The Complete Guide to Food Photography Pricing (Part 3)

The Complete Guide To Food Photography Pricing Part 3 | Here are 6 tips so you can confidently price your food photography and tackle negotiations along the way. Perfect for freelance photographers and food bloggers. Click here to read more.

Hooray! You’ve made it to Part 3 of pricing your food photography. You now have some hard figures in your food photography pricing and you’re ready to shoot them over to your next (or even first) client! In this post, I want to chat to you about how to get the most out of your pricing.

Over the years of selling my food photography services I’ve had it all; yeses, nos, pricing myself too low, pricing too high, successful and failed negotiations, being paid in product and services, overseas exchange currencies to even being taken to a meeting to tell me my services were too expensive.

Haven’t read Part 1 or Part 2 yet? Get on it, I’ll wait.

FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY PRICING PART 3 IN A NUT SHELL!

6 Tips For Confidently Pricing Your Food Photography Services

How to Deal With Lowering Your Price

How I Price

Here are my takeaways so that you can get the most out of pricing your food photography services.

 

6 TIPS FOR CONFIDENTLY PRICING YOUR FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

I know, I know. There’s so much to think about isn’t there? Yet more tips? Yes. You will need these at some point, so better to scan over them now and when you need them you can come back to this post and nut out a plan of action.

These are the most useful tips that I have learned over the years of selling my food photography services.

 

1. THE DIFFERENCE IS YOU!

It’s that age old saying, you’re one in a million. No one can be like you. You’d better believe it.

We’ve all seen those photographers who are making a living out of their services and just between you and me, they’re not very good. I’d even say you’re better, and they’re making a living out of this. A real living! Want to know why? Because they’re one of a kind. They are great to work with, fun, reliable, they know their market, they respect their clients, they keep their clients coming back for more.

No matter how many other photographers there are out there, the difference between them is you. You are one of a kind too. You are the only one who can produce the style you do, coupled with your passion, personality and outlook on your craft.

This is a real advantage for your pricing and a point of difference. So don’t be intimidated when potential clients tell you so and so is charging this much and so should you. Well, you’re not so and so are you? You are you.

 

2. IT IS BETTER TO INCREASE YOUR PRICE LATER THAN DECREASE.

You’ve got to start somewhere right? Waiting until you have all the skills and the perfect food photography pricing structure will see you never actually putting it into action, because it can never be perfect. You will learn things along the way that will forever adjust it.

So where do you start? Well, I would suggest to err on the side of caution.

Increasing your pricing six months down the track looks like your business is flourishing and your gaining more skills, than reducing your pricing because your current skill set didn’t match up with perceived value.

 

3. PRICES IN WRITING COMMAND AUTHORITY.

It’s as simple as that. Prices that are in writing are more believable. Everywhere you go, anytime you buy something there is a written price, on a menu board, a price tag, a price list. Service based businesses are no different.

When I was looking for a wedding photographer, I was sent pdf’s, links to beautifully designed price lists with the packages they offered. I worked. Those written prices commanded authority and that these photographers had successful businesses and knew what they were doing.

Food photography is a little different to wedding photography. Weddings are generally the same in terms of aspects to be captured throughout the day. Editorial or advertising food photography will be unique to each job. So it can be hard to have a written price list.

In lieu of a written price list, when you’ve got the full brief details, send the client a written estimate, branded with your logo, contact details and business number.

This looks much more professional than just typing it into an email. The client also sees this figure with some authority and that you didn’t just make it up on the spot.

 

4. GIVE ESTIMATES NOT QUOTES.

When ‘quoting‘ a client it is important to call your initial pricing an ‘estimate‘. Estimates are not legally binding, (at least not in Australia), and is an effective way to indicate the likely cost of a job without committing to prices and terms.

You can’t guarantee all the production costs 100% of the time. Things change. What happens if you are required to work overtime on the shoot due to an unforeseen circumstance? Estimates will still give the client a good indication of the scope of the costing, then send a final invoice once the job is completed.

 

5. ALWAYS GET A NON-REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT BEFORE THE JOB

Always. Make it clear to the client that in order to book their food shoot in, they will need to pay a non-refundable deposit. The deposit will depend on the value of the overall job and associated production costs. If the client pulls out or doesn’t end up paying you the final invoice for whatever reason, the deposit will help cover your initial time and any pre-paid production costs.

It also shows the client that you are serious and have other work that you’ll potentially be missing out on if they pull out last minute. Deposits are also part of daily life. There are a lot of services you have to prepay fully or put down a deposit on.

Act like a true business and you will be viewed as a true business.

