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Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Lesson 28 of 48

Portrait Pricing Strategy Example

Kathy Holcombe

Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Kathy Holcombe

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Lesson Info

28. Portrait Pricing Strategy Example


Class Trailer
1 Class Introduction 07:01 2 How To Price Your Products 05:01 3 Which Products Will You Offer 13:14 4 Methods For Pricing 10:38 5 Mark Up Factors On Products 05:46 6 What Is Your Per Hour Figure 04:45 7 What Is The Feasibility Of A Product 11:28 8 Target Sales Average 08:04
9 Session Fees Pricing Strategy 09:48 10 Minimum Purchase And Incentives Pricing Strategy 05:53 11 Bundling Pricing Strategy 25:47 12 Pre-Design Pricing Strategy 10:33 13 Album Pricing Strategies 10:33 14 Example Pricing List 17:33 15 Business Basics Overview 07:07 16 Tracking Product Lines In Your Business 14:01 17 Track Your Session Counts 07:19 18 Know Your Sales Average 06:41 19 Importance Of Data Analysis 10:14 20 Overview Of Costs 13:46 21 Professional Photographers Of America Benchmark Survey 18:57 22 Creating A Vision For Your Business 08:25 23 What Do You Want To Accomplish 13:31 24 Take A Leap Of Faith 20:19 25 Refine Your Vision 12:44 26 Products That Sell 07:48 27 Identify Pricing Strategies 03:03 28 Portrait Pricing Strategy Example 15:57 29 Album Pricing Strategy Example 09:21 30 Online Pricing Strategy Example 08:21 31 Fine Art Prints Pricing Strategy Example 05:54 32 Packages Pricing Strategy Example 12:39 33 Sales Strategies Overview 05:45 34 Portrait Sales Session Overview 05:34 35 Sales Strategy for Portrait Sales 22:56 36 How to Present Images to Client 23:03 37 Sales Strategy for Wedding Sales 09:49 38 Album Pre-Design 18:51 39 Marketing: Define Yourself 12:55 40 Who is Your Ideal Client? 05:12 41 Who is Your Ideal Partner? 03:27 42 How to Start a Partner Business Relationship 08:29 43 Marketing Strategies that Work 17:10 44 Product Lines: Business Plan Part One 09:07 45 Workload: Business Plan Part Two 08:23 46 Sessions: Business Plan Part Three 16:06 47 Expenses: Business Plan Part Four 11:14 48 Clients: Business Plan Part Five 05:29

Lesson Info

Portrait Pricing Strategy Example

So, let's take a look at some of the following price lists that were submitted by you out there in the world, and let's see what we can learn. We had a whole bunch of submissions I wasn't able to show all of them, but let's get started. So, here's the first one, and I chose all of them that have wonderful qualities, they all have something incredible going for them. This particular price list, I want you to put the filter that I described earlier when talking about the restaurant menus. Okay, do you get the picture of what type of client this particular pricing menu is going to be familiar. So, the first thing is there is a lot of information in one place. So, one of the things that you can do, this I would imagine is probably a tri-fold brochure, you can see where the seams are here, and it's something that's probably given out to a client to give them all the information about that photography experience. It has policies, which are really good to have in place for your business, it's...

