Re-visiting a sitting fee.

Discussion in 'Portraiture' started by Ektagraphic, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

    Messages:
    2,910
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2009
    Location:
    Southeastern
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hi Guys-
    I had a thread going before but it ended up being long and drawn out and I'll try to focus this more :smile:. I am getting into portraits and wondering what you would charge for a session with one roll of 120 in the 645 format with a set of color proofs. I am now thinking around $35-45 so I was looking for a little input. Thanks,


    Patrick
     
  2. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,809
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What prices are you considering for further prints?
     
  3. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

    Messages:
    2,910
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2009
    Location:
    Southeastern
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    That's up in the air. Most likely $10-15 per 8x10, $7 for 5x7, $25 for 11x14 or something similar.
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,809
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Patrick:

    Don't you think that $75.00 for a sitting, a set of proofs and two 8 x 10 enlargements is way too low?

    If you want a low entry-point price, how about something like $125.00 for a sitting and an 8 x 10?

    Plus they get to keep the proofs for an additional $25.00.
     
  5. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

    Messages:
    2,910
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2009
    Location:
    Southeastern
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Ok well maybe I'll start with $75 for 15 proof and an 8x10 enlargement?
     
  6. Alansworld

    Alansworld Member

    Messages:
    7
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2010
    Location:
    Newbury, UK
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Do you think you are only worth 35 to 45? If you think you are better than that then charge what you think you are worth. I wouldn't put a lens on my camera for 45.
     
  7. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,252
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I say this with no knowledge of Patrick's skill levels or intended market....

    In my area, most portrait photographers do digital. But besides that.... sitting fee range from zero to over a thousand. Printing costs range from 14.95 for a package of several sheets to much MUCH more. Consumer oriented places tends to be inexpensive but quality and skill of the photographer sort of matches the price. More "art" oriented places charge premium but their skill and results support them.

    ME, I welcome the opportunity to take photograph and imporve my skills, so I do it from absolutely zero to just to cover costs. Of course, I have a day job, and photography isn't my source of income. At my skill level, I am not taking jobs away from professionals, as these people won't pay to get what I give them done in the first place.

    I am not exactly answering the original question, but I am not sure if it's really answerable.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,034
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That's what I charged in the 1970's, it's far too low. You've got transport and admin costs to add in, an hours shoot takes roughly 3 hours in planning, travel, admin, so $75 is not really covering costs.

    Ian
     
  9. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

    Messages:
    2,025
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've been involved professionally in business advisory matters, and I would always suggest to anyone starting a new business not to undervalue their skills in working out their charges (assuming, of course, they are capable of doing a good job!).

    Just because you enjoy the work, perhaps as an extension and contribution to your hobby, remember that, if you really are good, you will hopefully get further work by recommendation, most especially if your prices are "cheap". And it is then very difficult to increase those prices if you have pitched them too low.....

    Also a professional photographer (as any business) will need to factor into his prices all the overheads of a business....rent, lighting and heating of premises,
    office costs, amortisation of equipment, etc., etc., which are all there and have to be paid for before a single photo is sold... :sad:
     
  10. FM2N

    FM2N Member

    Messages:
    844
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    What is your cost of developing negs? Contact sheet? Basic set of prints for viewing? Are you doing all of this yourself or being sent out? In NYC that would be somewhere around 20-25$. Cost of film itself 5$ I would also have thenegs scanned at time of developing so this also might increase price. All this done and you are at 25-30$. Now your time? If they are coming to you 2 hours if I was going to them 3hrs. I am not sure what the going rate is where you are but I would think that charging 25-35 an hour for your time would be reasonable.
    Arthur
     
  11. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

    Messages:
    2,910
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2009
    Location:
    Southeastern
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    My cost of developing the negs and having proofs made when color is $9.50. I do the black and white work myself so we could play it safe and say black and white is $4....
     
