Is My 16×20 Print Worth $200 or $6,000?

“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.”
~ Dave Wilson

I received this comment a day ago, and as I sat there typing up a response, it got longer and longer. I knew this is probably something more than one of you have had questions about, so I decided to make it today’s post.

Hi Dave

Thanks for your comment. Now lets dive in and let me share with you why giving you an exact price is impossible. (Don’t get frustrated yet, I’ll share a lot to help you out!)

If you go grocery shopping and buy a gallon (or 4 litres) of milk, you will pay around $4, depending on your area. The reason you do that is milk is a commodity. It’s a product. Grocery store A pretty much sells the same milk as grocery store B, hence the reason its always around $4. You may pay $5 if you run to a convenience store, but you expect to pay more because its convenient. Likewise if you decide to go organic, you will also pay a bit more because there isn’t the same demand for it and it has a higher value. But milk is milk. Nothing makes one gallon of milk better than the next.

Likewise, if you go to a bodyshop, they pretty much all do the same level of work. Your car has a scratch or a dent, and they simply have to make it look like “new”. If one worker doesn’t do a good job, or doesn’t show up for work, they can hire another one to replace him or her immediately. Yes, there is some skill. But it is a learned skill; one you can teach anybody quickly. Which is why from bodyshop to bodyshop, they pretty much charge the same amount. They have parts and labor to account for when coming up with their pricing structure.

Now we move to photography. If we treated photography like milk or like a bodyshop, we would train photographers to place people on an X in front of a backdrop, take the shot, move them to a computer for showing and selling, and send them out the door with photos in hand. The only training for the “photographer” would be to roll down the right backdrop, insert the appropriate prop on spot X, place people on the appropriate spot X, push the trigger, and do a little computer work. And yes, if this sounds familiar, its because these types of studios exist all over the world. Big box stores saw the opportunity and jumped on it.


But look at those images. Those are the photos that are the “cheesy” images. They are the ones that get placed in those “awkward photos” books and sites you see online. There is nothing magical about them. They are simply snapshots tracking a moment in time. [Read more…]

Do You Need To Be A Storage Facility Instead Of A Printer?

One of my favorite parts of blogging is research. I love seeing what other people are doing, what they are thinking, and how they are setting businesses up for the future.

Today I ran across a great article on H&H Color Lab – Towards a Brave New World in Photography. And it reminded me of an article I wrote months ago – Photographers – The History Killers.

Digital is here to stay. And whether we like it or not, photography is changing. Twenty-five years from now, our homes won’t be set up the way they are today. Instead of a paper printed photographs hanging on the wall, we’ll probably have a screen displaying a series of images that we have pre-selected. We won’t use photo albums; we’ll use devices that allow us to store mega amounts of data in a variety of formats. We’ll be able to carry all of our memories within one small unit.

It’s coming whether we want it to or not. You can’t change it. It’s like standing at the base of a volcano and trying to hold back a flow of lava. No matter what you do, it will flow around you and just keep going. You can’t hold back the progress.

But it also makes me question once again:

Is this the generation that will end up with zero memories in 20 years?

I too have met people that treat flash cards like film. They keep shooting and buying flash drives because they don’t know how to get the images off the card. So the cards stack up on the desk alongside the computer.

Others rely on CD/DVDs, and expect them to be there 10 years from now when they decide to look at them again. They throw them into a box with all the other CD/DVDs – which ultimately has very little value, and very little significance.

Still others load their images on a computer, and store them in a file “personal photos”. They add new images every chance they get, and the file continues to grow.

I’m willing to bet less than one percent of today’s consumers backup their computer on a regular basis, if at all. I hear the horror stories all the time: house fire, theft, computer failure. It happens in the blink of an eye, and all of your data, all of your memories are gone in an instant. [Read more…]

A Guide To Getting Started In Selling Microstock

There are two ways to make a full time income. Price your services high and select a few customers to cater your services to. Or price your services low and work for volume.

Increasingly people are looking at the low price high volume model, and seeing how lucrative it can really be. You can build apps (I would love to be a part of Angry Birds model), ebooks (think Kindle and Nook), or in the photography world, microstock.

