Let's talk about Portrait Innovations! They unexpectedly closed recently, without notice, leaving customers without orders, and with a ton of unanswered questions. It also leaves so many families scrambling for a new photographer. I just want to break some things down, so that everyone understands why they went out of business. This is a standard coupon from Portrait Innovations... Let's break this down. I am going to be super transparent!
(PLEASE NOTE THIS COUPON WAS BORROWED FROM THE INTERNET AND IS NO LONGER VALID)
$12.99 for this fantastic deal! It's super affordable, but if you go into the studio and get only this deal, let's see what the studio is making. Right out of the gate, the studio is paying at least 10% of this cost to mercantile tax, sales tax, and credit card fees which is $1.30. So now we have $11.69 to work with. The federal government is going to want another 25% (and that's on the low side) so that leaves $8.77. They had to pay their photographer, and I happen to know they make about $11 per hour to start. I am just going to estimate that the time it takes for the photographer to meet with the client, take the pictures, download the pictures, have a sales consultation with the client and ultimately print the images is going to be no less than an hour. So $8.77-$11 = -$2.23. They are already in the hole and they haven't paid taxes on the employees wage! Let's estimate those at 5%. That total is -$2.78. There is still product to be ordered! With the 54 piece print package... even at my cost from my lowest cost high volume print lab the product alone costs $35.38. They are now in the hole 38.16! If you refuse the up sale, they are already down nearly $40 in one customer. Imagine if thousands of customers only use the coupon! This business model strictly relies on the up sale! They need 75% of customers to buy something extra to break even. This doesn't even include the overhead costs that I'll discuss below!
I'm being super open and honest here! My prices aren't cheap, and we are increasing them in a few days. The time I spend taking pictures is not the only time that I spend working. There is so much more that goes into a photography session. Expecting a $25 session from a legal, established, tax paying, insured business with a studio is asking them to pay you to come to them, and that's just not OK. These are just a few things that we have to consider when we establish our pricing:
Workers Compensation Insurance
Credit Card Fees
All Utilities (Water, Sewer, Trash, Electric, Gas, Internet)
Web site fees
Marketing (Printed and On line... the time and the materials)
Products (The cost of the product plus the time that it takes to order, receive, deliver/meet, and inspect)
Our shooting Time
Our Preparation Time
Clean Up Time
Gear (My one camera and lens alone costs over $5000, and that's just one!)
Gear cleaning and maintenance
Education/Training (I try to take at least one course a week... if not more)
Taxes on those Wages
(There are so many more things that go into running a real, legal business. Things that people do not consider, and honestly shouldn't have to think about. For the consumer, these are just a given, but for the photographer, these are real hard costs. These are things that we can't escape!)
MY TUESDAY TIP FOR CONSUMERS
Be understanding that most of us photographers have families, homes, and bills to pay. If you wouldn't work for $2 an hour, please don't ask us to. Educate yourself on the expenses associated with a business. Do your research. Make sure the photographer you're using is trained, insured, tax paying, and legal. If you are taking your child to someone, ask for their clearances. I have become aware of some photographer's selling children's images on line. There has been some big uproar lately in the photography communities about a specific photographer selling pictures of children's feet to other people. Please be careful, do your research and make your decision not based entirely on pricing.
MY TUESDAY TIP FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
Stop fighting for $25 work!!! We all start somewhere and should do our share of free sessions in the beginning to pay our dues so to speak, but when you are ready to charge, charge your worth! Your time away from your spouse, your family, and friends... it has value and you should be compensated for it! This is a job... it may be something that we love but it's a job. This pays our bills. Devaluing the industry isn't helping any of the other photographers. It's not competing. Know the value and importance of our work. These are priceless memories and they have so much more value than $25.