Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/01/03

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Pricing pictures
From: MEBerube <>
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2001 21:11:53 -0500

At 04:23 PM 1/3/01 -0800, Miguel Gil wrote:
>I have friends who bust there humps off for $200 gigs.  Why do they do 
>this, its not because they do not have talent, its because they do not 
>have confidence in there talent.  I think even non-professional 
>photographers should ask for top price.

I don't know if I'm "what's his face" who p---d you off or not, (I 
sincerely hope not) but I had to comment on your above statement. I don't 
know your friends, but I've had folks tell me that I don't charge enough to 
shoot Weddings and maybe they secretly thought I lacked some confidence 
too. I've just upped my prices for the first time in a long time because 
I've recently got a more expensive habit in Leica equipment and I feel in 
the last few years, my market can handle the increase. For the most part 
I'm probably still not asking what you would consider to be 'top price' 
however. The following are my reasons for charging what I do, maybe your 
friends share some of them other than what you perceive as 'lack of 
confidence in [their] talent.'

I now shoot for cash primarily now because I enjoy it, I'm not all that bad 
at it and I like the extra cash for the aforementioned growing Leica 
(somewhat OnTopic) habit. For Weddings and Portrait clients I shoot 'work 
for hire' charging $150/hr plus $30/roll 35mm or $50/roll 6X6. With 
Weddings I charge a 3 hr minimum. Non-corporate clients get to keep the 
negs (that are up to my standard as my average work) at no additional cost. 
For corporate work I retain all rights and charge on an hourly and per use 
fee, depending on the job. With Weddings I average about $900 Gross for a 5 
hour day. This is a rate that is about half what most 'working pros' in my 
region charge for their delivering similar service and much less end 
product. Could I make more for the same amount of work? Most certainly. I 
have but I thought about it and now I get about $700 profit for an 
afternoon of doing something that I greatly enjoy. I could easily double 
this. But why would I want to? I have a good niche. Where I live, (the 
rural state of Maine...if that's not too redundant) most of my clients 
either choose me (or one of the few other stringers like me in the area) or 
they have a "photo enthusiast" family member shoot their wedding. Every 
couple who doesn't have to have Uncle Joe Photo shoot (and screw up) their 
wedding with his Maxxum sporting an Underground 20-300 f/5.6-8 zoom and 
Focal flash is a happy customer. Happy clients are the best sort of 
advertisement. I stay busy without having to spend a dime or time on 
marketing, they get great photos, I get more Leicas and I even let Uncle 
Joe shoot right alongside me! (after I've got the shot) Everyone is happy. 
The working pros (who do produce GREAT work) in the area didn't really have 
a chance at my clientele anyhow. For the most part they would prefer to 
book the few society weddings that are around which will result in much 
higher print sales than to waste a whole day shooting someone who can't 
afford them, will never order anything larger than one 8X10 and will gripe 
about the $2000 bill. Why should any third party have a problem with this?

Carpe Luminem,
Michael E. Berube