I’ve mentioned recently that I’m still learning more. Every day to be exact. It never ends no matter what industry you’re in. Back in the engineering world? Lucent documents, TelLabs, Comverse, Ciscso, etc. In my new world, Kelbytraining, NAPP, Zack Arias…..and more. Thing is though, I never really thought much on the subject of portrait work, marketing, pricing, and the rest.
To fill in that part I’ve been reading a great book on the subject. But I still needed more. And that’s when I looked back through my whole collection of DVDs from Photovision.
Photovision puts out a set DVDs each year. They go around to studios all over the country and interview photographers and staff at the studios. They talk marketing, they talk shooting, they follow along with shoots. All great stuff.
Now, I’ve watched the videos as I’ve been a subscriber for a year and a half now. Last year they didn’t pertain to me so much. Now that I’ve taken the step to do serious portrait work and composite work they all pertain 100%. And let me tell you, they’re an invaluable resource!
Several months ago they sent out a notice on some sale prices for other DVDs. One DVD caught my attention. Peters Photography exposed. I snatched it up for the sale price and have watched it over and over again these past few weeks. See, they cover a few things on the marketing / business side that I’ve personally missed out on. One main category that got my attention? Pricing.
Pricing is everything!
I’ve never quite understood portrait photographer pricing models. Until now. Between the book and Photovision’s DVDs I get it now. Personally, I’ve understood how to price my work in the gallery setting for years, but always kept my prices lower because I’m the printer. I thought I could pass some savings along due to that fact, but discovered that when I pass savings on, folks devalue the work and want further discounts (putting you in the realm of selling your work at cost). That just doesn’t work.
Given material cost increases, and my own financial need I have raised prices on my gallery work. It’s now priced competitively instead of below market prices. Yes folks, my personal canvases were well below market, but I’ve rectified that now! Actually, I did that months ago! 🙂
Watching the Photovision series and Peters Photography exposed, I now understand fully why studios charge what they charge. Makes sense to me now. And I was amazed when during the interview the markup rate that goes on in their studio was explained. My first thought? “Woah, I still don’t markup enough!”
Fortunately, I’m nothing like other photographers described in the video. When I sell an 8×12 of my own work it’s not on the super cheap. I know I need to pay overhead (my studio space), I need to save money for capital reinvestment, office supplies, print supplies, and attempting to pay myself. See, I’ve done well to cover costs, but there never seems to be enough money at the end of the month to pay myself a living wage. And I’m aware that changes are necessary. Watching the DVDs has really helped me understand that I’ve been too far below market prices, even if clients complain all the time that Costco is cheaper.
I’m not a Costco photographer or printer! And I don’t want to cater to that market.
A valuable education
So, to Photovision I say the following….. Thank you. As a photographer moving into a “stylized” portrait market place (my own niche) I now understand how to price, and how to discuss rates and prints with clients. Invaluable learning experience. For any other photographer out there who is thinking about studio work, you’d do well to add Photovision to your professional development curriculum. You’ve got the shooting skills, but you need the business skills as well. The Photovision series gives you more photography education, and business education as well.
If you’re interested in learning more about their educational series you can click here to sign up for a year of their educational videos. Best part? I’ve got a savings code to pass along. If you sign up with Photovision for a year you can use the code PVFAN to get the year long series for only $49 (instead of $199).