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ernestgarver asked:
Zack, as a well known and respected photographer I wonder if you still get the occasional client that may balk at your rates and even go as far as to ask why it should cost so much? I've grown comfortable with my pricing and quality of work but I still struggle with explaining why my rates are what they are to the average client to be. Any advice on how to better explain why a good pro charges what he does?

As a well known (amongst photographers) photographer and respected (that’s highly debatable) photographer do I get clients that balk at my rates?

Yes. Quite often. From bands to commercial clients. 

No matter where you are in your career you are going to be explaining and educating clients about your rates and services. From $50 jobs to $5,000 jobs to $50,000 jobs. 

Don’t get offended. It happens to all of us. Take your car in for regular maintenance and the mechanic says some thing needs to be replaced on your car and it’s going to cost $1,700. How many of you casually reply, “Oh sure. That’s fine.” ?

You want to know why it costs that much, is there a less expensive option, how long can you put it off before you’re on the side of the road, etc, etc. Your mechanic then has to tell you how four major parts of the car need to be disassembled to just get to the part they need to fix. Then the part is X amount of dollars. Then all that labor to go back and put it all together again. Etc. How many of you start thinking about getting a second opinion from another shop? Huh? Yeah! All of you. 

We all look for deals. We all want a rebate. We all want to find a good bargain. When faced with the face value of a service or product we’re quick to start finding a cheaper alternative. Some things just don’t make sense why they cost so much until someone breaks it all down for you. Once you understand everything that has to go into the thing you want then you start to understand you’re actually going to have to pay that amount of money. 

Then there are times that everyone in town says it’s going to cost $1,500 to $1,800 to fix your car. Then one shop says, “Oh, I’ll do it for $300.” You know what happens a lot of times? You don’t trust that person. If ten shops quote somewhere between $1,500 and $1,800 for this job why is that person going to do it for $300?

And THAT is how a lot of photographers actually lose work. They’re too cheap! I once bid $4,500 on a job. Didn’t get it. I emailed the client a few weeks later to ask why I didn’t get the job. She replied I was too cheap. She liked my work but my bid showed that I wasn’t experienced enough for the job. If I knew what I was doing that bid should have been in the $25,000 neighborhood for a number of reasons. She was absolutely right.

They were wanting steak house. I showed up with McDonalds. 

"Damn."

Yep! Guess who got a tad bit more “experience” from that phone call? 

Cheers,
Zack 

33 Notes

  1. alexcorona said: Good thing for me I’m a mechanic as well ;) i even repair my lenses.
  2. zarias posted this