Raising Photography Prices

We talk about a lot here on Go{4}Pro. I hope that you are able to get a little bit of a feel of the behind the scenes of my life and business and that it offers a little bit of inspiration for your journey.  I of course have not figured it all out, I’m no expert and my opinions are just that… Opinions. To be taken or left for what you may.

There has been a lot of discussion about pricing and you guys have done a great job representing all of the sides of the spectrum. As I read your comments I couldn’t help but relate over and over. I’ve experienced so much of what you described. I’ve been the cheapest, I’ve been the one raising prices and terrified that no one would come and I’ve  even had the internal battles over ‘the right for the middle man to be able to get good pictures too’. So I can relate to what you’re saying. Here’s what I’ve learned… (so far).

It’s most important that you (and only you) are happy with your prices. It seems that often it’s a journey and as you grown and develop in your business, your ideas might change. And that’s okay! Learning means growth – means adaption — simple as that.

For me personally I had to come to some crossroads. I could either set myself up as a responsible business who understood the need to be profitable or I could set myself up to be an enthusiastic hobbyist trying to make some extra money. I knew if I chose the later that is exactly how I would be treated by my clients. I also knew that it was the fastest way for me to run up against burnout. And there were other objectives as well and one of those objectives was a scenario that very unfortunately has now come to pass.

I wanted to be in a position that if (and I knew it probably would) something ever happened to one of my clients that I would be in a position to help. When I found out about the Smith Family, I immediately knew I wanted to do something to help. I wanted to create an album, calenders, etc. It’s because of the position I’ve put my business in that makes it possible to help. I was grateful when I heard the story about Meg and knew I was in a position to help her. That I could afford to eat the costs to give them products to help ease the distance that stands between Megan and Ryan and their precious baby girl. It’s just something to think about.

For some people, doing this as a hobby works well. I’m going to use a female for the example for the moment; but perhaps her husbands is in the position to foot the bill for her education (workshops, trade conventions), equipment and other expenses, she may be very happy as a hobbyist and thus structure her business as such. For others, that is just not the case. My husband is a grad student, he certainly isn’t footing any bills these days — add to that my love for being an entrepreneur and an internal need to be financially capable on my own and it was an easy choice. But that’s also my personality – at 19 I had developed my own line of marine products such as soaps and waxes for fiberglass hauled boats. So again it’s always okay to realize that we are each different and what works for me may not work for you and what works for you may be down right scary to me.

Their are so many opinions available out there. It’s a wonderful thing… an incredible thing! So many fantastic people are willing to share their thoughts… Listen, take it in but don’t necessarily except it as the only way. Because it’s not. They are thousands of successful photographers and they are not all fitting the same mold. You have to find what’s right for you. One very interesting observation I made at After Dark was how two photographers would both get an incredible end result and yet go in completely different directions to get their. One shot in JPEG only and created the setting in camera to adjust saturation, sharpness and contrast. He was ready for an ordering appointment immediately after the session. The other shot in raw, post processed beautiful results and brought the family back 2 weeks later for an ordering appointment. On another day I watched as one photographer used a Beauty Dish and created amazing and intense high key results of the subject. While later another set up a few off camera flash and also created stunning results.

As tempting as it is to want to find those who you look up to in the photography world and just say, ‘well if that’s how they do it, that’s how I should do it.’ I urge you to look deeper and find what works for you. If you don’t know what works for you — it’s okay — soak up all that you can now and with experience you will begin to find your very own way… As long as you’re willing to look for it and embrace it when you see it.

Last thing… I also wanted to tell you that the awesome gray with yellow damask backdrop that you noticed is from Drop it Modern.  Awesome isn’t it? I’ll give you full details about Drop it Modern later but for those who can’t wait to check it out — there you have it!

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  1. Krystal says:

    Leah, Thank you! I am raising my prices for a few reasons. I don’t want to get burnt out. I want to do this forever and not have my family suffer because they never see me.

    I realized that I would do what I love for free each and everyday but my time, my time away from my kids, is way more valuable then that. They are way more valuable then that. And so is my art. I also don’t want to be just another hobbyist. People complain about prices anytime, not matter what. I want to be valuable and be viewed that way.

    As I thought these things out in my mind I always start to wince at the deserving families who won’t be able to afford gorgeous pictures of their family. Two things come to mind, 1) there are plenty of ways to get photos of your family even if they are not professional and that’s ok, and 2) If I’m not burnt out I CAN give and do when the opportunity arises like for your friend Megan. Thank you for all you do!

  2. Morgan says:

    Thanks Leah. Since I read the post about pricing I have had a lot of things to think about. It’s nice to hear your opinion on it too. I also have to remind myself that I need to put in my time. Things don’t happen over night.

  3. Melanie says:

    Great post Leah, thanks so much. I love your blog so much and it is a great source of inspiration for me, so thank you. If I could make one observation though…whenever I click on a link on your blog it does not open up a new window which means I am constantly navigating away from your blog and losing my place. I know I can always press the ‘Back’ button to get back to you but often when surfing you know what’s like, you then follow another link forward etc. You might have decided that is how you want to do it but for what it’s worth I thought I would share! Thanks again.

  4. Spanki Mills says:

    girl you know this was what i was needing! thanks for helping me…not only was it what i wanted to hear, it was what i NEEDED to hear! i was just doing this for “fun” for about .02 seconds. then it became a business…one that takes me away from my family and has adjusted my family dynamic… my husband and i have made choices for our future due to my “job” and the income it provides… i am not doing this to buy a new photoshop program or lens for my camera…i do this so my kids can go to sporting camps, or get new shoes. it has become something we rely on and i can not afford to work for little of nothing. my time is better spent with my family if that be the case… thank you for helping me realize that my choice in pricing is what is right for my family!

  5. Angela says:

    I would so love to go to one of the After Dark training sessions. I see they will be in New Orleans so but, better for me, if they come to Houston. I will be checking back periodically. So anywho, just wondering about the silhoutte contest. Well, I assume the weiner is not me since I wasn’t contacted, but I would still love to see who ended as the chosen one! Maybe you have already announced the winner and I missed it??

  6. I love that you are a giver at heart. You are always so thoughtful and giving and are always so willing to share your talents with others. It is so refreshing to see a business willing to give, rather than always thinking about the bottom line. But also a good reminder that you have to have a bottom line to be so giving. An inspiration, as always!

  7. Samantha says:

    Leah- This is a great post. You can read and study and ask questions about what others are doing, but in the end you just have to try something yourself and then make adjustments as you go along. I love how you share with us the reasons that you do what you do, and I love that you leave it open for each photographer to chose what is best for herself.

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