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Solarize
08-18-2010, 04:21 PM
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.

Rick A
08-18-2010, 04:25 PM
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.

Ektagraphic
08-18-2010, 04:26 PM
Thanks for all who have responded so far...I'll have a look through these posts

Changeling1
08-18-2010, 05:06 PM
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.

tkamiya
08-18-2010, 06:31 PM
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.

Ektagraphic
08-18-2010, 06:48 PM
I do have a portfolio of work I have done working with people for free. Yes I am definatly new at this but I'm not dumb enough to try to get money the first few sessions.

markbarendt
08-18-2010, 07:05 PM
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 :). 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

Patrick

That $35 is close to my basic out of pocket cost after all is figured, so I'd say your price is wayyyyy tooooo lowwww.

I remember you asked about this same thing a little while back and you got good advice there.

So, do you want to make a profit?

If you really want to make money $100 for your one roll starter package would be a better choice.

One of the things about charging more up front is that you weed out prospective clients who won't or can't afford extra prints.

The people who actually put up $100 for a sitting will be more likely to buy more prints.

fotch
08-18-2010, 07:07 PM
Since your not really approaching this as a entrepreneur, rather, as a person who wants to make a few bucks with their hobby, I would suggest finding 3 other Portrait studios and what they charge. Make sure they have been in business at least 3 years, average the 3, then charge 30% less.

Ektagraphic
08-18-2010, 07:10 PM
Well I guess I am trying to approach this with keeping my prices very low so that I can even compete with all of the di*ital photographers in my area that charge peanuts. I guess I need to look this from a new point of view.

markbarendt
08-18-2010, 07:30 PM
Price = Value

So what if the digital guys give it away.

This is an absolutely serious question; do you really want clients who can't or won't pay for good work?

If people see value in your work they will buy it.

If your clients are not semi-regularly complaining about your price, your price is to low.

bblhed
08-18-2010, 07:36 PM
I think you are going to have to sit down and figure out your actual cost, studio time, power, cleaning, insurance, right down to the toilet paper and I will bet you are selling yourself way short I work in industry (I know industry in the USA, I'm shocked too) and our time runs out at around $45 per 100 square foot, your actual mileage may vary but you get the idea. All I do is sit in an 8x8 cube and draw pictures all day and they charge $250 an hour for my time that costs them something like $150 and hour with all the overhead, and I am not all that well paid. Taxes and workmen's comp are killers! I think you will find you need to be around $120 per 50 minute hour to be profitable.

Good luck and all the best to you!

jnanian
08-18-2010, 07:49 PM
patrick

who is your target market ?

greybeard
08-18-2010, 07:54 PM
I have never made a business of photography, but as an experienced "observer" I think that the phrase "a session with one roll of 120" speaks volumes. The product of a photography business is photographs, not empty film spools or used backing paper. Amateurs measure effort by the number of exposures made, professionals by the number of hours spent or the number of finished photographs required. Actual film cost is one of the smallest items in nearly all professional photography. Think about how many minutes of, say, a car mechanic's or plumber's time it would take to pay for a roll of 120.

Pricing schemes run all the way from "What will the market bear?" locally, through "What would I have to charge to make this a sustainable enterprise if I did it full time?" down to "What would I have to be paid to not walk away from the opportunity?". Of those, the first is probably the most important, the second the most difficult (which is why so many startup businesses fail in the first year or two), and the last is essentially the criterion of an amateur (which does have its own place in the grand scheme of things).

As someone pointed out, a course or two in business administration would be an excellent credential for anyone considering a photography career. Can you take a few commissions to defray the cost of your hobby? Sure. But if you are talking about a business, pretend that you have been asked to loan someone else enough money to establish himself in the business that you are proposing. If the answer would be "no", then you need to refine your business plan.

Oh, yes---myself? My policy is that I either sell it for what it is worth, or give it away. And no one that I know would even consider paying what I think it is worth ;)

markbarendt
08-18-2010, 08:46 PM
Actual film cost is one of the smallest items in nearly all professional photography.

You are right that the film is nearly insignificant by itself but actually "cost of goods sold" is a significant and well defined number in the industry.

