How to set prices for family protraits

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by chriscorbin, Sep 4, 2007.

  1. chriscorbin macrumors 6502


    Feb 17, 2007
    Vallejo, CA
    I have just officially started taking professional level pictures and I have ben approached by several families of high school seniors, They have approached me because the local photographer is incredibly expensive($100 per person sitting fee?)I have several jobs lined up, but i don't know what to put my prices at for sitting fee let alone pricing for prints. Keep in mind that i am just starting out! and i want to be reasonable, I would love to do it for free, but i have to eat and buy books and such for school.

    Please help

  2. chriscorbin thread starter macrumors 6502


    Feb 17, 2007
    Vallejo, CA
    Come on guys, I have to have these prices soon and i know there is someone out there that has some ideas
  3. jlcharles macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2006
    Wenonah, NJ
    Put the sitting fee somewhere you feel comfortable in between $50-100 and include a "complimentary" 8x10 and then do some sort of ala carte pricing on prints. Like in the $15-30 range for 8x10s with a quantity discount. Then you can base 5x7s, 4x6s, and wallets off of that. A set of 8 wallets is the same price as 5x7s for me. I don't actually have a price list for portraits, but they'll be higher than my sports shots because of the time it takes to edit a portrait as opposed to a sports shot.
  4. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    This doesn't directly answer your Q, but since you said yer new offer a "new customer" discount or something instead of setting a low rate 'cause once someone expects to pay $60 (or whatever) for your services it will be hard to get them to pay more down the road. So say your price is $100 (or whatever) but you have a 40% off promotion going on right now. This kills a few birds with one stone. You get a price point that you and the customer are comfortable with (not to mention everyone loves getting things "on sale") as well as a costumer friendly justification for price increases as you get more experienced.

  5. seniorstinky macrumors regular

    Feb 22, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Another thought is to charge a lower sitting fee but require a minimum purchase price (say $35 for the sitting and minimum of $150 spent).

    If you are good, you will soon have to raise your rates as your time is limited and supply will be low. You can also raise your minimum spent but allow existing customers to use the same minimum.
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Just figure your expenses. You got a bussines license, insurance. You are paying rent on the studio space. Eletric power and you have all this lighting equipment and background canvases. You have quarterly estimated income taxes and an accountant to pay. Running a bussines
    ins not cheap. Cutting some corners on taxes, fees and insurance
    can be very, very expensive in the long run and even land you in jail.
    How much do you want to make per hour after expenses?

    You need to work out a busines plan that shows estimated income
    and costs over at least the first three years. When do you want to
    get out of the red? Most plans call for losing money at first and
    then after some time breaking even.

    So a reasonable plan might be to this year just work on getting clients
    and coving costs, next year you make some money. Just make
    sure you think about the costs.

    Take some business classes. Most fail not for lack of talent but for
    lack of a realistic business plan.

  7. chriscorbin thread starter macrumors 6502


    Feb 17, 2007
    Vallejo, CA
    This is too much for me, i am just out of high school and i do not have a studio and will not pay taxes, because i do not make enough, all i want is to save for a couple pices of new equipment
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Most people are doing the "complimentary" print on glossy pebble textured paper to it can't be scanned. Remember the people going to you are the "cheap" ones who are looking to not spend anything. They are the ones most likely to try and rip you off by scanning the "complimentary" print.
    Use the pebble texture, or water mark it.
  9. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    You should set your sitting fee as something like $50 for up to 5 people then $5.00 per additional person. Something like that. Pricing for prints, you can go low or high, I would aim low and don't work for free.

    If you have to have the prices so soon then perhaps you need to step back and assess how you will actually run your business. Never accept a client without knowing what you charge.

