BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Bobbi  S. Tomes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2005

new customer, what to charge?

I have posted a few other questions here about trying to get started if anyone is familiar with them. I have mostly only gotten low paid jobs from family and friends who love my work but expect a deal. I just started working so I could have money to support my photography and have met some new people who are interested in having me do their portraits. I dont want to get back into this cutting deals for friends and friends of friends. I am trying to decide what to charge, I want to charge by the sheet (8x10) and was thinking of $8.00 a sheet. Its difficult for me because I dont want to charge too much for fear of being passed up for something else but I also dont want to charge too little and be thought of as cheep. I want to make a good impression as their could be a big potential for me to pick up several clients and referals here. I could pull my hair out!!!!!!!!!!!

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7/24/2005 9:30:42 PM

Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/17/2005
  I think that 8$ would be about right. Inkleys prints your photos at 8x10 for around 5$.

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7/24/2005 9:34:36 PM

Diane Dupuis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2003
  Are you charging for your time to do the shoot? If not then $8 is way too low!
The general rule of thumb is 2 to 3 times your cost for prints.If it costs $5 to make - then your price should be $10 to $15. And you should be charging for your time!!

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7/25/2005 4:10:25 AM

Bobbi  S. Tomes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2005
  Diane, could you check out my gallery and tell me if you think my portraits are worth the price of 10 to 15$? I would like to think so but Being as I am fairly new to the buisiness I dont trust my own judgement! But yes, I think 8$ is a bit low when you consider the price to print, do you know of any place charging less to print an 8x10 in a timely fashion?

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7/25/2005 4:23:12 AM

Joan Bellinger   Hi, Bobbi! I sat down and figured in the time I spend with the person discussing the photo shoot, the actual amount of time I expect to spend on the photo shoot, the processing time or time back and forth to the place where I'm having the prints done and the delivery time. I took this into consideration and figured double the amount of the actual out of pocket cost for the pictures. And yes - you portraits are worth the price of $10-$15 (at least).

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7/25/2005 8:29:11 AM

Diane Dupuis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2003
  Hi Bobbi! I do think your portraits would be worth it - but what's important is that the client is willing to pay. If they are happy with the shot then they will buy it.
I have a local place here in Montreal that often has sales for 8x10's for $2.50. I upload on-line and they deliver within 48 hours. You may want to look for something similar where you live.
Good luck to you!

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7/25/2005 1:01:09 PM

Jerry Frazier   Bobbi,

You are not selling paper. That is not your business. You are selling art. Do not be afraid. The cost of the paper has nothing to do with your prices. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you will feel comfortable selling an 8x10 for $20, $45, or $165.

For my portrait sessions, an 8x10 starts at $165. And, people buy them. The reason is because my clients can't get what I sell anywhere else in the world. So, it's worth alot to them.

I know you are just starting, but just remember these words, and you will be fine.

Don't mark up a price from your cost. Just set your price based on your talent. You will be surprised at what people will pay for stuff when you draw a line. Of course, confidence has a lot to do with it too. If you can't look someone straight in the eye, and say, 'an 8x10 costs $x", then they wont believe you. You have to be confident in your price and in your skills. And, that just takes time.

And, don't compare yourself to big studios, like WalMart. Don't worry about a local guy who undercuts everyone. Just do your own thing. If you feel comfortable charging $15 for an 8x10, then that's what you charge. And, move up from there.

What most portrait photographers do is charge a low sitting fee, then set their print prices high. For instance, I may charge only $150 for a 1 hour session. But, then I may sell $2k in products afterward.

Good luck.

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7/28/2005 5:55:19 AM

Collette Photography
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/21/2005
  Ive been wondering the same thing as Bobby, I just did a photo shoot for my best friend of her with her baby, And I didnt charge them anything but the cost for the enlargements, bacause they were one of the first sessions Ive done that werent family members, now her mother wants me to do the senior pictures of her son (best friends brother), and from there came a friend of theres who wants me to do there senior pictures ect... but one of the reasons they want me is because they dont want to pay like $3000 for the pictures from a professional,

SO now I have no clue what to charge as a base and then what to charge for the reprints. I dont want to charge to much bacause these are good friends but I dont want to undersell myself.

What should I do?


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7/28/2005 12:02:17 PM

Jerry Frazier   Collette,

You charge them a professional rate. Money talks, and you know what walks. If they value photography, they will pay your prices. Charge them appropriately. Don't ever gives deals. You are in the middle of the whole problem with the 'friend and family discount'.

My work is very highly dependent on referrals. Do you think I want a client walking around telling all their friends that I give good discounts? No way, then every single consult is a negotiation. It sucks. Just draw a line and say no to deals.

What you have to do is develop a price that you are comfortable with and charge it. And make no exceptions. And, get your money upfront always. No money, no shoot. No money, no reprints.

