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first time to be paid for taking portraits of a baby, how much should I charge?

Natalie O'Donnell , Jul 13, 2009; 01:27 p.m.

An old friend that I've been in touch with on facebook recently had a baby and asked if I would come over and take pictures of him. She wants to pay me but I'm not sure how much to ask for. I do have some experience shooting kids and babies but i've never done it for profit before. I plan on getting the prints done through MPIX, so I will definitely have her pay for that. Because I'm just starting out I wasn't sure if I should not charge her at all, or if I should charge a small amount. I will be driving about 25-30 miles to get there, and spending a couple of hours shooting. If anyone has any opinions on how much I should charge that would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Responses

Bruce Cahn , Jul 13, 2009; 02:21 p.m.

Since it is a friend and you are not a pro, just charge expenses, including gas.

Aimee Pieters , Jul 13, 2009; 03:25 p.m.

Natalie,
Here are my thoughts. Most "newbies" want to start out cheap to get work initially and then raise prices once they're established. Because personal photography tends to be more of a referral business, your prices will be circulated along with all of your other good features such as quality, ease to work with, etc. If you don't charge enough to start with, you'll get stuck in a rut that will be very difficult to get out of later on. Everyone loves a deal and everyone loves to brag about it, no matter how much you ask them to keep quiet about it because they're "special."
I don't think it's wise to ever charge a client of any type what you pay your lab or for them to even know what you pay your lab. All this does in devalue what you're selling. If the lab charges $2.50 for an 8x10, that's only what you pay the lab. What about retouching and enhancements. What about file preparation and shipping? And do you package them nicely? There's also shipping or delivery time and expense. If your friend pays you $2.50 or even double that, how will you ever expect to charge the going rate?
If you want, discount your session fee by half or even do it for free or perhaps ask her to buy you a $50 gas card, BUT make sure you have plenty of mark-up in your finished portraits. You could even discount the portraits themselves by 20%, make a few dollars and come off a hero.
PS - Here are a few changes to our vocabulary that we've picked up along the way to make us sound more professional. Use "images" instead of "pictures". "Photographs" or "portraits" instead of "prints". "Session" instead of sitting or as some say "setting". I've also replace the word "shoot" with "photograph" when speaking to clients about photography. Best of luck....-Aimee

Alan Ginman , Jul 14, 2009; 09:38 a.m.

Why not use the trip as an excuse to get together with an old friend. Charge her for the prints, but I wouldn't even charge her for the petrol (gas). If you have aspirations to do this sort of work professionally explain this to your friend and ask if you can use the pictures in your portfolio. Use it as a learning experience.

Regards and enjoy the meeting with your friend

Alan

Craig Shearman , Jul 15, 2009; 03:20 p.m.

For a friend I wouldn't charge anything at all, but tell her you'd like to use the pictures in your portfolio/on your web site to show what you can do. Let her know you're trying to get started in the business and if she likes the picture encourage her to tell all her friends who did them and that you're available to shoot their kids for a price.

Konrad Bilinski , Aug 11, 2009; 04:05 p.m.

Instead of money why don't you ask her to pay you in prints. You will after all need them for your portfolio and since there is no money exchange she wont be able to gossip your prices. Its a win win to me

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