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Dear photographer I am sorry for low-balling you

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If your just starting out as photographer and you are getting low balled, working for free, or losing work to lower priced unskilled photographers, or businesses welcome to the club. This is a right passage in the beginning and it only gets worst if you let it grow into a can of worms. I know this sound discouraging but it’s a reality in this business and any other business your in; people are going to beat you up on price get use to it. Photography is a luxury for most and a necessity for some. The faster you understand the difference between need and want the more successful you are going to become establishing your price points.

The Pricing Call

A few days ago I received a call from a photographer in Michigan about a pricing issue he was having. A client called the photographer and asked about a portrait session. When the photographer quoted the session fee, the client mentioned that a local major department store was charging $35 for what he thought was a similar photo session.

Now before we go all buck wild on the solution and what that photographer could have done, an important point know is that a company’s pricing strategy is just that; a strategy designed to get the client in the door and up sell them. It’s not about the photography it’s about the physiological price point. They are assuming that their product is a perfect offering to the client, competitive in the lower price environments, profitable, and more superior in brand recognition.

First things first, In order to survive in any market you have to know what your competition is doing intimately. Always study anyone who operates within a 20-mile radius of your business. Make sure you offer a competitively priced service or product. Back in the day, I shopped my competitors all the time and still do now. I always beat out competitors on small things like faster callbacks, sessions, and image delivery.

Low Price is Good

Second, low price points are real markets and can be profitable. When I first started shooting portraits I charged $35. Other photographers criticized me for my low price but I laughed all the way to the bank. I up sold every client that came through the door on some added service or value. Each session would yield on the average $135

And last, nothing last forever. What’s hot now is going to change over the next 18 months and you don’t want to be locked in to a price point that is more than your market can handle should market conditions change. Set some minimum price points that you can survive at car dealership are pro’s at this. They push the low priced base models and then up sell you on features all the time.

Keith B Dixon is a Professional Freelance Photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Keith specializes in corporate event photography, executive portraits, and editorial assignment work in the health care, computer technology, biotech, and real estate. Keith’s work is regularly published in print ads, various magazines in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Nationally, and Internationally.


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