Portrait Pricing Guidelines – Part Two – Marketing Monday
with Steve Bedell

See Part One here

This article is from EPhoto Newsletter, a free bi-weekly newsletter for professional photographers. To subscribe for more great info contact Steve at smbedell@gmail.com.

Mistake number 4: NOT doing in person sales!

First, you have to remember I’ve been doing this since the mid 70’s. How else could we sell except for in person? I’m continually baffled by newbies who have been doing shoot-and-burn are afraid to do IPS.

To me, it makes no sense to do it any other way. If you want to make very little money from each session and not have your client get the beautiful products that they deserve with your professional guidance, post photos online. Then they can see all the photos, send links to every person they know, and not need to purchase a single thing. You just cut your knees off. Go do 10 more jobs for each one you could have done doing IPS.

IPS takes skill. There are many courses and ways available to you, go pick one; that is beyond the scope of this. It requires you to guide your client to choose the best images, discuss retouching, framing and artwork and also choose products that they will enjoy. This is critical if you want with income you deserve for your hard work and skill.

pricing graphic part 2

Mistake number 5: Retouching preview prints.

I see photographers online constantly bemoaning the fact that all they do is retouch and they live in front of the computer. Part of it is because they spend time ‘pre-touching’ prints because they don’t believe the client can visualize the final prints. Give them more credit and stop fixing 40 images when they may only buy 3-5. See how much time that saves you.

There may be some instances where the finished print is a composite or has things added for some reason but for routine portraits, you’re wasting a LOT of time.

Mistake number 6: Justifying your price

We’ve all seen the posts that go into great detail about how much it cost to be in business and produce prints. You have overhead, you have insurance, taxes, blah, blah, blah. And when photographers see these posts they all get on the bandwagon and love the post and use it to explain why their 8×10 cost $76.38.


When you walk into a Mercedes showroom does the salesman there go through a laundry list of items like new factory they just built, how much health care is costing them, etc? Of course not! It’s a freakin’ Mercedes; you know it cost more because they have BRANDED their products.

Do you ask the jeweler why the Rolex cost more than the Timex? Of course not, they do not address the same market. So stop it!

OWN your pricing! Be proud of it instead of making lame attempts to justify it. Set yourself apart from the mass of bottom feeders who make a mockery of those who choose to excel in this wonderful business that is a mysterious combination of art and science.

I probably wandered off topic, got a little personal and didn’t tighten things up as much as I should have. Maybe I even turned this into a bit of a rant.

But that’s OK, I ain’t no stinkin’ journalism major, I’m a photographer who sees many struggling or moving down the wrong path and with all the help available out there, I’m a photographer who sees many struggling or moving down the wrong path and with all the help available out there, there is just no need for it!

I think it was Charles Lewis who once said ‘Only seek advice from those who are where you want to be.’ So stop asking your brother what he thinks of your pricing or asking your mother what she thinks of your packages. That also goes for asking the photographer who has been in the trenches for six months for their advice.

So just STOP IT. Learn from those who are where you want to be.

Next issue I’ll discuss how your price list should be laid out to get the sales you want. There are some pretty specific guidelines that help your bottom line tremendously.

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.