Ready to create photography packages that your clients want to buy? It may surprise you, but creating photography packages that practically sell themselves has less to do with pricing and more to do with how you organize and articulate your packages.
This is true whether you’re a new photographer or a seasoned professional.
There is no limitation on what you can do in your business. However, in my 10 years as a business coach for photographers, I’ve come up with a few guidelines and steps to craft profitable photography packages.
Let’s start with the element all photography packages should be based on.
Photography Packages: Understanding what clients want
Your ideal client. Before you create or re-organize your packages, take some time to consider what your clients want from the transaction. After all, they’re the ones paying.
Seasoned photographers have the advantage of historical data. You’re actively working with clients and can look back to find trends in the packages, products, and the number of images clients purchased over the last year. Look over your list of requests people have made to see what gaps could make your current photography packages pop.
New photographers may not have this advantage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start collecting intel. Tap into your network to see who you know that has paid for professional photos. Then, simply reach out and see if you can sit down with them and ask about their experience. What did they like? Anything didn’t they like? What was included? And what did they wish they could go back and ask for?
Most clients don’t know what’s typical in the industry; they don’t know which pricing models or sales methodology is more effective for them. They’re going to tell you raw requests that excite them. Not all requests will be things you’re willing to do, but some requests could be gold.
Clients are practically feeding you everything you need to create photography packages that sell themselves. The more you listen and refine your offers, the more profitable your packages become.
Choosing your photography sales model
Now that you have some input from your ideal client, it’s time to do some self-awareness work to choose your photography sales model. (Or as I like to tell my students, your salesperson personality.)
Your sales model defines how you’re going to sell your packages, images, and products to clients. Most photographers choose to either follow the IPS model (in-person sales) or the Shoot and Share Model. There’s no one right answer for everyone, so let’s dive into each briefly to determine which method you’re drawn to.
IPS Model for Photographers
The IPS model focuses on collecting the majority of money from images, products, and prints up-front. Most photographers that follow IPS charge a lower upfront session fee ($250 – $800). Their packages include little to no digital images, prints, or products. Instead, clients must pay a premium price for every deliverable they choose.
I see IPS used most commonly by wedding photographers, portrait, and newborn photographers, where clients want a large number of images. This method can be highly profitable but comes at the cost of constantly having to articulate what’s not included in your package and upselling.
Shoot and Share Method
The Shoot and Share method has become more popular over the past decade, especially with high-ticket, luxury photography packages. The idea behind Shoot and Share is that you charge a higher up-front session fee (think $3,000 or more) and include a set amount of images and/or prints at no additional cost.
This method is great for new photographers and for those who don’t enjoy sales. For seasoned photographers who are confident in their selling ability, wedding, or portrait photographers – this method can be less profitable in the long run.
The 5 photography pricing models
Whoever said pricing was as simple as picking a number was not a photographer. The truth is, there are five common pricing models you can use. Where a sales method is how you sell the deliverables (images), a pricing model is the way you package your offers. Every niche has one or two models that work well, but there’s no rule on which you must pick.
The top photography pricing models are:
- Traditional Collections – of 1-3 packages and price points
- All-Inclusive Pricing – that covers the session and deliverables
- A La Carte – where it’s the wild, wild west
- Crediting Pricing – which is all but extinct
- 100% Custom Pricing – where you customize each package and deliverability for each client
- Subscription Model – where you charge a monthly or quarterly fee for a session and images
Most of these have been around forever, however subscription models are fairly new and very hot right now. (More on that later.)
How to price your photography packages?
Once you understand what your package includes and how you want to sell it, it’s time to price your photography packages. Some business coaches and well-meaning people on the internet may tell you to charge your worth. But I *cringe* at that advice – literally cringe!
It’s not as simple as charging your worth. Yes, I believe you deserve to be handsomely compensated for your time and talent, of course, I do. We live in the real world though, and as much as you have bills to pay, so do your clients. You have to find that happy medium between picking a price that excites you and one that won’t price you out of the market.
And by no means am I saying undercharge. I see photographers charging $10k, $20k, and up. It goes back to understanding your client. If you’re shooting for Vogue – add some commas. If you’re pricing Christmas mini-sessions for families with limited resources – find that middle ground.
I have a ton of resources and plug-and-play calculators to help you calculate your cost of doing business and your personal needs. Pricing is personal, and it’ll look different for everyone. Check out my Pricing Calculator Bundle for help nailing your perfect pricing.
Including photography package add-ons
Remember when we revisited what past clients and our ideal clients wanted? It’s going to come in handy here. Once your photography package is ready, you can increase your cash flow and create recurring revenue by offering complimentary add-ons.
My favorite add-ons that are working for my private coaching clients right now are subscriptions and dropping add-ons into their client experience workflows. If you’re a branding or portrait photographer and you’re not testing subscriptions in 2023 – you’re leaving money on the table.
Imagine signing a new client looking for images for their business website and marketing. Once they’re wowed with their new photos you can offer them an exclusive monthly or quarterly subscription for a 2-hour session and images to keep their feed fresh instead of having to publish the same images over and over. The subscription compliments your signature service without taking away from it. When they say yes, you’ve not only increased your profits on this one client, but you’re also reducing the number of new clients you need to attract and create recurring revenue.
