Deal 8: Here it is: The most requested deal of 2014!
It is not uncommon for entry level photographers to feel uncertain about what to charge for their work. Many feel as though price structures are the most complicated area of their business. As a result, these photographers under cut themselves and unknowingly undervalue their work.
Don’t be overwhelmed. Take the guess work out of pricing your work by thinking through the following aspects:
1. Know your market: What is the average value of photographers work in your area? Compare and contrast and decide where your work can fit in. Don’t forget to evaluate your service, quality of imagery, and professionalism.
2. Know your client: Some people would rather pay more for a service if it means higher quality. Some people cannot afford anything but the basics. Determine what clients you want to reach and begin arranging your price structure from here. Take note: Unless you are in similar circles and arena’s as your potential clients, you may find it difficult to keep to a higher price bracket.
3. Evaluate your investment: How much time to you put into a senior shoot? A wedding? Evaluate hours of prep, driving, shooting, editing, development, service, quality, and interaction. When you have an idea of your hours of investment per shoot, divide your price by this number. How much are you really making by the hour? What is your return on investment?
4. Determine your expenses: Every photographer has expenses above and beyond the time spent in a shoot. This is where many photographers fall short of “making it” in the business; they have not learned to identify the additional expenses of running this business outside jobs. Equipment costs. Time spent. Services. Presentation and packaging. Insurance. Unless your jobs can cover this overhead, you will be hurting for a way to increase your income. Add up this number to get a ball park figure of additional coverage from your jobs.
5. Establish your jobs: Total your hourly rate, and your expenses. This is the number you need to shoot for when pricing your work. After you have totaled this number, divide it by how many jobs you would like per year. This final number is what you ought to charge for your sessions and shoots. Of course, you may need to adjust your pricing more or less, or increase the number of jobs you aim for. At this rate, you will be able to target the pricing of your work to maximize your overall profitability.
August 9, 2013 09:00 am
John Parli's absolutely right about doing work for family. Doing business with family almost always ends quite badly. I don't make a living off photography, but I do make a living off Information Technology, and the exact same circumstances apply in regards to doing computer work for family members. They WILL expect you to work pro bono.
As soon as my career started budding, I had family members left and right contacting me to fix a PC or troubleshoot home networking issues. It became too much aside my regular job, so I put my foot down and began quoting them prices for my work. With the snap of a finger, 99% of them never asked me to do computer work again. I did have a bad fallout with a relative. Every single time I'd be at one of his gatherings, I'd end up stuck inside working on his computer while everyone else was outside having a good time. One day, I wasn't having it. We haven't spoken in well over a year.
So, my advice to Conrad would be very similar - be weary of providing any type of service to family that you would normally charge other people for. The only family members I will never charge for anything are my parents and my in-laws. Everyone else has to pay up.
April 4, 2013 09:22 am
Thank you for this well written article!
Annems and others about prints:
I just wrote an article about the costs of business for fine art photographers who produce their work as prints. So often photographers who sell their work as prints (versus services such as weddings and portraits) base their costs on just printing, framing and commission alone. But that can put an artist out of business pretty quickly.
Photographers who produce their work as prints need to be aware of their business costs prior to figuring out what price tag to put on their artworks.
I hope my article helps people. There is a great business calculator linked on my article too. I found it to be very helpful.
December 21, 2012 03:24 pm
Pretty legit post. Will definitely help out in my pricing.
September 11, 2012 11:50 pm
Auto Mechanics charge $80 an hour. With your paper note example, why should photographers only charge $20? As I think my equipment, rent and technical overhead is comparable it should be the same or greater. $20 an hour = 40,000 a year at full capacity. If a photographer wants to make a living to get by you must charge more to account for down time, holidays, benefits, etc!
April 19, 2012 11:55 pm
My photo pricing question is a bit unusual. I have a request for use as a stage backdrop & have no idea wht that is worth. Any help or suggestions are appreciated. Thank you.
