The question of whether or not to display your pricing on your photography site is a scandalous debate…
Showing your pricing on your site can do a few things – it can qualify your leads, so you know they can afford you and it can also also prevent potential clients from contacting you because of sticker shock.
Some clients may still contact you, but if your pricing is $4,000 to shoot a wedding and it’s not in their budget, they’ll be too scared to contact you at all.
On the other hand, if you charge $1,000 to shoot a wedding potential clients might be suspicious of that low of a price, especially if the average rate is much higher in your area. They won’t be sure if they can trust you. They may not be confident in how professional or experienced you really are.
If your pricing is on the low end of your local market, and you’re okay with being cheaper, then it can also benefit you to post your pricing on your site. You’ll attract more inquiries, and probably book more work.
It’s not a good long term strategy, but if you’re a new photographer, this can help you get through the initial period of building your portfolio and your business.
And if you’re selling prints, posting those prices online is important. Prints are a commodity, a hard cost. Show those prices.
So the burning question… Do I or did I display my pricing?
NO. I don’t display my pricing on my site.
There was a time when I had “packages starting at…” on my website, back when we were just starting out. I think it hurt us, our inquiries went down.
If you’re the sort of person who likes to feel out a potential client, learn more about the wedding venue, look for just the right clients for your portfolio, posting your pricing on your website is going to result in fewer leads. They’ll be more qualified to pay your full rate, but there will be less of them.
By not having my prices on my site, and bringing in more leads, I have a chance to refer clients to my friends who might be a better fit for their budget.
Being able to offer a referral is a nice way to give back in your community, and it’s always nice to know you’re helping other photographers to put food on their tables, too.
Another thing to consider is what type of photography you do. If you are a commercial photographer, shooting advertising campaigns, album covers, or editorials, don’t put your prices on your site!
Companies have come to me, and their budget may be lower than my usual day rate. Sometimes, I want to take the shoot anyways, because it’s a celebrity client that will look great in my portfolio, or it’s a brand I’ve always wanted to work with. If I had my pricing quoted on my site, those companies would have never approached me, and I would have missed the chance.
Companies also come to me with huge advertising budgets. If I had a lower day rate and it was listed on my site, I will either end up leaving a lot of money on the table (while the company gets a great deal!), or they might decide not to work with me altogether, because they might think I’m not the level of photographer they want to work with.
The magic question is always “What’s your budget?”
Bring them in with your photographs, your site, your about page, and then let them contact you to inquire about your packages. If you’re a wedding or portrait photographer, you can have your generic pricing in a PDF or on a private page on your site, ready to send them.
If you’re a commercial photographer, talk to them to get an idea of their budget and the scope of the project, and then quote them based on those factors. You’ll end up having to consider things like exposure for the images, the type of client you’re working with, and so on. But your best way to start to figure that out is to go straight to the contact and ask what the budget is.
Have a candid conversation, on the phone, or via Facetime. Give them examples of the types of sessions or shoots you’ve done with similar budgets, talk to them about the ways the images will be used, and go from there. Have fun, get out there, and do the work you love!
If you asked ten of your friends what the most important page on your website is, chances are you’d get a bunch of different answers.
Some would say it’s your Portfolio. You’re a photographer after all! What good is your website if it doesn’t show off your work?
Others would insist it’s your Contact page. You can’t book any work if they can’t contact you.
Still others would believe it’s your Pricing page. A person who can’t afford you is a useless lead, right?
They’re all wrong.
The most important page on your photography website is your About page.
It’s also often the most neglected page, the page you’ll find a “Coming soon” message on for months, or even years, or the page that includes a super artsy (and barely understandable) description of you, your feelings and how your art can be found in the meaning of the Earth, nothing that a potential client really cares about.
The truth is, people want to know who you are, what you look like, and whether they like you. Can they trust you? Are you someone they feel comfortable enough to navigate them through what is quite possibly one of the most vulnerable times in their life? (Being in front of the camera.)
As photographers, we should anticipate seeing people in their most open and insecure state. Your About page is the best way you can show them that they’re going to feel comfortable, and not judged. Your About page will be your invitation to like-minded clients, but only if it’s authentically telling them about who you truly are.
