We’re often told as photographers not to work for free. I disagree. I think when we’re starting off, it is a good idea to work for free. Then as you build your skills, start to charge a lot of money.

We love FREE!

Photos from my friends, VUDORY Wedding. Saigon, 2017

People love this concept of “free.”

If you’re a newbie photographer, with a good camera, and you want to build your portfolio, offer to make photos for others for FREE.

Shoot a wedding for free. Shoot an engagement for free. Shoot a portrait for free.

Build up your portfolio and build up your skills.

Don’t shoot for free forever.

Photos from my friends, VUDORY Wedding. Saigon, 2017

But once you have a portfolio you’re proud of, stop shooting for free.

Start charging a lot of money.

That means, if your old clients tell you that they want more free work, just tell them:

Here is my new price sheet for my services.

Email them a PDF (professionally designed) of your new rates. If they don’t respond or say no, it is ok. Just move on.

You don’t want leeches holding you back.

Barbell pricing: Free or Expensive

Photos from my friends, VUDORY Wedding. Saigon, 2017

I learned this from Nassim Taleb: the barbell theory. Imagine a barbell at the gym, extreme weights on both ends. Avoid the middle.

For example, I either do things for free, or charge a lot of money.

For example, I’ll shoot a friend’s wedding for free. But if a company contacts me, I’ll charge a lot of money, or refuse to do it.

No more free work for big companies.

I’ll give free photography advice to young photographers. But I’ll charge a lot of money for my photography consulting services.

Photos from my friends, VUDORY Wedding. Saigon, 2017

I’ll give away all my information, books, and videos for free here. But for workshops and experiences, I’ll charge a lot of money.

When should I start charging for my photography?

Photos from my friends, VUDORY Wedding. Saigon, 2017

So the very basic concept is once again:

Shoot stuff for free and give things away for free when you’re starting off to build your brand. But when you are confident in yourself, charge a lot of money.

But when is the right time to start charging for your services?

I don’t have the answers. Only you do.

Photos from my friends, VUDORY Wedding. Saigon, 2017

My suggestion:

When you feel 80% “ready”– go for it. There will never be a perfect opportunity.

What is 80% ready? Follow your heart and gut.

How much should I charge for my photographic services?

Photos from my friends, VUDORY Wedding. Saigon, 2017

And also when charging for your services, how much should you charge? My suggestion:

Charge 25% more than you think you should.

Why? We often under-sell ourselves. Don’t sell yourself short.

Photos from my friends, VUDORY Wedding. Saigon, 2017

BE STRONG,
ERIC


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