Pricing My Work

There are two ways photographers price their work. Both schemes have their place. So, I offer clients a choice.

The simplest way, or so it seems, is by the day or half-day.  I’ve offered a half-day and a full day rate for years.  But, this “simple” approach had a surprising number of issues.  The alternative for both photographer and client is essentially pay based on the number of photos produced in addition to a base rate.  Paying per photo is actually more intuitive. Fewer photos, less cost. Makes sense too. But both schemes still have their place.

With a day rate my client generally wants to produce as many photos as possible.  A faster photo, however, isn’t a better photo. In fact, a faster photo can only be made by cutting corners and sets the stage for oversights and mistakes.  Working fast isn’t exactly a relaxed affair for client nor photographer either, so the session often becomes stressed. Here’s an example:

Come shoot day, the pressure to produce as many photos as possible quickly sets in.   I work as fast as I can.  Things are OK, it seems, until each shot nears completion. Do we stop short or push for more? My client might feel the shot is fine, and perhaps it is. But, is “fine” what we’re really after?  Another few minutes could make a nice improvement, but where do we stop?  When shooting based on time, the drive always seems to be for quantity and the perception of value seems based on the number of photos produced. 

The alternative approach solves this problem nicely.   If each photo has a pre-determined cost regardless of production time, then time is no longer of the essence.  Everyone is more relaxed and in a more productively creative mindset.  The photographer, myself included, still wants to produce as many photos as possible, but now it’s without compromising quality.  And, that’s what my client hired me for in the first place.  Quality.

Dinette from a Westfield NJ Tour of Notable Homes display house.

Dinette from a Westfield NJ Tour of Notable Homes display house.

A day rate can only be best when volume trumps top quality. I hear clients sometimes tell me, “I need a ton of photos for Instagram.” In this case, charging by the day or half-day makes sense. Therefore, offering both a day rate and a per-photo rate has been received as accommodating. I think it’s a necessity today.