It’s a fact, there are many professional photographers who photograph for the love of it, money is secondary. They don’t need, nor care about the money. You will never win this race. You must stop worrying about what other people charge. If you regularly lose opportunities because other photographers are cheaper; than you didn’t bring something special to the photographic table. You are playing the role of an average commodity photographer. You are better than that. It’s time to stop competing with cheap photographers, add value and raise your prices.
Everyday someone picks up a camera, creates an image and decides they can make extra money with photography. Maybe that someone was you, at one time. You make a few dollars and a light goes off. It’s possible to pay a few bills and earn some mad money taking pictures. It’s true.
Unfortunately, as a full-time professional who depends on the income, you can’t live off the same price structure. How many jobs does it take to make 30, 50, 100,000 dollars? Fewer if your prices are higher.
Here are four good reasons to increase your rates.
- Your reputation: If you present yourself as a cheap photographer, people refer to you as the cheap photographer. The reverse is also true. People who are willing to pay more for value, quality and uniqueness, refer services to other people willing to pay more money for such work. When a photography buyer has an important large budget project in front of them; they generally don’t call on the cheap photographer. Perception is an important part of business and people act accordingly.
- You are not Wal-Mart: You can’t make up cheap rates on volume. You are a solo professional, your scale is limited. If you are a cheap photographer you can work many long days and still not pay the bills.
- A Stronger Community: When you increase your rates you make your local photographic community stronger. If you play the role of a mentor in your community, you can make a difference. Take young photographers phone calls. Place your rates online to give local photographers something to base their pricing. Often cheap photographers are cheap because they don’t know where to start. We’ve all been there. Give them some guidance to work from on your website. Even if they quote a little lower than you, it is still a higher rate than they quote without your help. You can compete in that arena.
- Longevity: The photography business is not easy. Higher rates is not the only secret to a long photography career. There must be a reason for customers to pay more than average. However, once you find such a combination, you have a greater chance of earning a long photography career.
Yes, higher rates can lead to fewer clients. Fortunately, over time, it often leads to a higher income — once you establish your reputation. Plus, people willing to pay your value tend to be better clients. Even today, in the age of everyone is a photographer, there are photographers in every town who charge a lot of money and have to turn down work. I recommend you be one of them.