How To Justify Your Photography Prices

I’ve been writing for years now, and have posts and articles all over the web. Every week I spend some time finding things people like, and reading the comments they place on some of my content. Some posts definitely bring in the comments more than others. Take this one for instance:

Wanted: Wedding Photographer with The Credentials of Annie Leibovitz and the Price Tag Of Wal-Mart

This one still stirs up the emotions in photographers. I’ve found everything from:

“Thanks – you’re right on target.”

To

“No way. People love me because I charge reasonable rates. I could never charge high prices for my photography, knowing what the final output costs me.”

So let me ask you a question. Is it okay that a surgeon makes hundreds of thousands of dollars every year?

  • He has educated himself in his passion
  • He studies continually
  • He works in a specialized industry that requires him to be good at what he does
  • He lives and breathes what he does
  • He uses his money to take care of himself and others

Most people wouldn’t argue with a surgeon making hundreds of thousands of dollars. After all, your life is in his hands – literally.

But the same can apply to any other industry. In any industry, including photography, you can find someone who is at the top of his or her field. Why?

  • He has educated himself in his passion
  • He studies continually
  • He works in a specialized industry that requires him to be good at what he does
  • He lives and breathes what he does
  • He uses his money to take care of himself and others

Start your education.
You don’t have to go back to college and get a degree in photography. But you do have to learn from the best. Do a quick search online, attend a conference like WPPI, or read a few magazines. You’ll quickly find a slew of top mentors that offer classes on how to become a better photographer. Don’t just shoot because you can make a few extra bucks. Shoot to perfect your photography, and choose to become better every day.

Stop being average.
If you do what everyone else does, you’ll get the same results they get. The only way to be better than average is to quit striving for average. Ask yourself questions like, “What can I do to be the best photographer in my niche?” Take what someone else is doing and add more to it. That doesn’t mean give them more photographs at a cheaper price. It means give them more service to make them appreciate what you do. The problem we’re facing now is we have a whole lot of average, so we don’t even know how to find the WOW. Give a little bit more, and you’ll soon be the talk of the town.

It’s okay to make money.
“I would feel guilty if I charged someone $20,000 for a wedding, or $50 for an 8×10.”

Why? Does the surgeon feel guilty about charging thousands of dollars for his services? If you have the experience and the talent, have built up your reputation, then by all means charge what you can. It really is okay to make money doing what you love.

Making more money means you can use it to improve your lifestyle. You’ll no longer have to live paycheck to paycheck, or worse, wondering how you’ll pay the rent.

Making more money can open you up to new ideas. You can give more when you have more to play with.

And it can also allow you to see and change the world in a whole new way. It feels good to be able to give back or start up a charity. And if the surgeon comes to you for a portrait, he would never agree to spend $50 for a session and prints – he expects things to be at his caliber. He makes a healthy income, and he expects you to do the same.

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