Unlock the Secrets to Elevate Your Boudoir Photography Skills and Stand Out as a High-End Photograph
Updated: Feb 23
The topic of charging your worth is one of the foundational issues of boudoir photographers. People often get this wrong, and in doing so can unwittingly set their businesses in a direction that may not be recoverable. Think of it like a slicing a golf ball... whooosh!
You see, photographers are often their own worst enemies. When people decide to start a photography business one of the first things they start doing is looking at what others in their area are charging-- and this is their first big mistake. As you sit down at your laptop sipping a big glass of Snapple and start looking around your market, what are some of the common thoughts going through your mind:
You might be seeing that there are others charging less-- no one's gonna pay what I want to charge.
The people that are charging less are actually producing pretty good photos.
There are just too many photographers doing what I do.
My town (or geographic) area is to small, I won't have enough customers.
Does this sound familiar?
Here's the truth. Photographers are everywhere. Every town is crowded, and there will be more and more photographers popping up every year. Maybe if you're in a smaller town there may be 2 or 3 photographers. If you are in a larger metro area there can be 15-30. That number is going to keep growing year after year.
Here's the truth. It doesn't matter. Who cares what other photographers are doing or charging. It's irrelevant. The key is to focus on your business, and not what everyone else is doing. The only thing this will accomplish is making you second guess every decision you make, and what you plan on offering your clients.
The only limitation you are facing is you and what you believe is possible in your area. Its not about the competition. Its about how you share your image and your value to potential clients. You absolutely need to stand out in your market, whether its a big market or a small market.
One thing I need to mention before we talk about perceived value is your pricing, and whether you are prices correctly, or not.
Are you are priced accurately? Do you know what accurate is? Do you know what you're actually worth? Do you have any idea what your time is worth?
I bet you if I took a poll and asked other boudoir photographers how they determined their pricing-- I know pretty much what they'd say-- "I did market research." By "market research," they mean they looked around at what other photographers were charging, and they based their pricing on that.
That method has just a million things that can go wrong.
Do you know if these other photographers are actually booking anyone?
Do you have any idea if these photographers are even making money?
Do you have any idea what their costs are?
Do you know how many clients they book per year?
Do you know what products they're selling?
Do you know what their profit margins are?
NO. You have no idea! So, in other words you are basing your business on nothing. Even worse, you may be basing your business on someone else's bad information. No one ever said these other photographers actually know what they're doing. You have no idea if that pricing is even profitable or not. Does this sound smart?
Even if that pricing works for them, your situation may be completely different and that pricing may not work for you. Once you discover the reality of pricing your business, you may be a bit shocked.
What can you do? You can start by figuring out what your target sale per customer needs to be to cover your costs and accounts for your desired gross income from the business based on the number of clients you want to handle every year. Once you know that piece of the puzzle, you can use that to construct your session pricing and the pricing for your products. This is the basis everything. Once this is known you can start to build everything in your business around that number because that will tell you what you need to do to be profitable. There are worksheets available on the interwebs that can assist you in calculating these figures.
Here's the thing. I can't tell you what your pricing needs to be, because that is different and unique for each and every person based on their particular situation. What does it actually cost you to have your business running? I don't know... Some of the things that into this calculation for part of the formula are: insurance costs, equipment costs, advertising, rent, etc. These are some of the basic costs of doing business. You need to know these. For a full time-photographer, these costs may be $20K- $30K per year.
There's more, though. Are you doing photography part-time or full-time? How many hours do you want to work? How many hours does it take you per client? Are you a high end business that only works with a couple clients a month, and maybe it's taking you 15-20 hours for client, or you more high volume or it's only taking you two hours per client? Or maybe your business is doing mini sessions that are really only taking an hour per client with your editing and shooting time.
You can see why this isn't a one size fits all type of a thing. There's lots of different models. It's about all needs to be taken into account. That's why this is something you need to figure out on an individual bases.
Then, of course, one of the most important factors is your income goal. What do you want to make as a photographer? If you don't know how much money you want your business to make how are you supposed to figure out how much you should be charging? Maybe if you're only doing this part-time you may be fine making $10K per year. If you are doing photography full-time, and living anywhere near a major city or suburban area, you may not even be able to pay your bills for less than $45K-$50K per year.