Every book that deals with professional photography tells you that you must price your services correctly to succeed in the business. The chapters on the finances of the trade explain overheads, profits, taxes, depreciation, and invoicing. I would not recommend that they be read late at night in a deserted house or you will never sleep…
For those who are just starting to dabble in paid photo work this may seem like a great deal of trouble to go to…and it is. Successful business is built around trouble – either causing or avoiding it. Best to get on top of it at the start.
My best advice for anyone trying to price their products is to think of those products as services…and then to think of yourself as the servant. You will be trading a portion of your life for money as that servant, and if you think that your artistic work and professional ability is going to make you any different from a scullery maid, you are in for a surprise. You can get dishpan hands with a camera as easily as you can get them with a pot scrubber.
Now that you have realised that you are a worker rather than a creative genius, you can start to think of the work vs the pay. Use your imagination and think of doing the most menial and boring servant’s task for the number of hours that you would be engaged in your photo job – and remember that you need to include getting to the job, coming home, and post-production time as well. The question is – what is the least amount of money per hour that you will accept for doing that dog-work?
That is the bottom line. Below that you are not getting anything for your life’s time – you might as well spend it reading a book or watching television. Above that you are gathering a useful reward for your skills. Note: any enjoyment you get from the job or the skills is gravy on the side of your plate. Mop it up with a biscuit.
Note that the payment is independent of the product – it is a payment for you and your time. And there is no component of ” exposure ” to it. ” Exposure ” is a fraudulent enticement designed to bully you into working for no pay. You may legitimately ignore it as worthless.
If you are inclined to give charity and think that you can do it with your service, then do so only when you initiate the offer. Don’t let people cozen or cajole you into declaring a job will be your gift unless you genuinely feel inclined to give that gift and do so as your own idea.
Likewise, do not listen to chiselers when you quote your prices. If someone tries to wheedle you down from what you feel is your fair price, then they can go try it on someone else. Declining a job that cheats you of a fair recompense is the same as having a comfortable win.