Photography Pricing: The Value Of Your Time

Jan 9, 2017 | Tutorials, Uncategorized

As we begin a new year and compile annual numbers from the year before, this is a good time to evaluate your pricing structure.  At the root of a proper pricing structure is understanding the value of your time.

There is so much more time that goes into each session than simply showing up to a photo shoot with your camera. Even though we don’t pay ourselves by the hour, time is money. You need to be fully aware of the time that goes into each job and price yourself accordingly. Time investment will vary based on your sales model (high volume vs. boutique), but here is an example of what you might invest in a typical job:

  • Respond to client inquiry (15 minutes)
  • Send and process client booking forms (15 minutes)
  • Process forms in bookkeeping system (15 minutes)
  • Pre-shoot phone client consultation (30 minutes)
  • Gear prep for shoot (15 minutes)
  • Shoot (90 minutes)
  • Drive to and from session (40 minutes)
  • Download and backup files (15 minutes)
  • Cull images (60 minutes)
  • Edit images (180 minutes)
  • Prepare client gallery for delivery (30 minutes)
  • Blog Session (30 minutes)
  • Sales related inquires and conversations (90 minutes)
  • Process and prepare print order (60 minutes)
  • Receive and package print order for delivery (30 minutes)
  • Deliver print order (30 minutes)
  • Send thank you note (15 minutes)
  • Close out and archive job and files ( 15 minutes)

Based on these estimates you might spend 13 or more hours on EACH SESSION.

Let’s see how this breaks down at different price points:

$200/session = $15/hr
$300/session = $23/hr
$400/session = $30/hr
$500/session = $38/hr
$650/session = $50/hr
$800/session = $62/hr

And please note this this is hourly rate BEFORE expenses and taxes! A good rule of thumb is to estimate 1/3 of your income will go to expense, 1/3 to taxes and 1/3 to you.  Using this approximation, the amount you are actually earning per hour becomes:

$200/session = $5/hr
$300/session = $7/hr
$400/session = $10/hr
$500/session = $13/hr
$650/session = $17/hr
$800/session = $23/hr

Many photographers work part-time and average about 20 hours per week to their business. This is 1,040 hours per year. Using the hourly wages above annual net earnings at the different price points translates as follows:

$200/session = $5,200
$300/session = $7,280
$400/session = $10,400
$500/session = $13,520
$650/session = $17,680
$800/session = $23,920

Your pricing absolutely has to reflect your time commitment.  Your time has value, and you need to pay yourself properly for it.  If you don’t, you will get burned out from not seeing the right return on your time investment in your business, and your business simply won’t be sustainable.

Here’s to a great 2017 for you and your business!!  


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