 

6. SELL BENEFITS WITH THE ASSOCIATED ESTIMATE

The way to sell clients on your services is to present the price with what benefits they will receive for the price, or to put it better, the value they will get.

Value includes things like;

  • The number of images they will receive
  • Method of receiving the images
  • Image turn around time
  • Hours of shooting and styling included
  • Post production and retouching
  • Image use
  • Number of edits that can be request etc

Including these things in the estimate will help the client to see what their paying for and what they’ll receive in return.

The Complete Guide To Food Photography Pricing Part 3 | Here are 6 tips so you can confidently price your food photography and tackle negotiations along the way. Perfect for freelance photographers and food bloggers. Click here to read more.

HOW TO DEAL WITH LOWERING YOUR PRICE

It is going to happen. You will always get people who want to get more out of you for less monetary return. You’ll also come up against client budgets.

Decide first if you want to work with this client on the particular job. If the answer is yes, then to maintain good client relationships, I think negotiation is always ok. I’ve read articles you’ve put together list of points as to why you shouldn’t negotiate, but as long as you’re in control of your side of the negotiations, I think it’s part of the process.

Firstly, never just lower your price because the client can’t afford to pay you what you’re worth. This just says to them that you are charging too much, or worse don’t understand how to charge. It’s hard to recover from that.

If you need to lower your price, take away value and benefits as well.

Here is what that looks like:

Just say you estimated a client a 2hr food shoot for $500, supplied 10 images and would have the final images ready in a week.

The client only has $350. You could offer instead, 1hr food shoot, 5 images to be supplied in 2 weeks. (If that still makes sense in your food photography pricing product.)

Here you’re removing value, which is why the price can be reduced. Never just lower your price for the same amount of work and  benefits. I don’t like to say never, but never!

 

HOW I PRICE

Each job is different, so getting all of the information from the client so you can give them an estimate is essential. However in order to ‘quote’ them you will need to base their requests against your base pricing.

I have two different approaches to pricing. The first is a concept based pricing method and the second is a half-day/full-day rate.

For magazines, editorials, advertising, books, digital story telling where there is a defined concept for a food story, I will charge based on the scope of the concept. Meaning I will charge a ‘fee’ to produce the concept (and all the time involved and production costs). I usually include licensing in this fee for small clients, however larger clients will be charged an additional fee for image use in the respective medium.

For shoots like portraits, interiors, events, street photography, in-situ shots etc, I will charged based on either a half-day shoot (up to 4 hours) or a full-day shoot (up to 8 hours). This is usually jobs where I am just responsible for the photography and there is no styling or preproduction costs.

It is beneficial to have a day rate as a lot of commercial places will ask you for one. I am more comfortable quoting this than an hourly rate.

In either case, I supply the client with a predetermined number of shots. Additional shots are attract an additional fee. I have standard turn around times, and I try to produce final images well before the ‘by-when’, but I will charge a premium for images that need to be turned around in less time.

 

Just landed on Part 3 or need a refresher? Check out Part 1 or Part 2 and start getting paid for your food photography!

If you have any tips that get the most out of pricing your food photography, please share below.

 


RELATED: The Complete Guide To Food Photography Pricing Part 2

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16 Comments

  • Reply Jo || The Luminous Kitchen June 9, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    I love that you’re putting all out there as pricing in Food Photography seems to be something food photographers don’t really like to discuss with each other. You are so right about the “YOU” part.

    For me I always consider 3 things in regard to negotiating my rates ( which I tend not to do too much of)
    1. The client – Do I actually want to work with this person / brand?
    2. The job – Is the actual job going to be fun or creatively stimulating
    3. The benefits – Is this a job that could potentially lead to other things/ more work?
    OR
    Is it an ongoing job? I have 2 clients who I shoot for every month and who have booked me 6 months in advance so for these jobs I have a special rate worked out with them because of the consistency of the work.

    You have to find rates that you feel good charging knowing that your time, talent and effort are properly and fairly exchanged and then feel confident owning those rates.

    I’m not suer there is a food photographer out there that does this as just a “job” – we are the lucky ones who have found a profession we LOVE and that can sometimes be difficult to charge for especially when you’re starting out, but I think you’ll do one job where you undervalue your services and it will feel so yuk you’ll never do it again.

    Thanks Rach for these posts!! You’re a superstar.

    • Reply Rachel June 10, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      Such great points Jo! Consistent and ongoing work is something to consider for sure. That is so great that you have clients booking you that far in advance. Those three points are really great things to keep in mind when approaching a job. Something for all of us to run through when we estimate a job.

