Pricing Your Photography: Create Photography Packages that Sell
If you want to build a long-term successful photography business, creating photography packages that sell is essential. Whether you are a new or moderately experienced photographer, building a clientele of happy customers starts with helping them understand how you can be of service to them — part of that service is delivering an offer or photo package that meets their needs.
Before you can create photography packages that sell, you need to understand a little bit about the process of selling. A sale happens when you present the right offer, to the right audience, at the right time. This article is designed to help you sort out the photo package for your audience, plus how and when to present them.
Why price your services as photography packages?
Many non-photographers don't understand how much time and skill goes into producing a series of images. They know they want the final product — the gorgeous photographs — but many don't understand that taking them is only a tiny part of the process. Between the culling, editing, marketing, client organization, accounting, and more, capturing the images is just a small part of running a photography business. By providing your clients with photography packages outlining outputs or deliverables, clients can better understand what they're getting for their money or investment. By "packaging" your service, you also make it easier for them to decide if your photo package is the right offer — and easier to say "yes" to hiring you.
Every client is different and has different needs and values. Some may place value in receiving many images to sift through. Others would prefer a small, curated selection of only the best photos. If you're offering wedding photography packages, some clients may want a second shooter to capture both parties getting ready, or they might want you to stay late to catch all the dancing shots. For some clients, a photo album keepsake might be a high priority, while others prefer wall prints. Photography packages allow you to put together a variety of options for the different needs of your potential clients.
Developing a cohesive range of photography packages that offer services you are happy to provide at a price your clients are happy to pay is creating the "right offer" for your audience.
Start by putting yourself in your client's shoes. Imagine you are buying a car. What key information do you need to know before you make a purchasing decision? What is important to you in the new car, and what doesn't matter?
Most likely, you'll want information on the basics (what model year/size/color it will be) and whether you can upgrade it (by adding extra features like better wheels or a sound system) before you provide payment and drive that car off the lot.
Similarly, your clients want you to provide them with the key details, including the basic and premium options available, to make their purchase decision. When they have all the deciding factors provided beforehand, there's less confusion before, during, and after the photo shoot. And that saves you both time, money and prevents miscommunications.
How many photography packages should I offer?
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “A confused mind does nothing.” The same goes for buying and selling: a confused mind doesn’t buy. When faced with an abundance of choices, we often don’t make any decisions at all. Similarly, too many options can overwhelm your potential clients, resulting in no decision.
On the other hand, too few choices may leave your clients wanting more, with the impulse to keep shopping around. To avoid both of these outcomes and appeal to a larger audience, consider providing three to four photography packages (depending on your niche and range of services). Most people can grasp the range of value in three to four options. But more choices than that can begin to feel overwhelming, with too many variables to consider, leaving them confused as to which package best suits their needs.
It’s best to provide a baseline package that offers your most basic photography services, a mid-level package that adds value or meets an additional need, and a high-level package for clients who want to splurge on a top-tier service. Depending on your services and expertise, there is certainly room to add a fourth photo package to your offerings to meet another demographic.
Only you know your clients best. Understanding which services your past clients have considered the most desirable can also help you build a range of photography packages that sell.
How to price photography packages
Photo package prices are wide and varied. It’s not unusual to look at the range of packages other photographers offer and wonder how they can survive offering seemingly unsustainable prices. Alternatively, you may wonder who on earth pays so much for some top-tier photo packages.
Many factors come into play as you begin to price your offerings: your niche, the geographical areas you serve, your level of skill and expertise, your equipment and travel costs and expenses, and much more.
But the most essential element of photo package pricing is your ability to communicate the value of each one. When you are confident in the value each photography package provides and can clearly communicate that to your clients, they will have a much easier time deciding what’s best for them.
But first things first:
Do the math to get your pricing right
As you create your photo package prices, you must do the math to understand what you need to earn per shoot to cover your time, business expenses, costs, etc. Then you need to add a sufficient profit margin to ensure you meet your desired annual revenue goals or photographer salary. If you don’t take the time to investigate the cost of doing business, your pricing can potentially hurt your bottom line. And if you don’t fully understand your business profit and loss (the money coming in and the money going out), you may be in danger of undervaluing your services.
On the other hand, knowing your business numbers inside and out can be extremely empowering. Once you understand the every cost involved in shooting a three-day wedding or traveling for a photoshoot, you will be less likely to undervalue your services. You’ll also be more confident communicating the value of the services bundles in your photography packages to your clients. Numbers matter.
So grab some paper and pen, or create a spreadsheet, and do the math. What are your monthly business expenses? Yearly expenses? How much time do you spend editing a job? How many rolls of film do you use during an eight-hour shoot? What do you spend on paid advertising to book more clients? How many miles do you travel for each shoot?
The Good-Better-Best approach to pricing your photography packages
Once you know your business costs, you will better understand the price range your photography packages need to start at. From there, you can build a three- or four-tier pricing ladder.
You probably first heard the Good-Better-Best approach when you were very young. Remember the childhood story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears?
Here’s a quick refresher.
When a small girl named Goldilocks gets lost in the woods, she stumbles upon a little house. Feeling tired from her long walk, she decides to take a nap and realizes she has three choices. First, she tries the largest bed (Papa Bear’s), then the middle-sized one (Mama Bear’s), and finally, the smallest one (Baby Bear’s). The first one is too hard, the second one is too soft, but the third one (Baby Bear’s) is just right. By trying all three beds, she’s able to make her decision and then fall asleep.
The three-tiered approach from this fairytale is powerful because it’s simple, relatable, and results in a firm decision. Consider taking a lesson from Goldilocks and offering photography packages based on a good, better, and best system.
