Ask any seasoned photographer and most will admit that learning how to price your work is one of the hardest skills to finesse. Most photographers, filmmakers and retouchers dive in for the love our craft, but soon enough find ourselves fumbling around trying to navigate the business side. If you’re one of the lucky ones who has great business skills from the start AND have mastered your artistry, good for you, no need to read this article!
Still here?! 😀 Great! Then you’re like the majority of us and are always looking for some advice in pricing your photography work. Well, you’ve come to the right place! Here are some tips and a list of questions that will be a great starting point for you.
Below you’ll find a short list of questions inspired by one of our educators Lou Lesko, founder of Blinkbid. These are a great starting point, but by no means represents all the questions you should be asking potential clients.
Asking about a client's photography budget may seem like an obvious first question, you’d be surprised how many people don’t ask this up front.
If you present your photography pricing at the beginning of negotiations, you will have no wiggle room and you may leave tens of thousands of dollars on the table. In our experience, many clients will already have a set budget. If you provide the first number, not only do you take the risk of looking unprofessional, but your rates may not line up with your potential clients.
If you’re lucky your first question may be answered right away and will give you a good idea of how familiar the client is in working with photographers.
If they start off with, “You know, I’m just not sure what we would pay for this.” you’ll know this person may need some additional hand holding through the commerial photography pricing process. Knowing the clients’ budget can also help you determine what usage rights you may be able to offer them as well and give you some negotiation power. Whenever possible, never give up your copyright to the images, that is of course unless they want a full buyout.
Depending on how your questions are going so far, you may need to back around to figure out just how long the client needs the images for.
An inexperienced client may not even think to ask how long they may use an image for. This will be your cue to explain to them how usage rights work for professional photography. This is also another area that will give you lots of wiggle room when it comes your fees, or even better, give you the option to make additional revenue from a one-time assignment.
As photographers, sometimes we also need to serve as educators to potential clients. Keep in mind that navigating this world of pricing photography may be as daunting to them as well. Helping them through this could make for a longtime commercial client who you build trust with for years to come.
This question may seem kind of silly, but also could provide for additional revenue for you. Do they just need one image, or is this for a library of images? Perhaps you’ll be able to shoot some additional photos that you can add to your stock library for later? Asking this one question up front can really help prepare you for the photography shoot and avoid any awkward moments between you and your clients.
This question may seem similar to the previous one, but not only is it important to know what their expectations are for the images themselves. Are they expecting all images you shoot? Will they need retouching on all of these? Will you need to provide retouching services, or is this something they will be handling?
There you have it! 5 questions you can have ready for your next email or phone call with potential clients. Negotiating commercial photography pricing is not something photographers are typically great at, but with some preparation and a little practice you can be a seasoned veteran in no time!
Want to learn more about how to price yourself for profits? PRO EDU has you covered with an in-depth look at all of these topics plus everything you need to know to sustain a profitable photography business from some of the best in the business.
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