Don’t ask me how much, tell me how many

Always the big question: what to charge for your photographic expertise?

We’d like to thank reader Elvis Castillo, for submitting this article on the subject. Let us know what you think!

    Gimme… gimme… gimme…

There’s a lot of buzz going around right now about how much to charge for your photography. Most of that buzz is centered around one specific thing… how much money can I make as a photographer? I’ve attended several business and marketing seminars and that seems to be the resounding question from the workshop goers, “how much should I charge?” I’m not even going to remotely pretend to be an expert on this subject, as I myself am currently fumbling my way through this journey, attempting to learn from the mistakes and achievements I make along the way. There are plenty of resources out there that tackle this topic. As a matter of fact, along with some excellent information during his workshop over at creativeLIVE, local Phoenix commercial photographer Mark Wallace posted a recent video in which he walks viewers through a step-by-step breakdown of CODB (cost of doing business) for both retail and commercial photography.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand the difference between plain ol’ fashion greed and the importance of gaining a better understanding of CODB in order to establish a “fair” pricing structure. However, instead of asking yourself “how much money can I make?” perhaps you should be asking, “how much will photography cost me?”

Ask not what photography can do for you – ask what you can do for photography.

I can certainly empathize with the basic need we all have to put a roof over our heads and food on the tables for our families, and sometimes it may be necessary to take jobs that we don’t always feel passionate about (one of the photographers I assist for calls these jobs, “trash for cash”), but often times I think we can get so caught up in what we think is important and forget why we started doing this in the first place. Sometimes that leads us to forget what’s truly important, our creative vision and overall passion for photography! In a sea of get rich quick philosophies and overnight success ways of thinking, perhaps, as creatives, we should consider shifting our point of view from… what’s in it for me, to… what do I have to offer the world of photography! In David duChemin’s book Vision Mongers, David explains, “photography might just cost more than it ever gives back… ” He goes on to say, “A great living, when it happens, is not the goal; it’s the by-product.” That, in a nutshell, sums it up. Don’t sacrifice your creativity, vision and passion for what you know in your heart you love to do in order to simply make a quick buck. Find your passion, seek out your vision, and shoot what you love to shoot!

Elvis Castillo
Commercial & Editorial Portrait Photographer
Phoenix, Arizona, USA

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