I was recently asked by a fellow photographer whether shooting studio portraits is sufficient to make a living in Hong Kong. To be completely honest with you, the answer is no. Luckily, I don't depend on my photography to support me and my family. I am doing this simply because I love portrait photography. Whatever I make from the practice goes back into photography and more.
In Hong Kong, photographers who take their craft as seriously as I do normally charge ten times what I charge. I thought about pricing my sessions at a similar point, but I think that would limit me to serving only people in a certain economic position. I don't want to do that. I want to produce art for people who love it, not just for those who can afford it.
The truth is, my price is only symbolic compared to my cost.
To give you an idea of what I mean, I use a customized state-of-the-art medium format digital camera system that costs upward of HKD 200,000. On any given day, I could rent it out and get HKD 10,000 in rental income. I keep my own studio instead of renting outside studio. So, even without taking into account the cost of my time, it would be insane to price each session below HKD 20,000. Yet, my packages start at HKD 2,000. That is why I say my price is only symbolic.
But you may ask, "If your price is only symbolic, why don't you give it out for free?" Well, first of all, there are running costs for the business, such as studio rent and equipment. Even the fact that you are seeing this will probably cost money.
But most importantly, the type of work that I produce requires the subject to be a part of it. Mentally, they have to really want a good portrait of themselves. I find that without skin in the game, people usually don't take this seriously. I even had situation where the sitter just didn’t show me. And when they do, the result is often mediocre work that ends up wasting both my and the sitter's time.
That is why I price my packages the way they are. I want to create a good portrait for those of you who really want one. If that is you, don't wait to book a session today!