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Photography Question 
Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/7/2007
 

Charging for Photo Shoots


 
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© Jennifer Dent
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Hi,

I have been growing a small photography business. It started out slowly and small, but now I'm doing 4-6 photo shoots per weekend and it's taking a lot of my time. I enjoy it very much, I hope to grow it to a full-time job, but for now I already have 2 of those....so this is fun, but becoming very time-consuming with the amount of photos and editing that I am doing.

At the current time, because I was unsure what to charge, I am charging $50 per session. That includes a 11x14 print of my client's choice.

I feel that I am not charging enough. I don't want to charge too much....but I don't want to sell myself short either. I have looked around at the places near me and what they charge, and a lot of them don't charge a session fee. But I have found that sometimes people wait months before ordering photos, if they even order them at all. So by charging a session fee at least I'm getting something out of it.

Can anyone share their thoughts with me about how much they think is a reasonable amount to charge for 1-2 hours worth of taking pictures and at least 4-6 hours of editing/loading on website afterward?

Thank you in advance.


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3/11/2010 5:35:08 AM

 
Paul Kleiner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/11/2008
  Jennifer, I'm wondering how many images you are working on to spend over 4 hours editing. This sounds like a lot of time to me. Of course, if you are creating multi-layered composites with a lot of filters, etc., maybe it isn't. But if you are, you need to charge more, I think.
Also, charging the fee at the time of sitting and including a print, is pretty equivilant to taking an order and charging up front for it, which is what some studios do--for good reason.
The way you are doing it may be letting the customer feel that the 11x14 was "free". Do you find that they are reluctant to order more prints in other sizes?
I hope this is helpful to you, I am just finding my way too.
Paul K.


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3/15/2010 7:24:10 AM

 
Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/7/2007
  I think you're right about 4 hours being a lot of time. I take so many pictures, usually because with children they are so busy, running around, not sitting still....and I just take a lot so that I will have something to work with. However, this also means that I have more to edit.

I include the 11x14 for exactly that reason: Letting them think it was free.

I very much appreciate your help. Especially your saying that I'm spending a lot of time and therefore should be charging more. It's hard when you're new and you don't quite know what to do.

Just last night my husband and I discussed this. I decided to increase my sitting fee and also tell the customer that I will edit up to 25 images. That way, they know up front what they can expect to choose from.

Thank you very much. Good luck with finding your way also.


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3/15/2010 8:06:35 AM

 
Shino D. Elliott
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/11/2007
  Hi,
I am very new at this and wondering what others are doing. So, you charge $50 for a session and give them only one picture? Do they buy more or are they happy with just the one? I'm very unsure what to do myself, if you could give me any insight I would appreciate it. Right now, I am doing it for free and giving them a disk with 10-15 shots on it but I want to start charging soon but don't know what to charge or give.
Thanks,
Shino


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3/28/2010 2:20:00 PM

 
Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/7/2007
  Hi,

I am now charging $100 for the session and I give them a 11x14 and a 5x7. I am offering disks of up to 25 low resolution images for $25. They seem to be happy with this. I looked around to see what others are charging and this seems about right for now. I am spending less time editing since originally posting this question, yet as I am new it still takes me quite some time. I'm also a perfectionist so it takes me a while to make sure that I'm happy with the images before I am ready to show them to the client.

I am sure some people think $100 is too much, but I am making images that are personal and not something you can get at, say, Sears or any other quickie photo place.

I am sure as I learn and get more experience my prices will change. They may go up and they may go down. I'm not sure yet.

:)


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3/28/2010 2:32:46 PM

 
Tara R. Swartzendruber   Jennifer, are you editing and touching up all the photos you give your client to see? (just wondering myself what others do). I have a website where I put my photos in a password protected gallery. When I e-mail them to give them their password, I let them know that final touch ups and color correction, etc... will be done to the final product (i.e. only the ones they order.) Of course I make sure the ones they see are pleasantly cropped, etc.. and delete all the bad or repeat ones. My gallery size changes depending on the shoot (how many they see.) I charge $42 as a sitting fee with no free photos. All my photo sales are al-a-carte.


