The Value Of Your Photography

Who’s value system are you selling by?

One of the biggest reasons photographers fail at business is because they never learn the golden rule of a photography business.

Price it at its true value.

I’ve heard all kinds of excuses.

“Money isn’t important; I just love to shoot.”

“I pay $xx for an 8×10, how can I charge my client THAT much?”

“I hate sales.”
You probably have said something similar along the way.

Last night I was watching a travel show on Tokyo. One of the highlights was on the new malls being built throughout the city. They showcased a variety of products being sold to consumers, including fruit picked at the peak of perfection – and being sold for hundreds of U.S. dollars. A cantaloupe with perfect skin with zero flaws or marks, and just the right amount of sugar density was on display – and of course could be yours for several hundred dollars. Really?

Now think about that. Would you pay hundreds of dollars for one cantaloupe? You buy it and you take it home and eat it. That’s it. Yet it has perfect flavor. So why not?

You do it with wine. Sure, you can head in and buy a great $10 wine for dinner. But what if you are really celebrating something special? What if you are a wine connoisseur? You can easily spend hundreds, even thousands on the perfect wine. And because the creator knows exactly why a wine is special, he will have no trouble bottling it up and selling it for its true worth. And people will buy it. Because they know the value.

The true value of your photography isn’t the price of the paper it’s printed on. It’s the value you put behind being a photographer. It’s your education. It’s your ability. It’s the way you work with people. It’s your reputation. It’s the amount of PR you’ve done for your business. It’s the investment you’ve put into becoming who you are today as a photographer. It’s the show you put on for your clients. It’s the customer service skills you present. It’s the final product. It’s the joy you bring into people’s lives.

If you’re just shooting for fun and have no desire to turn it into a career, keep giving away your images. But if you want to “get known” for your work, you have to add in value. People have to look at your work, and say “that’s a [your name here] image”. They do that with Annie Leibovitz. And they can do it with you – IF you choose to work for it.

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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!

  • Great post! This couldn’t be more true. Many photographers under value their work and therefore themselves. It certainly isn’t good for the photo market and it’s equally bad for the ego.
    Great insightful post.

  • Value usually comes with time and experience. The better you become at your photography, the more you develop your own artistic ability, the more business experience you learn and use, the more you’ll be able to create the ideal setup for you. Remember, its not about what’s printed on the piece of paper – its the experience. I talk about Picasso quite a bit – check out the napkin story if you haven’t read it before.

    https://virtualphotographystudio.com/2008/02/7-ways-for-photographers-to-increase-sales/

    The value in what you do is based mostly on what you offer, and then on what your customers will pay. If you constantly target a lower end client, they won’t pay very much. But if you target higher end clients, give them more then just a quick session with a CD in return, and make it an experience, you’ll be able to raise your prices accordingly. If someone pays $25,000 for a reception hall, $50,000 on flowers, $15,000 on a caviar bar, they would never be comfortable spending $500 for a photographer – perceived value is also a big factor in selection.

    That’s what we talk about throughout these posts, to help you build up your value, and choose to go as high as you want with your photography.

  • The other reason you charge for your work… and charge a lot for your work is respect.

    Weddings, commercials, fine art, photos for charities…. it makes no difference. If you are low priced you will get treated like crap.

    Nobody remembers you or that you give away your work.

    They will remember you if you sold them something of value.

  • Dave Wilson

    This has always been a MAJOR problem for me. And namely, it’s articles like this that say “sell it at it’s real value” or “charge what it’s worth” or other such statements and then don’t go on to say what something is worth. I have no idea if a 16x20print print is worth $200 or $6,000…Where do I get THAT information? NO ONE EVER GIVES THAT INFO. Should I charge by the hour? Or per project? Why would charge $300 for a regular portrait session but double that for a glamour session where they’re essentially the same thing? How do I decide to sell my basic wedding package at $4500 instead of $1900 even though nothing has changed?

    The lack of this sort of information is what prevents a lot of photographers from charging accordingly. If you go to a bodyshop to get work done on your car you can expect to pay around $75 an hour for labor. If you go grocery shopping you can expect to pay around $4 for a gallon of milk (4 litres for those of us in Canada). But photography [prices range SO much, no one actually knows what to charge and that’s the biggest problem I ever have; knowing what to charge AND justifying to my clients why I charge that much.

    If only the industry could work together to make things more even on the playing field it would probably help a lot.

  • Hi Dave

    I ended up writing a lot of information to answer your question, so I turned it into a post. Please read on …
    https://virtualphotographystudio.com/2012/08/is-my-16×20-print-worth-200-or-6000/