As a Clothing Designer, Stylist and Photographer myself, I often find myself in a position wherein I have to explain to someone who may be inquiring or a potential client (They are not always the same), why my prices are what they are. I came across this post from Photographer Dallas J.Logan, whom I admire a great deal and wanted to share his response to an inquiry. Read On!!!
Once a year, I do a photographic special essentially geared toward young models trying to build their books and the price is right for the young working model. But this last go around a model reached out to me on Facebook with this question “how much for 1 look?”
I saw the question and decided to ignore it. The question had no merit and I honestly thought the person was joking. A couple of days later the question came up again: “I would really like to work with you. How much do you charge for 1 look?” As with the previous question, I ignored it again. Shortly thereafter I received this private message:
“Hey, I’m just curious, do you shoot for the money or do you shoot because you actually love creating art? I just think it’s very petty of you to lose a client rather than working with them and still getting paid. I was willing to pay you for one look but you just want the $300 because you’re extremely money hungry. I’m not even trying to be shady man, it just saddens me that people let money get to your head. Its [sic] really sad.”
Anger flared up in me very quickly to be questioned about my love for photography. But after a moment, I realized he had a very valid question. I decided to answer:
“Greetings [name removed to protect the innocent] -
Thank you for your inquiry and thank you for this question. I am glad you asked. I shoot for the love of shooting, however, I run a business and my rates are far more expensive than 300.00. The reason I DO post the 300.00 special (once a year) is for people who cannot normally afford my rate can get the benefits of wanting to shoot with me.
But since you asked this question, let me explain to you why it is NOT cost effective for me to do a 1 look for you (or for anyone). If I were to shoot for less than 300.00, guess what happens? It ends up COSTING me. I am not going to have to PAY to shoot you. That isn’t how business is run in my world, or anyone else’s world who has a business to run.
In order to book my studio, it will cost me 200.00 for a 4 hour minimum (they won’t go any less), so shooting at 300.00 has now netted me 100.00. To get to and from the studio is 40.00, so that 300.00 has now gone down to 60.00. Let’s not include other incidentals that may occur along the way. Though you are a handsome young man, you are not a subject that my agent can use in my portfolio to book further work, therefore, it is fiscally irresponsible for me to shoot just “1 look” or shoot for anything less than 300.00 (and before going into the math of things, when I book a 3 4 3, I shoot multiple models in a single day to make it worth while for me or my team).
So if I shot all day long for the joy of shooting it would be wonderful, but it is STILL a business. If you really wanted to do a shoot with me, do like other models do and work out a payment plan. They pay 20 here 30 there, and eventually they have their 300.00 paid up and I can give them a shoot that is worthy for them. I am sorry that you may think I am money hungry, but if I did everything below my cost, I would be out of business.
I hope this has answered your questions, sir.
Happy new year.”
What people fail to realize is it takes just as much work for me to produce 1 photograph as it does to produce 20. I have to book the studio. I have to get to the studio, I have to set up the lights, I have to photograph you, I have to break down the lights, I have to go home, I have to retouch the image. So wouldn’t it be far more feasible to book a photographer for a photo shoot instead of just 1 look? Because if I charged a rate of let’s say $1,000 for a photo shoot, when the question arises how much is one look, the answer would be $1,000.
Was I angry? Well yes and no. Yes, because the model assumed I was just money hungry (wouldn’t be a blast to go to your landlord and ask him “do you like owning buildings for the joy of owning buildings or are you just a money hungry bastard just taking our money and forcing us to live here?”). But then again, no, because I made the assumption that asking for a 1 look photo shoot would be ludicrous. Clearly it wasn’t.
A couple of hours later, I received this response:
“You did answer my question. Thanks for replying and actually explaining this to me. I wasn’t aware and it makes a lot of sense to me now. I completely understand and apologize for my words. I’ve tried to work with photographers in the past who own studios or work from home and charged what you charge or even more, and I let everything get to me and just got annoyed but again I’m sincerely sorry. Now I know. Thanks again man, Same to you.”