March 13, 2012 12:05 am
i think this was an okay atricle but not enough. i'm starting out a photography business and i really need to know how to price everything. anyone who has a successfull photography company please contact me. i'll send my exsecutive summery to you. contact me through Email. please and thank you
March 6, 2012 01:50 am
@HANK. It's like you say. They want the world but refuse to pay for it. I think you and many others will enjoy this ranting by Harlan--> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE I love it! Free to a charity is one thing and be sure to write it off as such but they approached you. For starters I'd ask for their typical rates but sounds like they'll feed you a line. Base your fees on the amount of people seeing it. Large circulation in this case as its a publication and usage terms. Look into these resources. http://www.cradocfotosoftware.com/fotoQuote-Pro/ as a photo rate calculator. Also, The Photographers Marketplace may provide you with some standard rates for comparable companies in that market.
Long story short Hank. Charge your due. Don't settle for less or sell yourself short. If they won't meet to make both parties happy it may not be the client for you. And this goes for every genre of photography. After-all, is making a name for yourself as the lowballer worth $50? Once the low cost leader always the low cost leader. They'll keep coming back to you for the same rates. Consider that they want your work enough to hound you down so they may not have any other avenues available to acquire an image such as yours. Stand tall. Balls in your court.
March 6, 2012 01:35 am
First off NEVER give your photography away, it sends the wrong messege by saying you don't value your work. IF they want it bad enough they WILL pay YOUR price you have set. My suggestion is you sit down, go through your protfolio and ask yourself what you would pay for these photographs as if you were looking to purchase them from someone else, then add up your cost of what it took to take these photos i.e. gas, travel time, your time, etc.
One thing to consider, if they are using it one time only there is one fee but, if this one time only is going to be printed say in 10,000 brochures or books, magazines etc. then set a price X's that 10,000. For instance they offer you $50 for a photo, if it is going to be printed 10,000 times then it would be $50 x 10,000 = $500,000. If you only sell the photo for $1.00 x 10,000 that equals $10,000. Always find out what they want the photo for and how many will be printed and make sure the contract states what they want to use the photo for, how many brochures, magazines, books etc it will run in and for how long. And, always make sure you get a line of credit stating that you were the photographer. Hope this helps and good luck.
March 6, 2012 01:08 am
Hank, I would politely write them a letter and let them know that I charge "x" for all rights, which is probably what they expect. (That's pretty crummy, if you ask me!) I would let them know that youc annot sell the desired rights to them for such a low price, here is your asking price for all rights, and let it go.
It is one thing to volunteer a few times and donate your services to causes about which you care, but you have to draw the line. When I do shoots for my friends, they get the first one for free, and after that, I charge them, but at a lower rate than I'd charge a regular business client. If they can't pay, then we work out a barter. You can't do that with a large company, though.
I'm interested in hearing what some of the more seasoned pros have to say, but I would definitely say do not ever sell yourself short or let someone take advantage of you!
March 4, 2012 09:33 am
I made a mistake. It was not the National Conservancy. It was Nature Conservancy that I let use my photos http://www.nature.org/ which I figured was a good cause to let people use my Photos to help Conserve the Land and natural area's we have for wildlife and parks.I have never really done photography for money.It is something I have always done in my spare time or when I'm out hiking in the wilderness and traveling to new places.I would like to know what I should be getting for Photos being used for professional publishing companies as I said about books and magazines and I guess greeting card companies.I also had let a company working for my state government use some of my photos on the state Gov Website for Tourism for free as they had requested to use some.
March 4, 2012 09:02 am
I keep getting requests from book publishers ,magazine publishers,greeting card companies and others for permission to use my photographs for their own publishing.How do you set a price on that?Some tell me that they will include my name as a reference to who had done the photography and others that I know are going to make thousands if not millions on wildlife and identification reference books offer me only $50 for each photo and want me to sign a contract. The story I always get is ohh we only have a limited budget and can only pay you this much. I am thinking like really??How should I negotiate with them? .I let the national conservancy use my photos for stationary and flyers one time and then I get requests for more free use and lowball prices. If i could get decent prices,I could buy even better equipment and take a lot more photos of things that I missed because I couldn't zoom in close enough and not good quality.I don't mind letting some people use my photos for good causes but If people are going to have me waste my time signing a contract that binds me to whatever they want,I'd like a little more than $50.