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7/28/2005 1:01:07 PM

Bobbi  S. Tomes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2005
I think you cant always get away from cutting family or friends a deal but I also think it should stop there. No friends of friends. If you must cut a deal stress to the person that you would not normaly do this and allthough you greatly appriciate referals please do not quote the discounted price to anyone else no matter who they are. This is advise I need to take myself because it seams everyone wants a deal because someone else told them about their deal! But this is our work and we need to earn money too, anyone should be able to understand that. People must just think because we have so much fun doing it that it is a creative activity for us and not a job. We have to have the courage to tell even our most loved ones that we are working, not playing, and we must be paid.

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7/28/2005 8:28:39 PM

Rick Richardson    Listen to Joe B people. Don't ever, ever ever say 'discount'. As soon as you do you will become the property of the client and they (and all their friends and family) will assume all of your further work will be subject to reduced pricing.

Do you want your best clients saying to others to go with him/her because they will give you a discount? Of course you don't.

You have to pay the bills. You have to feed your family. You charge what you are worth. Of course, you are giving back excellent work in return - that is expected.

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7/28/2005 9:02:12 PM

Jerry Frazier   Let me say something. There are rare instances where you might give a reduced price for other consideration. When you do, ALWAYS give them an invoice, and ALWAYS have your normal price, and then the reduced fee amount. Even if you offer something for free, ALWAYS state the price on the invoice, and just put "Gratis" or something on it. I can't tell you what kind of effect this has. It really makes a big difference. The client realizes that this has value.

But, for the most part, just charge your fee. The idea that you can't always charge family is not true. You can. You just have to understand that business is business. Once people get that, they will only ask you when they are serious.

You know, it's always fun for them when it's free. But, what do you get out of it?

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7/29/2005 5:40:49 AM

Collette Photography
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/21/2005
  I now know what you mean about not discounting, but whats done is done!!

But what would be like an average price range for like hourly rates, or sitting fees. Would a good starting point be to calculate my expences, then double that as a starting price?

I really have no clue how to figure out what to charge, cause I see places like walmart and target that charge like $50 for everything exept prints, then there are senior portrait photographers that charge like $3000. so where do I fall in?

Thanks for all the advice!!


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7/29/2005 11:06:51 AM

Joan Bellinger   For my 2 cents, never compare yourself to Wal-Mart, K-Mart, JCPenney, etc!! You are not setting up shop and starting a line outside your kitchen door with a bunch of screaming kids and their parents trying to get a bargain on Saturday morning while they try to get some shopping done. Check out the websites of other members on Better Photo and see what they're charging. You can even go as far as to call up photographers in your area and let them know you're comparing prices for senior portrait packages in your area.

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7/29/2005 2:08:57 PM

Cyndee Wanyonyi
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2005
  Hi Bobbi,
I just went over this with my own business. I looked up a bunch of different businesses and constructed my own price-list based on

1. What was to be included with my session
2. What the local market is like (living in Boise, ID, I am not going to price my photos at $15,000 a wedding)
3. The quality of my photos
4. The time I spend shooting and creating the albums and proofs and the time I spend digitally manipulating the photos
5. The cost of processing the prints
6. What it was worth to me (if I am going to feel ripped off every time I do a wedding for $200, I am going to charge more than that)

I set up a brochure that covers many facets of pricing the photography in a wedding. You can find a link at my website:

I am happy with how the pricing has begun. In the future, I may raise my prices, but based on my experience, I feel that these prices are fair to not only the client, but to me as well.

As far as pricing for friends/family, I take it on an "as-they-come" basis. If there is a birthday coming up, I will give a sitting fee as a gift. If I have a friend who does massage, I will trade her two massages for one sitting fee. If I have a family member who is willing to pay the going rate, I may include a special album, or an extra 8 x10 print, but as said before, always include it as "Gratis" on the invoice. Good luck!

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7/31/2005 9:03:39 PM

Jerry Frazier   When you consider all of your costs, and you factor those costs over the jobs you will do for the year, then add a factor for your talent, that's what you charge. So, if you are working out of your home, you use part of your home for business. So, figure out how much. You probably use your home computer for processing, so that's a cost. You probably don't have liability insurance, but you should have it, and should consider getting it if you are going to be charging people money. You will have advertising expenses. You will be using your car. You will be using all your equipment and this creates wear and tear.

It's really hard to tell people how to charge because after all this, you may not be able to charge the amount you need to.

The main thing is not the money, but what you have to offer. If you are unique or have something different to offer, you can charge anything you want. If you are comparing yourself to WalMart, you are going to have trouble. The advantage to working out of your home is that you are an individual creative artist. You need to do something above and beyond what the strip malls offer in order to succeed.

Anyway, portrait photography usually starts with a low sitting fee, and high prices on the prints and all the products afterward.

