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Thread: What Do I Charge for a Portrait Session?

  1. #21

    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Re: What Do I Charge for a Portrait Session?

    If you're doing any kind of professional photography you should base your prices primarily on your cost of doing business. That means figure out your monthly overhead costs (film, processing, studio rent, equipment, insurance, assistants or other staff salaries, etc.). Then figure out how much you want to make per month as your salary. Add it all up, divide by the number of days per month you think you'll spend shooting and it'll become clear how much you need to make on those days. That should be your absolute minimum price. It's not worth working for less than it costs you to keep the doors open (even if those are metaphorical doors and you don't have a physical studio). You'd be better off spending those days promoting your business instead.

    Even if it's just a sideline gig for you and you're not looking to start a serious business, it makes sense to do this basic business planning. You don't want to lose money and it's bad for the photo business when part-timers undercut other photographers who depend on photography to put food on the table. And, of course, you don't want to sell your own talent short.

    After that you can do you market research.

  2. #22

    Re: What Do I Charge for a Portrait Session?

    Interesting thread. I agree with Frank's post. Even though I make portraits for my own project, and therefore I can pick subjects who interest me and I have 100% control over the final image, doing the project has given me some openings to do some commercial LF portraiture. The people who are asking me have been initially interested because they are intrigued by the process - they may not know what LF is, but they know I use big old cameras, and they have seen enough of the results to know that the images look different to modern digital. More "serious", more "important", a bigger deal than what they are used to. So, price accordingly, at the top end of the market, or do it for free on the understanding that they are interesting subjects so you would like to shoot them, but either way, maintain as much control as possible over the session and the final images. Over the last couple of years of shooting LF portraits I have found that most people are happy to be strongly directed by someone they regard as an expert in an arcane technology, much more so than they would be with somebody waving a DSLR at them. And they mostly seem to really enjoy taking part in the whole experience. I've only had a couple of people who have been a bit difficult, and these have been people who seem to be uncomfortable with themselves anyway, probably not happy about the way they look, and nervous about any attempts to photograph them. Most people relax into it with no great problem, especially over a 30 minute or 1 hour session.


  3. #23

    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Re: What Do I Charge for a Portrait Session?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Hubert View Post
    Thanks Frank. It sounds like you are speaking from experience. I appreciate your candor.

    There's a lot more candor where that came from.

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