February 2, 2012 03:49 am
My "Old Prestigious" Boarding school in New Zealand are showing a keen interest in my Black & White photos (Mint Condition) They show my Headmaster standing next to Prince Andrew at the school Chapel in 1983. I know that these pics can be used by the school in T.V Documentaries / Websites / Photo & Card Sales / Books / Magazines / Souvenirs...
How much should i ask???
November 19, 2011 04:05 am
Hello i am just staring off my business and have NO CLUE what to charge people for their photos. I have MANY wanting wedding, engagement photos, parties, family portraits and other types of shoots. What should i charge? HELP!!!!
September 14, 2011 04:45 am
It doesn't matter if you're just out of school or not. Your selling your talent as a photographer, not your age. If your images are professional, charge professional prices (see what local portrait studios are charging).
And don't give them a CD of the images. If you do, they will make their own prints and you won't get anything. Create a webpage with the images that they can look at, or get together and show them the images on a computer, and they can select what they want.
Good luck with this.
September 13, 2011 10:13 am
Hi there i'm just about finished school about a month away and i have been ask by 4 different families and a couple to do family photos for fall in October and i would put them on CD and let them choose which photos they would like to have printed as a 8x10, 2 5x7's and some wallet sizes, but i have really no idea what to charge? I was going to charge 150-200 just cause i'm just getting out of school. But i do want to make some money as this is going to be my career but also dont want to be over-priced either just for a beginner out of school.
If anyone can suggest anything that would be awesome. Thank you
September 5, 2011 04:05 am
I do mainly wildlife and landscape photography. My cousin-in-law has a mud bog, for those not familure it is for 4WD vehicles to play in the mud. Any way, he wants me to not only photograph the trucks going though the bog, he wants me to also make the fliers promoting this weekend event. I'm stuck on pricing.
When he was first getting started, out of the kindness of my heart (and stupidity) I wasn't charging him for my "services" but, the time has come to set a price. I have no compition in my area for the photography or designing and printing of the fliers. I do the photography, editing, design the fliers and print them.
I would appreciate if someone could give me an idea of a starting price.
Thank you in advance.
June 23, 2011 11:36 pm
Those people were right: Your quote was more than generous!
Think of it this way, though: You probably avoided working with a nasty client!
June 22, 2011 03:43 pm
^^^Under construction^^^ I recently had a relative (my cousin) ask me to shoot head shots for her daughter's sweet 16 party. Like a VIP thing. I figured I would bring lights, all my camera equipment, 2 hours of shooting, cart all my equipment away, editing and a cd with the final images. I told her $150 and she was appalled. This is a person that has more money than God (which I know doesn't matter). Everyone I talked to said I should quote her three times that much. The funny thing is, is that her husband is a tile installer and he did my tile in 1999. I estimated he took about 14-17 hours laying and grouting the tile, plus his time with the estimate and picking up the tile. He charged me $3495 for the job. And I never said a thing. I was happy with his work. But after her attitude towards MY price, I thought she has a lot of balls!
April 26, 2011 01:49 am
Amber, I would suggest you try to stay in the ballpark of what others in your area are charging. Aside from being 15, if you can produce quality images that they love and do so in a professional manner you should deserve every penny. Don't sell urself short just to land a gig (aside from a port builder or two if need be) or you will soon become the "cheap photographer". Its hard to shake that. And you also don't want to drive down prices by offering a lot for a little.
Best Of Luck!
April 23, 2011 06:41 am
I'm still having problems deciding on the price for photos. I'm 15 and I'm taking pictures at the park, my house, and places they would like to have them done at. I'm having a little photo shoot this weekend and it would be nice to know what to charge so I don't get taken advatage of.
April 15, 2011 02:34 pm
A good similarity in the "high" price for 4 hours of wedding photography is a stage production. In the price of admission, are you paying for the actors/actresses and other staff for just a few hours of a show on stage? No, there's much more that went on behind the scenes to make it happen.
January 13, 2011 02:42 pm
John, you should price as you are comfortable. Some people just say 3 times your retail cost for the prints. Others add in other factors.
