Photographer With 20 Years Sales Experience Responds to Critics About His Approach to Pricing

SLR Lounge's Pye Jirsa has built a successful photography education business based on his success as a portrait and wedding photographer. There is no doubt that he has both the creative and business chops to offer accurate and informative advice on pricing and sales; however, some viewers don't share his opinions.

Pricing can be one of the most difficult aspects of a photography business to wrap one's head around. It takes a lot of trial and error, head-scratching, and head-banging to get things right. Even then — and as we can see in this video — people's opinions differ wildly on the best strategies. I still struggle with it, and every so often, I get a DM or an email from someone who's starting out and looking for advice. I give them as an honest an answer as I can, which goes something like: "I had the exact same questions starting out. It's tough, but you just need to start trying things — experience is one of the greatest teachers. But also, invest in your education." The last part is particularly relevant to this video.

As Jirsa states here, loads of photographers stress about what piece of gear to buy next in order to improve the quality of their photos and thus gain more clients; we have this completely backwards. Who would have thought that the most important skill to have when running a business is solid knowledge about how to run said business? And yet, we quite often forget this, instead imagining all these fawning clients flooding through the doors just because we have good images. I used the word "we" there deliberately. I suck at marketing and sales — two crucial aspects of running a business — but I neglected both when starting out. So, I feel that it's important to share this type of information as much as possible. It's not enough to invest in good equipment; you need to invest in yourself.

What do our readers think about Jirsa's responses to the comments? We would love to hear from you below.

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8 Comments

Marc Bee's picture

Yer guyses?

Andrew Miller's picture

Investment in yourself is all well & good. However many photography educators only deliver training on photography not on business issues.

You can be the world's best photographer but if you suck at business you'll starve.

LA M's picture

Can't teach what they don't know.....

Steven Dente's picture

I am not a professional photographer, but have founded and run a number of successful businesses. I found your business philosophy to be very insightful and spot on. It shows respect for both your clients, your own talents, and commitment to excellent service. There is a reason you are successful.

Of course Orange County California is a target rich environment for selling to an educated, affluent clientele, where your approach is most likely to be successful. Where one chooses to locate a business is one of the primary determinants of success.

All of these basics come from the recognizing that you are a businessperson, whose product is photographic services. You are not a photographer who is selling pictures.

Robert Montgomery's picture

I find that knowing your target market helps greatly. Being film based, I cannot compete with the digital burners in price. Nor do I want too. My pricing is set accordingly. I don't lower the price because the next stall is lower. When asked, I usually say it wasn't printed by a computer, It's old school, I got my hands wet both colour and black and white.

Noah Stephens's picture

Marketing to insufferable hipsters is a completely valid business decision.

Robert Montgomery's picture

All the way to the bank.

Noah Stephens's picture

Well, so long as you know it is a marketing scheme and not a choice with practical merit. Everything that can be done with 35mm film can be done digitally with less money, time, and effort [1]. Film-only photographers are like organic produce: more expensive without any added value [2].

[1] https://petapixel.com/2015/05/26/film-vs-digital-a-comparison-of-the-adv...

[2] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/organic-food-no-more-nutritious-than...