Why some people pay thousands for family portraits and why I paid £360 for a shoe insole

Bear with my little story I’m about to tell. It reveals why some photographers can charge vastly more than others and still have delighted clients, despite the end product being virtually worthless.

I’ve been going to a chiropractor for several years. I pay £35 per session and must have paid about £500 over the course of our relationship. My back is much better than it used to be.

About 18 months ago I started to get a searing pain in my left hip. It would last for 4 or 5 days and then go away for a couple of months, before returning.

A wedding photographer with a dodgy hip is about as useful as a short-tempered yoga instructor!

A few weeks ago I decided I had to get it looked at before I ended up swearing in pain while one of my brides made her grand entrance.

My doctor told me he thought it was trochanteric bursitis (an inflamed tendon). He referred me to a physio. The physio looked at me for 2 seconds (literally) and told me I had one leg longer than the other. He recommended I go to the local pharmacy and get an insole for my shoe and to do some leg exercises.

Huh, I didn’t need all those chiro sessions after all, I only needed a £10 insole. Aren’t I a numb-nut?

I mentioned my ordeal to a woman I know who has every ailment under the moon and stars. She recommended I go and see the foot clinic she goes to for her insoles. “They’re so professional and they’ll take really god care of you”, she said.

When I went to see them I experienced what I can only compare with the scene from Rocky IV. The one where Ivan Drago goes through his training regime.

They used lasers to create a digital map of my foot; they used pressure pads to show how my weight was distributed; they had me on a treadmill; they poked and prodded me; they asked me about my hobbies and life style. They cared. They took their time. I started to like them.

I was there an hour, compared with the 2 second diagnosis from the government enlisted physio.

The net result? I don’t have one leg longer than the other. I have massively fallen arches on my feet and I’m constantly leaning forward so my knees, back and hip are all displaced and under pressure.

When they told me the insoles would be £360 I was surprised at the high price, but there was no way I was going to say no. These guys had earned my complete trust. They had been immensely thorough, used some very cool but effective software and I could see the value in everything they’d done. And in the end, I got the result I wanted – peace of mind that all my aches and pains would be gone and that I was finally on the right track.

To cap it all, they offered me a money-back guarantee. If the pain wasn’t gone in 3 months they’d give me my money back.


£360 was way more than I hoped to spend. However, £360 to rid myself of back backs, cracking knees and an agonising hip was an absolute bargain. I’m delighted my friend recommended this private clinic.

The funny thing is the insole is just a piece of moulded material that’s virtually worthless – just like a piece of photographic paper.

It’s the service that creates the value.

Charge 5-10 times more than other photographers and still have happy clients

Just like those foot specialists you need to add value to your service. You can do many of the things they did:

  • Offer a money-back guarantee
  • Use amazing software like Proselect that wows your clients
  • Blow your clients minds with the best quality prints, frames, albums etc you can find.
  • Talk to your prospects in great depth to find out what they’re looking for. This shows you care, shows you’re thorough and that you know your stuff
  • Be as charming as hell! Just yesterday I connected with a wedding planner on Facebook and simply asked her that if she needed some photography for her business I’d do it free. I said I always like to support my colleagues in the wedding industry and that I was here to help if she needed me. She said other photographers were only interested in promoting themselves and that she liked my attitude. She is now meeting me next week because she wants me as her wedding photographer (paid – although discounted) and she’s already put me on her referral list despite being surprised by how high my prices are.

Check out our free ebook that demonstrates more ways you can differentiate your photography.

Help your clients see the value of working with you versus those shoot and burners. Help clients see you don’t just process them like they’re in a production line; you plan everything so they end up with a bespoke product that truly touches their heart.

Too many photographers get tricked into thinking their images aren’t that valuable because the paper is relatively cheap. It may only be a piece of paper worth little more than an insole, but it still has enormous emotional value.

You don’t have to be the photography equivalent of a £10 insole. You’re better than that. At least, I know you want to be.

Push your chest out and shout it out loud “I’m a £360 insole, because I’m better, I care more, I offer better service, better products, I do things properly, I plan everything perfectly – I’m worth it!”

So, if insoles can vary from £10 to £360 then perhaps now you can see why photographers can vary too.

By the way, if I’d gone to the clinic’s website and seen that insoles were £360 I’d have never have gone there and I’d have had arthritis in 10 years time.

There are people out there who don’t just want a CD. They want quality printing and framing because they’re too busy to do it themselves and don’t know how. They’ve got the money and just want someone to take the time to help them.

Not a shoot and burner.

Most photographers aren’t trying to target these people. That’s great. More for us.

Different people care about different things. Some people want sporty cars even if they’re on benefits or live with their parents. Some people drinking £500 bottles of wine. Others will happily put a thousand or two into family portraits.

My vice? I love travelling.

I’d love to hear what yours is in the comments below.