How Does It Work?

If you want to sell microstock, the best place to start is with microstock agencies. There are a number of great agencies, and more are being created every day.

Dig Deeper: 65 Stock Photography Sties To Find And Sell Photography and a couple of new ones



As you visit an agency, head to their photographers section, and find out what it takes to build an account. Each agency has their own set of guidelines. They want serious photographers only, so you will have to meet their requirements. They usually do that in two ways: [Read more…]

9 Ways To Present Your Photographs And The Value They Portray

How do you present your final photographs to your client? How you present them says a lot about you. Do you take the cheapest way possible to save money? Or do you spend a little extra to present something your clients can’t get anywhere else.

If you shop at Wal-Mart, you expect the cheapest plastic bag possible at the checkout. You’re there to save money, and you don’t want to spend anything more than absolutely necessary.

But if you go to Tiffany’s, how it’s presented is almost as important as what is inside the box. If you give a Tiffany’s gift, you can present it in the box and in the bag it comes from the store in, knowing the recipient will squeal with delight when they see that light blue color.

How are you presenting your images? And what value do they have in the eyes of your client?


Does a CD truly portray value in your photography? Or is it the cheapest presentation possible? Even if you create a custom insert in the jewel case, and etch the CD with your logo, they don’t get to experience your images upon receipt.

While a CD may be a great addition to a large package order, it should always be presented as an afterthought. You want people to look at your photography and experience the artwork – not have to take it home and pop it into their computer.

Loose Prints

A stack of loose prints has low value to a client. They receive a stack of loose prints from the big box store. Yes, they may love the images, but by presenting them in a stack, they can shove them in a drawer, touch them with dirty fingers, and bend them by throwing them on a desk.

Cardboard Folders

Cardboard folders have been around for decades. It’s a great way to add value to an image, and give the customer a better way to temporarily display it, and hand it out to family and friends that have placed orders. It’s also a step up from a loose print, and can be used to combine a two or three images, similar to what sports photographers give when presenting a group and individual image.

[Read more…]

Who Really Owns Your Photos On Social Sites?

Like most people, you probably don’t think twice about it.

You head over to the newest social site, sign up for an account, check the “terms of service” box without really reading it, and begin posting. Content, photo videos – it all goes up without much thought as to the true impact.

But what rights do you have to your content, photos and videos after you put them on a social site? What rights do you have to it after the fact? And more importantly, what rights do they have?

Almost every photo-sharing site has some type of license agreement to your content. While the agreements change from site to site, what you are agreeing to can change significantly. Here’s an overview of 12 major photo-sharing sites:

But even after you sign up with an account and start using it, things can change. For instance, on June 1st, Twitter announced the company was partnering with Photobucket to make sharing photos easier. Which means if you have a Twitter account and post photographs using the new API, you’ll also be subscribing to Photobucket’s terms of services by default.

Therein lies the problem.

It’s fun to use social sites, and most of us don’t think twice about signing up for an account. In fact, in many cases the benefits far outweigh the detriments.  Who wouldn’t want the possibility of reaching out to millions of people that spend hours on a site every single month?

Yet problems do exist, and will continue to grow as we spend even more time online. Whether you are trying to avoid your high school senior using a photo posted on Facebook for other uses, or you are trying to gain compensation to a photo you tweeted on a monumental event, its important to think before you post.

3 Rules Of Advice For Photographers

Think Before You Post
I often tell people to think before they write up a quick post and place it into their newsfeed. Would you want your mom reading it? Your grandmother? Just a few seconds of contemplation can save you years of embarrassment – as Senator Weiner can now tell you.

The same applies to your photos. You may love the image you just captured. But before you tweet it and share it, what are the implications? What are your goals for the photograph? In some cases, putting the image on hold for a few hours or even days can save you in the future.

Where Will Your Compensation Come From?
Instead of thinking about it on the fly, sit down and come up with your own policies on posting photographs.

If you hope to be compensated for your work now or in the future, make sure you are fully covered before you post. Include it in a package price for your clients. Take the necessary steps to copyright it. Or use a watermark to protect the integrity of the image.

