Portrait Pricing Guidelines with Steve Bedell – Part Four
Marketing Monday Guest Post

Here is Steve’s continuation from part 1 and part 2 and part 3 portrait pricing

Six: Wall portrait bonus

We all know the money is in the wall portraits and wall groupings. So from our initial contact right through the sales session that’s what we should be striving for. To drive that point home, I offer a discounted price of about 30% off on gift prints when they purchase a portrait 20 inches or larger. (Note: The discounted price is the price I feel I should sell that product for. If they don’t have a wall portrait I am just more profitable on the smaller prints)

pricing for profit graphic part 4

SEVEN: Albums

I know many photographers like albums. I am not a huge fan. You either have to take the time to do the layout or pay someone to do it (my choice). I know you can get big numbers from them but make sure you cover all your bases, including time, when deciding the pricing.

I prefer Album boxes. Make a few 5×7’s for peanuts, slide into 8×10 mats and put into the box. Pretty simple plus if you make an error in any image you just change out one print.

EIGHT: ALWAYS list most expensive product first

I’m firm on this one; this is pretty much an unbreakable rule. People read from the top down, left to right. Start out with that 40×60 for half a million bucks (you wish) and by the time they get down to that 16×20 for $800 it’s going to look pretty inexpensive. The mind works this way, at first they think ‘Oh my God, I can’t afford this’ to ‘Well, that’s more in my budget’. Start small to large and it’s an uphill battle.

It works the same way with your good/better/best pricing, always list the most expensive product first or right to left.

NINE: Session fees

OK, there’s a lot of wiggle room in this one. I know some VERY successful (Bradford) photographers who have no session fees. I know others who have very high session fees. Which is better for you?

Well, Bradford has a brilliant system where he has one background and I’d guess not much changing in the lighting. In my semi-retirement, I am doing everything from the consultation to the shoot to print delivery on location. That’s a significant chunk of time to be doing everything for free so I have a session fee of $300. That works for me, you may be different.

But there is another good reason to have that session fee. You don’t want to discount your products but the session fee can be used as a bargaining chip. You can do 50% off session fee promotions, free sessions for returning/good clients, etc. and not be hurting your sales average.

TEN: Payments

When we tally up the order we ask ‘How would you like to pay for that’. Most people either give you a check or a credit card and that’s the end of it. If they ask if they have to pay it all up front, we tell them they can pay 50% now, the balance when they pick up. 90% pay in full right off. I don’t offer payment plans, that’s what credit cards are for.

ELEVEN: Minimum orders

I’ve never had minimum orders. Why? I feel like they act as a barrier. Job one is to get people in front of your camera. People may not like the idea of having to spend a certain amount of money before even seeing the end result.
Have I ever been burned on this? Of course, but not that often. We are very comfortable with our photography and sales skills so we’ll put that risk on us.

TWELVE: Wall Groupings

You sell wall groupings by showing wall groupings. That is one of the big benefits of Proselect, Swift Galleries and others. Most can even let you show them on their own walls. If you go to the house during or before the shoot, you can take pics of the walls ahead of time. You can also ask them to do, some will, some won’t.

I price my wall groupings at a slight discount to buying the images individually. Why? I’d rather sell 3-5 images than just one. Most of the wall groupings I sell are Gallery Wraps.

Big tip: Use the templates from your lab. ACI has over 25 different templates and when you order them as a grouping the price is about 15% less than if you ordered them individually. Design your wall groupings ahead of time using these templates and you’ll be even more profitable.

THIRTEEN: Don’t use dollar signs or odd number pricing.

If you’re a low end studio, go ahead and price your work using dollar signs and odd number pricing. Example: 8×10 for $34.95. If you are trying to convey that you are a luxury product, use 20×24 for 1100. An Hermes bag is not priced at $4997, it is priced at 5000.

Steve Bedell has been a professional photographer for over 35 years. He has done weddings, portrait andsteve bedell head shot commercial work but now restricts his business to portraits only.

 Steve holds the Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman degrees from the Professional Photographers of America and is a PPA Approved Print Juror.

He has been named the New Hampshire Photographer of the Year a record 8 times and in 2011 was awarded the New England Photographer of the Year title. His specialty is natural light portraiture.

He has written hundreds of articles for photo publications, taught classes and workshops nationwide and produced several lighting DVDs. His private newsletter, EPhoto, reaches over 2000 photographers. Steve was a regular contributor to Shutterbug magazine.