Pricing is always a tricky topic in photography, more art than science with no definitive, one-size-fits-all approach. Pricing too low might get clients in the door but might lead to low margins. Pricing too high can increase margins but limit your number of bookings. So how much should you charge for maternity photography?
To help, here are six tips on maternity photography pricing:
1. Understand IPS Vs. Shoot And Burn
When it comes to maternity photography pricing, there are generally two different models: the IPS (In-Person Sales) model and the “Shoot and Burn” model.
The IPS model starts with a low sitting fee, i.e $100-$250, and all digital files, prints, wall art, and albums are sold independently. There are variations to this, such as offering limited prints or limited digitals with the sitting fee. Generally, this model relies heavily on conveying to the client the value of printed products and having them purchase those products from you immediately after the shoot. You can find more in-depth information on this topic in our S3: Shooting Stories That Sell Workshop.
On the other side, you have the shoot and burn (or “shoot and share”) photography pricing model. In this model, the fee includes the photo session as well as a disc, flash drive, or online gallery loaded with all of the images from the shoot. Whichever route you choose, there’s definitely a market for each pricing model.
2. Don’t Switch Pricing Models
If your clients are used to a shoot and burn model for other photo services you offer, you need to stick to it. Otherwise, switching up pricing models will likely make the client feel they’re being pressured into buying something that they don’t really want or need. It’s okay to make the initial switch from one pricing model to the other across all of your photo services, but understand that you may still have some pushback from return clients after the switch.
3. Use the cost-based approach
When determining your prices, be sure to factor in all of your costs, including the time you put into preparing your gear, driving, setting up, post-producing, and more. Also, and this is important, be sure to factor in taxes and operating business expenses. The last thing you want is to underestimate your time and expenses and then get a surprise tax bill when tax season rolls around.
Use these costs, along with your estimates of revenue and the number of shoots, to estimate your annual income. Does this number meet or exceed your needs and goals? If not, you may need to increase your package pricing and/or find ways to cut your costs.
4. Understand that photography is a luxury good
Photography, as a product/service, is a luxury good. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, photography sits along the top of the pyramid among other self-fulfilling needs, quite a distance away from basic needs like food, water, shelter, etc.
This is important to understand in terms of creating an experience that adds value to the base product you offer, which is photos of your clients. Clients may not need your photos, but with careful research and planning, you can design an experience that conveys value and shows how your photos will improve your clients’ lives. Helping your clients find value in your product will also help to justify your prices.
5. Create A Target Market Persona
Before you can design a client experience, you need to know who your ideal client is. You know she’s expecting a baby, but what else do you know about her?
When imagining your ideal clients, consider the type of cars they drive, the clothes they wear, the foods they eat, and the activities they engage in for fun. This fictional persona will allow you to take a close look at your target market’s brand preferences and examine how those brands are reaching your target audience. What you’ll find, more often than not, is that other brands are selling an idea of how their products lend themselves to their target audience’s ideal lifestyle (how they’ll feel driving a specific car or how they’ll look wearing a particular jacket, carrying a designer hand bag, etc.).
Use this information to help design the perfect experience for your client.
6. Do Your Competitor Research
One way to help determine your pricing is to look at what your competitors are charging for their maternity photography services. The key here, however, is distinguishing between your direct and indirect competitors so that you can arrive at a more accurate price range.
To help identify your direct competitors, consider how difficult or easy it is to differentiate between the maternity photography styles in which both of you shoot. Do you both shoot dramatic portraits against elaborate studio backdrops, or does one of you tend to shoot in a more bright-and-airy outdoors style? Those who shoot in a similar style within the same genre of photography are direct competitors. If the only thing differentiating your service from that of your competitors is price, then it’s likely most clients will choose the cheaper option.
Once you’ve identified your direct competitors, you can also perform a S.W.O.T. analysis to compare your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses with yours and then make adjustments to make your business stand out as the go-to in the maternity photography genre. What you’re mainly looking for in this analysis is to see where your business stands in terms of your product quality, web presence, SEO, and content marketing. If you’d like to download our S.W.O.T. template, Click here.
7. Understand Your Opportunity Costs
It’s easy to overlook opportunity costs, but identifying them can help ensure you’re on the right track with the pricing model and rates you’ve chosen. To determine your opportunity costs, compare the amount of money you expect to earn from your chosen maternity photography pricing model against the potential earnings from other types of shoots.
For example, if you’re making $1,000 for an engagement session and only $500 for a maternity session, you might consider increasing the price for your maternity sessions, even if that leads to fewer bookings. Of course if you have plenty of room in you schedule for both, you might not change your pricing; but if your lower maternity photography revenue is preventing you from getting your higher engagement session revenue, adjust prices accordingly so you’re getting compensated equally for your time.
8. Present value In All Pricing Packages
After you’ve determined your costs and set revenue goals for your maternity photography services, you can create pricing packages that will allow you to meet your goals while also presenting value to your clients, no matter which package they choose.
When pricing your packages, beware of price relativity. You’ll notice in the image above, we’ve presented three packages. If we only offered a single option (let’s say package two, our desired sell), some potential clients might find the package too expensive and they may look elsewhere without getting to know more about your services. However, with multiple pricing options, what once seemed too expensive (package II) may not seem as such when placed next to an even more expensive option (package III). Plus, there will be a percentage of clients who do choose the most expensive package, so it’s beneficial to offer that option as well.
While pricing can prove tricky with so many variables to consider, there are clear steps you can take to arrive at a functional, profitable price. Here’s a quick recap of the photography pricing tips we shared in this article:
- Understand IPS vs. Shoot and Burn
- Don’t switch pricing models
- Use the cost-based approach
- Understand that photography is a luxury good
- Create a target market persona
- Do your competitor research
- Understand your opportunity costs
- Present value in all pricing packages
You can find in-depth information on the technical aspects of shooting maternity photos in our Maternity Photography Workshop. To dive deeper into the business side of things, don’t miss our Complete Photography Business Training System, available now in our store.