Do You Really Want The Help or Are You Just Making Excuses?

I had to laugh in an ironic sort of way.

Why is it that the people that need the most help often are the same ones with the most closed minds?

Let me paint you a story.

A photographer runs a business, yet can’t seem to understand why she’s struggling to survive. It’s not her fault after all. It’s the economy. It’s the industry. It’s everybody else. And occasionally she needs to confirm it in her mind that it isn’t her – it’s everything else. The odds are stacked against her and she’ll just have to wait it out until things return to “normal”.

So every once in awhile she does a little investigating to prove she isn’t at fault. She orders my Pricing Your Photography and skims it. Not reads and applies it. Skims it. Nothing new, AND SHE”S REALLY SHORT ON MONEY, so she returns it for her money back.

That’s perfectly fine with me. You see I’ve had hundreds of people buy my Pricing Your Photography, with only a handful returned (from people just like her). And the comments have always been overwhelmingly positive –

“I can’t believe how low I was pricing before. I’ve almost doubled my rates, and now I know why.”

“Now I know my business will be successful.”

“I’ve never looked at my prices like this before. You made something I used to guess at into a science.”

Yet I’m always intrigued when I hear the “nothing new after skimming it” that comes with a return. So I did a little investigating to determine how this photographer really is priced. And what I found didn’t surprise me – its definitely what I expected.

Her portrait sittings come with several hours of time, location of choice, unlimited clothing changes, all images retouched and edited, and everything included on a DVD – for $125.

Which means the most she will ever get is $125 – why would they buy from her when they can use Walmart instead?

So for $50,000 in sales over a one year period of time, that equals 400 clients.

Okay.

So what about a wedding? Three package choices, so we’ll go with the middle one, which is almost always what a client will do. For $1295, two photographers, unlimited coverage, consultation, printed proofs, album, retouching and editing, DVD of all images. $1295.

Which again means she will almost never receive anything over the $1295 because the files are now in the hands of the client.

So for $50,000 in sales over a one year period of time, that equals around 39 weddings per year.

Wow.

Okay, so $50,000 may sound good to some of you. But there is one last thing to consider.

Sales do not equate to profits.

You have to pay your assistant. You have to buy albums and DVDs. You have to buy camera equipment.

Which means those sales quickly drop down and your profits become almost nil.

I’m not coming down hard on this one photographer. Which is why I’m keeping it totally generic – she could be anybody.

Instead I’m coming down on the mentality of photographers all over the world who are cutting themselves short in the game of business.

I didn’t need to read that she was short on money – I knew it. There is no way she understands pricing because it’s obvious in the way she is priced.

She doesn’t understand how to price for what she is truly worth. She hasn’t accepted that she CAN make money at photography … GOOD MONEY. It’s okay.

So her first problem isn’t in understanding her numbers. It’s in changing her mindset. When she wants to become a better businessperson, she stands a chance at success. When she understands that business is about making money, only then will she be able to look at one of the most important aspects of her business … her pricing … in a different light.

And charge what she’s truly worth.

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clientexperience@todaysgrowthconsultant.com' About Virtual Photography

We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

  • http://www.vaughnbarry.com Barrie Wedding Photographer

    More great advice, I’ve struggled with pricing myself. It’s an ongoing evolution that takes focus and confidence. Thanks for sharing!

  • Veronica from SC

    Lori, you’ve hit the nail on the head. This post is awesome and points out to a reality that I have seen even in the little town where I live.

    That story almost parallels the story of another photographer in town that got very upset when she found out that my husband and I were making the transition to full time photographers. She even implied that we were afecting her possibility to earn an income and feed her daughter.

    She’s pricing her packages about the same as the person in your post, and everytime she is offering special upon special where she throws even more things for the client (book now and get an extra hour, full print rights, slideshow, 8×8 photo book…).

    I’m glad that we bought your books, because we learned about pricing our photography following your advice. We value ourselves and our crafts, and people see it and value what we do.

  • http://virtualphotographystudio.com Virtual Photography

    Thanks Veronica!