For established profitable film pros (not celebrity shooters, but the normal studios that have been working on main street for 10 years) it's about 30-40% of the sale price.

Patrick's package would cost him about $35 at a good pro-lab; including a new roll of film, proof prints, developed, and scanned.

$100 retail for Patrick's 1-roll package would essentially match the industry standard for "profitable".

What many people don't know is that digital, from a accountant's viewpoint, isn't any cheaper than film for a given job, the costs are just in different places.

The other thing that is really nice about 120 for portrait business is that it creates a manageable number of shots from both the client's view and the photographer's.

Throw 12 proofs in front of a client and weed out 6-8 of them and you're more likely to sell bigger prints than if you show them even 24 or 36 to start with.

fotch
08-18-2010, 08:56 PM
I think what Mark Barendt just said makes a lot of sense, he has the pulse of the business.

markbarendt
08-18-2010, 09:04 PM
I think what Mark Barendt just said makes a lot of sense, he has the pulse of the business.

I take no personal credit for coming up with these numbers, they come from "Professional Photographers of America".

Solarize
08-19-2010, 03:27 AM
Well I guess I am trying to approach this with keeping my prices very low so that I can even compete with all of the di*ital photographers in my area that charge peanuts. I guess I need to look this from a new point of view.


Yes, you do. Competing on price is crazy, and operating with margins so tight that you can, is a sure way to burn yourself out. What others charge is a fair starting point for understanding the range of prices the market might bare, and understanding who is charging them and why. Beyond that it is a waste of time.... your overheads are not the same as someone else's, your time is more, or less valuable, the products you offer are not like for like. You don't know that these guys charging peanuts are even making a penny, so don't try and base your costs on arbitrary figures.

You need a proper business plan. Who is your market? How much do they need you? What can you provide that they will want? How difficult are they to find? Where are they? How expensive are they to reach? What will they respond to? How demanding will they be on your time? Does your photographic style fit with their aesthetic preferences?

All of these socio-geographical and cultural issues come into play, and should be addressed long before you attempt to establish your costs.

railwayman3
08-19-2010, 03:51 AM
Yes, you do. Competing on price is crazy, and operating with margins so tight that you can, is a sure way to burn yourself out. What others charge is a fair starting point for understanding the range of prices the market might bare, and understanding who is charging them and why. Beyond that it is a waste of time.... your overheads are not the same as someone else's, your time is more, or less valuable, the products you offer are not like for like. You don't know that these guys charging peanuts are even making a penny, so don't try and base your costs on arbitrary figures.

You need a proper business plan. Who is your market? How much do they need you? What can you provide that they will want? How difficult are they to find? Where are they? How expensive are they to reach? What will they respond to? How demanding will they be on your time? Does your photographic style fit with their aesthetic preferences?

All of these socio-geographical and cultural issues come into play, and should be addressed long before you attempt to establish your costs.

That's excellent advice for anyone thinking of starting any new business. :)

I would also suggest asking yourself, right at the start:-

1) Why do I want to do this? If the answer is "I'd like to do it", rather than "to make money", then keep it as a hobby!
2) How can I make money from this idea? Is it a new product or service which no
one else has thought of (and, if so, is there a realistic demand for it? And why has no one done it before, are there some hidden snags?)
3) If it's been done before, can I compete by offering a better or cheaper service by operating more efficiently or in a different way to competitors?
4) If all the above seems to work, and you have done a proper budget to cover all costs and eventualities, will it leave as much profit per hour of my time as I might earn doing a similar job employed by someone else? (Plus, ideally, something extra for all the responsibilities and insecurities of owning my own business!)

greybeard
08-19-2010, 02:50 PM
railwayman3: Well put; very well, actually.

Steve Smith
08-19-2010, 03:01 PM
One thousand hours of chargeable time per year was something I was told a while ago.

Basically that's twenty hours per working week which you can charge your customers for. The rest of the time is spent chasing up things, preparation, etc.

So decide how much you want to earn in a year before tax, add all of your overheads and expenses and divide by 1000 to get your hourly rate. I think you will be surprised!


Steve.