I used to be like you.
When I first started my business I admired so many photographers that I wanted to be like. I would browse through website after website, dreaming of what my little business could be and letting the inspiration flow. Then I would get to their pricing lists. I was blown away, and not in a good way.
I was amazed at how expensive they were! At the time I thought no one in their right mind could afford their prices, and I knew there would definitely never be away I could afford it. I vowed to myself to never be like their pricing, I thought everyone deserved beautiful pictures of their kids. At the time I never planned on photography being my full time job, but more of a side hustle to pay off my student loans. Not to mention I absolutely loved it and it was just fun to me. I vowed to myself that I would only charge enough to be affordable and to make a profit I thought was fair enough to help pay my student loans.
Fast forward five years. My love for photography grew into my full time job. I am so blessed to own a 1200 square foot studio and photograph hundreds of newborns, kids, and families each year. I have four employees that are my saving grace. It blossomed into something I was not planning or expecting, and I’m so thankful God had other plans for me and I wake up each day absolutely loving what I do!
Little did I knew, it took a lot more to run a business than I thought. And in fact, my prices are now comparable to the other photographers I mentioned earlier. With my foot in my mouth, I did something I vowed I’d never do!
Recently my church had what they called a “family meeting” for anyone who wanted to come. They broke down their church budget and I really appreciated seeing that. I felt important enough that they would want to share that with me, like I really was part of the family. With that being said, I wanted to break down my pricing for you. I value transparency in a business and want you to know how important each of you are to me. My pricing has changed, but my standards have not. I will never charge more than I need to support my little family and sustain my business. I still think everyone deserves beautiful pictures so I often have mini sessions and giveaways to try to be affordable for everyone. If you’re a photographer that’s just starting out as hobby like I was or if you roll your eyes at the website pricing like I did, this is for you!
I want to use my most common session, a one hour newborn session. I divided each expense by the number of sessions I do each year. Here is a price breakdown of what goes into one session:
One Hour Newborn Session: $300
- Taxes. Taxes for a small business owner are just not fun. I automatically set aside 30% of my income for taxes each year. This leaves us $210
- Square and Paypal. Next up comes the booking fees. I use square and/or paypal, both take 3% of your income. This would come to $9, leaving us $201
- Rent. I broke down my studio rent per session. This comes to $75/session, leaving us $126
- Assistants. Next up are my wonderful assistants! Safety is my number one priority when it comes to photos so I never do a newborn session without an assistant. They average $24/session, leaving us $102.
- Studio Utilities: Most of you know we keep the studio warm and toasty during a newborn session. Average utilities divided by number of sessions comes to $13 per session. This leaves us with $89
- Studio Insurance: Renter’s insurance is required to lease the studio. $3/session. This brings us to $86
- Studio Expenses: A few things that we use every session include: diapers, wipes, pacifiers, snacks, drinks, product samples, cleaning supplies, trash bags, etc. This averages $10/session brings us to $76
- Equipment: Each year we add to our equipment or service equipment that we already own. This includes cameras, lenses, lights, newborn susher, backdrop stand, computer, software, SD cards, back up drives. Last year this averaged $15/session. That leaves us with $61.
- Hats. Each baby (if we know their name in time) gets a customized newborn hat with their name on it as a client appreciation gift. This costs us $7 each. Now we have $54.
- Props. This includes buckets, headbands, posing beans, posing bean bag, wraps, hats, blankets, backdrops, ARP wardrobe etc. This breaks down to $7/session. This leaves us $47.
- Monthly and yearly subscriptions. We use many subscriptions to make business run smoothly and communicate. These include Turbotax, 17Hats, Adobe photoshop, quickbooks, vimeo, schedugram, google business, e-mail, and our website host & domain. $3/session leaves us with $44
- Advertising. We have been so blessed to not pour much money into advertising, and that’s because of our amazing clients who refer us by word of mouth. We are so thankful for you! Last year we spend some marketing money on our website, Edmond chamber of commerce membership, and the Oklahoma Baby Show. This adds up to $5/session, leaving us with $39.
- Studio Upkeep: Last year we opened the studio so it was quite the expense! Even the sign alone was over $6,000. Yikes. That was a one time thing, but there are still many things I would love to add to the studio like couches, storage, and more. We set a yearly budget for this which breaks down to $5/session. This leaves us with a total of $34 session.
So there you have it. Out of a $300 session, $34 is my actual income. I am hoping to build a studio in the future (instead of renting) so I try to put half of my photography income in savings for the future studio. So that leaves me with $17 per session.
When you break it down, the high pricing makes so much more sense. Overall, I just wanted to write this to give you a perspective on my pricing and what you’re spending your money on. We do not take our pricing lightly here and we value you so much as clients and friends! We are thankful for every dollar you pour into our little business and it would not be what it is today without you trusting us with your precious memories. We love you!