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Photography Question 
Stacee R. Webster
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/6/2005

How Much Should I Charge?

I have been asked to do photo shoots for a few of my friends but I am unsure as to how much to charge them for my services. I am also being asked for enlargements of some of my work. What would be a reasonable price? I don't want to overcharge but I don't want to be taken advantage of, either. Please help me. Thank you so much!

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12/10/2006 6:44:55 PM

Jerry Frazier   You should charge 1) what you are worth, and 2) what they are willing to pay. Look at some Web sites of photographers locally and see what they charge. That will give you a guideline.

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12/11/2006 8:30:56 AM


I teach a Business of Photography course (and hope to offer it soon on BP), and this question is the toughest for all photographers trying to make a living at photography.

The best thing to do is to create a Cost of Doing Business spreadsheet (Google it). Determining what you spend on computer & photo equipment, what your print cost is, your general overhead, and what type of salary (hourly, daily, or yearly) you want, will help you determine what you charge.

Yes, reviewing other photographer's fees in your specialty can help, and at least will assist you in determining your competitor's rates.

There are also many price guides out there, as well as organizations (depending on the type of photography you are doing) that can help with this info as well.

Good luck!

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12/12/2006 11:19:46 AM

Jill M. Mangum   I agree with these answers. Just be sure not to undercharge just because they are your friends. Sometimes shoots and projects for friends can be a lot more work than you think, and if you undercharge, they tend to think they can take advantage of your services. Sad but true, in cases I've experienced and witnessed.

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12/12/2006 4:28:39 PM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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John's Gallery
  Stacee, Sean's answer makes sense ONLY if you're trying to eke out a living selling your images.

Consider your costs in shooting the image; consider your costs in printing the image.

For your first sale of an 8X10 - a price of $255.00 might be OK. Once you get "known," you should up the price."

A professional artist friend [a painter] answered this question for me several years ago - your prce today should be higher than you charged for the last image you sold.

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12/12/2006 7:19:02 PM

Mary E. Heinz
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/23/2005
  First of all, John S. can you please
clarify...did you mean to state the
sell of an 8x10 for $255.00...?

Also,,,,I'm still just close to a
year in business...I have three suggestions; for the pricing...check
similar photographers prices in the
same area...and 2nd..believe in yourself...3rd...whatever it costs you
in time and printing...double it !

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12/13/2006 10:06:00 PM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
Contact John
John's Gallery
  I guess I didn't catch the typo - should have said $25.00

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12/14/2006 5:32:47 AM

Stacee R. Webster
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/6/2005
  Thank you so much for all your input...i will definately check out the pricing here at home & take your suggestions to heart. I did think that $255 was a bit much for a 8x10 tho, I would have guessed maybe $30. Its nice to hear that im not the only one who is struggling with this issue. I know that I will now at least charge what I am worth, friend or not. Thanks again. Merry Xmas too by the way.

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12/14/2006 9:03:13 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  I think everyone, whether they're pros or not, would agree that when you determine your own pricing, it's a pretty subjective process based on a multitude of factors. But personally, I initially agreed with John's typo of $255.00. That seems reasonable particularly if you charge say $390 for a matted 16x20. Would that include the shoot fee, expenses, usage fees if any? (Not likely for a portrait) or no? And remember that you folks out there shooting portraits, your clients are going to take your work to get scanned and duped somewhere so it's not likely you'll get additional print orders. Get all your fees up front.

Unfortunately Mary's pricing strategy of doubling the cost of time and printing isn't a viable strategy any more because to get there, you need to fix the value of your own time first in order to have that number to aid in your calculations. Besides, how anyone can stay in biz at that figure is beyond me.

To respond to Stacee's original question, my own to her is why charge your friends anything? Even when I was just starting out I never charged friends. I just relied on them to tell me if they didn't like the results or tell their friends if they did and refer them to me to charge as new clients.

To digress a bit, pricing requires introspection with an eye to the future. IMHO, if you're only dabbling in this type of work then sure, it's certainly fair to recoup expenses. If you're trying to do this professionally than come up with a price schedule BEFORE you get your first client and incorporate it in your flexible business plan. If you're dabbling and don't have a business plan, well...personally I think those who do that are doomed to not make it in this biz anyway. That's my 2 cents worth. So there.

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12/14/2006 9:28:49 AM

Mary E. Heinz
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/23/2005
  Thanks, John for clearing that up
about the 8x10 price..

FamilyTies Photography

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12/14/2006 11:52:57 AM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/12/2006
  I've been out of town for the holidays and just found this discussion, but I identify with the subject.

Friends. What are friends for? Many times its a fine line whether a friend is taking advantage in a situation, but that depends on you, too.

Someday when I have enough knowledge and experience to quit dabbling, I am going to gain from those pics I took for friends 50th wedding anniversary and quinceneta and other parties (approx 85 ea). My friends appreciate the CD, but they didn't ASK me to take those pictures.

In my humble opinion that means absolutely nothing, the SITUATION may need to determine whether you "charge" your friends or not. If you never want to feel taken advantage of, do not think of your customers/clients as friends. That doesn't necessarily work backwards, you might have to give your friends the customer treatment.

Since cost is a factor, and time limited by dial-up, I'm enrolled in the university of "listen to what the honorable Feldstein has to say" which proves that one day with his help, the local Library, and FRIENDS who own the Full Color lab in Dallas, I will also one day CHARGE my friends!

May you have a Happy New Year, with many shootings to prove it.
-June (thatsnews2me2)

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12/28/2006 1:03:00 PM

stacey c. damon
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/12/2004
  I agree with Mark on your original question..what to charge friends. I have friends that were there in the beginning whom I didn't charge then and will never charge-they have been "grandfathered" into the biz! I put as much effort into their sessions as anyones-they pass along the images and my name and I have ALWAYS recieved calls from the people who see these images to schedule their own session!! A good friend's word of mouth is the best advertising out there! Free for Free really! With that said pricing is not alot of fun-but do get paid what your worth! Be well.

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12/30/2006 7:21:03 AM


BetterPhoto Member
  I will respectfully disagree with John regarding pricing. Doing this full time for 17 years, I've watched countless photographers try to figure out pricing- and all before they even figured out how much it would cost them (in regards to time, equipment costs, print costs, overhead, etc.)- and what type of profit they hope to make.

By knowing your costs with expenses, and knowing what you'd like to make for your time, your final fees are easy to figure out. But so many just pull numbers out of air, then don't understand why they can't afford new gear or why they can't do it for a living.

Regarding friends, that's a very difficult situation- I personally don't like to work for friends because it's so hard to charge friends appropriately. Just a personal preference.

But if you sell 1 print a year or a thousand, proper business is to figure out your costs and come up with a price from there. I personally believe you would be more successful that way.

I hope this came out with good intentions, since I'm not giving my personal opinion to offend, only to share my thoughts and experiences.

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12/30/2006 2:59:26 PM

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