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Photography Question 
Wanda-Lynn Searles
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
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Wanting to get some advise from other photographer

Wasn't sure what category to put this under...

Wanting to get some advise from other photographers if I could….

My Dad is going to dress up like Santa and I’m going to take pictures of him with kids on his lap… Well what I need to know is what would you charge people for pictures? I have also been thinking on having it where they could get a Polaroid picture taken or they could have the picture put on CD and then they can go and have it made to the size they want… Since I have never done this I’m trying to find out what you charge people for this kind of work so I thought I would ask my photographer friends….

So any advise I sure could use thanks….


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11/13/2009 11:32:05 AM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Hi Wanda,
The easiest and least amount of time to drive less than 5 miles, set up my lights, shoot & then process 4-5 photos (estmating an hour total time) - I would charge at least $100
It just isn't worth it for anything less IMO.

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11/13/2009 4:35:44 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  "I would charge at least $100..."

The picture to get would be the looks on their faces when they here that price for some Santa photos.

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11/13/2009 5:33:55 PM

Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  I would find out what is charged elsewhere and then decide what I offer compared to them.

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11/13/2009 9:19:45 PM

Monnie Ryan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/25/2008
  I'd take Dennis's suggestion and check local market prices. Around here, all the shopping malls offer photos of Santa with kids for 5 bucks a pop. They're snapshots, to be sure, but I doubt many folks would be willing to ante up much more to get studio-quality work, especially in this lousy economy.

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11/14/2009 5:28:03 AM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Hi Greg & Wanda,
I am also on the MPIX forum which are mostly wedding & portrait shooters and 95% of them would not do this for less than $100. They are also very reluctant to do anything for family members as it usually spells disaster. Family are the worst at trying to take advantage of other family members, so many of the MPIXers recommend their family find a local studio and get a quote or use them for the shoot.
If you are running a business and know what it costs you to operate on a "per hour" basis, then you have to determine if it is profitable for your company.
The photography business is tough and its even tougher when you are giving it away or under-charging for your time & work.
A friend of mine in Portland used to have a gig at a Dept store shooting the Santa photos and he would charge $15 for a very good quality 5x7 print in a Christmas themed paper frame. Getting 15-25 shots per hour he would make $200-400 an hour but he also had to pay the dept store for his space, the material costs for photo paper, ink & frames & the salary for his assistant. He also used a tethered laptop to process/print on the spot. Did I forget Insurance ? You bet you have to have the 1 million dollar policy (you can get a $1M policy for about $500 per year through PPA, ASPM, etc) which covers liability in case someone trips over your equipment and breaks an arm, your equipment if it gets broken/stolen & other things related to your photography business.
I have mine with Hill & Usher - Hill & Usher

If this is a case where you are all together anyway and you are just pulling out your camera with a speedlight and snapping a shot, then charge him for the coverage of your costs & materials or if you want to do this as a favor to your dad, charge him $5. Just be aware this wont be that last time a shoot for a family member will present itself. Next time it will be a brother or cousin asking you for a wedding or family portrait shoot and they will be looking for a discounted price as well (because your family)...
check this :

Santa Photos

Many BPers are learning as they go and I have taken several classes here myself, so I am trying to just make you aware that you can do some things for free or cheap as you refine your talent but if you are wanting to make this a business, at some point will have look at things from a business perspective. I worked as a second shooter for a wedding photographer to learn their shooting/editing techniques & also to learn how they run their business. Well worth it for my education and as a result I very reluctantly do weddings :) They can be a real PITA although I still do 3-4 a year and I dont budge on my price.
Hope this helps,

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11/15/2009 5:18:16 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  I understand all about operating cost, insurance, etc...
But are you talking about weddings or Santa pictures? By your own examples, even a store like Macy's, in a pricey town like New York, hired Santa, with all the trees, fake snow, and prop gift boxes, she may be able to travel to New York, get her Santa picture, and still not go over $100.
Do what Dennis and Monnie said, find out what the malls/stores are charging. Little less, you can draw them with they won't pay as much. Little more, you can draw them with you pay a little more but you don't have the long lines.
Although I would like you to tell a few people $100, just to find out their reaction.

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11/15/2009 9:28:48 PM

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