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3/29/2010 1:02:42 PM

 
Janet Schill   Jennifer, I charge $55/hr for the sessions and then post up to 25 portraits per hour online like Tara for them to view and order. Those portraits are edited to my satisfaction. That way I don't have to deal with their orders, my lab takes the orders and processes and ships them to my clients for me. This saves me lots of time and frustration. I can have the gallery online for a limited time therefore forcing the clients to place their orders promptly. I had some clients that wanted the digital files on CD also. In those cases, I charged $5 per file on the CD. By giving them the CD of files, you are losing profit. I also am still working on finding my way. I think it's a lifetime process.


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3/29/2010 4:51:49 PM

 
Tara R. Swartzendruber   Janet, are you selling full resolution photos on CD? $5.00 per photo doesn't seem like much considering the time it takes you to edit them. I've had this request also, and I turn it down because I don't know how to sell the CD and also make $$. Maybe someone else does this and it works for them.....?


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3/29/2010 6:20:46 PM

 
Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/7/2007
  I shrink them down to a really low resolution so that they are good for email and, say, facebook, but they don't print well at all.

I sell 25 photos for $25.

Of course, that may change tomorrow.


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3/29/2010 7:00:44 PM

 
Janet Schill   Yes, there were full resolution photos. There are a minimum of 25 files on the CD. I don't let them only buy a few of the files. If they want any, they have to buy the whole session. I don't offer the CD anymore except for my petite wedding package and there I charge $200 for 50 files on the cd.


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3/29/2010 8:13:57 PM

 
Shino D. Elliott
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/11/2007
  Thanks for getting back to me Jennifer. I am thinking that I will charge $50 and offer a print as well, giving them the option of buying more. I like the idea of having a session fee because otherwise you've just wasted a lot of time if they don't buy anything. The website is also a good idea because, in theory, relatives could order as well. What web sites do you use or did you make your own?
~Thanks~


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3/31/2010

 
Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/7/2007
  I use Zenfolio. My website is http://jendenphotography.zenfolio.com.


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3/31/2010 2:00:45 AM

 
Shino D. Elliott
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/11/2007
 
 
 
Wow, I love your website. I have noticed that many people are using zenfolio. Why did you choose that over the BP one?


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3/31/2010 1:43:32 PM

 
Shino D. Elliott
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/11/2007
  Never mind, I looked over zenfolio and got my answer.
Happy shooting,
Shino


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3/31/2010 2:04:19 PM

 
Thom Schoeller
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/4/2006
  I do commercial shoots in my area for small businesses. Kind of a touristy area up here in Ct. Make a lot of "post card" mailers and also shoot the premices to personalise websites. I do the actual photo shoot session at $150.00 per Hr. Always shoot in appropriate lighting for outdoors and put my soul into it for them. Its never a "static record" shot, always something unique and inviting. Normally I'm done within 1/2 hour, compose several different perspectives and I make proofs (4x6-5x7) to show them. They usually pick 2 designs. I wouldnt sell yourself short! Sounds like yer busy


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4/16/2010 3:48:42 PM

 
Shino D. Elliott
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/11/2007
  Hi Thomas,
I am really struggling with the pricing issue. It is good to hear what others are doing. I'm also trying to figure out what to give the client at the end. Right now I am giving a disk with the images as a slideshow.
Cheers,
Shino


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4/17/2010 12:15:55 PM

 
Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/7/2007
  Thomas,

You have brought up great points. I also put my heart and soul into the photos. I pride myself on producing photos that are unique and NOTHING like a standard, and in my opinion, boring studio shot. I put a lot of thought and passion into my photos, so I agree, I should not sell myself short. What I offer is art, not just some pose/point/click picture.

Thanks!!


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4/18/2010 3:22:05 PM

 
Kathy Radford
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/2/2006
kathyradford.com
  Thomas, I checked out your gallery and love your work. I noticed you are a fellow New Englander, gotta love New England. My passion is old barns and really enjoyed your barn shots. I am just getting into doing portrait photography, especially children. In the past I shot mostly landscape and seascape shots and very little people shots.

Keep up your great work, I love it.

