Let me guess...you got a fancy pants camera for Christmas or your birthday, started taking nice photos, and now people are harping on you to start charging.
Maybe you've been a "mom with a camera", following your kids around to document their lives, and thought you might as well be getting paid for your mad skills.
Or perhaps you decided back when you were a child that photography was your calling and you want to cash in on that dream now.
I only guess these circumstances because they are partly true for me ( a photo school grad who had a camera who thought it would be easy to dive into business and start getting paid).
That's not even to mention the countless posts I see from aspiring photographers on Facebook daily asking the question of what to charge (with lots of bad advice might I add).
No matter what the reason is for wanting to start getting paid for your craft and starting a business, a few things SHOULD be considered before you just put random numbers on a price list and open up shop.
That is, the 'Cost of doing business'.
Every business or hobby has a cost, and if you want to either make back what you've spent, or make a profit off that tenfold, then you MUST determine what your costs are.
Think of everything you've spent on your craft during the past year. From memory cards to lenses, editing programs to computers, and props to equipment.
Anything photography related that you buy to sustain your photography is a CODB.
This will help you see the big picture. And instead of looking at other entry-level photographers around and you charging only what they do, you'll have a better idea about how you can really get your time and money's worth.
If you are going to be charging for photos, then you will be serving a market, even if you don't realize it at first.
Your prices & skills will determine your market, so it's a good idea to think long and hard of who you want to work with.
Are they single working moms who simply cannot afford a high-end photographer all the the time? Are they up and rising models looking to build their portfolio? Are they a high-income family who likes to invest their money on themselves and their legacy?
Your prices will determine your market and your market will determine your prices, so it's best to get that hammered down early to make pricing your photography a little bit easier on yourself.
Your income goals
Why all of a sudden do you want to start charging for your photography? What are your goals?
Is it to make a little more on the side to help supplement your family income or do you want to make this a full out business?
Keep in mind, no mater what your income goals are, any taxes, fees, and expenses you'll have to end up paying in order to run this little business or hobby.
Once you figure out all the numbers, you can determine how many clients you need to take on to make your income goal a living reality.
Long term goals
Aside from having short-term income goals, you should also be thinking about the long term goals because what you set up now could shape your business in the future.
Are you wishing to open a large studio in the city and serve high-paying clients who truly value the experience of photography, are you just wanting to continue taking photos for a little bit of side money, or do you see yourself merely doing photography to pass the time on the weekends?
If you'd like to make this into a full out business for the remainder of your working days, then I urge you to slow down and bit and really give those numbers and goals a detailed look.
Having a business plan, setting goals, and being realistic about your pricing is going to set you up for success
Not looking at the whole picture and just "winging' your pricing will have the exact opposite effect.
Every person has worth and you need to decide how much money your time is worth.
Your skills should play a small factor into this, but also how much you feel like you need to make to make this worth it to you.
If your skills are lacking and you don't think you can charge much right off the bat, perhaps taking more time to develop those skills would be in your best interest before you take on paid clients.
If you only decide to charge $50 for an hour session with 50 images on a disc, you will be running yourself into the ground for a few bucks. Aside from the session itself, it will take time to edit and deliver those photos, which would most like equate for working less than minimum wage (not to mention the time you spent finding your clients, communicating with them, and all the back end work you might not think of right away).
Are you only worth a few bucks or are you worth much, much more???
By now I hope you have a better understanding of things to consider before you start pricing your photography, so you can make the best decisions for you and your potential business!