The benefit? Your clients can more easily understand their options and choose the level of investment that works best for them. People on a budget may pick the lowest tier, while those who want to receive more and have more to invest will often choose the highest-priced photography package.
The number of options available in each package and your profit margin should increase with each tier. Studies show that the middle option will often be the most common choice. So price your packages accordingly to ensure your mid-level photography package has a healthy profit margin.
Counting the hours you spend on each photography shoot
One of the simplest and most practical ways to organize your photo package prices is to begin with the hours of photography coverage included. For example, your smallest package may allow six hours of photo coverage. Your mid-tier offering may provide eight hours of coverage, and your most extensive package may offer ten hours.
Because adding time to your offerings is the most common way to increase value, many photographers take this approach. Each photo package may include a “base” number of hours and some additional assets — such as prints, albums, a slideshow, a faster final delivery, or a two-hour engagement session.
Start by deciding how many hours of photography coverage you’d like to provide, and go from there to build your photography packages.
How to add value to your photo packages
In addition to creating distinct photography packages, you can raise your photo package prices by offering additional services — or a la carte services.
A la carte photography pricing options
By definition, a la carte pricing means each item is priced separately — just like a restaurant menu. In addition to increasing what you earn over and above the photography package price, a la carte choices provide greater value to your clients because it lets them customize their photography experience.
After specifying his wedding photography package inclusions, Newcastle-based photographer Paulo Santos lists additional service options. These include the opportunity to add a second professional photographer, a professional wedding videographer, premium album options, and wedding supplier recommendations from his trusted network within the wedding industry.
Examples of a la carte add-ons for wedding photography packages can include:
- Engagement sessions
- Bridal portrait sessions
- Additional hours of photography coverage
- Faster final image delivery
- Second professional photographers
- Professional wedding videographer
- Premium-bound wedding albums
- Superior quality printed photos
- Printed proofs or digital negatives
Choose your words to describe your package carefully
It's also important to remember that value is a perception. One way to increase the perceived value of your photography package offering is to tap into the psychology of your clients and potential clients.
The words we use to describe offers and value are powerful. For the same reason many experienced entrepreneurs use the word "complimentary" instead of "free" to describe an initial consultation, your word choice is a positioning tactic. It can influence how buyers perceive your photography packages.
Studies show that the word "price" can have a negative connotation for some people. Simply using the word "investment" can change how a client perceives the expense. It shifts their mindset to consider the long-term benefit of paying for a photo package.
How to pick your photography package names
Choosing your photography package names is an opportunity to showcase your brand personality. You can keep it simple and name the options based on the length of time, like photographer Kirsten Lewis who has named hers: “8 Hour Collection,” “7 Hour Collection,” and “6 Hour Collection.”
On the other hand, depending on your niche, you could adopt a globally recognized naming convention from the Olympics, like Bronze, Silver, and Gold, with an obvious status level attached. Or, you can get creative. For example, if you’re creating wedding photography packages, you could use terms like “the Bouquet,” “the Veil,” and “the Gown.” Your photography package names can be as creative as you are.
Most importantly, your photography package names should align with your brand aesthetic. A photography business that serves a luxury niche may opt for something simple and timeless, such as “Collection I,” “Collection II,” etc. But a pet photographer may enjoy naming their packages with a bit more creative flair. For example, the “Teacup Package” or the “Great Dane Collection.”
Know your audience, create great photography packages
If you look back to the selling process we mentioned at the start of this article, step two is reaching the “right audience.”
To accomplish that, you need to understand who you’re trying to attract with your photography packages and their needs for your services. To visualize them, try creating an ideal customer profile. One way to begin is by answering these questions:
- Who are they? ( Example: parents, couples, business people)
- What are their demographic markers? (Age, income, formal or informal, business or individual)
- What result do they want from you? (easy, stress-free shoot, good communication, different-sized prints, an online gallery)
- Why now? (Recently engaged, new baby, a growing business)
- Where do they spend their time? (church, children’s schools, sports, travel, hobbies)
Why is this important? More than 80% of visitors to your website or social accounts will be looking to see if you fit their needs before they ever contact you. The words and images you choose to present (based on understanding your audience) will help visitors feel connected, which will help them take the next step in their journey to become your customer.
When you know your unique clients’ needs and desires, you can start to speak directly to them through your offerings and inclusions within your photo packages.
So get clear on your ideal client profile and make sure your website, portfolio, and photography packages reflect it.
What’s the best time to market my photography packages?
Finally, now that your photography packages are the “right offer” for the “right audience,” you need to deliver them at the “right time.”
Even though your photography packages should always be available on your website, increasing the number of potential clients who can find your offers grows daily, thanks to technology.
The number of people searching the internet for photographers in any niche increases during certain seasons. Make a point of stepping up your marketing efforts when they occur. Showcase your photography packages on platforms beyond your website — feature them on your social media and in your email marketing. If you've created new packages or added value to old ones, talk about this during seasons when you traditionally already see increased website activity and inquiries.
Holidays like Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve are a great time to advertise family photography packages. Spring is a great time to start promoting wedding photography packages. And the last few months of the school year can be a prime opportunity to let parents know you provide portrait photography packages for soon-to-be graduates.
Should you create photography packages to sell your services?
The answer is a resounding yes — not only does grouping your services into photography packages make it easier for clients to understand what they’re receiving for their investment, but it helps you have confidence when it comes to pricing your photography services.
We’ve provided an overview of photography package ideas, what to include, pricing strategies, photography package names, and more.
Although there are many steps to creating photography packages that sell, the time and effort you invest in creating the perfect offers for your audience will pay off in the long-term success of your business.