I’ve said this before, but pricing for wedding photographers is often shrouded in secrecy. For many of us, it can be hard to put a price on our own work. I wrote an article last year about not overcharging if you’re just getting started with wedding photography. If this is your first year or two of being a wedding photographer, I suggest you give it a read. I make some good arguments to why it might be smart to charge less when you’re new and how it might help you vs. hurt you. For the more seasoned wedding photographers, this article is for you; if you aren’t doing so already, it’s time you start charging what you’re really worth.
Realizing My Value
At the end of every year, I take a cold hard look at my businesses financial numbers from that entire year. For me, last year was not only my first year as a full-time photographer, but also my most successful year financially after almost four years in business. It’s at this time of year that I look at what I’m charging and tend to make changes based on where I need/want to be for the following year. Each year, I made minor increases to my rates, a few hundred dollars or less, but nothing drastic. Going into this year, it was time for a major change.
I decided to make a major increase in my rates because I finally saw my own value. I stopped worrying about what the competition was charging and started charging what I feel I’m worth. I realized that my work is good and getting better every day. Last year was the first year I started to feel really good about the work I was producing. I realized that I’m more of a wedding expert than I was before. I find myself helping my couples plan more of their day than just the photography, and a lot of the wedding photographers I know do the same.
Finally, I realized I’m very vested in my clients and try to go the extra mile to provide not only wedding images they love, but more importantly, creating a wonderful client experience from start to finish in terms of phone calls, planning meetings, and countless emails to help wherever I can.
After realizing all of the value I bring to the table for a client, and looking at where I needed to be financially at the end of this year, I increased my prices significantly. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about going up in price, but for the first time in four years, I feel really good about my prices and where my business is headed. Truth be told, I’m receiving more inquires and bookings this year than ever before.
Realizing Your Value
Photographers are often dissatisfied with their work, if not all the time. People compliment our work and clients are hiring us, yet we still see where we could have improved on an image or an entire job for that matter. I can never figure out why we are so darn hard on ourselves; maybe it’s just in our DNA as a creative. All too often, I feel that we let our self-doubt about our images cloud our judgment in terms of pricing ourselves accordingly based on our overall value. The reality is that in wedding photography, the combination of the overall experience we provide a client along with the quality of our work, should help to dictate the rates we charge.
Let’s be real, most wedding clients know very little about weddings, and even less about wedding photography. If you have been in the game for a while, you have the opportunity to help your clients not only understand the process of planning a wedding, but also helping them with other facets of their wedding. This is one area that I pride myself in when it comes to the value I bring to the table for my clients. I make myself available to my clients to talk about anything wedding related and they love it. I’m there for them, no matter what, plain and simple. You are probably the same if you’re a successful wedding photographer.
I’m constantly helping my clients nail down the final details of their wedding day during our final in person dinner a few weeks before their wedding. Many of my clients know they can trust my judgment when it comes to making the day move smoothly and as an added bonus, I’m better prepared once their wedding day comes.
Not only do we help our couples nail down wedding plans, we also know how to pose, direct, communicate, and make our clients feel great on their wedding day. Sometimes we have to help bustle the bride’s dress, help the groom tie his tie, and a slew of other things that pop up throughout the day. I could go on and on about all the little things that don’t have anything to do with photography which help me create a great experience for my clients. The proof is in the pudding. Many times when someone refers us to a new couple, they say they love our work, but more so they loved the way we treated them and their families during the planning process and wedding day. This is all value, and so many times I see us not adjusting our prices to reflect this! Why should you not be charging more? You probably can’t give me a good answer, because once I took a step back and looked at the whole picture, I couldn’t answer the question for myself.
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It’s impossible for me to give you hard prices to charge for your photography. My hopes are that you know what to charge to live life, run your business, and be profitable, and those numbers differ immensely from photographer to photographer, market to market. Once you do know those numbers, increasing your prices based on your value is up to you.
You might choose not to increase your prices, or you might add a hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars to your rates. It all depends on what you’re comfortable with. I’m not talking about inflating your prices for no reason at all. You need to be able to sell your value to potential clients. I challenge you to sit back, reflect, and consider raising your rates, because even though you might not believe it, you’re probably worth it.