I remember my first 3 month session in my brand-new in home studio and thinking “how the heck am I going to pose this baby and give my clients a full gallery of images?” If you can relate then this blog post is going to reduce so much stress and worry for you. In no time you’ll find 3 month sessions to be fast, relaxing and a lot of fun! A great way to earn some extra money and not spend hours in the studio!Read More
So, you finally feel like you're starting to get a handle on newborn posing only to get a 3 month old in front of your camera and become completely lost as what to do! Don't worry you are not alone. These key points have been essential to photographing 3 month old babies!Read More
Want to know how to get a smooth, clean blanket for your newborn portraits? It's easier than you think! The first step is to get your blankets as smooth as possible during your session. You can see how I get mine stretched and smooth below. The second step comes in post processing. I hope you find the tutorial useful!Read More
Today’s blog post is going to change your life! I’m about to share with you a few easy tricks that will drastically improve your photography skills and send you on your way to becoming a better photographer! Before we get started let me tell you a little bit about how my brain works, so you have a better understanding of my teaching methods.Read More
Have you invested in a DSLR camera and are still using it as a very expensive point and shoot? If so, this blog post is for you! It is the first of a 3 part series that will give you the knowledge and confidence to take your camera off of automatic mode and start improving your images!Read More
Do you want to know the truth about my photography? It’s directly tied into my philosophy on life. Life isn’t perfect. People are not perfect. It’s our imperfections that make us different from everyone else, yet it’s also what makes us the same. It’s our shortcomings that push us to do better. Life would be such a bore if we all lived for perfection. Who would set the standard for perfection anyway?Read More
Photography Pricing Guide | How to Set Photography Portrait Prices
One of the most difficult topics of starting a photography business is pricing. If you’re like me you probably have done a google search for photographers in your area and looked at their pricing to figure out what the industry standard is in your area. It seems like a good place to start right? Wrong. I’m willing to bet that after your search you were feeling even more lost and confused! You likely found that pricing ranges anywhere between $50-$1000 which is not very helpful at all!! Why is this happening all over the globe and how do you begin to set your prices in an industry that has no pricing standard?
Pricing is very subjective and unique to every individual photographer and there are several factors to consider when setting prices. The first thing you need to ask yourself is what is the purpose of your business? For example, is this a hobby and you are only looking to make money to support this hobby? Is this a part-time job to supplement income or is your goal to make photography your full-time job?
The real question though is how much do you need/want to make per year from this business and how much do you want to work? There is a pretty simple formula when figuring out your portrait pricing. Start by answering these three questions.
The following questions need to be answered when setting your prices:
- What are your yearly business expenses (YBE)? (website, business license, equipment, computer, editing software, gas, taxes etc) This list will grow tremendously as your business grows.
- How much money do you want/need to make per year (your yearly goal) (YG)?
- How many sessions do you want to book per month (SBEM)?
I've created a very simple calculator that allows you to plug in your numbers and quickly see where your portrait prices need to be to reach your desired yearly financial goal! It's completely free and I'd like to share it with you! It is designed for any photographer at any stage in their business!
Pricing is a very personal decision. It’s important to understand that where you begin is not where you will end. Many of the clients you have in the beginning will not be the clients you have later in your journey and that’s ok! The only thing that will hold you back from being successful is you. Have confidence in yourself, your work and your pricing!
Other Topics of Interest
How to Start a Photography Business | What I Need to Know about Starting a Photography Business
Every successful photographer started somewhere and has a unique story behind there journey! Whether you majored in photography at a university or are self-taught one thing is for sure there is much more to running a successful photography business then taking beautiful photos!
After being in the business for 5 years now I’ve met so many photographers. I’ve met photographers who are insanely talented and take the most amazing pictures, but they’re really struggling to grow their business. I’ve met others who are good photographers (not mind blowing amazing but good) and their business is thriving! These encounters support what I’ve stated above, “there is much more to running a successful photography business then taking beautiful photos”!
