General Question

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

What is a fair price for my services?

Asked by ItalianPrincess1217 (11973points) May 7th, 2015

Recently a friend of a friend reached out to me after seeing some photos of mine. She liked my work and asked if I’d be interested in shooting her parents vow renewal for about an hour. I accepted the job and told her I’d get the pricing to her within a couple days. This will be my first time shooting a vow renewal. Due to the fact that I’m still an amateur, I want to give her a fair price without making myself sound cheap. At this point it’s not about how much money I can make doing odd photo shoots, it’s about getting some experience under my belt and getting my name out there. I considered charging $75 for the hour, including the disc of edited images. If she wants prints, that would be additional. Is $75 a fair price? Too much? Selling myself short? What’s your opinion?

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29 Answers

janbb's avatar

I’m thinking more in the $150 – 200 range but how fancy a party is this?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I would 2nd that, maybe even as high as $275.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@janbb I’m not sure yet. We are meeting soon to discuss all the details. If I were to guess, not very fancy.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If it were me, and this was my first, I’d low ball it too, say, $125 / hour?

jca's avatar

Two things for you to consider, in my opinion.
1. You are currently an amateur, according to what you wrote.

2. Also, she is your friend. I know some will say the fact that she is your friend should have nothing to do with the price, but you have to decide if it will have something to do with the price or not, and if it does, how much of a discount do you feel it’s worth.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@jca Actually I don’t know her at all. It’s a friend of a friend.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

What a wonderful opportunity for a win-win situation.

If it were me, I’d attempt to tackle this strategically.
* Do some research. What makes wedding photos successful? It’s not just about the shots during the service and immediately following.

* Meet with the bride and groom to find out exactly what they would like. Do they want it cheap, fast, or of good quality? They can pick two.
– Cheap and fast: You show up, take the photos and hand them a disc or flash drive or whatever with the digital photos at the end of event.
– Cheap and of good quality: They get the photos that they want, be it digital or print, and well organized, or even in an album with additional copies of whatever ones they want, but it will take longer based upon your schedule.
– Fast and of good quality: If they choose this option, then it cuts into your time on other projects or personal life. It should cost more.

* Once you have an idea of what they want, estimate out the cost.
– How much will travel expenses be?
– How much for supplies?
– How much for the time invested to not only take the photos but to deliver the finished product?

* Quote higher than anticipated and bill low if possible. This way, errors in estimates are covered, and at best, it will be an unexpected delight if you quote @Hypocrisy_Central‘s $275 and the cost to them ends up being lower. It also gives you some wiggle room to throw in something special, like their favorite photo in a frame or customizing a website that the couple can share with others, etc.

* Once it is over, ask the couple for a review. What did you do well? What could you have done better? Their feedback will be a guide on what worked and how to do it better the next time.

* Once it is done, ask yourself the same questions: What worked well and what could have been done better? Where did you over- and under-estimate costs, expectations, etc? Take notes and use them to customize a questionnaire before taking on another photographic project.

The best of luck to you! Please keep us posted on how it turns out.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer That’s some great advice! Thank you!

Pandora's avatar

How many hours will it take after the initial photo session?
If it takes you 3 hours later to put everything together than I would include my time that I am not with them plus the cost incurred in developing everything.
Oh, I just noticed what was written above.
You might want to write up a chart for each item so they get to choose exactly what they want. Digital, with no prints. 50,
Hour taking pictures 100 for the first hour. 50 for the next
Price for copies of a photo they choose
Large solo print another price
Album another price
Individual photos 3×5 or 8×11 another price
Special effects another price
Small individual albums for their kids another price (something that holds about 10 photos of the family group pictures.

JLeslie's avatar

I’d say $125. If it wasn’t your first time I’d say at least $175.

You’ll need to plan ahead. Make sure you find out what photos are important to them ahead of time so you snap what they are expecting. Then use your own imagination too. This event happens once for them. If something goes wrong with the photos it’s not replaceable.

