When I first started my “business” I was the “free sessions for all” photographer. I use the word business lightly because, to be honest, It wasn’t officially a business. I knew that I wanted to start a photography business, but I didn’t know how or what to charge people. To be honest, I was scared. The thought of owning a business was super scary to me. Probably because I’m such an introvert, but I needed to get a portfolio going and I started taking on free sessions. a lot of my clients came from those photography sessions and I was so excited for the opportunity to learn and do what I love.
It didn’t bother me that I was doing it for free, but there came a point where I felt drained. I was editing tons and tons of galleries and giving all my time to the computer, instead of with my family.
I realized at that moment that I needed to stop doing free sessions and start charging. that night a made up a simple price guide and saved it on my computer.
This is what I included:
25 High-Quality Images
Ummm, I know. Some people are looking at this and thinking “that’s not bad!” and some are want to throw their phone at me right now. I honestly thought this was a decent price and I thought it was affordable enough for my free clients to pay without getting cold feet.
Here is the thing, is it really worth it? well, let’s do the math here. 90 minutes divided by $60.00 is $40/hour. That’s better what I was making at my 9-5!
Wrong. I didn’t take into count the actual time it took. I was just looking a the hours spent actually taking the photos, and didn’t realize how much work I was putting in AFTER. which brings me to my first point, charge more when you feel drained during the process and feel like it’s not worth it.
Your time is worth money. Time is the most valuable thing we can never get back in life. The money will come and go, but time, we will never get that back. that’s why it’s so valuable. You have to charge for the amount of time you are spending editing and working after the session.
Here’s a few things I didn’t calculate in that are very important.
10-25 minutes – travel time to the session
10-25 minutes – travel time coming back
10 minutes – backing up all the images
10-15 minutes – looking through all 500 images and deciding which ones to keep
10-15 minutes – uploading those images to Photoshop
10-15 PER IMAGE total time: 4-6 hours – editing one by one, taking out blemishes, fixing the temperature and exposure and anything else I needed to do
15-30 minutes – exporting the images to a folder and uploading the folder to a gallery
total time: 6.5 – 8.5 hours
new rate per hour: About $7.00
UMMMM what? that’s less than the minimum wage here in Arizona. The point of this little story is, you have to calculate what you want to make per hour and what your expenses are. You need to charge more if your calculations show you aren’t making enough money. There is not a set-in-stone price to start at. Everyone is different. Just think about how much you would like to make per hour, how much you think your time is worth, and how much are your expenses are. Depending on your location and experience has a huge factor on what you should charge. bills have to be paid. and if you want to be profitable, you need to charge enough money to cover your personal and business expenses. for me, the more photography I did, the higher my prices became. Every time I spent money on courses to better my skills, I charged more. With more education, came better photography; and with more photography, came faster shooting and more final images.
My business was going great. I was getting a lot of inquiries and I was booking portrait session 3 months in advance. That was HUGE for me at the beginning. I was getting very busy. busy to the point that I was feeling overwhelmed with work. The burnout was real. I felt it. I was exhausted, I had a lot of galleries that where do and all very close together. I even forgot to make dinner for myself because of how long I was stuck on the computer. I had enough and I knew it wasn’t healthy, so I raised my prices again. This time I was charged more and all of a sudden, I felt free again. work started to slow down, but not slow down to the point that I needed more hours at work. Yes, I was going to school, working, and running a photography business (Talk about a lot of your plate.)
If you’re ever wondering if its the right time to raise your prices or not, remember these 4 key points and ask yourself if this sounds like you.
- You feel drained during the process and feel like it’s not worth it.
- Your Calculations show that you aren’t making enough money.
- You feel you have to much work to catch up on and feel burned out.
Make adjustments to your calculations to find out how much you want to make an hour and pay attention to how much time your spending editing on the computer than being with family and friends. remember that your time is valuable.