Why I Don’t Quote Prices via Email

michelle kawka

Thanks to New York Photographer Michelle Kawka for this guest blog post.

Often times, I will get a price request for my photography services via email. Generally, the inquiry looks something like this:

I need a photographer for X photo or video project or event and it is on X day and time. Are you available? How much do you charge? Please email me back with your price.

To which my email response is generally along the lines of:

Thank you very much for contacting me regarding your photo and/or video needs. How did you hear about me ?

Before I give you a price, it is best if we have a brief phone conversation so that I might ask you a few questions and better understand your needs.

Would you be able to speak on the the telephone at 2:00 today or tomorrow? If that doesn’t work for you, please let me know what time would be convenient for you. I look forward to hearing from you.

Why don’t I just give them a price right then and there via email ? It’s quick, down and dirty right? They need a photographer or videographer and I am one.

I wish it were that simple and it would be… if what I do is a commodity or I sold widgets. However, I am not. There are a lot of factors that go into pricing photography. There have been plenty of books and blog posts written on the subject.

I’ve heard photographers tell me, “but you can get all the details of a job via email.” Yes, you can. I won’t argue that. As great as email is, it is best used as a communication tool once the job has been secured.

Photography is not a commodity, it is a service, and a very personal service at that!
How can we determine if we are a good fit to work together if we don’t have a brief conversation or better yet, if possible, a face to face meeting? I do have “ballpark prices” for packages for certain services I offer, but the majority of the work I do is custom tailored to my client’s needs.

Often a phone conversation or face-to-face meeting will actually save the client money because it helps me better understand what they want and what I can do fit their needs and budget. As I tell my clients, I am a boutique, not a mass producer of photos. I find that when potential clients won’t take the time for a brief phone call, they are generally not serious prospects anyway and are making their buying decision based solely on price.

When you invest in photography or videography with me, you are investing in a personal and unique product that cannot be assessed by a response to a quick email saying, “Yes, thanks for contacting me, the price of this project will be $x.” A brief phone conversation or meeting may save you and your potential client confusion and frustration.

So to paraphrase the immortal lyrics of Carly Rae Jepsen:
“Hey, I just emailed you,
your inquiry is hazy,
so what’s your number,
call me, maybe?”

Michelle Kawka is an award winning and internationally exhibited professional photographer. She uses a distinctively bold, graphic and emotional style to create striking images for clients. Michelle’s work has appeared in publications such as Business Week and Surface Magazine and has photographed for companies such as Microsoft, Wella Hair Color, Proctor & Gamble, Scholastic, NexCare First Aid Products, Post It Notes and Oscartielle Refrigeration.

Photo copyright Michelle Kawka, used with permission.

No Comments

Comments Closed