Kyle_375's avatar

Hi ItalianPrincess :)

Well since she’s a friend of a friend i’d say don’t quote her a price that is too high. You’ll need her as a person who will refer your photography service to others. But also you don’t want to seem like a service that is cheap. So maybe try quoting high and then tell them that since they are friends with your friend that you will give them a good low price for your service. Try something like this: You quote them as an example $300 as a flat rate for the service. Say this: I normally charge $300 as a flat rate for specific photography services i provide, But since my friend knows you, i can give you a lower price. So if you want i can give it to you for half off my normal price. So i can give it to you for just like $150.

As far as your exact price that you want to quote her, check online and see how much other photography services charge for their services and maybe use those prices. Also, It’s also a good idea to create a flier that has your services on it and give it to her. This will make you look more professional and thus allow you to charge more for your photography services. Make the flier look professional though. Don’t be cheap with the flier. It has to look professional so they will see that you are a Real professional with exceptional skills to offer since you have your own marketing materials. Also it’s a good idea to get a low cost website and add your photographs/work on it to so you show it to prospective clients. Get some basic business cards, put your website address on it and pass them out to people you know. Just say something like: Hey i got a website for my photography business i just started, want to see my new business card? They’ll say ok and just give it to them. And tell them that if they ever here of someone that ever needs some photos done if they could tell them about you. Real simple :) There’s a lot of different things you can do for marketing to get yourself out there.

I do this kind of thing for my business. I personally have a website and do my own marketing too. I help people with their promotions, how to and where to sell online and also help them with how they can make money online. I do this for my own business too. I can help you with a cheap website if you want. oh, and you can get a heck of a lot more business if you use digital coupons available off of your website which i do on all the sites i provide to my clients an they’re happy with them.

With the coupons on the site, you can quote High to prospective buyers and then tell them if they go to your website they can get a digital coupon and you’ll cut the cost on your service down by Half Off and then you’ll have an easier time getting sales.

I do this stuff for a living online. If want, i can help you. We can chat for free if you want on gmail if you want. No obligation. Just chat. That’s all. Just let me know if you want to chat. I hope my advice helped you italianprincess :) Have a great day :)

jaytkay's avatar

All I wanted to say was shoot as many photos as possible. Hundreds. But only show them the very best few. That’s how you get a reputation as an excellent photographer.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@jaytkay Absolutely. I agree 100%.

janbb's avatar

One thing I would suggest is giving a flat rate for the whole job; not an hourly rate. If it were me, I would want to know upfront how much it was going to cost, not a higher estimate that might end up lower. When you get more experience you will be able to calculate on a time and materials basis. Also, check out some web sites or ask around and see if you can find out some other photographer’s rates.

Esedess's avatar

Go on craigslist and see if you can find any services offered that fit the job you’ll be doing. Price yourself in the same range with minimal allowance for experience over pay.

What gear you have also comes into play. If you have a nice camera/lenses, a flash setup, reflectors, a backdrop, etc… then you have to factor some cost of that equipment in as well. Whatever you do, $75 is too low. You may think not, but once you make it to the back end, sifting through 100’s of images on a computer for hours on end, then it’ll make sense.

A good way to think of it, is in reverse. You’re renewing your vows. You want a good photographer on hand for an hour and all the best shots delivered in a nice professional package soon after. Maybe a little editing for that pristine quality look. You don’t have any equipment or experience with this stuff. Someone tells you they’ll do it for $200. How do you feel about that price?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’d say downstate, first time job $125 to $150 is reasonable.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m self employed photographer for 35 years.

How much do you want per hour? You’ll only profit your pocket 25% of every dollar charged.

Beyond equipment expense which should be recovered over two year intervals, you also have other expenses for travel, software, computer, shoot time, editing, delivery, hard materials like DVD’s and printing paper/ink. Then you must save for advertising and taxes.