  12. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,441
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You will eventually get answers across the entire range of prices if you keep the question going long enough. Personally, I have found that at prices even vaguely like the ones you are considering, the amount of time-wasters you get is incredibly high because they have NO investment in what you're doing. When you don't value your own work, nobody else will either. I charge $250 and up for a sitting fee. I get a lot of "aw shucks" responses, but it ends there and the ones who respond positively are more likely to show up, on time, and pay in full. Then again, I'm shooting with an antique portrait camera on large format film and producing platinum prints.
     
  13. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,809
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Patrick:

    Looking at it from the other side of the equation ...

    IIRC you are a student.

    What do you spend money on that costs you $125.00? Or $175.00?

    Is that worth more than a well prepared portrait?

    EDIT: when you are calculating costs, don't forget the costs of dealing with problem clients, including those that don't pay.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,978
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    patrick

    will your clients be friends from school ?

    your fees are even a bit low for high school students ...
    even studios that cater to the " senior portrait " market
    charge a bit more than that ... but then again they are getting
    their 8x10s for about 1-3$ a pop ( light jet ) , so it is all gravy.

    what you might think about is do a lot of portraits for FREE for your friends
    neighbors and random people, give them prints for FREE and build up your
    experience / skill and rapport with your subject, AND use your BEST 20 images or so
    use in your PORTFOLIO.

    i still photograph people ( random people ) for FREE, and give them FREE prints ...
    just today i brought someone a 11x14 of her husband who passed away a few years ago
    ( i just learned of his passing ) ... signed it and gave it to her.

    i would not put a shingle out and say i am a portrait photographer and charge people for sitting + prints,
    without a bunch of experience under my belt ...

    a typical mark-up is 3x cost ( 1=cost, 1= overhead 1=profit )
    don't forget to charge for your TIME as ian referred to .. travel to sitting, from sitting, at sitting, to / from lab,
    general office busywork & C, even someone flipping burgers at mcD's makes 8-9$ / hour, why shouldn't you ?

    good luck
    john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2010
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,441
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    No you can't. You just GAVE AWAY your labor. And you're not factoring in your other costs like the time to go buy your chemistry and bring it back, mixing the chemistry, handling the spent chemistry, the cost of the sleeves for the film, the cost of the paper, and so on. If you are NOT doing volume processing and proofing like a pro lab, a realistic cost for yourself to develop and proof is at least 50% more if not double what the lab charges.
     
  17. lns

    lns Member

    Messages:
    434
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    While I think $35-$45 is way too low, I also think one roll of film is too little. You're essentially shooting on spec, and if I were doing that I'd want at least two rolls per sitter. Close-ups, medium range, different angles, different settings or lighting. It gets worse if you are shooting a family of kids, because you need at least one shot where they all look good, as well as individual shots.

    You also have to consider that some people won't pay anything for a sitting fee unless you are very established with a great set of sample prints and referrals.

    First, I'd figure out what market you're aiming at, and then set up your pricing to appeal to that market. If your aim is to sell prints, then set up your operation so the sitting is free, you take a lot of great pictures, and the prints make your money.

    It sounds like you might be a beginner at this? If so, can I suggest doing some free sittings, and offering the prints at cost, for the first few times. Keep the right to use the prints for your own marketing, of course. You will find out if you are cut out for it. Also, you will, if you pick the right folks, find that they will promote your good work themselves, by showing your work to their friends.

    -Laura
     
  18. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,034
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You've missed the crucial time factor.

    Either be serious or stop posting on your own thread here. Time spent on admin & processing is potential lost revenue.

    Ian
     
  19. donbga

    donbga Member

    Messages:
    2,084
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    Shooter:
    Large Format Pan
    Reverend Ike is quoted as saying: "It's just as easy to ask for a quarter as it is for a nickel."

    You are way under pricing your service @ $45. With what you propose you'll be lucky to make minimum wage based on the time you will invest. If this is a learning experience, a venture to grow on then I would suggest charging a $50 for a short while, say your first dozen or so customers or until you build an attractive portfolio to get jump started.