For example, let’s pretend you have tons of tattoos and piercings. They’re really important to you, and you won’t be hiding them on your wedding day. You’re trying to find a wedding photographer, and you’re on the About page of a photographer who is super preppy, clean cut, and has a background in business banking. You probably don’t want to work with them. You won’t feel comfortable. You’re going to try to find a photographer who has tattoos and nose rings, too, who believes that every bride and groom should show off their ink.
The main message of your About page is “This is who I am. This is my brand. This is why you should hire me.” Most people want those questions answered first. For many, it will be more important to them that YOU fit who they are, and who they want to work with, than it will be that they love your photos.
Make your About page inviting, personable, and pack it with great info about who you really are. Keep it up to date, and remember to include a photo of you!
Here’s the first part of my about page. I’m not saying I have the perfect about page, but you get a good sense of who I am and if you’d want to hire me for a shoot. You’re not left wondering who the heck is this guy. Hopefully, you feel like you get to know me a little bit.
That first visual impression of you is your connection to a stranger, and can be the reason they stay, or click away.
Getting your portrait taken is an extremely vulnerable position to be in.
It can be stressful, uncomfortable and frankly quite intimidating. Whether you’re shooting a senior portrait, corporate headshot or a big time celebrity, we all have our insecurities.
Especially if millions of people are going to see the photos which is often the case for my clients.
It’s your job as the photographer to recognize that, disarm the situation and get your subjects having fun.
I always try to stop whatever I’m doing when my subject arrives. I sit down with my clients in my studio and have a bagel or coffee and do everything I can to find common ground.
Especially the type of common ground we can laugh at.
You have screaming toddlers at home? Me too! You like the beach… me too? You like smoking cigars… I’ve got a great one you should try.
I try to have a good laugh with my subjects before I ever get a camera in between us.
Start a photo shoot off laughing and chances are you’re going to hit a home run.
Here are five things you can do to make your clients feel more comfortable (and take amazing photos of them)
1. Genuinely compliment your Subjects immediately.
One of the first things I do when my subjects walk in the door to my studio is find something I can GENUINELY compliment them on. But be careful this has to be from the heart. Maybe it’s their eyes, eyelashes… or even their shoes. FIND SOMETHING.
This starts disarming them right away and they’ll start feeling more comfortable with you.
2. Stop & deeply connect with your subjects.
Stop whatever set-up you are doing and take a few minutes to break the ice. I like to start by sitting down, looking them in the eye and in a lighthearted curious way ask them ice breaker questions. Where are they from. Tell me about how you started out in this career?
I then tell them something vulnerable about myself that helps them take down their defenses and trust me more. Don’t drop a bomb on them like when my father in law passed away… but instead make it light hearted like I got a speeding ticket the other day. Everyone can relate. Find some common ground. Before you know it your telling hilarious stories about childhood.
Note that we haven’t even started talking about the photo shoot yet.
It’s breaking down defenses getting know each other as vulnerable humans. Helping them trust you.
Now that you have some rapport with them you can transition to say hey why don’t you show me your outfits… what do you love… and why.
3. Make them feel beautiful.
Even if your technical settings are perfect, the background is stunning and the shot looks incredible, if your subject doesn’t feel beautiful… chances are they won’t like the shot. When you are shooting portraits the way your subject feels will determine how great the shot is. so don’t say things like “Oh that looks bad” or “OOPS” or “this doesn’t work.”
Too many photographers spend too much time focusing on their settings than they do affirming or directing their subjects in a positive way.
Regardless of what the last shot looks like… let them know THEY look awesome. This comes back to finding stuff you can genuinely compliment them on. Keep repeating step 1 above the rest of the day. When they feel like they look beautiful, they will look beautiful.
Even if you’re not in love with the shot or their pose… tell them you love this dress and I loved it when you were standing an such and such angle.
DO NOT SAY I hate this angle on you… or that dress makes you look fat. Always try to be encouraging… and working towards a great shot. Even if you haven’t achieved it yet… keep encouraging until you have some gold. I will shoot 300 shots of them same thing until I dial it in and get one great shot.
