If you have decided to start your own photography business you will be faced with the daunting question of what to charge clients and how to calculate a fair price for the work you put out. When I quit my job in 2013 to start my photography business I took a couple of months to basically shoot for free to build a better portfolio. People aren’t going to want to pay for what they can’t see. A diverse portfolio of some of your better work goes a long way. Another quick tip to new photographers is that learning to curate your work goes a long way as well. Instead of a gallery of the same subject from different angles and edits try a variety of subjects at a variety of angles or edits. Think of your work as a meal with a variety of courses that entice the senses.
Working to build your portfolio also gives you the necessary experience you need when dealing with the variety of folks you’ll meet while shooting. Learn from these folks and learn how to be a better people person or a more accommodating photographer. This will also expand your shooting technique. Do not be afraid to experiment. Now, let’s say you’re ready to move into the phase of charging for your work. There are many factors to consider like time, effort, and editing. There is no perfect number unless you are an industry pro that has been in the business for some time with a built in client list. At that point you can command a certain amount as you have the reputation and work flow to back it up.
There are tiers to pricing within any field and if you scout other photographers in your area, take a look at their work comparatively (style wise, technique wise, there is no “better” than any one) and see how much they charge while getting a median of price ranges from different photographers or sources then you can kinda start seeing what you should charge for your work. Another tip is to try and weed out the hobbyists from the pros when it comes to pricing. This can be tricky as it can throw your radar off when comparing prices.
Once you move beyond this stage and start establishing clientele the next step is to keep updating your portfolio. When you hone your craft you will start to see a difference in your work. Just keep shooting. Another tip is to maybe get a mentor or work with an established photographer as their assistant. But, make sure that you’re learning beyond your current knowledge otherwise you’re just taking up space and working for no reason for someone else. The more you learn the more you can apply to your own work, which means the more you can charge.
There are many niches in photography and these steps can apply to most of them. If your thing is baby photography, corporate photography, wedding photography, maternity photography, product photography or what have you – you have to start somewhere and learning from others plus looking up specific tutorials will no doubt help you in unimaginable ways. At some point you’re going to have to look at your body of work and realize that you should charge more. The better you get and the more technique you use definitely justifies a price increase especially if you fine tune your retouching skills in addition to your photography.