To the client who thinks my prices are negotiable,
MY PRICES ARE NOT NEGOTIABLE. There. Now that we’ve got that out of the way… I’m curious to know if you ask your physician to reduce his rates or if you request a discount from your accountant or your favorite boutique. I’m certain that answer is no, so why would you treat me any differently?
Somewhere along the line, you decided that creating art cannot possibly be a business, therefore it’s okay to ask me for a discount. But my art is not a hobby. I have a business license, just like your favorite shop. I pay self-employment taxes just like your CPA. And the profits from my art support my family, just like your family doctor. Just because my business is a creative one does not make it any less of a business.
Maybe you didn’t realize how incredibly rude you were being when you asked me for a discount on your session fee. It’s only my time after all. Imagine that you went to work tomorrow and your boss told you he was only going to pay you half of your normal pay for the day because one of his clients wanted a discount. How would you feel? (Newsflash: that’s how I feel when you ask me for a discount!)
During our pre-session consult, I thought we were on the same page with my pricing and your investment in custom photography. But somehow, once we got to the order session, you again felt entitled to a discount. I’m not sure whether to be angry or laugh at this point. But then I imagine you at the grocery store, demanding a discount on filet because it really should cost the same price as ground beef. And somehow that makes me feel a little better.
Whether you choose to see it that way or not, I’m running a business. When you pay me $2000+ for a portrait session, an album and a canvas, I’m spending some of that money on the products you purchased, some of it on overhead and other business expenses, some of it on taxes, and the rest is (gasp!) profit. My profit is my paycheck and without it, I wouldn’t be in business.
Bottom line: I’m running a business, not a garage sale. When the day comes that you see me sitting in a lawn chair in my front yard, selling prints of your beautiful children from a plastic bucket marked 2 for $20, feel free to negotiate the price. Until that day, you can happily pay my full price or go somewhere else.
The photographer who stands by my pricing
Letters From a Photographer is a brand new, original series by Design Aglow. Articles are meant to spark thought and conversation and be shared within our industry.
P.S. While the above reply may be the stuff of our wildest dreams, as we all know, a more appropriate response would be to reeducate your client about the type of business you operate and the type of (excellent) service and top of the line custom products they receive.
Want to craft the perfect business-ready reply for any situation? Then our Studio Email Assistant is for you.
Hi! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your road like to becoming a photographer?
Hello! I am a portrait photographer based south of Boston, MA. My passion is capturing mothers and their growing families. Maternity and newborn portraits are the foundation of my business, and I also capture baby milestones, children, and families. Fun fact: I returned the diamond earrings my husband bought me for our first Christmas as a married couple to buy a digital camera.
When I was in college, I had a friend who was a professional photographer. The first time I went to her home, I walked in to find stunning photographs of her children on the walls.
There was a huge canvas in their living room and a creative photo display in the main hallway. I remember being so moved by the beauty of those images, thinking to myself, “I want to create images like this!” I bought myself a DSLR as a graduation present, learned photography from online courses and started my photography business about a year later.