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By Lisa Sharer

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It's happened to all of us. Probably more than once. Someone asks you what your rate is, and when they hear it, they are appalled. You start to feel a little flush. You start to think, maybe I went too high. You start to want to back into the nearest bush.

We're here to tell you to kick that bush to the curb! Part of becoming a professional photographer starts with confidence. If every photographer folds, then no one gets paid. By demanding a solid rate, you're not only helping yourself, you're helping all the photographers that come after you.

Here's a recent, completely real, interaction that we applaud:

A photographer is out and about taking pictures. He is approached by a gentleman who notices him:

Gentleman: You take pictures? 

Photographer: Yes

Gentleman: How much do you charge?

Photographer: It really depends on what you want.

Gentleman: Just walking around downtown with you taking pictures of me.

Photographer: My portrait sessions start at $$.

Gentleman: (Laughs) Oh, come on, man.

Photographer: (Without hesitation) This is my full-time job, and I'm really good at it. Here's my card. Check out my portfolio, and let me know if you're interested.

If you believe in yourself, your clients will believe in you. Set your prices, stick by them, and above all, do NOT be embarrassed by them. Remember that you spend many hours--collective portions of your life--perfecting your craft and building a business. You have every right to charge fairly for your service, and you should never be ashamed of it.

"Listen up photographers. Know what you're worth. State it with conviction. Know when to bend, but know that bending should be the exception. There will be clients that will see your worth and pay your fee." -Aaron Coury, Photographer.

If you would like more help on how to sell yourself and your service, check out PPA's See The Difference® resources. PPA members have access to a plethora of sales and marketing tools to assist in promotion and in-person sales. If you're not a member, you should join today!

By Mariah Ashley

I believe after Audi's Super Bowl commercial we can all agree with Sarah McLachlan that cross-breeding Dobermans with Chihuahuas (Doberhuahua) is a really bad idea. Clearly the Doberhuahua is an unholy combination best left to the imagination of Audi's creative marketing team, but it did get me thinking about a cross-marketing situation we had here at Snap a few days ago.

Before I can tell you about that though, I need to tell you a regretful story based on real life events.

Once upon a time (last winter) there were two photographers who got a call about shooting a wedding for a fellow wedding vendor. This vendor, a lovely young woman, happened to be the event coordinator at a very exclusive venue.


The young woman told the photographers that she was planning a small wedding on a tight budget (about half what the photographers would normally charge), but it was her dream to have the photographers shoot her event. The misguided photographers told her "sorry", but she'd have to pay regular price because she was getting married on a prime Saturday during wedding season.


The lovely young woman was disappointed and hired an inexpensive photographer instead. The photographers were disappointed because they never did book that prime day with anyone else. The photographers lost out on the coordinator's wedding and an opportunity to solidify their professional relationship with her. They sat home and twiddled their thumbs on her wedding date.


The lovely woman's photos didn't turn out as lovely as they could of and the photographers felt really bad about that. The photographers vowed that if ever faced with this scenario again they would be generous to their industry friends and everyone would win.



Of all the mistakes we made last year, this was probably the most regrettable. It was so regrettable it actually had three separate heavy layers of regret. Regret number one, we had a long personal relationship with the coordinator and we felt like world-class jerks when we turned her away and worse when we saw her photos and knew we could have done better by her.


Secondly, the universe punished us repeatedly for our greed by book-blocking us every time another inquiry came in for that date. And finally the biggest business regret, we realized all too late what a huge marketing opportunity we had missed out on. Up until Friday, I couldn't even think of this incident without working myself into a dark self-degrading mood.


What changed on Friday you wonder? Well, the universe delivered us a chance at NOT repeating history. Another lovely young woman/coordinator at another fabulous venue had contacted us about shooting her wedding. I hadn't heard from her since sending her our pricing, so on Friday, I sent her another email to check in.


When she wrote back she told me she was looking into less expensive options because although it was her dream to have us there she was planning a very informal event and didn't have the budget. Actually her exact words to describe her budget were "borderline unrealistic." Without pausing to think, I emailed her the story I just told you and told her that if her "borderline unrealistic" budget covered our expenses then that would be good enough for us. The unrealistic budget actually turned out to be a quarter of our average booking. Big mistake you think? No.


This is where the Doberhuahua effect comes into play. I told her that after our expenses were covered, whatever was left over we would donate to Operation Smile through PPA charities. "Oh no you didn't!"


Oh yes I did!


I just cross-marketed; Vendor Relationships with Charity resulting in the kind of Word of Mouth you just can't buy. Not even for $4 million for a 30 second spot. Do-ber-hua-hua! It's a HAT TRICK TOUCHDOWN and everybody wins! (See that I just crossed hockey and football, I'm virtually unstoppable!)


Our borderline budget bride was so happy, so grateful, so overwhelmed that she told me she was borderline crying. Her "unrealistic budget" actually covered our expenses and allowed for a $1,000 donation to Operation Smile. Four children will have life changing surgeries thanks to her borderline budget, and that is nothing to scoff at.


The Moral of our story? Greed does not pay. We screwed up last year, but this year we had an opportunity to do things differently. Yes, we may miss out booking that date with someone who is able to pay full price. Ultimately though, our hearts will be richer for having helped an industry friend and for donating those four surgeries. I can guarantee our pockets will be richer too for all the priceless referrals the lovely coordinator will send our way.



About the author:

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Mariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van,  grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree.





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