Can you put a price tag on creativity?

Andrea Garrity by on September 10, 2015

Professional photographers are in the business of creating images and part of that is the practical matter of what to charge the photographs they create. There is more to photography than the technical elements, however, and photography is a skill that is both creative and technical. The technical element, however, is more tangible and discussed more frequently. You can find any number of posts and articles that discuss how to incorporate a photographers overhead into pricing, but what about the creative aspect of photography?

The creative component of photography can be almost nonexistent when determining the price of photography. Everyone has a different take or opinion when it comes to pricing. There is ample advice and information on the subject and photographers will be reminded to consider their time, equipment, travel, post processing, licensing fees, and more. However, there are few resources that discuss that intangible but oh so important creative element.

Creative services as a whole can be difficult to price. There are creative professionals who charge by the hour and others that charge for the final result and follow a pay per project model. The downside to charging per hour is that the relationship between the photographer and client begins with opposing goals. The client wants great images and to be billed fewer hours and the photographer will want to create great images and bill more hours. On the other hand, charging per project aligns the client and the photographer and allows the photographer to take into account all factors when determining their pricing. There are exceptions to every opinion and even photographers in favor of per image pricing recognize that event photography may the one area of photography where per hour or session makes more sense.

In order to put a price on creativity, it is important to define creativity within the context of photography. Creativity isn’t synonymous with different. It is the style of the photographer, it is what happens when the photographer conceptualizes a shoot. It is the magic of taking something as technical as exposure, focal length, aperture, and white balance to create art. Many artists do put a price on their creativity and while some  may undervalue their talent, others have learned how consider their creativity when determining their pricing.

This is not to say that the technical element isn’t important or valuable. The technical aspect of photography is often a means for photographers to achieve their creative vision. It is important that photographers have the technical knowledge and will create better photographs the more technically proficient they are. The end game for a photographer is not just a properly exposes in focus photo. The photographer is after a compelling image. The technical and creative aspect of photography is not a scale where they have to be balanced, instead the two work together in tandem. I would argue though that photographers should consider both the technical and creative when pricing their services.

Pricing is complicated and there are various strategies when it comes to pricing. Photographers, I want to hear from you. How do you charge for your photographs? Do you charge by session, by the image, or is it a hybrid of both? Do you feel that you factor in your creativity when you determine your pricing? Respond below!

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