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Tips Senior portrait pricing?

Discussion in 'Photography, Art & Design' started by Firehed, 1 Mar 2009.

  1. Firehed

    Firehed Why not? I own a domain to match.

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    I had a friend ask me a couple days ago if I'd be interested in doing her senior portrait and what it would cost. This would be one of my first paid things as I really just do hobbyist work right now so I'm curious about what might be a reasonable ballpark range. The only photography group I know of in the area doesn't appear to have rates posted online as a source of comparison, but their work is honestly quite unimpressive to me so it doesn't seem that relevant (they seem to get a lot of business from people that don't know of better options, schools, etc).

    The only thing I may consider doing at cost to me (beyond my time) is renting a couple hours in a local studio. It's not expensive ($70 for two hours, or I may just get a $250 annual membership - both cover space, lighting gear, backdrops, some props, etc.), but something that I'd have to factor in.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. OleJ

    OleJ Me!

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    A friend of mine just established a studio. He charges per photo the customer wants but with a minimum of say 5 shots.
    In dollars it would be something like $40 per finished shot I think. Finished shot means it has been edited etc. and printed on quality paper / print.
    Or perhaps he charges $80 per shot... It doesn't really translate anyways I guess since you guys probably have completely different salaries but at least it's some input for you ;)
    Vers and some of the other yanks on here are definitely more in the know :)
     
  3. Tim92

    Tim92 Blah! Blah!

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    I personally think that a studio is unnecessary. During the summer, My sister makes a good amount of cash taking senior portraits using a well lit room with white walls. And about the price issue, I would have a friend go in and ask for the prices and then determine from there. My sister charges $80 a session which includes 15-20 edited photos along with a dvd with all the photos she took. She also includes a letter verifying that the person has permission to print the photos. Also she gives the customer a deal that if they get others to come for sessions she will take a certain percent off the original cost, which I think has helped her a great deal.

    Hope this helps some.
     
    Last edited: 1 Mar 2009
  4. supermonkey

    supermonkey Deal with it

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    I agree with Tim92 - you don't need to rent a studio. I know you follow the Strobist folks quite a bit, so I'm sure you've picked up a few tips for quality portraits in minimal settings. What kind of portraits is she looking for? Does she want the standard "put on your cap and gown, sit on a stool and look over my left shoulder" headshot, or would she prefer something along the lines of an environmental portrait - say, her on the front steps of the school?

    Either way, you don't need to spend the money on a studio.

    -monkey
     
  5. Charel

    Charel New Member

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    Charge what the professionals do, or you will end up undervaluing your work, if it's worth having, it's worth paying well for. unless of course it's strictly a one off?
     
  6. Firehed

    Firehed Why not? I own a domain to match.

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    Well I have no idea what pros charge, which is why I was asking here ;)

    The idea of studio space rental is much more for the space and props than for the gear. I've got a three-light setup that gives me plenty of light to work with (even for pretty large groups I can at least illuminate people pretty well, even if it's fairly safe/boring light - confined space + 2 minutes of setup time = ugh), but I have NO space at my house to do portraits, don't know about hers, and there aren't a whole lot of great outdoor locations nearby that I think would work well. If I had enough room available, I can do pretty well from a gear and creativity standpoint, but right now my basement (where I do a decent amount of my photo work) is ripped apart because of some flooding.

    As for the portrait style - no idea yet. It was about a ten-second discussion in a deafeningly loud environment. I'll find out if she has anything in mind the next time I see her.
     
  7. Malvolio

    Malvolio .

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    Ask her what she expects to pay. Seriously. I've always found with my customers that if you force them out of their element (where they have to value something, rather than me tell them what the value is) that they respond with a higher number than I was expecting.

    And even if it fails, and she drastically low-balls you, just quote what the "pros" charge (even if it's a made-up number), and negotiate from there.

    There is no reason you have to out and out have a set price going into the game, just make sure what you come out of the deal with isn't so low that you cannot do the job you are charging for.
     
    mvagusta likes this.
  8. Vers

    Vers ...

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    For on location portrait sessions I charge a flat rate to begin with, which depends on how far the job is and what it consists of. For instance if it is a family portrait as opposed to an individual session I'd charge a bit more for the family to begin with. After all is said and done I send the client a CD with water marked thumb nail images to view and decide what they want to order, what size and treatment. I try not to offer 4x6 prints so generally I offer 5x7 and larger. Depending on who the client is and my relation to them I charge anywhere from $10-15 for a standard 5x7 print (no matte or frame) and $20-35 for 8x10's...this is a bit easier to do since I do not have a set price list. FWIW I don't do a lot of stuff on my own as of yet as far as portrait sessions (maybe 5 or so a year) and I haven't done any singles outside the day job. Until I can build my portfolio up to snuff I won't be advertising myself, though I will shoot any job upon word of mouth and for family and friends. If I were you I'd stick to environmental portraits and on location shoots to keep your costs down (no need to rent out a studio or studio lighting)--you already read strobist so you should have a pretty good idea on how to do so. Also, be sure NOT to post images of the session unless you have a legit model release form and or an understanding with the client.
     
  9. Jumeira_Johnny

    Jumeira_Johnny 16032 - High plains drifter

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    I generally don't print for clients. But for an on location portrait, I charge $300 which covers about an hour and 3-4 finished shots of different settings; delivered on CD in hirez/lorez JPG and TIFF along with a copy of the contract specifying usage rights. If then want/need more, or the locations are further apart and more time is needed, then I obviously charge for the next hour. Vers' prices for prints are in the ball park. TBH, on prints I just cover my costs. I rarely mark them up since I rarely print. Get a model release, and a contract for how she can use the images. All to often people will buy one 5x7, scan it, and use it how ever them want.
     
  10. Firehed

    Firehed Why not? I own a domain to match.

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    Great feedback all and especially Vers and Jumeira_Johnny, just what I was looking for. I'm also inclined to do the "digital-only, you can make your own prints" approach, so the hourly rate guide is very helpful. My only point of reference was what my parents paid for my own senior portraits, which I think included a prints package.

    On a related note (one I've probably asked about before and promptly forgotten), are there any decent resources out there have generic model releases and usage contracts? Obviously having something drawn up by a lawyer is best, but to be honest so long as I don't end up getting paid $300 for a photo that's used in a national ad campaign I'm not too concerend.
     
  11. supermonkey

    supermonkey Deal with it

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    The National Press Photographers Association has a bunch of resources for anyone thinking about photography as a career:

    NPPA Independent Photographer's Toolkit - The menu on the left has a few tools to calculate pricing, as well as additional information such as copyright information and negotiation tips.

    Additionally, here are
    various sample model releases
    .

    -monkey
     

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