  • Reply Marisa Franca @ All Our Way June 9, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Thank you Rachel for such valuable information. It took time for you to write this all down and here we are getting it for free — again thank you. This is one of those pay it forward type thing. You are great.

    • Reply Rachel June 10, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      Hey Marisa! It sure did take a lot of time, and best that it came in three parts. Can you imagine scrolling through that as one big post? Pricing is a something that you have to develop on your own, but this will definitely get you in the right direction. Good to start thinking of these things before you get approached by a client so you can be ready to rock!

  • Reply Melissa Darr June 11, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Thank you for such a great 3 part series. It’s been very helpful and given me the ability to start thinking more in depth about my pricing. Also your portfolio site!!! Is it wordpress or something else? I love it and have been tossing about how to start a portfolio site up. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Reply Rachel June 14, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Hey Melissa! So glad to hear that this series has equipped you to get where you want to be. Best of luck with it.

      At of now, I use a Squarespace site and the Ishimoto template. Highly recommended.

  • Reply Shibani June 18, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    Thank you so much for the valuable tips.They are so essential for newbies like me.

    • Reply Rachel June 20, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      You’re welcome Shibani! Lovely to have you around here. Please keep commenting!

  • Reply Karene' June 23, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Just had to quote and I get myself into such knots when I do! I’ve printed all three parts to this and am quietly going to sit down and work through it to see whether I’m on track. My new client of lifestyle food has come back asking for pack shots too. I’ve decided that for those less creative (but sometimes technically challenging) shots, I’d charge per image. Because there are many repeats, you are expected to do much more bulk work in your time slot and breaking it down per image shows them the value that they are getting. It also just makes it easier to quote and easier for the client to budget.

    • Reply Rachel June 27, 2016 at 3:31 pm

      Yes, there are many things to consider once you have a price in mind and thanks for sharing this with newbie readers. Price is always a negotiation when there are multiple jobs or an ongoing relationship. But at least people have somewhere and something to start that conversation with.

  • Reply Ale Vega January 11, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Hi Rachel!! Just the topic I’ve been struggling with. Thanks so much for the help and valuable tips! I was wondering how can I download your spreadsheet? I have suscribe but haven’t received anything… Maybe I’m doing something wrong haha

    • Reply Rachel January 11, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      Hey Ale, sorry to hear that! I can see in my email provider that you signed up for the email course and not the resource library. When you sign up for the resource library you’ll get the link and password emailed to you for safe keeping. I have just added you to that list so you should now have access to that email. I use this spreadsheet still to this day. Hope you find it useful!

  • Reply Lovella January 23, 2017 at 6:23 am

    This is probably one of the better sites I’ve seen about food photography advice. I just wanted to take this moment to say thank you.

    • Reply Rachel January 25, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      Hey Lovella! That is so great to hear and really puts a smile on my dial! Welcome to the community. Glad to have you on board.

  • Reply Lavaughn January 28, 2017 at 7:48 am

    OMG!!! Firstly, I love your style of photography. Secondly, thank you, thank you, thank you for ALL of this valuable information. It is very timely for me as I have been approached to shoot a cookbook for someone who saw my images on Instagram. It’ll feature seasonal recipes and as such is expected to be shot over a 7-8 month period with 1-2 shooting days per month in various locations. This will be my very first paid food photography project and I have been second and third-guessing my rate. Any special advise with regards to pricing for a cookbook project? Thanks in advance and thank you again for provide such excellent resources for those of us who love this genre!

    • Reply Rachel January 31, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      Hey Lavaughn! Cool books can be tricky and pricing and procedure will differ depending on where in the world you are.

      Some tips for cook book pricing:

      Budgets are usually tighter per shoot day, and so price per image or recipe will usually be smaller due to bulk.

      You can set your price then explain the ‘per shoot’ cost. This makes it easier to swallow than a total project cost. Puts it into perspective.

      You can talk to the client about reducing the cost based on shooting the same or similar theme throughout. For example a white background through or a lot of the same angles. Like 45 or overhead. This way there is less set up changes that put pressure on time.

      Budgets can also be reduced by giving the client less photos to select from or use in the book.

      My first book I shot 55 recipes with a budget of $500 plus royalties. It was pennies when I shot it, but I learned a lot and got a whole portfolio out of it.

      At the end of the day look at your figure and ask yourself if you’d be willing to do the work for the price you’ve set. If so, then go with it.

      You’ve got to start somewhere for your first try and you’ll learn from there. This opportunity can be more priceless than money.

      Best of luck and a massive congratulations! This is amazing.

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