you are selling your photo services, it is a different ballgame. Your location will definitely make a difference in your pricing strategy until you establish a reputation that allows you to compete in the International marketplace.
If you live and work in New York City or Los Angeles or Toronto your marketplace will be vastly different to someone who works in Saskatchewan or Vermont. You will need to get on the phone (or get a friend to help out) call and visit the local competition. Find out what their day rates are or what their packages sell for. You could also join a local association so you can ask rather than spy! From the information you get, determine where and how YOU want to price your services and packages for your local marketplace.
Again, I would caution you against selling yourself short. There is no glory in being the cheapest on the block.
Here are several useful book references:
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