In a previous blog post I described a basic methodology to develop pricing. I am a firm believer that is the basis upon which we need to make the very basic decision on pricing, but there are a lot of other considerations that need to be examined as well. The ultimate price you will come up with needs to take a look at the marketplace, what is the competition charging, what are your customers willing to pay and how do you want to position yourself in the market. The main factor, at least in my view, is how you want to position yourself.
In order to position yourself you need to have a good understanding of the demographic of your target market, such things as disposable income, lifestyle, career, how big the market is(the number of people represented in your target area), and the competition in the targeted demographic. With this information it is a matter of determining what makes them tick, are they impulsive, is status important to them, how do they select their photographers, what they need the images for and do they buy fine art photos.
Once you can answer these questions you have what you need to develop a market price, which depends a lot on the area in which you specialize. Images alone can be very lucrative, superstars in the business have sold images in galleries for prices in excess of 40,000 dollars. I had the occasion to be in Vienna on business not too long ago and I stumbled across a photography gallery that was selling images in excess of 40,000 Euro, which were produced by some of the great photographers of our time with portraits of Keith Richards, Kate Moss, to name a couple, as well as some impressive images of fine art photographers. So what is it that drives these prices? Well to take a stab at it, I would suggest, reputation of the photographer, their technical skill and the creativity of the image.
If we take the example of Yusuf Karsh, who was arguably one of the best portrait photographers in the world, he was well known for the portraits he did of big names such as Sophia Loren, Ernst Hemmingway, Einstein, Humphrey Bogart and Sir Winston Churchill. Karsh was a master technician but also brought a lot more to the art, he had a wonderful way of capturing not only an image of the person but also was able to capture their character. Karsh’s target market were the famous and influential people of the past century, certainly he could ask a premium for his reputation, but that was built up over a long career, he could also ask a premium for his creative skill, which proved itself out in countless numbers of his portraits, and the basis upon which none of this could have happened was the superb technical skill he had.
So with this in mind you should be able to determine the price of the technical aspects of photography, which was outlined in the previous pricing Blog, but now you have some other items that can influence the price, your reputation is a big one which is earned through time and a long list of satisfied customers (so it is important to get testimonials, display the work and win some prestigious prizes for your work), your creativity, your ability to get the most true representation of your client, a creative new view of a travel location, new and innovative ways to photograph weddings…
In summary, the ultimate price you will charge which is built upon the basic derived pricing, is influenced by many factors as talked about in this blog, and does need to reflect how you want to position yourself in the market. Remember that most folks associate low price with low quality, so discounting may not be where you want to be. A friend of mine used to sell designer jeans in the former Yugoslavia, at first he priced them to be competitive with jeans in the open marketplaces, he had little success and hardly sold anything, so he did something that, for him, was counterintuitive and raised the price to twice the market price and couldn’t meet the demand because they were selling so well. The moral of this is that if you want to be taken seriously as a high end photographer, you need to send out a consistent message, that is you pay for quality and service.