4. Have a list of jokes handy.
Seriously… keep the fun going. I am a natural cheesy joke collector… but my friend Jeremy Cowart told me a few years ago that he starting writing down jokes and keeping a list of them in Evernote for easy reference. The jokes I have stored are TERRIBLE… which is great for my personality. They almost aren’t funny by themselves but when I laugh at my own dad jokes… that’s where the comedy is. It breaks the tension for them and get’s their mind off of taking themselves too seriously.
Working in jokes, humor is definitely a learned skill for some people and for others it comes natural. I’ve had to work really hard at it but I can disarm a room real quickly with terrible puns… because I’ve spent 1000s of hours practicing.
5. Thank them from the heart.
Most of the time your subjects/ clients are going to thank you for you time or expertise. But I try to close the shoot with a genuine attitude of gratitude. I thank them for trusting me to do this for them. I tell them how much fun I had and if it’s true… that I’m honored to work with them on this amazing project.
Word of caution with all of these steps… BE GENUINE. People can sniff a fake miles away. Practice being positive, encouraging and finding things to compliment people on. People (almost) always love unsolicited genuine affirmation. Practice giving it freely. You may even find it making you more happy.
What do you do to make your subjects feel more comfortable? Anything I missed?
I’m VERY close to finishing the first update to my long awaited Master Your DSLR Camera eCourse.
I’ve spent years learning my DSLR camera and it’s complicated stuff. Most people never learn to take it off of automatic… and that’s a big problem because they’ll never be able to take the photos they’ve always dreamed of.
They’ll keep getting the same LAME results over and over. Blurry photos of their kids, a flash that goes off when they don’t want it to. They’ll get photos that are too dark or too bright and they don’t know why or how to change it.
There is SOOO much technical crap out there when you’re trying to learn photography that it can really bog you down.
I’ve wished for years that someone would do all the hard work for me and tell me ONLY what’s important.
I decided if no one else was going to do it… that’s what I have to do!
In my Master Your DSLR Camera eCourse, I break down learning DSLR Cameras into bite sized nuggets & teach you ONLY what’s SUPER important!
The first version of the eCourse was INSANELY AWESOME! My students have said things like:
“David’s way of teaching is the easiest and most straightforward way to learn how to master your DSLR camera.”
“David wrapped all three years of my Photo classes into thirty minutes. I have never enjoyed photography as much as I do now!”
I’ve spent years researching, compiling and creating a SIMPLE process of teaching DSLR photography. I’ve battle tested in person at my coaching sessions, workshops and now FINALLY I’ve made it into 2 hour eCourse.
This eCourse breaks down these complicated theories and presents them in an easy-to-follow step by step process.
My goal was to make learning DSLR photography so easy that anyone could it.
This “go at your own pace” course is jam packed into 2 hours of core teaching. You can watch it over and over again or digest it bit by bit.
It’s a the absolute easiest and most thorough way of learning how to master your DSLR camera.
I teach you in the course how your camera works and help you understand how to get a great the perfect brightness and clarity every time regardless of which camera or lenses you have.
In my eCourse I demystify:
The DSLR Camera’s controls
White Balance… and so much more.
When you’re done with the course, you’ll be able to shoot your DSLR camera in MANUAL mode and capture the exact images you intended to take!
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
But I’m not done! There is always room for improvement. My eCourse is going to keep getting better and better. I am about to wrap up this new version and I’ll be releasing it in a few weeks. But, I need your help.
Before we finalize everything and open up registration, I need to make sure I have covered everything.
That is where you come in. Please take a second to answer this super-short survey—there is really only one thing I want to ask you …
PLEASE ANSWER THIS QUESTION…
What are your two top questions about DSLR photography that I absolutely NEED to answer in this online course?
David is a celebrity, music and advertising photographer, the author of iPhone Only Photography, husband, believer, and new daddy. His work has been seen on over 28 million Pepsi and Mountain Dew cans, in People Magazine, on American Idol, and in The New York Times.