“How much should I charge?” Is the most commonly asked question among photographers
but why the answers you get is the most irrelevant.
Business depends on demographics, local trends and what you have to offer. Unless that person you ask is in the same exact scenario as you. It is most likely, what works for them may not necessarily work for you.
There is a lot more behind one's selling price than simply how much they wanna make. So while someone can charge $50 to shoot real estate, what you have to realise is that they may have other services to offer that can bring up revenue. For example, someone may be a designer as well and offer low rates for the photography work, they will just make the profits back from the design fee.
No one knows your business better than you. Work out what you need in order to stay in business and work out your prices from there. A good understanding to have is to find out how well the industries you are approaching is doing. If you are approaching luxury real estate in Australia, you can probably a charge a bit more. But if you are approaching Real Estate in the crime heavy Kingston North Carolina area, then you may have to charge a lot less.
How many photographers in your demographic matters. Quite frankly if every time a job is listed and 100 photographers respond to it. You are in a very competitive area. But if you find that majority of the client needs to find photographers from out of town. It may be that your specialty is quite scarce and in that case you have the upper advantage. I am not saying you should charge an outrageous amount, but basically you don’t need to be asking online what you should be charging because if you know what you are doing and you charge a reasonable fee then clients should be happy to pay.
How do I know if I am not under-charging?
Do you make a decent/reasonable? Is there enough money afterwords to help grow your business? If so then you are doing fine. If you are struggling, it may not be a price issue(although it can be) but it may be your service quality or that the demographics is simply not there. For example in Japan, food photography is not big, believe or not people actually rely on calligraphy more than photos to sell a dish. While you could make it in big cities like Tokyo or Osaka, but even in well known areas near Mount Fuji, a good photographer will struggle. I know from first hand experience.
So was I wrong to ask?
Well, while it’s irrelevant to ask what price you should charge, you should be asking about pricing models. One of the pricing models that helped me a lot was referring to how Mike Kelley charges his clients (pls refer to WAMA series). While if you are just someone starting out or even have two three years under their belt, referring to Mike’s prices may not really work for you (because you ain’t Mike). For me, I used to charge a per photo + licensing system. That was until Mike was nice enough to share his thoughts with us and I now also incorporate a day minimum to the gig (yeah I kinda tweaked it a little because it worked for me a bit better). So basically, for the clients that like to take their time, I wasn’t gonna get burned by that. On the other hand, Mike's prices don't exactly work for me as well. While most of his clients are western companies, mine are mainly from Asian companies with a different culture. But by the end of the day, if you are like Mike Kelley and people hire by your name(and of coure your skill), you can pretty much set up any pricing model and they will oblige.
Now before all you seasoned pros come attack me with rebuttals and your own opinions (which I love by the way, cause let’s face it if I have never been wronged, I would not have so much shit to write about), I just want to say, that this is purely from my own experience. Like I said, everyone is in their own industry with different scenarios, so you gotta take it with a grain of salt. Whatever you do, it’s gotta keep that passion going and make you wanna get out of bed each morning. I always tell other people that there is no other job in this world that is more effective than my iPhone alarm and also that keeps me not want to go to bed at night.