Ask VeraSage: Does Value Pricing Work for Photography?

Hi Ron,

I hope all is well with you and Value Pricing. I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I was in the IT industry for many, many years as a Sage Partner and was in the small Value Pricing group started by Ed Kless.

If you recall, we had the special training groups, one in Windsor Ontario, and others at the Sage conferences, etc. Well I am no longer involved in that industry and a couple years ago decided, at my age, to have some fun and follow my true passion of photography. So for the last year or so, I have been building an infrastructure, upgrading and purchasing photo equipment, building a web site, and off on photo shoots with the intention of building a photo business.

Have you ever applied the VP concept to a photography business? Photography is such an illusive medium in that it is so personal to the viewer. How would one go about perceiving the value and charging accordingly? I’m not sure how or if it could work, but I think there is room for a lot of improvement in how good photographer’s can increase the value of their work in the client’s eyes.

I belong to a number of photo specific forums, camera cubs, etc. and a huge and ever present topic is pricing of custom photography; how customer’s want great photography for very little. Most people have no idea and don’t understand the amount of skill, creativity, training and equipment that goes into being a good photographer and the value that is created in all aspect’s of life and business.

Any thoughts and ideas you may have are welcomed.


Hi Garry,

Congratulations on following your passion. That by itself is an enormous accomplishment! I toast you for making such a courageous decision, since so many people do not follow their dreams.

Value Pricing absolutely works in the photography business. I know this from working with advertising agencies, who have to buy the Copyrights to photos, sometimes at a very high price!

One of the best strategies you can deploy is to offer your customers options. I’m not intimately familiar with your business, but things like black and white vs. color, who will own the Copyright, for what time period, where the pictures will be taken, etc.

Think about what drives value to customers? There has to be a myriad of things for a wedding gig that you could offer up as a Green, Gold, Platinum, and Black card offering (to use American Express’ offerings as an example).

We have been having incredible success with options, mostly for this reason: it changes the customer’s focus from “Should I work with them/” to “How should I work with them?” That’s a great mindset to get your customer in and block out the competition, making price less of a factor.

Remember, most customers don’t care about, or indeed know, all of the complexities that go into your craft. Nobody wants to hear about the labor pains—we want to see the baby. Make it look easy, but give the customer options, and your value proposition will be distinctive.

You may also find my new book to be helpful, due out from John Wiley in December:

I hope that helps, Garry. Keep me posted on your progress, and again, congratulations for chasing your dreams.


  1. Ron Baker says:

    Tom Haslam from Australia contributed this comment to me via email:

    Suggestion for your photography person: The options are a great idea, but because photography is so much around the viewer’s perception of value, and this can only come after they have seen the photos, maybe provide 3 prices, a low price, a mid price and high price.

    The viewer/commissioner gets to choose which price, depending on how much they like the photos. So the low price covers your costs, the mid price is good and the high price is the fist pump price. Admittedly what price they give you will depend partly on their experience of the day, but you will soon find out if they are good or bad clients (and if you are a good or bad photographer!).

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