Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pricing Your Photography by Demand Instead of by Principle

"$10,00, Are you kidding me?" the lady said to Picasso. "You only took 5 minutes to do that sketch. Isn't $10,000 a lot for 5 minutes of work?" — “The sketch may have taken me five minutes, but the learning took me 30 years,” Picasso retorted.
Photographers love throwing this story around. It's a way to make yourself feel better when people tell you your photography prices are too expensive. It's like we have to remind ourselves that we are amazingly talented "artistes" and our digital images are "priceless works of art". Well, I'm kinda over it. 

I'm tired of watching people's faces fall when they look at my prices. I'm tried of explaining why a digital image is more valuable than a print. I'm tired of puffing up my chest and pretending to be some fancy million-dollar artist that I'm not (yet).

I want to stop charging prices based on principle and start charging prices based on demand. 
I'm not going to charge $3,000 for a box of photos because "that's what I should charge because I'm a fancy-pants talented artist that's worked hard to get where I am and now you get to pay me for it." 
I'm going to charge $3,000 only when there are 3,000 people banging down my door begging me to photograph them and they're all offering to pay me $4,000 to be first in line.
The price increases because there is demand. 

I think it's ridiculous to charge through-the-roof prices when you're just getting started and your inbox is empty and your voicemail-box is empty and your bank account is....empty. Some people say that slapping that high price tag on your website right from the beginning will make you look more experienced and desirable. They say it's important to enter the photography market "at the right level" rather than trying to climb up the ladder. (I totally bought into all of this when I was starting my business.) 

I agree that you shouldn't sell yourself short and market yourself as a "budget" photographer when you want to be a luxury photography. Not a good idea. But if your goal is to be a luxury photography, the reality is ... you're probably going to take a few years to get there. Your prices will be much lower now than they will be in the future. Fact. Accept that fact and be comfortable with charging a fair but modest amount now. 

A lower (more realistic) price point will make it easier for you to get new business in through the door — which is what you really need right now. As the business pours in, the prices can start to slowly climb the mountain. And like I said before, when the clients are climbing in through your windows and vents, then you can start charging ridiculous prices because people will basically be throwing money at you. (Now isn't that a nice idea...haha).