Starting A Photography Business: Part 9 – 2+2 is 4

Yippee, it’s time to work out how much money we are going to make and how much profit we are going to get from our pictures, well gosh I wish it had been that easy.  It was as if it was a trade secret or something, how to work out costings and how to work out profit and how to work out how much to charge.  Yes sure, I’d had a look around some photography websites and been a little scared at the prices people were charging as they seemed so low.

I read an article in an art magazine that said you price accordingly depending on whether you are full or part time in your creations.  Now for me I don’t see why that makes any difference; the chances are you’ll spend the same amount of time taking a photo whether you are working full time or part time and why should working part time mean that your picture is worth any less?  And if you are working part time looking to become full time and you work on that philosophy you are eventually going to have to increase your prices so you can afford to live and maybe scare away loyal customers.

For me, it’s important to find a price that I am comfortable with and that I think is a fair price for my work and one that will support me.  I asked so many people how to do pricing, I went to my local chamber of commerce and got a very long winded answer but it never gave me the answer that I needed, it seemed like that there was no set formula, I asked everyone I could think of until finally a friend suggested I list all my costs put on my profit, take the total and divide it by the total number of days in the year to get the total cost of one unit.  It seemed like a perfectly simple idea to me so that’s how I’ve done my pricing.

Strangely enough since doing my pricing I’ve been talking to people and discovered that’s exactly how they’ve done theirs too.  I really don’t understand why it’s such a secret.  You don’t have to reveal what your costs are, you don’t have to reveal what your profit margin is but I think it’s helpful to explain to a novice like myself that this is one way of working it out, I’m sure there are plenty of others ways too.

I set my prices without taking into account any competitors prices, and I know that isn’t what most business people say, most suggest that you come in line with your competition, however I think that as photographers we’re lucky, no two people can have the same picture even if taken from the same spot they’ll be some variation in the style so I think in that sense the uniqueness of our subject does mean that we can put the price on it that we feel comfortable with.

Which brings me to neatly to my next thought.  One thing to consider very seriously when pricing your products is the benefits your image has to your customers who buy it, it’s very, very important this one.  Write a list of the benefits that your customers get from buying a picture from you and not just the benefits they get but the benefits their friends and family get, it has a knock on effect.  If you say my photos make people feel happier in that moment in time of looking at my picture they can relax, well then that relaxation puts them in a happier place so people around them will get the benefit of that, perhaps they laugh easier or say yes to someone when they might have said no five minutes ago, list your benefits and don’t be bashful, be clear about what they are.

When you are clear about the impact your images have on your customers and are a photographer that sees customers on a daily basis start practicing sitting in front of mirror and asking for that sum of money; at first it’s going to feel really uncomfortable but continue with the exercise until it becomes easier.  If you feel uncomfortable about asking customers for a fee they will feel your discomfort and won’t trust you.  It’s also quite important that you practice your list of benefits too so if someone asks why should they use you, you’ll be able to confidently list the advantages of your service.

After I had decided on my prices I read an article on this site by Deborah Kaufman on how to do pricing and I recommend you have a read of this article, it’s very informative and it gave me the nod that I was on the right lines for my pricing.  So have a read and if you’ve been putting off doing your pricing because maths isn’t your thing don’t let this become your white elephant go and get your pricing done and feel comfortable and good about the service that you are offering in exchange for payment.


  • Work out your costs, and what price you’d like to sell at and then sit down and practice asking for that amount of money.  Even if you only have a website as your shop, still do the mirror exercise as it will make you comfortable when you’re loading your prices in to the site and it’ll be good energy that you are putting in.
  • If you value yourself others will too!

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