I'm thinking about raising my own prices, because they've been the same for a few years, but you really shouldn't worry about what others think about your pricing.
You DO want to make sure you are making a profit and charging for any time you spend on the photo, of course (like if you do your own framing and also based on how much post processing you do.)
Just my two cents.
JenniferLynn Productions, LLC
December 28, 2010 01:03 pm
I have been selling 8x10 prints without matting or frame for $20 plus tax, but now some people want 11x14 and I am not sure how much to charge, I just charged one person $35 plus tax, is this not enough to other photographers told me I should have charged $50, plus the photo just won a contest so I was told you should charge more because of that as well, pricing seems to get so confusing, I just dont want to cheat people or myself, so please give me some advice.
November 22, 2010 09:17 am
Sorry Conrad but I'd suggest running away as fast as you can. Shooting for friends and family with the intent on making anything off it is just a cruel joke we put ourselves through constantly. I know, I know, they said don't worry... just charge 'em what you normally would. Well, my friend, when it comes down to it they just want it for free. The going rate for shoots such as these is 10% more than normal in hopes of driving them to someone else : ) It just makes for a sticky situation in my eyes. Now, maybe it has worked out some of the times but the majority I would say are a waste of time and mainly energy and broken relationships. I could go on and on but that's my two cents. I would strongly urge you against it unless you really really need some portfolio work. Just play like a pro and not a pal. They are hiring you as a professional.
Best Of Luck Conrad!
November 21, 2010 03:34 pm
I am a student with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh's Photography Program. I am hoping to eventually become a Professional Photographer, many of my friends that know I am studying for this are already asking me to take their family pictures and such. I have no idea where to begin telling them a price for the sessions. If anyone would be willing to help me out, any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
September 5, 2010 08:12 am
There is an old saying: ( the reason people do not make more money than they do is, That they do not
ask for it. I have been self employed for 40 years and I see this time and time again.
August 21, 2010 01:18 am
Christina started a good discussion here. Above, Hal mentioned the father of the bride being amazed at a price tag for four hrs of work. As he stated he explained the reasoning. GREAT job! It is our duty as photographers to educate our clients. Don't undervalue your work to please them. Explain yourself and educate others on the work involved on the back end of things and more times than none the client is cool. This is an art and a profession after all.
August 11, 2010 07:06 am
Determining an hourly rate is a starting point, but I would not suggest quoting a fee based on the number of hours a project will take. As you gain experience you will find that you shoot faster, and thus complete an assignment faster, so as you get better, you earn less. I would suggest using the hourly rate to determine your bottom line, then increase your fee to reflect your expertise. Your neighbor may charge you $5 for a fantastic print of Yosemite, But an Ansel Adams print from the same vantage point will cost more. Part of what a client pays for is the photographers expertise and ability to deal with problems that come up. The ability to get the photo, no matter what problem comes up, has value.
Absolutely determine your hourly rate, that's what you need to pay your bills, but then add on a fee for your knowledge, experience and professionalism.
July 20, 2010 04:05 am
Hi, I would like to know have much to charge for my photo's, I've been asked to take head shots of 9 or 10 individuals and put them on CD. How many images should I put and charge for the cd's and how much should be my hourly rate
May 20, 2010 07:41 pm
Very interesting site, this is a difficult problem in knowing what to charge, I would love to know what to charge for images that will be used for a website.
November 27, 2009 03:48 pm
I've asked the question "what should I charge" before and usually get an answer from people similar to number 1. above. "Know your market". That's all well and good, but to know your market you need to find out what other photographers in your area are charging. A great many of them don't post this information on their websites; they expect you to call them for a custom quote. So, it can be hard to get this information.
I agree with what Jen M. said. This came at just the right time as I have been asked by an old high school classmate if I would shoot her wedding in January. I've never done a wedding before and had no idea what to charge. She doesn't have high expectations. She wanted someone affordable and I'm wanting to build a portfolio, so it works out well for both of us.
That link posted by Meagan Summers was absolutely awesome!! What a great followup comment. The information there was really useful as well. DPS should consider doing a more in depth article such as what was posted at that link.
