Business + Marketing

Simplify Your Boudoir Photo Pricing and Increase Sales

June 28, 2022

By Aimee Baldridge

Your schedule is booked, your shoots are awesome, and your albums bring clients to tears. But when it comes to your finances, the struggle still feels pretty real. What gives? We asked Hamilton, Ontario–based photographer and business coach Tanya Smith to break down her boudoir photography pricing for us as her own boudoir photo business continues to flourish.

Boudoir photography pricing coach Tanya Smith.
Tanya Smith.

“My average sale now is a little over $5,000 per client,” she says. It wasn’t always that way. “I did what everybody does at the beginning,” she recalls, meaning she set her prices to match the competition. “I think they started at $500 or $600 for my lowest package, and everyone bought the lowest one. Then I tried to multiply the cost of my albums by three or four times. Then one person tell me I was too expensive, and I would lower my prices.”

What turned things around? “I was newly divorced, and I didn’t want to be a single mom working all the time and never seeing my kids,” she explains. Smith reviewed her costs, including not just the cost of goods like albums and overhead for space and staff, but also marketing and vacation time. Then she considered how much time she wanted to spend working.

[Read: Boudoir Photography Ideas on Style, Location, Posing & More]

“It was really eye opening,” she says, “because I realized: ‘Hey, these are my money goals. I can actually do this if I put my prices here. Yes, it’s going to be more per client and I’m getting more no’s because my prices are higher, but I don’t need as many yeses. I only want to shoot one to two times a week.” These days, she uses detailed spreadsheets to set her prices, but she says even a simple calculator can help you get started.

There’s one thing Smith doesn’t include in her calculations anymore: what the competition is charging. “I don’t know if the guy down the road is profitable or how much he’s working,” she points out. “You have to do your own numbers.”

[Read: Advertising Boudoir Photography: 10 Ways to Promote]

Smith took another important step by simplifying her pricing: “I just charge per image,” she says. “If you want these 21 images, it costs you $3,200. Would you like that in an album or digitally? If you want both, you pay that price for the album, and then the digital images are an add-on. It’s $690 for the digital images, no matter how many you choose.”

She says simplifying her pricing made it much easier for her clients to make choices. “Once I did that, everything changed,” she says. “Now, my prices start at $1,690 and go up to $4,200 or more.” Smith recommends making sure that you’re charging enough for the package that has the highest cost of goods for you, and then stepping down from there.

Charging a fee instead of just throwing the digitals in for free also gives her an upselling strategy when clients are deciding between packages. She offers to include the digitals as a gift if they buy the pricier album. On the invoice, she includes the digital fee as a -$690 discount.

One of the most important changes Smith made didn’t require a calculator. “There’s something you have to get straight in your head,” she says. “I’m a business. I want to be profitable. I’m not doing this for charity, and I’m not going to take time away from my family, my kids, and the things I like to do by shooting basically for free. So part of the work is your mindset around accepting money and charging what you’re worth. And that part is probably the most difficult part.”

Editor’s Note: Prices mentioned here are in U.S. dollars. Smith advises students to charge and implement these these boudoir photography pricing whether they are in the U.S. or Canada. “Thinking that my prices need to be adjusted to reflect the currency exchange is a type of limiting belief that my success is only because I charge in Can dollars,” she explains. “The exchange rate fluctuates, but it should not have anything to do with how you price as a photographer (or businessperson in general). If you do your full CODB, you will know what you need to charge to be profitable and to reach your income goals.

Tanya Smith is an Ambassador for The Boudoir Album and uses the brand exclusively. She has been a women’s portrait photographer since 2011. With a background in corporate banking and sales, she is constantly on the hunt for how to better run a boudoir photography business. She has been mentoring and coaching other boudoir and portrait photographers since 2017. Here’s how you can learn more about her boudoir photography pricing and other business topics to keep your brand thriving:

Aimee Baldridge is a New York-based writer who covers the art, technology and business of photography and filmmaking.