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Why I don't aim to be "reasonably priced"


Don't worry, this is not another photographer listing her expenses and justifying her prices blog.

Whew. Now that that's out of the way

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I've blogged before about my pricing and why it is what it is. Click here if you'd like to go back and read it. I didn't list everything that I pay daily, monthly, yearly to be in business or try to make people understand why I'm ok with not being the cheapest, or as many people are calling it these daysa "reasonably priced" photographer.

It's not only photography where this is happening. It's almost gross how many posts I come across daily on Facebook or email looking for someone in the service industry who is and I quote"reasonably priced".

My question is this: Reasonably priced for what? Because what's reasonably priced for me may not be reasonably priced for you.

I paid almost $2600 for my camera body brand new a couple of years ago. The body only. No lens. No flash. No battery grip. No memory card. No hand strap. Just the body. And very reasonably priced in my opinion. Now half of you are saying "Oh my gosh! She paid what?" and the other half are going "Yeah that is pretty average." That's why I say "reasonably priced" means something different to everyone. But I paid that because I knew it was worth it. And I wanted something reliable, professional, reputable, high-powered, and with the technical specifications that matched my needs. So I saved up for it.

Because it was worth it.

I've gotten emails like this:

"Hi there Laura! I have gone through a million Facebook pages and websites looking for someone who does amazing work, and I am so glad I found you! Your work is fantastic and exactly what I'm looking for! Everyone looks so relaxed and I love that you capture candid moments rather than just posing everyone. My friends have raved about you and your work and I am hoping to get more information from you! I have a family of 4 and we've never had family photos taken. We are looking for someone reasonably priced who can squeeze us in this weekend. Please email me or call me!"

Ok. Deep breath.

She told me that I am exactly what she's looking for. She's gone through my Facebook page and my website, gotten recommendations about me, and is looking for exactly my style of photography. But "reasonably priced".

You see, the way I look at it, when it comes to the service industrywhether it's a hair stylist, a plumber, a photographeryou are looking for one of two things:

1. Someone professional, with a business license who pays taxes, who knows what they are doing and will do it right, who puts customer service first, who studies and hones their craft, who has a portfolio and is reputable.


2. Someone "reasonably priced" cheap.

Now, you may get lucky with #2. I was cheap once upon a time, too! You may find someone who is starting out and is amazingly talented. Their overhead costs are still low because they aren't established yet but their talent and skill speaks for itself. And if you do, know that person's prices will, eventually, rise.You may get someone who just enjoys doing what they do and doesn't mind breaking even or making a smaller amount of money but who is equally talented and well-equipped as the more expensive photographer. You MIGHT get lucky.

But the way I see it, you want one or the other,generally speaking.

So no, I don't aim to be #2. I don't aim to price myself out of business or overcharge either. But someone's skill, talent, professionalism, top notch gear, quick turnaround time, solid communicationthat's worth a higher investment.

"But Laura, we all start somewhere"

We do. I started out as a $150 photographer who would provide a CD of photos with a release for printing. But as my business grew, I evolved. My business evolved. My expenses went up. Things changed, and my prices changed as well.

"Well I only do this as a hobby"

Awesome! High five! Good for you! Then stop charging people. Because they get confused. If they are paying you, they take you as someone in business, they consider you a professional. So either stop charging and enjoy your hobby or take a serious look at what it's costing you to run a business, start running it like a business, start paying taxes on the money people give you, and stop calling it a hobby.

"Not everyone can afford thousands of dollars for photos"

I get that. And I could write an entire blog responding to this one question. I'm not encouraging anyone to charge thousands, and I'm not discouraging them either. Bottom line is that people save for what is worth it to them. They spend their hard-earned dollars on what matters to them. And if family portraits are important to them, they'll invest the money. {Edited: If they can't afford a particular photographer, then guess what? There are probably others in the area who are less expensive. But less expensive does not mean they are any more "reasonably priced". It simply means they charge less. Period.}

Here's my humble advice, if anyone is even still reading this.

Ask for what you really want. Do you want to spend less than $50 on a photographer? Then ask for that. Because the truth is that if you saw the back end of my business including the hours and money that goes in to keep it running, you'd realize thatIam the one who is reasonably priced.

Author's notes: I have received an overwhelming response from this blog! Most of the responses have been positive, but I have had a few people pick apart one or two portions of what I talked about without considering the entire body of what I'm saying, so let me clarify. I am NOT pro-expensive or anti-cheap photographers. Truth is, I don't care what you charge as long as you are happy. I don't see the back end of your business and I don't know what your balance sheet looks like at the end of the month, and frankly it's none of my business. My problem are the two words "reasonably priced". This is a dangerous term because it means something different to everyone, and people have gone from asking for someone "inexpensive" and are now asking for "reasonably priced". Who is to say I'm not reasonably priced because I'm expensive? Or that someone else is not reasonably priced because they're too inexpensive? That, my friends, is my point.

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Posted in Photograph Post Date 11/07/2019