The 4 Business Models for Photographers

There are a few business models for photographers, and each has their own set of pros and cons. Running a boutique photography studio and offering In-Person Sales (IPS) is the best chance you have for a thriving and profitable photography studio that ensures you earn a decent living, however, you can still be profitable if you offer digital files. 

If you want to thrive as a professional photographer, you need to know which type of business model you will adapt to your small business in 2018.

Most photographers in the digital era start out as ‘shoot and burn’ photographers, which means that you take the pictures and hand over the digital files.

After a few years, you quickly realize that you have demanding clients who don’t respect your work, and you aren’t actually making much money.

Maybe you start selling the digitals instead of including everything, or maybe you have heard about this hot new thing called IPS (In-Person Sales).

Guess what? In-Person Sales isn’t actually new. It’s how photography studios have been run since the beginning of time.

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The only thing that has changed in recent years have been the introduction of digital cameras and digital files, which are so much easier to give to the client.

–>> You probably have some clients that ask for them.

–>> You probably also assume they will ask for the files before they actually do.

But here is the kicker, your client doesn’t actually know what to do with the files. At best, they will print a 4×6.

Ironically, they could save hundreds of dollars by printing their own 30×40 canvas print.

The problem is that your customer would never think to do that on their own. And they certainly don’t know which image would be the best one to choose for a large size or where to put it.

This is what my clients have done with the digital files:

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And this is what I can do for them… we remodel their living room for an image:

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In this week’s YouTube video, I run through the four different pricing models for photographers and give you real world examples of how each of them could work for your lifestyle.

Which business model is right for you?

Selling is hard and makes us recognize our own money issues. There is a lot of fear of rejection (and a bit of fear of success) surrounding pricing and selling photography. Our hearts and souls are poured into our work and it is a fun and passion inducing trade. 

It is a trade that we deserve to get paid for, just like any other career path.

At the end of the day, many photographers, artists, coaches, and creators actually under value themselves and pay themselves less than minimum wage. 

When you include the digital files or charge too little, you are taking a pay cut voluntarily.

The real reason that photographers give out the digitals, instead of offering tangible products is out of laziness out of fear.

  • You worry that you won’t book anymore if you raise your prices or switch to IPS.

How well are you booking now???

  • You think selling in person will take too much time away from your family.

What if you could earn more and actually work LESS?

Selling in person doesn’t have to be scary or time consuming. At it’s core, it’s just a conversation with your client on the best options for their home decor, family history, and image presentation.

There is an actual growing trend in the photography industry….

A hybrid model.

The hybrid photographer sells the digital files and/or sells products.

The 4 business models for photographers are:

  1. Shoot-n-Burn (give it all away)
  2. All-Inclusive (selling digitals or pricing for profit)
  3. Hybrid (offering digitals AND products for sale)
  4. IPS – In Person Sales (or a boutique studio)

Let’s walk you through the pros and cons of the four different pricing methods for photography businesses.

  1. Shoot -n- burn. With this business model, the main thing to remember is that you won’t have a lot of people interested in buying their prints, albums, and wall art from you. Once they have the digital files, you will most likely never hear from them again, unless you keep in touch. What happens more often than not, newer photographers start out this way and include every file for under $200 for portraits and $1000 for weddings.
  2. All-Inclusive. This is a more profitable way of including digital files because you are budgeting and pricing for profit with the session fee itself. Typically, photographers are in the $400-600 range for portraits and $2500 for weddings.

  3. Hybrid. This is a growing business model for the modern world. Photographers let their clients buy digital packages and/or products. Many photographers include a digital file of the images that have been purchased as wall art or in a book. This is a win for both sides, as you can run a profitable business, provide heirlooms, and the client gets digitals for social media & their phones. Average sales run around $1000 or more for portraits and $4000 for weddings.
  4. Boutique. This is where IPS Mastermind and other organizations will guide you. The IPS or Boutique business model is all about a full client experience, including the sales session. We guide our clients through their purchase, and many photographers finish by installing the artwork in their client’s homes. The price point and profit on this business model is the highest and the sky is the limit as far as total sales. My business easily averages $2500 per portrait session with In-Person Sales sessions ($7000 for weddings).
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Which business model is right for you?

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