Clients have so many photographers to choose from these days and it can be quite a challenge to stand out. If you are in the very beginning stages there are some things you can do from the start to put you on the right track before you are in over your head and working backwards (like the boat I found myself in).
The first place to start…
No. 1 - Cameras
You need a decent camera. Unless you have a ton of money to spare you do not need to run out and buy the top of the line camera for professionals. Contrary to popular belief a camera does not take amazing photos alone the person operating it needs to know how to use it properly! What you do need is a Digital camera that has removable lenses and can shoot in manual mode. I started off with Canon’s 40D then upgraded to the 60D, then the 5D Mark iii and now shooting with 5D Mark iv. As I started to make money I then began upgrading my gear.
No. 2 - Lenses
You need a lens. I would recommend purchasing a very inexpensive portrait lens such as a 50 mm lens anywhere from $100-$200 (if you have the money though you can't go wrong investing in good lens). You want a lens that has an F/Stop (Aperture) of at least 2.8 or lower. Most kit cameras do not include a lens with this low of an aperture, so you would likely be better off purchasing just a camera body (no lens) and then purchasing a portrait lens. Don’t be too afraid of buying a used camera either! It could get you a better camera for the same price as a lower grade new camera.
Once you have your gear you are ready to start learning how to use it.
No. 3 - Mastering Manual
You need to learn how to shoot in manual mode. This is where you 100% control the settings of your camera (Aperture, ISO and Shutter speed). Put your camera in manual and never look back. You will make mistakes, but you will learn with each one. Resist the urge to fall back on automatic settings. It will slow your growth!
No. 4 - Lighting is Key
Light is everything in photography!! You must understand how to work with light!
No. 5 - Community over Competition
Understanding light and how to operate your camera in manual mode can feel very overwhelming and frustrating!! I highly suggest you find a photography community in your area and online. There are tons of online photography pages on Facebook you can join to share your work, ask questions and get support from other beginning and seasoned photographers. Make sure you meet other photographers in person too. Go shooting together and share your knowledge and frustrations with each other. You will grow so much more if you don’t look at other photographers as competition, but rather colleagues.
Here’s a great place to start: Join Facebook Page Community Over Competition with Sarah Kane
No. 5 Create your own community
In the very early stages of portfolio building I you should be on social media. Unless you are a social media expert it can be overwhelming to keep up with, so I would choose 1-2 platforms. Before you do that though decide on a business name. Make sure whatever name you choose is one you plan to stick with because Facebook will only allow you to change your business name once. A third change will result in the loss of all of your followers and having to start all over. This may not seem like a big deal now but once you start building your following it will! At this point I would also purchase a domain name (www.yourbusinessname.com) for your business even though you are not quite ready for a website. You want to make sure that the name you chose is not already taken. I would also recommend getting your business license now for the same reason.
Invite all of your friends to “like” your page and follow you on your social media sites. Be honest about where you are in your journey. Letting your audience know that you are a beginner and allowing them to watch you grow will cultivate loyal followers as you get further along in your journey. Share more than just your images, share your story, your frustrations, and your accomplishments. It may feel slow in the beginning and that no one is paying any attention, but after a few years I promise you will start to see a community of fans that you created!
No. 6 Building Your Portfolio
If you want to be a portrait photographer then you must practice on people!! If you have children photograph them every single day (in manual mode of course). Ask family and friends if you can practice using them as your subjects. Make sure you are posting these pictures on facebook and Instagram. Before you know it you will have people approaching you wanting you to practice on them!
No. 7 Set Your Prices
Even though you may not be ready to begin taking payments you should set your prices to a sustainable amount. You can offer FREE sessions for portfolio building or large "portfolio building" discounts, but make sure your audience sees what you will be charging once you are through this phase. It can be very difficult to break out of the "cheap" category.
No. 8 Find Your Niche
Decide on an area of focus sooner than later! If you haven’t really thought about what you want to photograph start thinking about this now! Photographers who specialize in one or two areas are more likely to achieve higher success. Think about it this way, if you have a heart attack do you want your family practitioner treating your or a heart specialist? It’s the same thing in photography, if I want pictures of my newborn baby am I going to go to a Wedding Photographer or a photographer who specializes in photographing babies?
