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Give Yourself a Raise

Professional photographers need to believe in their business and give themselves a raise

Every business owner should take time to evaluate their pricing structure. When analyzing the profitability of your photography business, it’s important to be aware of all the expenses that impact your bottom line. The costs of printing, credit card processing, hosting fees, wedding albums, editing services, insurance, memberships, and licenses all rise annually. You’ll need to increase what you charge for your services, professional wedding albums, and collections accordingly. Something that often goes overlooked is increasing owner compensation. In addition to accommodating the increasing cost of goods and services, why not give yourself a raise

Charging more money for your talent may feel a little uncomfortable. It may seem selfish, ostentatious, greedy, and even arrogant. However, most of those feelings are coming from inside your own beliefs and thoughts about your worth.  Bumping up your prices due to CODB  is totally legit. Why shouldn’t the talents’ compensation go up too? You should, at the very least, add a cost of living adjustment to what you charge. But why not go beyond that? 

Giving yourself a raise does not mean an astronomical price jump that your market won’t bear. However, evaluating your brand and the type of client you’re trying to attract may have you thinking differently about what you charge and what you pay yourself. Here’s some direction for increasing your compensation. 


You Are Not New 

At the beginning of your photography career, you may have worked for less than the “going rate” to get gigs or assist. You needed to build your portfolio. Many new photographers will keep their prices moderate to low to gain clients. A newer photographer might price themselves hundreds, even thousands of dollars less than the local master because, well, people get what they pay for. However, if you have invested in education, gained experience, upgraded equipment, and spent many weekends on your feet over the years; you are not new.  

Do not be bashful about bringing yourself up to par with a higher level of professionals. If your website, brand, and talent shines, feel free to level up and play with the big boys and girls. You owe it to yourself to be compensated for your art. You also know the cost of running your business and you may have shortchanged yourself when you first started out. Go ahead and give yourself a raise. 


The Cheap Seats Are Always Full 

There is no shortage of people wanting to pay as little as possible for service or product. If your pricing is low you will get booked. You might actually be very busy. As great as that sounds, being busy doesn’t equate to turning a profit or paying yourself a living wage. Working hard for less than you are worth will ultimately lead to burnout and misery.  

Rather than participating in a race to the bottom, consider the fact that many people do like to invest in products and services they see as more valuable, more elegant, more exclusive, and more professional. Offering engagement sessions, sign-in books, premium wedding albums, and providing a great experience creates value. When you delight clients you’ll get referrals from like-minded couples who aren’t looking for bargain pricing. So, give yourself a raise.


Give yourself a raise, Give Yourself a Raise
Offering Engagement Sessions and Sign-in Books add value to your collections. Be sure to compensate yourself for the added service. Photo Credit: Peyronet Photography

The Good Stuff

Consider the cost of something that you are absolutely crazy about. Let’s say it’s coffee. You could go to any fast-food drive-thru and pick up a large coffee for about two dollars. However, you insist on going across town for a cup of joe with an Italian name, mixed with a special flavor, topped with steamed milk, in a cup with your name on it. For this experience, you’re willing to shell out $4.75. That’s more than twice the price! Oh, of course, you deserve it! Why settle for a warm cup of brown water when you can have better?! You have standards!  Now, imagine all the people out there who feel that way about professional wedding photography. 

Purchasing is all about perceived value, biased preferences, and emotions. There are many couples that want to invest in a higher level of service and products because anything less doesn’t make sense. They want the good stuff! It’s their wedding after all!

Think about this – what if you were not hired because you were perceived as the “least desirable” option because your price was too low?  Don’t be the brown water. Be the fancy coffee and give yourself a raise.


Give yourself a raise, Give Yourself a Raise
Don’t forget to compensate yourself for the time and talent that goes into creating a professional wedding album. Photo Credit: The Nixons Photography

Wow That’s Expensive!

For the purposes of this blog, let establish that you will increase prices to elevate your paycheck.  Yes, you could analyze the cost of operating your business and decide to make cuts in order to give yourself more money. However, it’s way easier to elevate yourself and the dollar amounts in your collections than to pinch pennies. (That’s a whole other blog anyway).

With your new pricing, be prepared for objections and rejections; and know that both of these are totally fine. Come to the table with the confidence and belief that your talent and expertise deserve all the Benjamins required to hire you.

You need to believe in your worth and let the rejection be an invitation not to work with people who are not a fit for you. Write this down, repeat it until you truly believe it, because it is true!

Listen carefully and react appropriately to objections. “Wow, that’s expensive,” is a statement. It’s not a question that you have to answer. It does not mean no, no thank you, no we’re not going to book you. It’s merely an observation. There are plenty of things that people note as being expensive, yet they buy them anyway. 

“Expensive” is more of a comparison than anything else. Compared to a photographer who is charging $600 for 12 hours of work, your packages containing handcrafted professional wedding albums may seem expensive. One way to alter the perception of the belief that something is too costly is to show a shopper something that is even more of an investment. 

In other blogs, we have talked about pricing strategies. In this article, we focused on getting comfortable being compensated for what you’re worth. It may take a little effort and education on your part but cultivating a more ideal client means ultimately working smarter not harder. Separate yourself from the pack by increasing prices and improving the client experience. You know you deserve it. Give yourself a raise and believe you are worth it!

Picture of Maureen Miller CPP

Maureen Miller CPP

Contributor to Marketing & Client Experience at Zookbinders. Professional photographer for 25+ years. An advocate for making money and doing what you love. My motto, ”Photography is a BIG DEAL!”

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