The majority of commissioned work I've done has stemmed from clients who have reached out via Instagram. Without sounding boastful the usual inquiry has been “I love your work! How much do you charge to shoot?”
With time, I quickly learned that the speed in which you answer this question can determine how people will view you as a photographer and how successful you can potentially be regardless of how good your work is.
To the “how much do you charge?” question, I could instantly reply with a number that sounds about right but without considering the variables, I wouldn’t necessarily be setting myself up for success from a monetary perspective. There’s the potential of being too focused on answering the question as oppose to you asking the salient ones first before committing to anything.
For example, do I have to rent a studio? Does the shoot require for it to be a full or half day job? Will I need to rent any equipment? How many people are involved? Does it require for me to do some legwork on my end to scout for hair and makeup artist or will the client provide their own? Overall, there’s variables to consider.
Without the attention to detail the most unwanted scenario could result in you spending more money out of pocket covering unanticipated expenses for the shoot as oppose to having done the proper research upfront.
Anyone who reaches out to you or me for photo work has done so because they’ve already seen it our work. They’re hopefully enamored by it and so there’s already an expectation as to what their shoot with you could look like. But of course they won’t know for sure unless you paint a picture first. That’s where mood-boards come into play.
The moment you take the time construct a visual with your creativity and mock up ideas based on feedback you’ve gathered from your potential client they will instantly stop viewing you as a expense and more as an investment by virtue of the value you’ll be providing them with your work.
Get your client’s excited about working with you by painting a picture of what you can do for them so there’s complete trust from point A to point B.
Rarely have I had a potential client turn me down when I’ve created a vision via mood-boards with what we can do together. Once you’ve presented them with a visual and a breakdown cost for a shoot, I assure you they’ll be much more understanding of what it takes to do what you do and the artistic value you bring to the table.
If what you prefer to do is to simply answer their “how much do you charge?” question right off they bat, you’re left with very little control as to what their decision can be and ultimately it’s not the best way to sustain a business and develop confidence towards your own work.