    This is a great approach and should be taken very seriously.
    #1 You need to pay taxes, you should pay taxes, and the IRS doesn't give a **** if you just got out of high school. Grow up, that is not how you want to start running your business. If you accept clients you are running a business.
    #2 All you want to do is save for a couple of pieces of new equipment? Before that you needed to eat and buy books. What is it going to be? I mean, lofty goals for a guy who has no intention of following the design of a half decent business plan mapped out for you. No offense meant to be dealt out here but even as a part time deal for me, a very part time, I at least have the necessary paperwork in order. I would say the quarter I broke $500 with no effort was the day I registered a name and started to do this so that I could pay taxes, write off equipment as a loss (equipment runs me more than my gains but you don't care about taxes, and allowed people to see me as something more when they could make the check out to a company.

    I do believe you can do all this and not have a company or pay taxes, but the sense of entitlement here because you are fresh out of high school and just want to eat, buy books, and buy toys just astonished me.

    Here is a bit of advice.
    Do not open a bank account in a business name that helps legitimize you.
    Do not track your ebbs and flows.
    Do not set price points because you have clients, charge them what you feel. Do you like one family more than the next? Be sure not to tell them how much you charge either, that'll work out well for you. If you want, charge them $100 and give them 2 8x10 2 5x7 2 4x6 and 8 wallets. $100 per family fresh out of high school...that'll buy you almost one book. Work 15 days and you have enough for a great lens. It's easy. Don't forget to not file taxes that way you don't have to lie.

    Somewhere in there is a nice price for someone who claims they just "officially started taking professional level pictures" but it is up to you as I'm no professional but $100 for that package above looks sweet to me.

    I wish you well.
  10. chriscorbin thread starter macrumors 6502


    Feb 17, 2007
    Vallejo, CA
    Perhaps i have not made myself clear:

    I do not have a legit company yet, I have a place to put a studio but not quite moved in yet, all of the photos will be on location, I do not call myself a full time pro photographer, i have a job this is to make some money on the side, i will look at what i have made this time next year and make a decision to open a real studio, if demand is high enough.

    I do apprecate the business plan though you have given me a lot to think about if i want to pursue owning my own studio. I still have a lot to do and a long time before i shoot any clients so i have my work cut out for me

    I also have started making a brochure, any advice would be useful
  11. teleromeo macrumors 65816


    Dec 2, 2006
    kidnapped by aliens
    The fact that you don't pay taxes does not mean you have to drop your price. If you are serious in setting up a business respect yourself and ask a fair price. Use the extra money you earn now for promotion or on extra materials you can use in your business.
  12. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    If the pro you're putting out of business feels slighted, the fact that you're taking money and not paying taxes might just have him landing you in hot water. Not to mention the fact it's illegal to sell things and not collect and pay the appropriate taxes.

    Business insurance, or personal professional property insurance with location and liability riders is cheap and well-worth the expense. So are contracts for your services.

    Be aware you'll often get the worst customers by taking those who want to save a bundle by picking the low bidder rather than the appropriate level. It's worth reading the cheap wedding photog threads at DPR just to see what you might be in for.

    Undercut the competition by as little as possible to get the most business, raising prices is always difficult, especially in a word-of-mouth market and if you decide to do it right, you'll need to pay for all the stuff you're shortcutting whilst claiming the ignorance of youth (which tends to come back and bite you in the a** eventually, so why not just do it right the first time?)
  13. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    Don't do things illegally.
    Don't undercut professionals by charging cut rate fees
    If you want to do it for fun, by all means have at it.
    If you want to charge (i.e. be a professional) then charge professional rates.

    I would suggest you check out the digital professionals forum at
  14. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    a $100 sitting fee per person doesn't seem bad at all... The photographers I've "sat" with have charged $500 standard rate (what's this per-person deal?!?). Of course, these guys are very established and well-recognized professionals.

    That's in addition to prints; no freebies.

    Everyone talking about taxes is right; as soon as you step outside of the "family friend" realm, as soon as you start taking clients, you should look into tax law.

    Finally, I don't see how you're supposed to undercut a $100 sitting fee (assuming portraits)--as a high schooler, I charge between $100 and 200... plus prints (although I've never charged as much as the "pros").

    You're providing a professional service with pro equipment. Charge the pro price, and people will both respect and expect more.

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