Print Prices - Why are they losing value in this industry?

Why is it common in photography to have a devalued stigma on prints?

Some people think prints shouldn't be charged a studio price because someone can get it for "$0.15" on their own from said store.

BUT you can also cook, unless you are like me, however that doesn't mean you should pay a chef for only the ingredients he uses.

You may be able to sew but it doesn't mean you can go to a department store & buy jeans for the price of the fabric. You may be able to cut your own hair but it doesn't mean the stylist should do it free.

You pay for the equipment used to make the product, the time included, the artist, the art, and so much more. The cost to run a photography business is huge. I can vouch for this.

It takes many years of sales to cover the cost of your investment and even then you are always purchasing upgrades to ensure your client gets the most out of their unbelievable day!  


We must be accountable

But with this point we also have to be accountable for our own worth and our own success. If you give in then you are only devaluing your business.

I stand firm and I believe in my prices. I believe in me. The clients that fit me, believe in it too. I am hoping that this post brings awareness to you as photographers, which I am sure you don't need since you are in the business, but also to people outside of the industry.  

I can't for the life of me understand why people only relate a print to the piece of paper it is printed on.  That is not the same for other industries.  

I can go to a very nice grocery store and buy really nice ingredients that a professional chef would use, but a good risotto it doesn't make, trust me I have tried.  The price of a photographer's print includes so much more than ink and shiny paper.  

Well at least mine does!  It includes my time, my art, my eye ... blah blah those reasons are never taken serious because someone can't put a price on them.  So how about the camera, the lenses, the protectors, the reflectors, the bags, the assistant, the computer, the software ... the .. list ... goes ... on!  


It's a digital era

Please don't say "but digitals are all they want".  

Digitals are all they want because it's all they know.  

My momma always said "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?".  

So are you giving the milk away?  

That disk you say your clients really really want, they can have it.  But at a price.  

And why charge them a price if you can't get the prints in their hand?  Your work wasn't meant to be stored in a drawer.  It was meant to be hung.  

So how do you work around this and make everyone happy?  Offer the damn cow!  Make that girl available.  Create a print package worth X amount of dollars and when purchased they get the disk for free.  You win, they win.  

Please don't tell me it doesn't work.  It has worked each and every time I had a client who wanted a disk.  They got the disk and the cow!  But are they going to print from the disc, ummm no!  Because they already have the prints too.

Believe in your prices, trust me, there are so many professional photographers that are getting the price they choose for their work.  They are not letting outsiders choose the value for them.

And they are STILL SELLING!  That's the point here.  Professional & successful photographers are getting the price they ask for.  

Are you?  And if the answer is no, then what can you do to ensure you can price your work?


Here are a few suggestions from our fans over on our Facebook page:

Jade Mclachlan: I carry a sample book i have 1 picture printed from my lap, walmart shutter fly walgreens target staples. And so they can see all the differences in photo quality and have prices on back.

Marie Zywicki Masse: I finally have this 'if ya don't like it, leave' attitude when it comes to inquiries. Harsh? No. It's given me the BEST clients, because they all believe in me & value what I am offering them. I just got the kindest thank you card in the mail, so it's going to show that sticking to my business beliefs is working. Educating people is way to go to help people to see that value. Sure, some will stick to their demand of a .15 print, just like I remember all those people that only wanted the cheapest rate (mortgage) back in my sales days. Used to drive me bonkers! It's all relative, but I think at the end of the day, we are selling ourselves & your best clients will be the ones that value you. And I ain't workin' for free!

Felicia R. Sinclair: We live in a digital age. You really have to show the VALUE in print products vs. a CD.  Having products on hand, and doing in person sales is a great way to get more products ordered. Sometimes they need to touch/feel & see the product in person before they realize how very worth it the product is!

Nancy Swan:  I charge a nominal session fee and still conduct in person sales. I tell them that I want them to love their images before they are obligated. Works well for me. Andrea

Reyna Wolf:  Because technology is rising when it comes to photographs, you do need to try to sell the prints n products by having them available for clients to see. I thought about even selling frames to encourage them to display the prints. Photobooks are great to have around too. But since clients love digital, I do offer a CD. Sometimes you gotta give the people what they want. A photo slide show is nice to offer also.

Nancy Swan:  Media will be different in ten years. The images will be lost in technology. I have images on floppy.

Nicole Shobe: Up the session fee and include a print credit. If they still don't order, this is their loss.

Lindsey McDaniel Parsons: Have samples of products, not just in hand but pics of what they look like on walls, displayed, etc. take your time and have an in person viewing before you hand over a proof book or digital images if offered. Also, set a minimum print order. Then hopefully the client knows he minimum investment then will go above that.

Casey Schill Grimpe: I have found that the shear number of proofs we give clients is overwhelming. 20-30 is more than enough. My clients have also told me they sit down time after time and just can't decide, the months go by and all of a sudden it is time for new pictures. I started in home proofing last year and it has changed my business. I am able to help clients choose their favorite prints in the appropriate size and stay within their budget.

Nicole Zirnheld Aldridge: I have started going into my client's homes with a pocket projector, iPad and Preveal app. That allows me to see their style, their walls and show them what would look great in their home. I think it's often a matter of being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do with their photos so they pick the "safe" option and go with digital images. The problem is those images just sit in a drawer or on a hard drive and never get displayed. I want to change that. It's definitely working in getting my clients to order products!

Brandi Corriveau: I agree with and am incorporating (the) practice of educating our clients from the very first phone conversation. Waiting until the sales appointment is to overwhelming for your clients. Clients need our guidance throughout the entire experience. I think we need to get our clients thinking about what they really want from their session and why they think they want xyz from the session. Have they thought about how they are going to display their images? If they ask about a disc, what are they going to do with a disc? Do they want to print, archive, share on the Internet with friends and family? Do they realize that disc won't last their lifetime? Also, it's our job to establish value. Tell your clients what to expect. Tell them what you are going to do for them. Educate them on the value of your products and why they are unique from Costco, Walmart, etc. And tell them how much they are going to love and enjoy their decision for years. And I agree with Nicole about doing in person sales with samples. People are more likely to buy what they can see and touch.

So what are your thoughts on this and how can we improve the worth of our industry?  Comment below because your opinion & voice matters!    


  • 39 Tips To Help Photographer's Grow Their Business - Colorvale Actions

    […] Print Prices – Why are they losing value in this industry? […]

  • Tricia

    This is great! I started out with giving out discs, but it was because I did not value myself – at all! I’m still not where I want to be but even a start chef or new beautician doesn’t give away their goods free and no one would expect them to. Thanks for reinforcing and helping the craft and the appreciation for what we do.

  • Lexi

    wow! What an excellently written, perfectly stated message. My mentor posted this article to our group and this couldn’t be more on point. My business holds in person sales and no more digital downloads for a painfully low price. Thank you so much for sharing this with the community. Means a lot!

  • Joe Martin

    Yes, thank you we should email this to every living person on the planet and twice to every photographer. shared it thanks again. Joe

  • Allysha

    So very very true, what a well written document o pricing for photography. Yes, people always want digital files, and as a photographer you (should) want the client to have your photographs on their wall. Give your clients the ultimatum, do it my way and you will get what you want. Don’t play fair and you get not very much at all.

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