Travel time includes loading/unloading equipment, charging batteries, reformatting cards, cleaning equipment… and then doing it all over again after shoot is complete.

For every hour spent shooting, you’ll have another two hours of editing and delivery.

I suggest not making discs. It’s a hard product which must be taxed. Most states require tax to be charged for the entire photo shoot if a disc is included. Better to separate charges for shoot separately and don’t include any hard product. No tax then.

Open a Gmail account and start delivering digital downloads through Google Drive. Again, no hard product is created so no tax is applicable. Check your state for local rules.

So one hour shoot equals a three hour job. $200 charge will put $50 in your pocket. That’s working for $16.66 per hour. The rest of the money is allocated for items listed above.

Don’t get into the habit of accepting cash and just putting it all in your pocket. Set professional standards from the beginning, and you’ll be on your way to actually becoming a professional. Do it right, and you can make a lot of money. Well over six figures.

Fire all your bad clients at the beginning of every new year. Refer them to your competition.

JLeslie's avatar

@adirondackwannabe I think she is way up by you. West of you I think.

ibstubro's avatar

Call other photographers in the area, give them the same scenario as you were given, and quote a price 25–50% below them.
You have to balance how high they are against your desire to start a great reputation in the area. Don’t cut-throat. Just ask a fee that is moderate enough that you can dismiss it as ‘amateur photographer’ later.
Good Luck!

dabbler's avatar

Be really clear about what you will deliver.
Of course you will be shooting during the event, then… is there a reception, are you expected there?
Are they expecting <x> number of photos in a finished album? Are they expecting to review a few hundred photos to pick some (how much time will that involve?).
Will you retain copyright to the images, so they have to come to you for reprints later?
Are you going to give them digital files of all the pictures you take (probably not) or of the best of them (not if you’re retaining copyright)?

Take a look around and see the details of what other photographers are offering, and for how much.

Cupcake's avatar

I would do it for whatever she offered. And I would give her a CD of all unedited images for free. I would also ask her to sign a release so that you can use any of the images in your future promotional material.

I would charge a moderate hourly rate for editing.

Things that would make me reconsider my advice:
– related college degrees
– certifications
– formal training

As is, you’re an amateur and she’s a friend.

gailcalled's avatar

^^ friend of a friend.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Just FYI @Cupcake, photographers don’t need permission from models to use any photo they create for their own promotional materials. The photographers own the copyrights upon pressing the shutter button. Photographers can sell the photo without permission from model too. Photographers can publish on web sites and any editorial print media they want without model permission.

They only thing a photographer cannot do is sell the photo for an advertisement. For that, we need a model release. This includes stock photography which might be used for an advertisement by the purchaser. Honest photographers will contact model and arrange a compensation fee if photos are purchased for advertisement. Advertisement is considered as any media which the client must pay a fee to be published in, like a magazine ad or tv commercial. Editorial is not the same. That’s considered art or news. No model release required. Self promotion is not the same either. Nobody can stop a photographer from showing their own photo on a web site or print portfolio. Well, maybe the Hulk could stop them. But definitely not Spiderman.

Buttonstc's avatar

Experienced or not, $75 is just way too low. I think double that is a good starting point at the very least.

I didn’t do photography, per se, but I did photo buttons as an add-on to face painting. But I did it for years and took courses from professional family entertainers and got to know quite a variety of other professionals at the events for which I was hired. There just aren’t any entertainers, photographers, caterers, etc. (who travel to a person’s home or event location) who will even turn the key in their ignition for less than $100.00 for a minimum of one hour. And that’s considered rock-bottom in pretty much most areas. Charging less than that marks you as incredibly naive (and possibly incompetent). That’s not the impression you want to create.

You had great advice here from two knowledgeable photographers with experience. Follow their advice. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

ibstubro's avatar

Does an amateur have “services”?

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

I decided to charge $75 per hour. She realized she’s going to need me for closer to 4 hours and hired me at the fee I proposed.

janbb's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 Great! Thanks for the update.

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