great to be very clear about what's provided and what's not provided, but this might be something that could be posted on a website in a policy section, because you want to really focus your sale's strategy on what they're gonna buy. It's important to publish your policies, but maybe not at the same time as they're buying, okay. And it also has some idea of timeframes, knowing that it's gonna take two to four weeks for delivery for a finished order, that's really important information, but that can probably be said in one sentence. It can also go in a policies section on a website. And then, copyrights, we're all concerned about our copyrights and how our images are being used once they leave our studio. This is a tricky thing, I think sometimes photographers feel like they are being stolen from, and so this feels really important. If it's really important to your business it's okay to have it here, but also think about how you're delivering products. Make it impossible for your clients to steal from you. If they can't walk away with an image, they can't steal it, right, if it's posted online, it's theirs essentially, they can do what they want. So, if you keep control of those images you really don't have to say this. Once you sell them the digital files, it's theirs. Now, if you really feel like people are scanning your prints that you're making, put a texture on them, then they can't be stolen as easily, they don't look very good. And if people are doing that, they're gonna do it whether you say this or not, right. So, you can mention it, but again, maybe not on the price list. What I really like about this is it starts your client thinking about portrait packages. So, this has them focused on what this person really wants to sell, and it leads them through a logical progression. What it says is that portrait packages, this is where you go, and then if you wanna add something on, I have all of these things available. So, I think that's a really good strategy to use. And then it also talks about different portrait finishes. So, there are ways to upgrade these photographs. And then, digital proofs are a small paragraph off to the side, I like that as well. So, I think this photographer is really focused on creating prints, really focused on selling multiple images. When I look at this price list that's what it says to me. Okay, and I think those are all good things. A couple of little things that could be tweaked on this to make it a much more powerful price list. We talked about having a sensible pattern to our products, and having an easy to understand system, and when you look at the collections it's a little bit confusing to me about how the value and the packages change over time. For example, collection A has one 8x10 and two 5x7's, that's very simple, the next one has one 11x and four 5x7's, and as you come down to collection B you drop back down to two 5x7's. And then you go to four 5x7's and then down to two 5x7's. So, as I spend more money it's unclear if I need two 5x7's or four 5x7's in these packages. Do you see how the pattern changes, and that can be confusing to your buyer. The other thing is, the thing that does make sense is the primary image starts out as an 8x10, it goes to an 11x14, then a 16x24. It stays the same between collections C and collection D, and then it increases in size again. So, I think perhaps on this one you could eliminate one or two packages, you always want to have an odd number, because where do people buy, they buy in the middle, but the middle ones have the same larger print. So, the only difference between the two middle packages you get some additional 8x10's and 5x7's. So, my suspicion is that people would probably buy in these middle ranges, but I don't see a reason to come up to the larger one, really. I think they would probably stick with collection C, okay. So, as you look at this the prices do go up in reasonable bumps, it goes from $75 to 140, that's almost double, and then 140 to 250, and then these last three are great, 250 to 300, 300 to 350, these are good size jumps. The first two are big jumps, it's almost twice as much to go from this one to this one. So, I don't know if clients that were considering collection A would move up to collection B for twice the money, okay. So, do you see how when you can take yourself outside of a pricing structure, outside of your personal work, you can say oh yeah, maybe this buyer would just stick with one 8x10 and two 5x7's because the price is so much less than these higher packages. It really depends if they were looking for something for the wall or not, okay. And then simplify it as much as you can to make it easy for your clients to understand. So, I had a price list very similar to this when I first started out, and one other thing that I wanted to point out that I did when I started my business was in these first prints, and I'm gonna tell you what it says, when you go from a 4x6 for $20 to a 5x7 to $ that's a no brainer, everybody's going to get the 5x7, it's only $5 more. Here's the hiccup, when you go from a 5x7 for $ to an 8x10 for $40 that's a big jump, it's almost twice as much, and when you think about the photograph itself we're talking about a 5x7 to an 8x10, almost twice as much for this much size difference. So, that is one of those hurdles where if you had the 5x7 for $35 and the 8x10 for $ it would be a no brainer to jump up to the 8x10, because it's more desirable. So, we talked earlier about you can make people do what you want them to do by making the alternative unappealing. So, when you go to your lab and you calculate the cost of a 5x7 and an 8x10 and you multiply it by four, these are the numbers you get, they are exactly the same numbers I used at one time, but you have to implement a strategy to get people to do what you want them to do. So, by just raising the 4x6 to $30, the 5x7 to $35, and the 8x10 to $40, you've automatically pushed people into that $40 price point, okay. Little details make all the difference in a price list. Question is how about looking at the collection prices relative to the à la carte prices. So, if you were to take say collection A with the two 5x7's at the $25, you know, plus duplicate price, is this an appropriate sort of savings, if you will, within this for the collections versus the à la carte. Does that make sense. Absolutely. Okay. Yes, let's take a look at that. So, this is where your analytical buyer is going to go first. They're gonna say okay, one 8x10 is $40, two 5x7's is $50, that's $90, so I'm gonna save $ if I go to collection A, okay. And they're going to do that all the way down the packages. And I haven't done the math on all the packages, but I would suspect there's probably a fair amount of savings between the two. So, it really depends what the client wants. And, sometimes what can happen is the client gets hung up here and they have a specific need in mind. A perfect example of this is when my daughter was in public school and I got the school picture that came home in the package, and she was so excited, she came home, oh my gosh, I got my school pictures. And I'm like okay, we're gonna have to buy school pictures. Let me think about what we need, and I looked at the packages that were included, because I knew those were the best value, right. And I looked at the first package and it had one 8x and one 5x7 was the first package that I saw, and I was like oh, if I get the 8x10, I give my mom the 8x7, Peter's mom's gonna be really mad. (laughs) And so, that photographer was very clever to structure the packages so that the first package didn't have something for everyone. This package allows for one for the buyer, and one for each set of grandparents. Now, depending on how families are structured, there might be four grandparents, or aunts and uncles that are really special. And so, a buyer's gonna come in with a specific list of people that need to be bought for. And so, as you're thinking about building your packages here, that buyer is gonna look for whatever it is they need, how many gift portraits they need from this particular session. So, as you're crafting these packages it might be wise to not put everything that the buyer needs in the package, because then they can come across here and say oh my gosh, I've gotta add one more 5x7, or it might bump them down into collection D, that has four 5x7's. So, be sure that you don't include everything that your client needs if you're really going after this package model. The other thing that I might want to mention, on this particular chart here, is it's really busy, it's very similar to the chart I showed earlier in our business that had all the numbers all over the place. This is a lot of information to take in. And I'm a little bit unclear about what the first print is and what a duplicate print is, I'm assuming that if you buy multiples you get a better price, but what does that say to your buyer. That says I'm inexpensive, I'm buying in bulk, okay. So, if your client needs something they might go here, but I would suspect that this duplicate doesn't do anything but give a lesser value to what's going on here. If they need to have 50 prints for whatever reason, they're gonna tell you and you can give them a custom price. Okay, one or two, hold true to your price, because what you're saying here is I can afford to sell one of these for less. So, you've got some ambiguity here, what is the value of a 4x6, is it $20, or is it $10, because I really wanna pay the $10 price, right. So, keep that in mind as well, maybe this whole duplicate column doesn't need to be there, maybe that just devalues the work. And then, between fine art paper and a metal print, that's these last, the third and fourth column, maybe there could just be a set price to upgrade. Maybe it's $30 to upgrade or $50 to upgrade to a different finish, and then you could eliminate these three columns completely off of here. Then you have more of a high-end feel to your price list, you just have one row of prices. And it is what it is, there's no ambiguity, there's no devaluing, it's clear, you walk in and say this is what it's worth. Okay, well I think this price list is off to a great start, and with just a few adjustments the sales on this can probably triple. Think about that, just changing a very few things can really impact the final sale on here. Alright, so we have one question from the audience. I'm just curious, looking at our list of five things I don't see a session fee or a minimum purchase on this. If you drop those policies on the right would you suggest to this photographer to add those in. I think it depends on where this photographer is in their business. So, they could automatically boost their sale by adding a session fee, it's a pretty common thing. Even if you just added a $50 session fee it would really increase the overall average sale for this photographer. My impression is that this is a photographer that's relatively new in their business, and so I wouldn't make that session fee super high, I wouldn't make that barrier to entry very high. It would be something to play around with, it would be something that I would experiment with depending on the area, and try it for two or three clients, see how they react, and then adjust that number either up or down depending on their reactions. So, I probably wouldn't recommend a minimum purchase in this case, because again it's that barrier to entry. If this is, in fact, a photographer that's establishing their business, that minimum purchase is gonna be a higher barrier for a lesser known photographer. Does that make sense, minimum purchase is more for a well established photographer, generally.

