Most people these days are led to believe a certain set of standards for every item or service they pay for. For example, you may have it in your head that a burger at McDonald’s is always 1 dollar, gas for your vehicle is always somewhere between 35-40 dollars depending on fluctuation of price, and it goes on and on. There’s nothing wrong with having expectations in life of what you can or can’t, will or won’t pay for something. I just ask you to understand why what you have come to know as a “fair price” may not actually be the “correct wage”.
There are always going to be people trying to undercut other people in every industry on earth, so I don’t think there is anything I can say that will ever get people away from being interested in an less-expensive price. However, let me ask, that if you were to start basing your purchases on the quality first, and not the price, would your purchasing decisions change? I think everybody’s would.
The reason I bring this all up, is really to bring attention to the photography industry’s always-wavering prices and why they ARE always wavering.
So there actually is a LEGAL reason why you don’t see the majority of studios or photographers charging roughly the same price, and it’s called price fixing. This is the practice of competitors agreeing to set the price across the board for a specific industry. This is a federal crime here in the United States. I totally agree with this being illegal, don’t get me wrong. This is just part of my explanation.
As far as how to accurately set prices, for MY work at least, I based my numbers on what I feel my work is worth, my time is worth, and with a simple concept of “If I were breaking this down an hour, what is the least I’d like to make in an hour”. I feel if everybody did this and didn’t try to shoot for 50 dollars, or free even, pricing would sort of “set itself”.
With the increasing amount of people going to school for photography and art, and then coming out of school charging whatever they can, this is an increasing issue that can be solved by realizing one simple fact: Photography should be still considered a skilled trade that produces art. If you’re charging 500 dollars for an hour photo shoot, I can totally understand why, but I expect to SEE why when I look at your work. On the counter of that, I will already have an opinion of your work if you tell me you’re charging 50 dollars for that same hour shoot, and it probably isn’t a good opinion.
So in closing…
Talent aside, right now the younger and more inexperienced photographers are charging less and less, and giving more and more. This is damaging the industry. I ask that artists start truly doing some soul searching, and start charging what they feel they are worth, and not what will get them 50 dollars once a week. I also ask potential clients to understand that to get quality work from a quality artist, sometimes you have to pay a little more.