Sunday, September 25, 2005

How much should I charge?

How much should I charge? It's question I've seen numerous times on forums. Photographers facing the prospect of their first professional commission wanting help to figure out how much they should charge for a piece of work.

You could write a book to cover all of the aspects involved and of course each type of photography brings its own set of criteria. Instead I'll mention a few things here that should be considered. It's up to you do detailed research about pricing in your own field. Don't even think of taking on a professional commission without finding out more and it's vital that you should agree prices up front with your customer. Research your market.

The short answer to the question of how much to charge is that you should ask for what you can get without over charging or under selling your services. Most keen amateurs charge far to little for their work because they don't need to live from selling their photography, they're flattered that someone wants to buy their work, they're anxious to win the commission, scared of making an error, they don't really realise the value of a good image to their customer and they don't value their own skill highly enough. It's a sad set of circumstances.

Even professional photographers often under charge because they lack confidence in their ability and feel under pressure to win the work.

Yes, market forces do determine how much customers will pay for a photograph but there's absolutely no sense in complaining about how little you earn as a photographer in one breath and then in the next sell your work for an extremely low price. Both photographers and customers need educating about the value of images.

The age old market force of supply and demand also plays its role. If a customer can get the same quality from another photographer for half the price then why pay more. So at the end of the day it's up to the photographer to deliver more value to the customer and to explain how they are delivering more value so that the customer understands the specific benefits they're getting from hiring you do their photography.

I'd be delighted to hear your comments.

Paul Indigo
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