Updated: Jun 7
The issue of photography pricing is always a tricky subject, because how do you 'really' put an exact value on an image? It's human nature that some people and some businesses will appreciate and value good imagery whereas others won't.
Some people will happily invest $10,000 for their wedding photography, $1000 for a single portrait photograph, $600 an hour for event coverage or will spend $3500 on wall art prints whereas others will be reluctant to spend anything at all.
It's also difficult to get a straight answer regarding prices out of many photographers, which adds to the confusion
So, how do photographers and their clients come together so that everyone is happy with the service provided versus the rate charged?
What's your budget?
As brutal as it sounds, this simple question is usually the quickest way of finding out whether the photographer and their potential client are going to be a good match. It's also totally normal that the client normally has little idea about what sort of fee is 'normal', but at least it's a starting point.
So, if the photographer has a minimum package/fee of $950, yet the client has a maximum budget of $150 then it's safe to say that's not going to work, and each party can move on. Whereas if the client says their budget is "somewhere between $500-$1500" then there is common ground and this helps the photographer quote a package that's going to fit the clients needs.
I've lost count of the times where I've spent hours putting together detailed quotes for clients who simply didn't have the budget to afford my services, and there's also been plenty of times when I've missed out on work because I've quoted for my basic package when the client wanted it all and was happy to spend 4 or 5 times more.
So now I typically ask this question upfront, to help move the process along as quickly as possible! It's all about communication!
Who sets the price?
Unfortunately for photographers and their clients, there is no such thing as an Australian photography 'industry body', so photographers can simply charge whatever they want (or what they think they can get away with). However, as with any free market, there is a balance between what the photographer wants to charge, and what their targeted customers will pay.
Typically, more experienced photographers, those who run full-time professional businesses with studios or lots of overheads and photographers with great reputations and a great portfolio of images and happy clients will charge (and get) more than newer photographers or those just starting out in business.
Some photographers charge an hourly rate, some charge per image, some charge a 'shoot or session fee' and then extra for photos, some have 'bundles or packages' and some simply make up a random figure out mid-air every time they get asked 'what's your rate?'..
And then there's the amateurs and well meaning friends who will do it at no charge just 'for the experience'.
So, how much do YOU 'value' the imagery you want?
What sort of photography / end product do you need?
Not all photographers are equal, and not all photographers shoot all genres so it's vital that you match yourself with a photographer who offers a service and rates that match your budget. So if you're in need of commercial, action sports, portrait or product images, you'll need to find a photographer that shoots the type and style of images you want.
Many photographers specialise in just one style/area of photography (eg wedding photographers) and these photographers generally won't be able to help with other styles of photography.
And then there are those like myself who specialise in a wide variety of work, and can cover everything and anything you may need from underwater to aerial!
Some photographers (typically portraits and wedding specialists) only supply printed products and you won't be able to get the digital files unless you purchase prints or albums etc whereas other photographers (commercial, events, products etc) supply digital files only with printed products an optional extra.
It's also vital that you choose a photographer who is capable of delivering what you need quickly and efficiently so that you're not wasting each others time. This is even more vital if you are a business, and working to deadlines.
If you have a specific 'look' that you want your images to match, you'll need to find a photographer whose 'standard style' matches yours and who can provide you with the type and variety of images that meet your needs. You'll also need to find someone who is available on your proposed shoot date (many better photographers are booked up weeks in advance) and ideally you want someone reliable, and that gets the job done without messing you around!
Why are different styles of photography priced differently?
Every genre of photography has its own challenges, each takes a different amount of time and expertise and there is also a different level of 'importance' put on different types of photography. For instance, wedding photography has often been one of the more expensive genres of photography simply because of the time involved, the pressure and the fact that there's no option but for the photographer to nail the shot first time!
Wedding photographers often invest days/weeks in the process and as such the rates they charge are priced accordingly. This time includes all the phone and email communications, with the couple, all the paperwork, pre-wedding meetings, rehearsals, the wedding day itself, post wedding editing, post production, gallery creation, album design, print proofing and delivery. Not to mention all the time, technical skills, equipment, organisation and problem-solving ability they bring to the shoot! The entire process takes weeks - not just the 8-10 hours on the wedding day where they are holding a camera.
Some photographers only offer printed products which have a higher price-point than those photographers who supply digital files only.
Some photographers charge lower rates, simply because of their lower skill level and the volume of competition and the volume of work available in their particular area/industry
Experience versus price
Less experienced photographers are usually cheaper because they either aren't great at capturing what you want, or the business side of the job, so the trade-off for a cheap shoot may be average quality, an inferior selection of images and non-existent customer service, and you may have to wait weeks/months before getting your photos.
Whereas, by hiring an established photographer with a huge range of happy prior customers, you should be assured that the images will be great, you'll get them delivered professionally and promptly and the entire experience will be 'simple' and streamlined.
So, the question of price is not the only consideration you need to make when choosing a photographer..
How do I (Sunny Coast Photos) price my services?
Over the years that I've been a full-time professional photographer I've created a pricing schedule that allows me to do what I do in order to make my business viable while offering packages that I think are good value.
Most of my work comes via referrals from previous clients which obviously means that I'm doing something right and have been offering a service that customers find appealing
I'm not the cheapest photographer out there however I'm also not the most expensive. I'm somewhere in the middle - offering great service and images at a value for money rate, with amazing service right throughout the process.
Most of my packages are 'all in one' which include my time, equipment, expertise, post production and a specific number of digital files included. I offer printed products and albums etc as an extra as most clients simply don't need/want these - but I can provide them if required. All of my packages can be tailored to whatever you need with more/less time, images etc and my rates start at only a few hundred dollars so I cater for (almost) all budgets.
However the best approach if you want specific pricing details is to simply contact me here and I'll be happy to send you more specific information on whatever you need.
Sunny Coast Photos specialises in a wide range of commercial, events, wedding, sports, portrait, aerial, family, personal & business photography . If you appreciate my work or would like to enquire about any of my packages, please get in contact to enquire if I am available for your preferred date, and I'll supply you with details on the most suitable packages for your needs.
Thanks for reading Dave Gleeson - Sunny Coast Photos