Kathy in NH


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5/12/2010 4:31:21 AM

 
Thom Schoeller
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/4/2006
  @ Shino. Hope I was able to help with pricing. As far as going over your work with a client personally I feel you have options. Depending on what genre of photography your doing its best to burn to disc for viewing. When I do an automotive/hotrod photoshoot I come up with several choices to work with-post process and print off the proofs. If you go that route, go to Staples and have a stamp made with your (c) copyright..name etc.. and stamp the backs. Looks professional.

@ Jenn D., I LIKE your confidence! :) My first time working with a customer for a photoshoot and coming up with a $$$ to fairly compensate myself for my time was pretty nerve racking. Got over it quick- customer loved the product and now I have a "take it or leave it" approach.

@ Kathy R. Thank you VERY much! Appreciate the feedback on my website galleries. Feel free to drop in and sign my guestbook.


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5/12/2010 1:59:16 PM

 
Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/7/2007
  Oh my gosh, Thomas! Your photos are BEAUTIFUL!!!


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7/23/2010 8:34:05 AM

 
Thom Schoeller
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/4/2006
  Thank you Jennifer. I've just been contacted about publishing some of my work in a major "New England" oriented magazine. I hope they feel the same way!


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7/23/2010 1:34:01 PM

 
Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  I think you need to analyze your area before coming up with a session fee. I live in a very small community with a depressed economy. When I started, I was charging a $50 sitting fee. I quickly discarded that because it was inhibiting business. Now my attitude is "if you like it, buy it". No one has yet decided they don't like it. When I shoot seniors, I don't sweat how long it takes for them to pay. I don't deliver to product until the $$ are received. It helps that I live in a area where everyone knows each other.


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7/23/2010 1:46:31 PM

 
Kathy Radford
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/2/2006
kathyradford.com
  Jen De I love your portraits. Your artistic style is unique and creative, just the way I like it. I hate the formal posed shots. You've got a great website.

Thomas, good luck with the NH magazine, I'm sure they'll love your work.


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7/24/2010 3:15:45 AM

 
Rhonda Royse
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/20/2009
  I am getting to this point and wondered when people then order your prints on your site, you are then responsible for having them printed and shippped yes? Who do you use for a printer? someone local? I am trying to figure out how I start selling my photos to my clients. I am starting out slow but want to understand what the best option is. also what is the best site for selling them as well. Rhonda


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9/21/2010 7:32:44 PM

 
Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/7/2007
  Rhonda,

I use Zenfolio. I pay $100 per year and they host all of my photos. I have a slideshow, music, my own watermarks, etc.

My clients order my photos right off of my site. I set the prices, they do the printing and shipping.

My site is jendenphotography.zenfolio.com

Feel free to go take a look. They have a trial version you can try. If you decide you want to purchase a site you can use my referral code: R5Z-1GH-6CZ

Good luck!


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9/22/2010 5:28:08 AM

 
Rhonda Royse
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/20/2009
  thank you so much for the info - I think I might have to sign up for that one. so you set your own prices, how much or percenta - do you get form that VS what it costs to print? Do they take a certain amount out for printing? and you have an account for the rest?
Also - I have been having problems with putting pictures on my site recently = looking too grainy. What settings do you export your pictures as IE format, reolution, etc - for the site and so they are printed in good quality. thanks!


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10/1/2010 1:26:00 PM

 
Jennifer Dent
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/7/2007
  Well, I set my own prices...I know right now I have it set that a 5x7 is $7 and an 8x10 is $12. I go up every now and then....my belief is that you have to start off slow and build a clientele.

My most recent order was $19.45 (zenfolio price) and I netted $8.92 off of that, if that helps.

As for settings....I do not downsize any files. I save them as large as possible. Most of my pictures are at least 3168  3966 and 2MB.

Hope this helps!


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10/2/2010 2:34:06 PM

 
Jeffrey A. Eatley
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/15/2010
  I am. Also using zenfolio after many trials on other sites. Mpix does almost all my prints except wedding albums. I am leaning towards not doing wedding and I have shy away from new born photography.

I am very curious how other price also because like many others I am new to this. It seems in my city that the people getting the work are are just as new as me. Curious if there are any tips on booking and work flow also. The business side is more of an issue than then photography. Not to say I am great but I learn every day.

You all can see my site at jeatleyphotography.com. If you stop by please leave a comment in my guest. Book


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10/6/2010 2:29:33 PM

 
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