    I think you will also find most people aren't interested in proof sheets, I would recommend proof quality 5x7s. If you shoot B&W I would use Kodak B&W C-41 chromogenic film. I wouldn't even think about getting involved in processing and printing because you will loose your ass by doing so.

    My 2 cents,

    Don Bryant
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2010
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,809
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    By the way Patrick, thanks for starting this very interesting thread. :smile:

    A few other things to consider.

    It is far easier to offer a reduction, based on someone's limited ability to pay, than it is to try to increase your price for those who can afford it.

    So it is better to go into this with a higher price, and consider things like student discounts or one-off reductions where necessary.

    If you see someone who you really want to try photographing, you can always offer to do a free portrait in return for using the result in your portfolio.

    If you are really confident, or really unsure, you could offer to do a few portraits on a "pay me what you feel the portrait is worth" basis. You might learn a very interesting lesson.
     
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,978
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    you could also visit some of the established portrait studios near you and see what they charge,
    granted they are not going on location for every job as you hope to do, just the same it would give you a
    good idea of what the local market looks like.
     
  22. Solarize

    Solarize Member

    Messages:
    332
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Location:
    London, Engl
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The fact you have even suggested prices as low as this tells me you should get yourself on a short business course, or at the very least spend a solid year researching the portrait business before trying to enter it. Do some sessions for friends and family for free. When you become good enough to charge... then charge properly and with confidence that you are not undervaluing yourself and/or undermining the market for professional portraitists. I say this in the nicest, most constructive possible way.

    On the rolls of film/number of shots front... you cannot charge like that. What if you slip focus on one, or blow the exposure on the next? If you monetize each frame, then each frame the client will want to see - so you loose the ability to edit or experiment.
    Film costs and processing are minor compared to labour and other business expenses. Charge more than enough to cover them. Also, you can only sell what you actually shoot... 15 frames gives you NO flexibility to sell prints.
     
  23. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,417
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Patrick, the prices you are considering is what I used to charge in 1973. I think that with inflation and other factors, I wouldn't turn my lights on for double that.
     
  24. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

    Messages:
    2,910
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2009
    Location:
    Southeastern
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks for all who have responded so far...I'll have a look through these posts
     
  25. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

    Messages:
    659
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    How about making the sitting "absolutely free" with a minimum order of $250.00+? This will show the potential client that you are confident that they will love your work and be willing to pay generously for it. Remember that nothing ventured is nothing gained. The economy is dreadful at the moment and professional photographic services are among the most likely luxuries to skipped over in favor of things which are more practical. Let the quality of your work and free sitting fee be what sets you apart from the other studios in your area. Word will spread quickly. One caveat- this arrangement will require a "proof session" where you sit with them and choose which pictures will be printed. You will want to show them big beautiful images from which to make their selections- perhaps projected on a screen. You can make slides from medium format and larger negs for this purpose. Sending them an email with triscuit-sized jpgs. of the session aren't likely to generate much enthusiasm and could be misused without your permission. Think big! Sofa-sized prints on canvass are still popular in certain circles- Don't bother with the K-Mart crowd.
     
  26. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,252
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I see a point in charging per market, and covering time and material in business. I also see a point in not underselling yourself.

    But, isn't this your first entry into being paid for your photographic services? You have no prior experience, right? By charging per market, you are essentially saying you can produce products as good as the "market." I'm not saying you are not as good as the next guy. Perhaps you are better.

    But, if I were a potential customer and if I have to front the payment, I'd be very cautious in selecting someone totally new with no track record. Quite frankly, I'd go for someone with experience, reputation, and plenty of great looking and impressive samples.

    How about working for someone part time and learn the business first? How about setting your price to just cover your actual cost, but not 100% of your time and consider this practical training/experience? When people pay money, expectation is made.

    Most start-up businesses barely cover the cost and won't even break even. I see your enthusiasm, but I think, going head first into this and thinking of profit or breaking even every time may be premature. If I were to hang my name as a professional photographer and start collecting serious money, I'd be sure I know my skill, business, and market - not to mention knowing what to do when problems arise.