Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Prices and "Packages"

[This post is out dated. For the updated version click HERE.]

I've been talking with a number of people about setting up photo shoots in the coming weeks. It seemed like a good idea to explain on here how I'm going to handle pricing and printing pictures for my customers.

Session Pricing
The way I am currently pricing photo shoots is as follows:

$25 for less than an hour without regard for how big the group is. If I think I can show up, set up my equipment, shoot the pictures, and be packing up in less than an hour, then I'm only charging $25. That gets you a relatively small number of simple portraits; there won't be a lot of artsy stuff, but you'll have some good pictures and it won't blow your whole morning/afternoon/evening.

All other prices are photographer defined based on expected time and energy investment. That is to say, I will give you a price based on the amount of work I think your shoot will be. If you have a bunch of people, that's going to cost more. If you have more kids than you have adults to wrangle them, that'll cost more. If you expect me to come up with picture ideas for three solid hours, that'll cost more. If you want me to supply multiple backdrops or you want to change locations, that'll cost more. If you want to come away with a wide array of poses and options to choose from, that'll cost more. And as I gain experience at setting these up and ending up with satisfied customers, the prices will slowly go up. (However, it is my desire to stay at the budget end of the professional photography spectrum.)

Packages and Printing
Traditionally, photographers charge you a fee for the time they shoot (usually called a "sitting fee"), and then they offer to sell you prints in pre-defined "packages" with different quantities and sizes. Photographers originally did this, I think, because they were trying to be sure whole sheets of photo paper were used as they processed the packages of pictures. We don't live in that world anymore, and I see no reason to force you to buy prints you don't want of images you already paid to have taken. Therefore, I have two printing options for my customers after they've paid to have me take their pictures.

The Easy-for-Me Way: I'll pick the best images, do any necessary editing, and burn them to a CD which I give to the customer; the customer takes that CD to whoever s/he wants (Sam's, CVS, ShutterFly.com, etc.) and gets whatever prints s/he likes. The Easy-for-Me Way is included in the cost of the photo shoot because it requires no additional time on my part.

The More-Expensive-for-You Way: I'll pick the best images, do any necessary editing, burn them to a CD which I give to the customer, (here's the difference) then the customer tells me what sizes and quantities s/he wants and I'll take them to Sam's to be printed and deliver them to the customer. Because of the added time and effort, The More-Expensive-for-You Way carries a higher price per print than you would be able to get yourself. However, this is still a pretty good deal compared to what many photographers charge to print your pictures, AND you still get the CD of images to do whatever you like with in the future.

Prices Per Print for The-More-Expensive-for-You Way:
Wallets:    $1 for 4 prints
4x6:         $1
5x7:         $2
8x10:       $4
11x14:     $10
12x16:     $12
16x20:     $20
20x24:     $25
20x30:     $30

Additional Fees
The No-Logo Fee: I place a small company logo in one of the corners of each picture. If you would like all your images without the logo, it will be an extra $10 (total, not per image). That logo gets people to say, "Hey, who took this great picture?" And not having it means you are a little less likely to get the opportunity to send clients my way.

Out-of-Town Fee: If the photo shoot location is much more than a 15 minute drive from my house, then there will be some additional charge for the time it takes to get there. This is not a mileage based fee; it is based on the time I spend traveling. Expect about $5 for each additional quarter hour of drive-time.

Way-Out-of-Town Fee: For shoots at locations that are a significant distance from Tallassee, I'll expect a reimbursement for the actual mileage I drive to and from the site. The IRS Standard is currently $0.555 per mile. That's not a typo, it is fifty-five and a half cents per mile. What's a "a significant distance"? It's intentionally vague. Roughly speaking, you are Way-Out-of-Town if it's going to take me more than thirty minutes of interstate driving to get to you, but you are just regular Out-of-Town if I'm driving for an hour down county roads.

Scenery Fee: I have a number of simple back-drops which can be used with no additional cost. You are welcome to contribute your own props (think blankets, shakers, music instruments, uniforms, furniture, weapons, etc.) with no added cost. The Scenery Fee is for times where additional scenery pieces are used which I must supply. For example, you want baby pictures of your daughter on a pink fleece blanket surrounded by white feathers. That's no problem. For things I already have, I'll charge you a small fee intended to cover the wear-and-tear on my stuff and the added effort of bringing it and setting it up. But if I don't currently own a pink fleece blanket and white feathers, then I will pass on to you some (but likely not all) of the cost of purchasing those scenery pieces. Why "some (but likely not all)"? Most things I expect people to ask for are likely to be things I can use repeatedly. The some offsets my immediate cost so I'm not losing money on your shoot. I say likely because I'll expect you to cover the whole cost if it is something that I don't foresee other people asking for or that can't be used again. You want a photo shoot surrounded by  pink flamingos? Sure, but you're paying for the flamingos. More realistically, I saw a one-year-old picture where the little girl had purple icing on her face and was sitting with a giant, smashed cupcake. The fee on that would cover the cupcake and probably the cost of the sure-to-be-stained cloth she was sitting on.

I'm sure there are more things I will add to this list. @PEaCe Photography is still in its early days and I'm new to the pricing side of this business even though I've been behind the camera for over 7 years. I hope this helps.

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