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Why Do Boudoir Photographers Hide Their Prices?

Updated: May 24

a woman during a boudoir shoot smiling an shrugging her shoulders

Why do boudoir photographers hide their prices? That's a good question! With boudoir photography at an all time high in popularity, the simple fact is that there are lots of women considering sessions and exploring their options on a daily basis, so why do photographers seem make it so difficult to find out the price of a session?

You've been thinking about it yourself for a while. Then, one day you finally set aside a bit of time to see what boudoir is all about and start investigating your local options to see what's out there. You've clicked around to a few boudoir photographer websites, and even saw one or two that had photos which really grabbed your attention. It's a natural curiosity to know what all this costs, and after all, everyone has a budget.

You start to poke around a bit deeper... but where's the pricing? You look and look, but nothing. Some photographers may have a Pricing page-- but there is no pricing listed on the "Pricing" page? What gives? Why have a Pricing page with no pricing? Seems a bit odd. The more you look, the more you notice a trend-- NOBODY LISTS ANY F*CK!NG PRICES ON THEIR F*CK!NG PHOTOGRAPHY WEBSITES!!! You slam your laptop closed in frustration.

You're thinking... Really? After a ten hour work day I have to stop at the grocery store on my way home to get food...I finally get home about 7PM. I'm tired. I'm hungry. AND I JUST WANT TO KNOW HOW MUCH THIS PHOTO SESSION COSTS! Can't they just tell me??? Are you really going to make me fill in forms and go through a lengthy "sales call" to get this information??? Why make my life more difficult? ...NEXT!

You'll see this is the practice with many photographers of all types-- not just the boudoir world. Apparently, their pricing is a deep, dark, hidden secret which can only be unlocked via a lengthy contact form, followed by an even lengthier phone call to someone you really don't want to chat with-- YOU JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT COSTS!!!

Why do photographers do that? There are some legitimate reasons that we'll get into a bit later in this post. When you're shopping for a new bag, Coach isn't hiding the price, they're showing it on their website. There's no "fill in this form so we can call you to tell you our handbag price." Likewise, when you walk into an Applebee's (I don't just popped into my mind 😂) the price of a 1/2 rack of baby back ribs isn't a deep, dark secret withheld from you until the point of no return. So why then, do photographers do this?

This is the year 2020! People just want quick and easy information. Everyone is busy and wants immediacy. With three swipes on your smartphone you can control millions of dollars of infrastructure to funnel a calorie killing cheat-meal from Five Guys right to your home via Uber Eats (Shhh! I won't tell...) but a god damned local photographer is going to put you through the ringer to get the price on a few lousy photos? Doesn't seem right.

You know what is one of the busiest pages on my website? PRICING! After all, isn't that what people want, anyway? Some photographers do list full pricing, or a "starts at" price on their website. So why doesn't everyone follow this logic?

The answer is simple...and not so simple. Part of it is that photographers act a bit like sheep, and they're always looking around to see what everyone else is doing, and just copy it. Part of it is that many photographers lack a bit of self awareness regarding their prospective customers-- and what works best for the potential client. Another part is also there is a good chunk of "professional" photographers who really don't quite know what they are doing, in general. There are, though, some legitimate cases where posting a public list of prices may not be the best solution, too. I'll get into some of these cases, shortly.

So, you want to know why they make it so difficult? Below is a list of some of the potential reasons and "thought processes" why seemingly intelligent photographers hide their pricing and make it difficult for clients...for better or worse.

boudoir photo of a woman laying in bed wearing a spreader bar

"I Don't Want My Competitors To See What I'm Charging... Because They Will Charge Less.."

Validity: Dumb. "I don't want my competitors to see what I'm charging... Because they will undercut my prices." This is really a thing. In the 21st Century there are still photographers whose brains are still operating in a 19th Century mentality (as if even that was OK back then...)

Their photography pricing is so special and unique that it can't get out there in the public. What if some other photographer on the other side of town is going to be spying on their website and in turn charges $20 less than them for a photo session? If this is a reason that the photographer gives for not displaying pricing... odds are there's a lot more wrong with the way they run their business than just hiding prices. There's a good chance these guys (or woman) really don't understand how developing a photography business even works. Do you think Applebees (here we go again...) is going to lose business if Chilis charges $1 less for their ribs? Or is there a bit more to it than that? This is a sad, but real reason why you can't find pricing on some websites.

The Boudoir Pricing Is So Confusing (And Nonsensical)-- You Couldn't Figure It Out, Anyway

Validity: All Too Real...and Dumb. A lot of pricing schemes in boudoir photography (and I'm sure other photography styles) are just plain dumb. To this day I still will receive an occasional inquiry regarding "How many outfits does your session include?"

Don't be surprised if you come across some real head-scratching pricing schemes. Boudoir photographers have a knack for basing pricing on some very odd criteria that makes sense, really, to no one but themselves. Outfits? Who cares how many bras you wear during your session... does that really matter? Boudoir is about having a great time and enjoying your session, not counting outfits. BUT there are still plenty of photographers who use this method, among other very strange ones against which they base their rates.

There are countless "Diva" packages, "Bombshell" packages, strange time-based packages in increments of minutes... the list really goes on and on. Can you imagine yourself going in to the hair salon and the woman at the desk asking you if you'd prefer the 10-minute haircut or the 20-minute haircut? That would be really odd, right? This is exactly what many photographers do. Why? Because they are simply copying what they see others doing in their sector without giving it much thought. "If someone else is doing it, it much be good."

There is good reason why this type of pricing isn't listed on a website, because they would need ten web pages to explain every single package, sub-package, and option available... and none of it would make sense to anyone. -The photographer, herself/himself, probably can't fully make sense if it, either.

My Price List is a "Living Document" Or I Offer "Custom Packages."

Validity: Plausible.... Photography is not necessarily a one size fits all service in every case. There are situations where a photographer may base pricing around a particular client request or need, and that's why there may not be pricing listed on a website.

Let's say a photographer offers clients multiple options for a session location: a local studio location, a luxury hotel room, or maybe even a budget friendly option to use client's home, and may base pricing on what works best for the client.