If you’re using it as promotion, post it to showcase what you do. Always make sure the image leads back to you, and you keep up to date on your profile. Also realize that as much protection as you use, there is always the possibility of your photos being reused without your permission and without your credit. It’s a new fact of the social atmosphere.

What Is Your Ultimate Goal?
What is your ultimate goal for posting a photograph? Are you using it to capture a new audience to your work? Are you using it to try and gain sales? Are you using it for marketing and exposure?

Know your goals ahead of time. It’s possible to use social successfully in a variety of ways. But your first task is to know how it will benefit you. Only then can you take the necessary steps to make sure you are protected.

Who Is The Best Photographer On Flickr?

Flickr just celebrated 7 years online. Originally created as a service within a multiplayer online game platform, Flickr developed into a more feasible project, and the rest as they say is history.

Flickr can be used in a variety of ways, and a lot of people have found success showcasing their images. Flickr can be a great tool if you use it to compliment your marketing, and use it to drive traffic from place to place. Remember, free is free, and things can happen.

If you’ve ever started searching through Flickr streams, you realize very quickly that somewhere in between all the bad is a whole lot of GREAT. I love surfing around Flickr and seeing what other photographers are creating. While I was searching, I decided to put together a list of photographers that can inspire you with their images.

image by Chodaboy

Forget Me Knott Photography
Darren White Photography
Stuck in Customs
Clayton Perry Photoworks
Heidi Hope
David Belo
Beachwalk Photography
Bahman Farzad
Renaissance Studios Photography
Erik VanHannen
Jason Theaker
Zenith Phuong
Peter Bowers

I know I missed a lot of great photographers – who would you recommend?

How To Mark Up And Price Your Photographs

Everything in life is available for a price. Every day we are faced with choices: to buy or not to buy. We are presented with this option every time we visit a store, turn on our computer, open a newspaper or magazine, and watch television. We can choose to take action – if the price is right!

But what it is a fair price? That is in the eye of the beholder. We choose to make a purchase if we consider the price to be fair. And we choose to forgo purchasing if the price is too high, and we don’t see the value in the product.

So, how do you determine what that price is? What price should you be charging for your product? As a photographer, I see many people in this industry doing a lot of work for little if any profit. And the photography industry is not alone. Most service-oriented businesses have a lot of bottom dwellers – businesses that are working for virtually nothing, and getting lots of so-so people whom are interested only in price. They work literally hours and hours on a project, and yet they take home little more than minimum wage. What is the benefit in that? Wouldn’t it make more sense to work for someone else and go home at 5 every night to your family with no worries?

If this sounds like you, don’t fret. There is hope! I know, I’ve been in your shoes. When we began in this business over 15 years ago, we visited several local photography studios, and picked up their pricing guides. Then we built our price guide based on their pricing structures – and lowered our price because we were just beginning. There was no thought process – we just put ourselves on the pricing scale of our local market that we felt were our direct competition.

There is more to pricing than charging “a little bit less” then what everyone else is. Pricing needs to be set so you cover your costs, and make a profit! Quite a concept! Yet it’s rarely followed.

In the following pages, you will discover a method to never question your pricing again. You will be able to firmly state your pricing, understand how you reached that price, and stand firm and true to your pricing structure. With that said, let’s begin!

Pay Yourself First
Before you move on to the next idea, lets discuss the concept of paying yourself first. The whole purpose of owning your own company is to have the freedom to follow your own heart. To be in charge. To create something tangible that has your signature stamp on it. But above all, it should afford you the lifestyle you are wanting. That doesn’t mean you can’t do without the high pay while you are building your company, but your short-term goal should be to create a business that can provide you with the type of lifestyle you want and demand! If that is not a possibility within a few short months, then it is easier to continue to work for someone else.

Decide now how much of a salary you would like to draw from your business. What are you truly worth? What would make each hour of the day worth your time? How much would make you feel like you are truly contributing to this society? Don’t low-ball this figure because you know how much your business is…To view this entire report, click on Photography Print pricing Guideline.

Helping your photography business, how to start a photography business and wedding photography business visit and keep up-to-date with all of the photography happenings via our free newsletter.