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Your $500 Client Wont Be Your $5,000 Client. Move On | Chase Jarvis

By Kishore Sawh on October 31st 2016

The nuances of photography as a business begin to show themselves rather quickly once you take that first step into the arena, and it’s just about that time that you realize the business of photography is–in terms of time consumption–more business than photography.

In many ways, standard business acumen from any other business field can be applied to this one, and in fact it actually helps, but many photographers don’t have it, and it’s why operational and theoretical advice on the matter from those who do is of such value. Someone like that could be a working photographer you know, and if not, then one who cares to share, like Chase Jarvis.


Chase has, on numerous occasions, gone on record to continually remind photographers about the nature of the business, and in particular, to warn photographers about the insidious nature of lowering your rates ‘that one time’ just to get a certain gig. Just last week Chase put out an hour long video on CreativeLive where he addressed and answered the tough questions most of us want to ask, but are too afraid or embarrassed to, and if you haven’t seen it, find it here.

Now, it is an hour long and if you don’t have that time then maybe the 2 minute clip below may be good for you, where he stresses once more, with the poignant passion of a guy whose seen it first hand over and over again, that pricing yourself low to fit someone’s small budget is pricing yourself out of their budget when it gets bigger.


[REWIND: The 1 Thing To Watch This Week | Chase Jarvis Answers The Questions You Want Answers To Most]

Speaking from personal experience, this is not just something native to photography, nor the creative field in general, and rarely does making the accommodation for a low paying client a way to ensure you get their dollars when they’ve got more. That said, I think it’s wise to really analyze WHY you’re doing something and in what particular genre/company you’re dealing with. If you’re dealing with a company whose budget is smaller than you usually deal, understand that those companies may never have a bigger budget for photography work, and of course, other times there are ways to benefit from a relationship that’s not strictly about dollars and cents, but in the form of introductions, and all the other less numerically tangible assets.

Also, go check out the comments on the post on Facebook, as Chase engages further with commenters about the topic, and gives more detailed advice.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Paul Empson

    In general I’d agree with the headline.. especially at the two levels quoted: $500 to $5000.

    However I’ve had clients of modest means who spent much more, more than double… what very affluent clients have.

    Advice I.. try.. to follow and I hold true, is to let the client define their worth: don’t assume because of their appearance they can’t afford you… show them all your options & let them decide.

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