November 17, 2009 07:07 am
This is a great article to help you personally and to help those newbie photographers who ask you, "how do I know what to charge." I was just asked that question today. Thanks for giving me an article to share with them!
November 11, 2009 07:58 am
Wow. This article and the follow up comments are fantastic! I really appreciate all of the information here.
I'm primarily an art photographer, but will take on promotional jobs (musicians, products, etc.) and have not had a clue as to what to charge.
This has been very, very helpful!
JenniferLynn Productions, LLC
October 28, 2009 12:40 pm
What about weddings? I have only done one wedding, and it was for a family member. I did it as their wedding gift. Now, after seeing the photos, I'm getting requests for pricing info. I notice most photographers do the wedding books. I have never done one and to be honest, the thought terrifies me! What is a good price method for weddings in a small town?
October 22, 2009 08:37 pm
It's a good start to be thinking towards an hourly wage, even better a salary, but there are so many other elements to consider for a freelancer when pricing: overhead costs to keep your operation physically running, taxes, retirement/pension, insurance, marketing, equipment and computer upgrades, continuing education and training, and the list goes on. A hobbyist shoots for beer money, but a freelancer can't survive for long at those rates. "Take home pay" is just a slice of a freelance photographer's rate.
I would argue that you might be undercutting yourself and undervaluing your work.
October 20, 2009 04:07 pm
I have been taking a course with a well known landscape photographer. Part of the class is on marketing your work. He says that an hourly charge for a "photographer for hire" rate is cheap at $100.00 per hour. He says most are getting $200-300 per hour.
That must be understood as different from coming up with a price for a print you are selling.
October 20, 2009 01:44 am
Must read article on pricing structure: http://mcpactions.com/blog/2009/10/12/how-should-i-price-my-photography-words-of-advice-from-jodie-otte/
Best article i've ever read on really understanding what goes into our prices.
October 18, 2009 10:00 am
annems - triple or quadruple your COSTS. The "norm" is 2.25 times your cost, but if they really want your work, they will pay the price you put on it, period. Example - I get 24" x 36" prints and I sell them at 4 times my cost, and that is print only.
October 17, 2009 07:02 am
I have just entered 3 images into a local (country town) art show held during a big market day weekend at the local church hall.
They have asked for a price on each image.
This is a first for me so I have not used archival paper or mat - just some Ikea frames (A3 size,mat included).
The images are glossy 8X12.
My thoughts were to cover the cost of the printing + frames + entry fee + 20% church commission and then I get confused . . . . I am proud of the images but I am still a happy hobbyist. . .
any tips???? . . . ;)))
October 16, 2009 11:38 pm
A good article. I agree with Jitzul: Approaching your client with a per hour number may become the deal breaker as hearing "$100 p/hr" may freak them out and get them calculating the hours they think you'll need.
I have also had friends encouraging me to up my prices simply because they know that I not only do whatever I can to get the best shots possible, but the care I take in going through every shot in post pays off in reputation points, leading to more clients. It's a tricky part of this business, but as the article expresses (and I have been learning) calculating your time and expenses outside of the actual shoot are things we newbies pass off, so be careful to understand your TOTAL value.
October 16, 2009 11:07 pm
THANK YOU for this article. As a very new NEWBY, I struggle with this ALL the time. THANKS AGAIN!
October 16, 2009 09:40 pm
I can't tell you how many bride's fathers (who have to write the check, but seldom see the work done) who have said to me, "I can't believe you're charging me so much for FOUR HOURS of work!
I have to gently explain to them that, from first meeting, through formal sitting, casual sitting, selection meeting, wedding (the 4 hours), processing, printing, book choice meeting, book assembly, portrait printing and final delivery, a wedding photographer puts in about FORTY hours!
Then I say, "I don't know how much you need for YOUR 40 hours of work, but I know how much I need! They usually understand, then.
The point is that the customer has to be educated as to what he/she is getting when they hire a professional.
October 16, 2009 08:55 pm
I include everything, calls, text messages, equipment hire (don't have my camera as yet), transport.