Add-ons don’t just have to be subscription-based. You can offer presets, gallery deals, automated product creation, etc. The key is to pick something that compliments your packages and that your ideal clients would love.
Upselling with products
Products are a great way for photographers to increase their value to clients. While digital images are popular, people still want prints, traditional albums, and wall art to enjoy their memories.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you definitively what products are the best to upsell in a blog post. Every niche and client base has its preference. Choosing your products can sometimes mean being open to trial and error. However, I can tell you that the products you choose can be a great way to distinguish your service over others.
Photography Package Samples
Wedding Photography Package & Pricing Example
When creating your wedding photography package, it’s important to remember you’re selling an experience. This is your client’s happiest day – their Cinderella moment. So, the key to creating a magical wedding photo package is in everything you don’t outright tell the client. (You’ll see what I mean.)
The pricing below shows a sample photo package and pricing. If you’re just starting out, feel free to use pricing you’re comfortable with while building your portfolio. I recommend pricing yourself at $4,000 and up as soon as your portfolio and reviews start rolling in. Remember, wedding photographers benefit from the IPS model, but you can choose whichever one you like best.
Sample Wedding Photo Package & Pricing:
Investment – $4200
- Full Wedding Day Coverage (8 hrs)
- All Hand-Edited Digital Images
- Secured Online Gallery to Share with Family and Friends
- $500 Album Credit
Notice how we’re mentioning the words “full day”, “hand-edited”, and even throwing in what looks to be a discount? That’s intentional to craft the value of our package.
Now let’s go further to set you apart from others. I recommend you create a “behind the scenes” list of how you’ll make the experience elevated. Then, instead of typing it out on your site, show how these create a magical experience in photos. Add it to your website, on social media – everywhere. This will help articulate your value and bring a new appreciation for your service.
Sample Value Add to Wedding Photography:
- Handwritten thank you card upon booking
- $10 Starbucks card on their birthday
- Flowers delivered to the bridal suite
- Handwritten card after the wedding
Portrait Photography Package & Pricing Example
Details are key when it comes to creating portrait photography packages and pricing. I like to have clients list numbers in their details. How many hours, outfits, locations, and the number of images (if you choose to include them). The more detailed you can be, the more you’re likely to start checking boxes for people looking for specific deliverables. Remember, portrait photographers benefit from the IPS model too, but you can choose whichever one you like best.
Here’s a sample portrait package you can use to create your own package.
Sample Portrait Photo Package & Pricing:
Investment – $500
- 2-Hours on Location
- Up to 3 Outfit Changes
- All Hand-Edited Digital Images
- Secured Online Gallery to Share with Family and Friends
Don’t worry, I have an example of how you can elevate your portrait package too. You can show (not tell) the value this brings in your Reels, user-generated content, and the photos you display on your site. These little touches help show potential clients you’re worth the investment.
Sample Value Add for Portrait Packages:
- Handwritten thank you card upon booking
- $10 Starbucks card on birthday
- 5, 5×7 gifted upon gallery delivery
By creating a reason to get your client’s reaction, and likely a shoutout on social media, you’re going to be able to show your value, effortlessly.
When to roll out your price increases
This advice is aimed more at photographers who have been around a while. It can be scary to elevate your price and packages. It can bring up imposter syndrome and fears of rejection. But worrying over whether clients will pay your new pricing only holds you back and may affect how you show up while selling. So, I recommend increasing your pricing and refining offers in one of two ways.
- Do it immediately
A little anticlimactic, but it’s the truth. Rip the band-aid off. You can wake up tomorrow and change your price and service suite. That’s the beauty of owning your own business! If you’re a new photographer or are ready to go all in – just leap.
- Do it over 6 months
Gradually increasing your price (lowkey) twice over six months is another great choice. You can still refind your offer and increase your price to 50% of where you want it to be immediately. This allows you to test the waters on large price increases without risking losing sales over a large leap.
When you’re ready to roll out your new prices, update your website, follow up emails within your CRM, and pricing guides. It’s not the most exciting part of the transition, but using easy-to-edit session guide templates can save you time.
How often should you update your prices?
As often as you see fit. Generally, I recommend clients revisit their service suite and pricing annually. If nothing else, it keeps you in tune with your business and reminds you to at least increase to match inflation.
How to communicate your price increase to clients to get them excited?
The key to creating photography packages and prices that clients want to buy is simple. Articulate your value.
Unless you’re serving other businesses, most of your clients are woefully uneducated on photo packages. Many have not done professional photos since their senior year in school. It’s up to you to educate them and articulate the value of your talent and the deliverables.
Clients need to feel like their money is going towards something that serves them. So show them the value of your newly redesigned service suite. Tell them what their increased pricing allows you to give them that the old pricing didn’t.
Show, don’t tell. Serve, don’t sell.
Do things like:
- Highlighting your images in clients’ homes on your website
- Updating your session guides
- Emailing your past clients to inform them of your increase
- Offering locked-in prices before X date (without being pushy)
- Bullet point the exciting new features of your packages
- Do product shoots to show off new products rather than stock images
- Personalize why this is such a big milestone within your business
Be transparent with your communication, then allow them to celebrate this milestone with you.
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