Remember building a business is more than taking beautiful images, there is a lot of marketing, advertising, book keeping, among other things involved. It can be very difficult to grow a business when you are taking every job that comes your way. How do you market yourself as a photographer who specializes in weddings, babies, maternity, families, seniors and pets? The answer is you don’t.
If you’re not sure what your Niche is at this point it’s ok. That’s part of portfolio building. You will learn what you love and what you don’t love photographing. You may realize right away that you have no desire to photograph pets. If you don’t like it don’t do it. You may realize that you love photographing weddings, but you have kids at home and you don’t want to be tied up every weekend. You may love photographing newborns, but you don’t have a studio space. Are you willing to travel to client’s homes and bring a studio with you? Again, if it’s not something that’s going to be feasible for you in the long run then don’t put your energy into it. My advice is find your niche and then focus 150% of your time in that one area. Any other job is just driving you further away from your ultimate goal of running a successful photography business. It can be hard at first, turning away money, but I promise you taking every job outside of your field will be more costly in the end.
No. 8 Website Ready!
Once you’ve had a fair amount of practicing on family and friends and you feel that you are ready to officially start your business and start making a bit of money you will need to get a website and blog. I highly recommend Square Space for building an economical and user friendly professional website and blog, all in one, starting at just $8 a month!
Blogging from the very start of your business is the most important thing you can do for marketing and advertising! The best way to gain a presence on Google is through blogging. believe me you will thank me for this advise later (stay tuned for more on this topic).
No. 9 Setting Your Prices
Pricing is very subjective and unique to every individual photographer and there are several factors to consider when setting prices. Don’t google other photographers in your area and look at their prices. There situation will be completely different from yours. Maybe they have been in business for a long time and their prices are high. Maybe they are just doing this part time and is not their main source of income and it’s more of a business that supports their hobby. Their prices may be on the lower end. The following questions need to be answered when setting your prices:
- What are your yearly expenses? (website, business license (you will need to renew yearly) equipment investment, gas, taxes etc) This list will grow tremendously as your business grows!
- How much money do you want/need to make per year?
- How many sessions do you want to shoot per month?
These 3 questions will help you set your prices. I would recommend answering these questions twice. The first one should be a realistic amount for question 2. If you are just starting out having a goal of $96 per year is probably not very realistic, but a goal of $30,000 may be. Then answer the questions again, only this time put in your longterm goal for question 2 of $96,000 or more! It’s good to see what you will need to be doing to reach your ultimate goal!
Now add together your amounts for question 1 and 2 and divide that answer by 12. This amount is what you need to make each month to reach your goal.
Lastly take the last amount and divide it by the number of sessions you hope to book each month. That answer is a good place to start with pricing your sessions
Here is an example:
Yearly Business Expenses (YBE) - $4000 (this is just the beginning years)
Yearly Goal (YG): $30,000
YBE + YG = $34,000 (this is what you need to make (NTM) each year to reach your goal)
Now take your NTM ($34,000) ÷ 12 = $2833.33 (this is what you need to make per month (NTMM) to reach your YG)
Hang tight we’re almost there…
Last step take your NTMM and divide it by the number of sessions you want to book each month (SBEM) - $2833.33 ÷ 8 = $354.17. This total is the amount you will need to set for your lowest priced package to reach your YG.
Here’s where it gets a little tricky. As a brand new photographer it may be difficult to charge these kind of prices. Especially if you still have a lot of room for improvement with learning your camera and understanding light. So you have a few options if charging that much is just not realistic.
Option 1: Raise your SBEM (Sessions booked each month goal)
Option 2: Lower your YG (Yearly Goal) to a more realistic goal
Option 3: Stick with your original pricing, but run a portfolio building promotion where you are offering 50% off for the next 3 months (or something like this). This way people know what your prices are and won’t be so shocked when your ready to raise them.