Class Description

Join Kathy Holcombe as she shares techniques and strategies to develop the photography business you desire. Whether you’re making the leap from part-time to full-time or starting your very first business, the amount of work can be overwhelming. From what products to offer, how much to charge, how to pay yourself or the legal considerations - startups often sink before clients are even booked. Kathy will show you the ways to grow your business from the start. 

This class will cover: 

  • Defining what product you are selling and how much you should charge to make a living 
  • Photography business basics and how to track your income compared to other businesses 
  • How to write and create your business plan 
Kathy Holcombe and her husband Peter built one of the top wedding portrait studios in Colorado, then jumped in an RV with the entire family and began traveling the country full-time, and added a successful commercial division. Together they have built multiple successful businesses and have honed in on the important factors that every photographer should consider when building a business. 



I started my business a year ago with little formal technical photography education. It's hard to admit but I've been winging it, figuring out each small task that goes with photographing a session, editing one, and working with clients as I go. I may be doing things backwards, but now that I feel like I'm more comfortable in those small, specific parts of business, I need to figure out how to make this business sustainable and profitable. Kathy's class felt perfect for this time in my business to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what I want to focus on and where I want to go (and how much I want to pay myself!). She uses realistic, specific numbers: something that's SO helpful and I feel like I rarely see in the photography community. And she breaks everything down in an organized and easy to understand way. The classes were easy to follow along with and Kathy's positivity and patient manner is inspiring and motivating. The fact that she used to be a school teacher is clear. Thank you so much Kathy (and the rest of the Holcombes)!

Jenny Farrell

I am so glad I was able to attend this course in person and receive all the wonderful and practical information Kathy shared with us. I also really enjoyed the connections with other audience members and side conversations with Creative Live peeps as well as the Holcombe family. What an inspiration this family is--lots of practical info, but also a great pep talk to not sell yourself short and get out there and do what you love, but use sound business practice while doing it. Thanks so much for these incredible two days.


Fantastic course! Very helpful instruction and how-to guide for anyone considering starting up a photography business. Kathy was an excellent instructor, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. I gained a good understanding of the practical everyday aspects of running this kind of business, and how to create my own vision.