Lauren, from Los Angeles, CA writes:
“I was trying to look on this site to see any data/info about rates for Los Angeles? I've been doing photography for 10 years initially with fashion but recently want to get into real estate/interiors. I tried researching online but most prices are for across the US and I think rates are higher in LA. I currently have my lowest rate at $250 but I'm wondering if I should price higher. Also, should I include my rates in my first email when I reach out to realtors or just introduce myself in the first email. Thanks!”
Hi Lauren. Unfortunately, PFRE doesn’t have any formal data store of rates on our site. It would be a nightmare to research, manage, and keep up-to-date--especially on a city-by-city basis. That said, there are typically a couple of variables that most people consider when trying to figure out initial rates. The first one, just to sit down in front of your computer and do some research on your local competitors. The odds are that a number of them will publish their rates on their website. If you find a number of photographers that do this, then you’ll be able to gauge the quality of your work against theirs. From there, if you see a competitor is charging X and you think you’re way better than them and then you see another competitor who’s charging Y but they’re way better than you, then you have a couple of reference points by which to “spitball” your initial pricing.
Even though doing this sort of analysis seems reasonable, please make sure that you do not make this your only form of analysis when establishing your fee schedule. Yes, it’s great to have some indication of what your competitors are doing but at the end of the day, you are the one who has to make a living at this. As such, you have to give some thought as to a number of variables, not the least of which is how much money to you need to cover expenses; how much money do you need to pay yourself to take into account your experience levels; and of course, having a little left over in the form of profit is always a good idea!
To give you a good flavor for processing this, here are a couple of articles written by Garey Gomez over a year ago. I’m pretty confident that these will be helpful to you.
Also, it's generally accepted that one of, if not, the best resource for tackling this topic, among many others important to professional photographers, is Best Business Practices for Photographers, by John Harrington.
In terms of your question related whether you should be including your rates as part of your introductory "reach-out" marketing emails, it’ll be interesting to see how others answer this question but for me, I personally wouldn’t. I just don’t think it’s appropriate in a first contact. My fee is something that I’d want to hold off on talking about until I connected with the client personally. Thanks for writing in, Lauren. Good luck!