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7/31/2005 9:38:13 PM

Tammy L. Odell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2004
I think MPIX offers 8x10's for $2 each and I have heard they do wonderful work. I plan to use them for my enlargments in the future as I think the quality is better than my old lab. I personally think you should charge whatever you feel comfortable with. Remember, you are just starting out and can raise your price whenever you feel more confident in your abilites. I do charge only $8 a for an 8x10, but where I live has alot to do with that too. I will raise my price in the future, but that will come with more experience. But that's just my way of looking at it. Just do what make's you feel comfortable!!! Good luck with your business!!

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7/31/2005 9:45:23 PM

Bobbi  S. Tomes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2005
  yes, I agree with Tammy. Those of us just starting out, no one has heard of us, there is much compitition, and most of us newbies are not fully prepared with all the know hows and equipment. We have to start somewhere you know. And it cant be too high or too low. As we gain confidence through experience we can begin to raise our prices, because we will be worth more. I live in a small town that is full of photographers and I am not just talking about walmart. It will take some time and a lot of money to put into equipment and printing before I could seriously think of competing with them. That is why I feel I must start by word of mouth to build a reputation as someone definatly worth checking out. If this means ripping myself off for a while then I will have to because if I try RIGHT NOW to advertise no one would come to me, someone they never heard of, when there are so many others around. I will check out MPIX, is there a web address?

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7/31/2005 10:32:40 PM

Cyndee Wanyonyi
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2005 has a quality that I have seen unmatched. I was thoroughly impressed with their printing. The prints are reasonably priced, but they do charge a $4.95 s/h charge, so you'll want to make sure it is a big order.

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8/1/2005 7:00:17 AM

Michelle Ross
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/1/2004
  Hi Bobbi! Do not cut yourself short! If you charge a CHEAP price to get business then people(some) will automatically assume that your work isn't as good. .. be confident in your prices and confident in yourself. Wow them with your work and they will not balk. I am just starting out also and live in a very very small rural town with two very reputable photographers within 45 miles driving distance. I'm not sure what they charge but I tried to price myself comparable. Once you do a few shoots and people can see your work then the price will take care of itself. I have 4 packages they can choose from which ends up being about a 30% discount if they bought the prints individually. Then I have a price for additional prints if they order a package and then also an Ala Carte price if they do not order a package. My 8 x 10 are $22 and $25. If I'm doing sports pictures or something like that then my 8 x 10's aren't that expensive. I use MPix exclusively for my printing and they are AWESOME!!! As mentioned above the shipping is $4.95 so I try to order several things at once to make it more feasible and they are lightening fast with the shipping. I usually always have my order within 2 days from placing it. So as far as price goes I guess you have to charge what you feel comfortable with but again don't short change yourself. You can always offer a "discount" if they buy so much or whatever but you can't raise the prices once they see them. I also charge a sitting fee for the portrait work and that basically just goes for my time, ordering proofs(or CD's) and the post processing time. I don't do alot of post processing because I like the portraits to look natural, but even just resizing and adjusting levels and stuff takes time and when I have almost 100 proofs for a client you kind of have to work that time into your prices as well. Do you use Photoshop or anything like that??? I have found also that the collage and composite work I do are huge hits and on those they don't get the standard pricing so you can really make some money on those which might also help if you want to price your regular prints a bit cheaper! Do you have a brochure that states your prices and things . . . that would also help I think because then you can simply hand a potential client one and then they can mull it over. Doing work for family and friends can be awkward when it comes to charging but you just have to do it and be done with it. I have worked a few deals with a couple people but I told them I don't normally do this, etc. One lady wanted my standard package and I usually make them pick the same pose for the whole package . . . for her I let her pick two poses for the 5 x 7. On the Sr. Picture shoot I did I normally charge $35 for up to 3 outfits. . . she had 4 but I didn't worry about it because I needed the experience and was grateful they allowed me to take the pictures. If you have any more questions you can email me.

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8/1/2005 7:40:59 AM

Aaron  Reyes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2005
  i think your portraits are great! just watch out on the WB settings. if you're not charging for your time, then charge more than $8 per pic. even if you are charging for your time...
a lot of your pictures seem kind of cool. maybe warm them up a little. just a suggestion. (could even be my monitor though) just keep taking pictures and you will be confident enough to charge much more.
nice work!

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8/26/2005 9:11:46 AM

Amber D. Jones   I have just recently started taking photos for pay, and I charge a certain amount for each size portrait. For an 8X10, I charge $12.86. I make about $6.00 off of each 8X10 I sell. Most of the people that I take pictures for are cheap, but they don't think it's too bad. People can't expect you to take a good portrait for nothing...they have to pay for quality. I also put together packages which will save them money if they choose to order them. I let them know how much they save per each package. Most of my clients don't order individual pictures, they order packages. But I do have it available so they can order individuals if they'd like. You need to make at least 4 or 5 dollars off of an 8X10. Hope this helps!

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8/26/2005 9:25:17 AM

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