I received a phone call a few months ago from a photographer who had moved out of town and wanted to pass a reference to me. FANTASTIC! The client was a business who wanted a photographer to shoot their black tie event. The photographer who called me had shot the event for many years. I asked the photographer how much the client paid to shoot the 2-hour event, and he said it was a $500 job.
Next, I called the client. I could have immediately told them that I was willing to accept the same $500 price that they had paid the photographer in years past, but I wanted to make sure I got as much out of the deal as they were willing to give.
I remembered something from a Dale Carnegie book (How to Win Friends and Influence People). He said something to the effect of, “The first person to mention the price in a business transaction is ultimately the loser.” I thought I'd put that to the test, so rather than quoting the business a price of $500, I asked them a question.
The question I asked was, “What is your budget for this shoot?” The representative from the company said, “$1,300 for the 2-hour event.” I shot the event and received almost three times as much money from the gig as I would have if I had been the first one to mention the price.
If you're going to be successful in your photography business, you need to be business minded. The price of photography services is quite subjective, and many clients simply have no idea what hiring a photographer costs.
I am not suggesting that photographers should never quote a price. It's nice for clients to know exactly what you'll charge just by looking at your website; however, you can also lose a lot of money in potential business by being too forthcoming with your prices. This was the lesson I learned.