5/11/22: This article has been updated and fact checked. All packages mentioned below reflect each photographer’s current 2022 pricing models.
Two senior portrait photographers—Travis Dewitz from Wisconsin and Talara Jo Hall from Kentucky—dissect the thinking behind their successful pricing packages.
There’s no question for Travis Dewitz as to where the core of his senior portrait business falls along his five-piece offerings. “The top seller is pretty even between the two- and three-look packages,” he says, noting that these comprise roughly 85 percent of his entire senior business. The four-look package makes up an additional 13 percent of orders, Dewitz estimates, and the one-look and five-look options make up only two percent.
“L1 is really for those parents who want a professional yearbook photo, but aren’t able to justify a more creative senior session in their budget,” he says. While L5 is similar to L4, for an additional $245 clients get hair and makeup services, a $150 print credit and a USB with the edited images from the session at no additional charge, but only a few dive into pulling the trigger on Dewitz’s most expensive option.
“My package pricing is based on business expenses and time,” he says, and they are also built to compete with other photographers in the local Wisconsin portrait market. His prices do fall on the higher end, he says, but, “I believe my work has the quality to command above-average pricing from those clients that want my look for their portraits.”
Time allocations in Dewitz’s packages are set as maximums, he says, “and many sessions are done under the limit. It really just helps the client prepare for how long the session could last, and adds value for the price to many.” The time allocation also allows for clothing and location changes, as well as general face-time with the seniors, he says, which is often used to “help them feel comfortable and confident while working with me”—a valuable consideration for any portrait photographer.
Travis Dewitz’s Upselling Wisdom
- “Selling a more expensive package is easiest for me when customers want the USB. That’s why the price for the USB gets reduced as the packages bulk up,” he explains. Note: “The USB includes all images sized to be printed up to 5 x 7 inches. Clients love having this control of their images and the ability to share them digitally, but I require larger sizes to be printed through me so that I can maintain the quality of work I want on people’s walls. I take the time to explain the differences in print quality for this reason.”
- He doesn’t include a lot of time for multiple outfit changes or locations in the lower-end packages. “This way it’s easier to sell the higher-end packages, which have longer time limits, to those clients that want multiple looks,” Dewitz notes.
- He offers prints à la carte, and this usually adds an additional $300 to $400 above the package price. “Metal prints are currently my biggest add-on, and the most popular order is an 11 x 14-inch print mounted on Styrene.”
Talara Jo Hall
Building a relationship with seniors is an important part of Talara Jo Hall’s business model as well, and her two main package options—called the Junior Varsity and Varsity packages—include either two or four sessions, respectively.
“It allows my clients to look back on their senior year season by season,” Hall says. That means she’s taking portraits in the summer, fall, winter and spring, capturing the beauty of the environment and the senior’s progression throughout the year. “It all comes together to tell their story, and that’s good stuff!”
Talara Jo Hall’s Upselling Wisdom
Hall says the Kentucky senior portrait market is crowded with professional portrait photographers, so beyond differentiating her business with seasonal photography options and competitive pricing (her two main packages, Junior Varsity and Varsity, cost $500 and $800, respectively), she also likes building a reputation for engaging and creative sessions. “I love to hear clients say that they wanted to have senior pictures done by me because I seem fun,” Hall says, which is also why she chose clever, high school-related names for packages.
The majority of her customers will book the Varsity session, and for those who don’t, it’s rarely the price that’s the issue. “Seniors who choose the Junior Varsity session have a lot going on, whether it’s sports or school or a job,” Hall explains. “They simply can’t fit in four sessions throughout the year, so the two seasonal sessions work better with their lifestyle, but it still allows us to tell their story more than once.”
“If I do have an opportunity to convince a client to move from the Junior Varsity to the Varsity package, I first bring to the table the quantity of picture differences between having two sessions versus four sessions,” she says. “Not only do clients get more pictures, but we can also photograph more concepts. To be honest, in my neck of the woods, the seasons do the hard work for me because clients usually get so conflicted about which two to shoot in for the Junior Varsity package—every season is beautiful in Kentucky! At that point, they end up talking themselves into the Varsity package because they don’t want to miss out.”
UPDATED 5/11/22: Hall has recently begun selling “One and Done” packages for $350, that includes one session in the client’s desired time of year, a session planning consult, location and outfit consulting, 2-3 outfits and 2 locations. Add-ons are an extra charge, i.e. a 48-hour turnaround option for $75/session and a $50 travel fee for out of town shoots.