Top tip ~ Put your prices up

Once you have honed your photography skills, been trained in the mastery of light, practiced new techniques and reinvented your shooting style it’s time to reap the rewards of all that investment in time and money.

Keep your business in balance. If your photography has improved then improve your albums and product lines to suit. Refresh your branding, your website and your customer experience too. Moving up a gear throughout your complete business and not just in one sector significantly increases your perceived value. This in turn must result in a price rise otherwise your customers will be asking where’s the catch?

Warning: Putting your prices up by a significant margin will alienate your past clients and stop the flow of referral traffic. This is no bad thing. Take this scenario:‘ In 2012 Jo shot weddings at £800 to gain experience while she embarked on further training. By August 2012 Jo had produced two fine show albums and created a decent website. In 2013 she will be charging £1600 per wedding and has found her clients using new marketing methods including SEO and blogging’. Step changes like these are scary but wonderfully rewarding.

If you are established and comfortable in your current place, don’t be complacent. Don’t wait for your competition to embrace new skills and techniques like Jo. Get out there and stay one step ahead. Aim for a 10% price rise by working hard on improving every aspect of your customer experience. Putting your prices up by just 10% on an existing 35% profit margin can deliver a 28% increase in profit. That in turn might make the difference between retiring at 55 rather than 65. Small price increases can deliver life changing consequences.

Have a good weekend.

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About Damien

Damien Lovegrove learned his trade as a cameraman and lighting director during 14 years at the BBC, working on programmes such as the Clothes Show, Top of the Pops and Casualty. Fifteen years on, Damien has become one of the foremost trainers of photography and entrepreneurial business strategies in our industry. A published writer and regular columnist, Damien has travelled the globe sharing his knowledge and expertise. “Photography fascinates me” declares Damien. "Much of my photography is inspired by a burning enthusiasm within me” explains Damien. “Picking up a camera gives me such a rush that I’m instantly driven to create pictures.”

12 thoughts on “Top tip ~ Put your prices up

  1. I’m 28 and have been shooting for weddings for just under 3 years. I’m now self employed and already thinking about how my current prices impact my retirement. Definitely something that has to be taken into consideration earlier rather than later.

  2. I agree completely Damien, but the biggest problem facing professional photographers is about educating clients that they need to invest in their wedding photography! I’m booked into a wedding show tomorrow and have found out they’ve accepted 5 photographers as exhibitors, so it’ll be interesting to see how many value the quality of the work and how many are focused on how cheaply they can get their wedding photographs for! :)

  3. Hi Ian, Thanks for your comment. My view is you do not need to educate clients at all. Some people want to invest in wedding pictures and some don’t. It’s the consumers choice. It’s up to us to put ourselves and our work I front of those that do want to invest. If we and our products are fabulous then customers will be prepared to pay handsomely. I say we, because a client books a photographer, not an album of pictures. Competent photography is a given for most decent professionals.

    Those clients on a budget or who don’t really value photography will just get a friend to take some pictures for Facebook and after all instacrapgram will do them nicely. Some brides will pay £600 on a pair of Jimmy Choos and not be bothered about pictures and others will forgo their honeymoon in order to buy a fabulous photograph album. That’s why the venue and clients it attracts is so important when choosing to exhibit there. Is the marketing of the wedding venue hosting the show about scrimping and saving or about indulgence and lavishing luxury? Will they be serving Cava or Champagne after the speeches? Would their clients know or even care?

    There is room for everyone in this market if their products are right for the client type. We need uncle Harry and sister Sue to take friends wedding pictures otherwise some poor professional would have to do them for £600 or so.

    I wish you great success at the show :)

    Kind regards Damien.

  4. Hi Sean, Good on you for starting young. I didn’t have the confidence to shoot weddings until I was in my 30s. Start with the end in mind is always a good bit of advice that I was given. Plan your exit strategy now. Have a fabulous career and don’t forget to have fun. We are so privileged to be out of the office.

    Thanks for your comment and stay inspired.

    Damien.

  5. Hi Ian,
    This is an interesting conversation! I am an wedding and portraiture photographer based in Munich, Germany. The issue about prices up or not is also in Germany currently very “en vogue”.
    A big Wedding Show took place last week in Munich and I was there with a stand. Beside me there were about 25 other photographers. I did not feel it was a problem for every photographer has his personal style and each photographer attracts other brides. Actually, It was quite interesting to observe the situation! I daresay, I was one of the most expensive photographers there (package starting from 2000 EUR). I felt if the brides loved the pictures we showed to them, they did not care that much about the price. As Damien says, a pair of Jimmy Choo costs even in Munich about 700-800 EUR. I don´t know how much “my” brides are spending on their wedding dresses, but the average is more than 2000 EUR. A fellow photographer of mine was there with a stand as well, he is much cheaper then me and his approach is completely different. He attracted completely different brides. “His” brides would never ever buy a Jimmy Choo or spend 2000EUR on a wedding dress.
    What I want to say is, the choice of the photographer does not necessarily depend on the price!
    I wish you good luck & succes at the Wedding Show!
    cheers, Radmila

  6. Such an interesting conversation, and a very important one at that. During my short career so far, I have never come across anything as terrifying as putting my prices up. I feel I’m hitting the ‘sweet spot’ at the moment with 35 weddings booked for 2013 already, but I know Damien would say I can put prices up because that is almost too many bookings at this early stage. I’m finding I’m turning clients away for dates already booked, might they have paid 10/20% more? Maybe. But what terrifys me the most is that by changing my pricing only a little will take me out of this sweet spot I’m in, and resulting in putting off most brides and few future bookings. I’m photography and products have got better, I believe my perceived value has, but I can’t bring myself to doing it!

    Ahhhhhhh!!!! I feel frustrated even talking about this. Do I gamble and loose a good stead income? Do I gamble and gain a better income and early retirement? Or do I stick were I am and keep a steady income and always wonder what may have been?

    Thank you Damien for such a great post!

    David

  7. Very true- I remember we were petrified of putting our prices up but it was the single best thing we did- we got the kind of clients we wanted, i.e. those that really appreciated the value of what we did, and we actually got more bookings not less- scary, but often a very necessary move!

  8. Hi David,

    You are right about me wanting to tell you to put your prices up. Putting your prices up by 10% without increasing your costs will allow you to shoot 22% less weddings (assuming a typical 35% profit margin) in your career in order to earn enough pension to fund your retirement. This could make the difference between retiring at 55 as opposed to 65. Ultimately we need to earn/ save enough to fund an exit strategy. The more you can earn and save early in your career the less stress you will have later on.

    Best, Damien.

  9. Hi Matt,

    The phrase ‘Reassuringly expensive’ springs to mind. Mercedes and Rolex have to be expensive to maintain their exclusivity and demand.

    Regards, Damien.

  10. Hi David, I wish you well with your price rise. You have to believe you are worth it or you won’t convert your prospects.

    Regards, Damien.

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