The shoot itself: type of shoot/hours taken which I label as labour/ creative
Post-production: editing, packaging.
October 16, 2009 11:32 am
Great article and it touches on points that most customers don't also realize - that there's more work than capturing the photographs.
"Preserving the memories so others will remember..."(tm)
October 14, 2009 11:20 pm
I was asked recently how much I would charge to do a group portrait. As I do not normally do portraits I was stumped for a response. This article has given me a starting point to come up with one. Thank you!
October 14, 2009 01:42 pm
I used a sample format for CDB (Costof Doing Business) worksheet. added all of the vairables to establish my base price per hour. When it comes to doing jobs outside of my normal business I give a daily quote and discount it based on the work/shoot to be done. If I do portraits for friends or family I quote my standard rate with a discount. That way when someone see my work and asks, I have told my friends and family that they got a discount, and it is reflected in an invoice they get. I don't undercut myself for what my rate should be, and if I feel that I can work with a new client I can comprimise without killing my self. Hope this makes sense.
October 14, 2009 09:14 am
I went through this when I got asked for a quote for my first job. I would have charged far less, but a friend urged me to get my price up, so I set it at $600 for a full-day shoot + $300 for post-processing, making it $900 per day of shooting. I held my breath as I passed the quote across the desk, but I got the contract.
October 14, 2009 04:25 am
Another thing worth noting is that pricing by the hour is not a very client friendly method as it is very hard to exactly predict hours before-hand and the client almost always wants a final price. It is much better to generate a single static price with a very specific list of deliverables.
In order to calculate the final price, do like above and calculate an hourly rate and then estimate the total hours. However, the hourly rate itself should remain confidential from the client. Most clients don't think in terms of expenses and such, if you go in and say that you charge $100/hr, they immediately think that is full profit and in their head they being calculating exactly what you make a year, so in their mind they figure out how much you make at 8 hours a day, 52 weeks a year and they start to think, man this guy is greedy, if he charges $100/hr he makes over $200 000/year! They don't consider that you will not often be booked 40 hour/week and they also don't consider the other expenses associated with creating what you create.
With an quote, be as concise as possible. Have a specific list of exactly what you will give. How many photos, In what form they will be delivered, how long it will take, how long you will spend on site shooting etc. Also it is often wise to come up with a few quotes with different options to give the client choice.
Try to make your estimate as detailed and concise as possible and also try to leave openings so that you can "over-deliver", for example, if you plan to deliver 40 photos, deliver 45 and make sure the client knows that you gave them some "extra" as a bonus. Remember that 95% of their opinion of you is formulated by the final 5% of the job.
October 14, 2009 03:23 am
Very good and helpful article; but what about art photos. What is the price of limited edition framed & signed photos?
I'll be honest; I consider base costs such as framing and printing etc. and then I add some tags based on my own feelings about the photos. For some of the photos such as prestigious award winners I'm not reducing the price. But sometimes I feel like I need to reduce the prices and I do so.
In Turkiye, there is a very small market for art photography and there are very few number of art photographers. Maybe you know more about art photography price tags. I would love to read an article about that as well.
October 14, 2009 03:05 am
Thanks for this article! I think we too often under value the time that goes into a session. The client only sees the hour you spend with them when you're behind the camera. They forget the numerous emails, calls, travel and editing.
October 14, 2009 03:00 am
In response to the picture in this article, it says 3 hours shooting and 6 hours of editing.
I learned that you should not be longer busy with editing then shooting. So if your shoot is 3 hours, then you should edit for a maximum of 3 hours. If that isn't the case, then you are doing something wrong.
October 14, 2009 02:15 am
I have established prices for my "standard" photography services. The challenge in pricing I have found comes from requests that go outside those standard photography services. Like last week a videographer wanted me to just shoot behind the scenes shots of his product set at two different locations. Also, shoot the models with the product as best I can given the setting when time permits. No editing required, just submit the photographs.
I came up with $50 an hour because I knew the job would be 9am to at least 5pm affair. It ended up going to 6pm and I was very satisfied with the pay rate I got for the job considering the hours I put in.
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