Photography: Why you should ALWAYS charge what you're worth

The photography industry is a funny old beast. Of course, you have your absolute prodigy’s — as you do in any industry — but the rest of us? I reckon it’s all smoke and mirrors.

What I mean is, once you’re good — like, good enough to charge for your work, you know your stuff inside out, you’re prepared, you’re a boss — how do we really differentiate one photographer from the next? Why does one photographer charge £5000 a day, and another £500?

 
 

In the eternal words of Rachel Green, it’s all relative!

Bear with me. Affix your tinfoil hat if you feel it necessary. But, I truly believe the £500 a day photographer would not only get more work if they upped their prices, but they’d actually get the clients they want too. Lowering your price is a terrible, terrible idea. Up it. Up it annually, believe in yourself, and keep upping it, dammit. You’re worth it.

I see this price-battling a lot in the wedding industry, and I want to shake those photographers about the head and tell them to stop it. They’re making their lives so much harder by charging less.

 
 

I was as guilty as the rest of them back in 2012 when I first started out on my own. I could do a full day’s photography for like £400. I know. Slave labour. It can sound like a lot to someone who doesn’t know any better, but believe me, after consults, a 13 hour day, 3 day’s editing, delivery, photo book designing, yadda yadda, it really is a low rate. I didn’t have the confidence to charge what I believed what I was worth. I thought, hey, at least I’m getting bookings.

Now, my day rate is much higher. Still not quite where I want it to be, but I’m getting there, slowly but surely. And you know what I’ve found? Often, the people who pay more are much easier to work with. I have a theory on the matter. And listen up, because if you’re planning a photography/videography/creative business, this is something that took me years to learn, so learn from my mistakes:

If you’re selling your services based upon price alone, then the client’s perception of you is lower by default. They’re picking up the wonky veg bag instead of Tesco’s Finest. They’re going to McDonalds instead of their favourite restaurant for dinner. They’re already primed to be dissatisfied before you’ve even begun.
— Emily Lowrey. Sage and Wise advisor.

In this scenario, the chances are you’re not a perfect fit. If they had all the money in the world to spend, you probably wouldn’t be their choice, and if you had all the clients in the world, they might not be yours, either.

 
 

But who cares right? Money is money. A booking is a booking.

NO!


Because, let’s look at the flip side of this coin. If a client books me because they love my work, or because they love that I’m a gaming nerd, or that I play the drums, or we both like Harry Potter... Or that I love to have couples all giggly rather than static in their couple shots… whatever the reason may be... Then the money becomes secondary. It’s unimportant. They’re choosing to work with me because of my results. Not the price. 

That might sound like a small difference, but let me tell you, Dear Reader, it makes all the difference in the world. Client A — price-orientated — might find fault with my work because it isn’t the style they even love to begin with. Honestly, hand on heart, I’ve never worked harder than on some of my cheaper jobs because of this.  

Client B, on the other hand, knows what to expect, loves me and my work, and is already primed to love my results before we’ve even started. Easy easy easy. Isn’t that what we’re all after as photographers? 

 
 

When you break it down like that, it should be obvious, shouldn’t it? Would you rather earn more, create better relationships with your clients, and have easier, more fulfilling jobs? Or would you rather be under-paid, under-valued, and have clients who might not love your work no matter how hard you try?

I know it’s scary, asking for what you’re worth. I’ve felt those heart-stopping moments when you haven’t had an inquiry for a hot minute and you’re certain that if you just lowered your prices a bit, more people would bite…

Well they might.

But they’d be the wrong clients for you.

So keep strong. Keep charging what you’re worth.

And that’s how we all succeed.