Starting and running a successful photography business is no walk in the park. The more successful you become the harder it will get, but it is worth every struggle! Once thing is for certain though you need to have thick skin and confidence in yourself! If you don’t believe in yourself you will fail. If you believe in yourself you can accomplish anything!
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Have you had it with the tedious task of editing out wrinkles from your newborn backdrops? It can really slow down your editing workflow and can become so mundane. Well, get ready to get your life back and be done with editing out those wrinkles!!
I was determined to have wrinkle free blankets straight out of camera and I've tried a lot of different techniques, but nothing had worked until now!!
Before I share with you what I've found that works for me let me go over a few mistakes that I've made.
1. My backdrop bar was way too high in the beginning. I thought it had to be high enough so the wall wouldn't show, but I was wrong. If you shoot at the right angle it won't show. Your bar should be approximately 2 ft (give or take) above your bean bag.
- Once I lowered my bar I thought that would fix everything, but it didn't.
2. Next I had about 50 clips on my blanket to hold it in place, but it still didn't seem tight enough. I tried having my assistant hold it instead which helped some, but still not enough. Also, I like to have her down near baby spotting baby at all times.
3. I realized that I needed to stretch the blankets out on each side as tight as they would go, but what was I going to use? I certainly couldn't afford to hire 3 more assistants (1 holding blanket in back, and one on each side) plus it would get a little too packed in my little studio.
Since I am extremely stubborn and refuse to give up I finally came up with an easy solution that worked perfectly for me. Here's what I did. I made buckets to clip each side of my blanket to and I sewed a slip at the top of all of my blankets and backdrops so it would slip onto my pole like a curtain! It worked so much better than the clips! It also helps to have at least 2 other blankets on top of any stuffers you are using!
(2) Home Depot All Purpose Buckets (they are the perfect size), spray paint (because a Home Depot bucket just isn't pretty), twine (purchased at Michael's), T-shirt (purchased at Michael's)
When you are spray painting your bucket I would lay it on it's side and be patient and let it dry before you turn it. If you spray it upright you will get lots of paint drips.
After your bucket is completely dry turn the t-shirt inside out and put the head opening at the bottom of the bucket. Fold the t shirt over the edge of the bucket. Take your twine and wrap it all around to hold the t-shirt in place. I also wrapped twine around the bucket handle. Make sure you put some weights in the buckets so it doesn't tip over and will stay in place. That's it!
Now just put a bucket on each side of your setup and clip the blanket to the buckets.
The buckets also came in handy to hold my stuffers!
I hope this post helps you cut down your editing time and get your life back!! Please leave a comment or contact me if there are other topics you'd like to see blogged!
Here's an inexpensive DIY wood photography backdrop that costs under $100! It's so easy I made it myself and use d a circular saw for the first time (and all of my fingers and toes are intact). There are many ways to make these, but this is the route that I chose, so let's get to it!
Circular Saw, (16) 8 ft solid wood planks (the kind that snap together) cut in half, (4) 1 in x 2in pieces of wood cut to size (see below) white paint (or stain of your choosing) nails, hammer, paintbrush
Cut your wood planks in half using the circular saw. You can actually cut right through the package and cut all of the pieces at once to save time and ensure they are all the same length.
Lay your wood planks out the way you want the final product. You don't have to snap them together just lay them close. I chose to put 14 pieces on one board and 18 pieces on the other so that the bottom half would be longer (this allows me to bring my subject farther from the background if I want more of a solid wall look).
Once your planks are laid out take your (4) 1in x 2in pieces of wood and space them out on your planks. Next your going to mark with pencil where you will cut the 1in x 2in wood. I chose to leave the top and bottom pieces longer so I had something to grab onto, but I don't know if I would do that again. I would recommend cutting them so they do not show past your wood planks.
Once your wood is cut lay your 1in x 2in pieces out like you had them on the planks (shown in image above) only not on top of the planks this time. You are now going to nail the planks down to all 4 wood pieces one at a time.
Once they all laid you can paint. If you are painting or staining one solid color you can stain before or after you nail the planks. If you are using multiple stains I would stain first.
That's it! you can see my finished products below!
I also made a multi colored one!