Who wouldn’t want to dive deeper on the subject of earning your own income ? The most discussed topic about the photography practice is definitely pricing of your work. Especially, when you’re just starting out, you want to be clear on the photography prices for beginners.
If you’re wondering, “How much should I charge for my photography?” then this article will be for you. Pricing your work is a complicated topic but there are some basic guidelines to follow. Overall, avoid spending more than you make. This guide will help you understand what to charge.
In this pricing guide you will learn:
- Different types of rates
- How much to charge
- What to know when discussing prices with clients
I’ve had numerous conversations on the right pricing and when to actually know if you’re asking enough and when you’re undervaluing your work and charging way too little.
Whether you’re into in portrait, commercial, fashion, documentary, or wedding photography, images are always in high demand. You might discuss this topic with other photographers and they will tell you they price their work differently.
In order for you to make a knowledgeble decision in the future, I will go through different types of pricing and what other professional photographers charge here in Finland. Notice again, it might be different for you depending on where you live. So you should make some research on the prices your local photographers make so you can have a more clear estimate.
Beginner Pro Tip: When you’re just starting out, decide on the necessities for a great photoshoot and this way you’ll lower your overhead costs.
How To Calculate Freelance Photographer Costs
Freelance photography pricing is difficult but critical if you want to ensure you get paid the right amount for your work. I’ve outlined some key methods for setting your freelance photographer prices correctly.
There are two ways of creating a price for your work:
- Charging per hour
- Charging per a full day or half a day (fixed rate)
Add additional costs based on speciality and / or experience
1. Charging Per Photography Use
A typical method for setting freelance photography rates is usage-based pricing, such as high-quality images of their subject, product photography or portraits. This pricing will take into account on how your images will be used.
For example, if your photos will be used in a national campaign, you can charge more than if they’re going to be published in a local newspaper. Also the timeframe of the campaign is essential; are they being used for the upcoming year or for the next 5 years? Instead of charging per hour in this case, think about how wide the audience is going to be – the larger the audience the higher the fee.
2. Charging Per Hour
An hourly fee is a standard way of charging for example in event photography or corporate events. You could also use this rate type in photographing weddings, but some photographers also sell them as packages, with a fixed time period.
If you do decide to take this route, think carefully what are the prices you’re going to be charging. Check the pricing for the local photographers in your area and make an estimate of what you’d be happy to charge and avoid too much of the competition. Take into consideration, that you should also charge the preparation time and the post-production of editing and delivering the work.
Paying a Photographer By the Hour
Even if it seems a straightforward choice to make, when choosing to be paid as a photographer by the hour, you do need to carefully calculate the possible issues you might have down the line.
This is for you to avoid facing difficult conversations with your clients about the final price. When your fees are hugely job-dependent, consider tailoring your hourly rates to each client’s requirements. This way you’ll provide more value but still manage to keep it profitable.
3. Fixed Rates
Indeed, some photographers will sometimes charge a fixed price for a specific photoshoot. Like I mentioned above, I price some photoshoots based on the nature of the shoot, and only seldom changing the price depending on specific details like travel costs or rapid delivery of the final product. But again, this is going to be relevant after you are more comfortable with your skills and know how much time each client will take.
Beginner Pro tip: You can charge per hour for your first 20 photoshoots, and once you get more experience you will be able to evaluate what pricing would suite your way of working.
4. Charging Based On Experience
It’s clear without saying, that the experience is a huge factor when reasonably pricing your work.
Beginners: If you consider to be at this stage of your photography, you could be charging your services for between 30-60€ ($25-$75) per hour. This would be for imagery you take for small websites or local ads. You only need to know the fundamentals to be able to get your images published in one of these platforms.
Students: You have some knowledge on the fundamentals and have developed a style of your own, maybe even have a specific field you focus on. Photography students can charge a bit more since they have some formal training. The usual standard rate moves from 50-100€/hr (60-115$) depending how far along they are in their studies, and whether they have professional experience.
Entry-level photographers: This level is attained when you’re in the last stages of your education or just graduated. You have more professional experience and knowledge on photography history and can distinguish specific photography styles and methodologies. You can typically charge 50-150€/hr (60-170$)or 30-150€ (25-125$) per image.
Professional photographers: You have worked in the professional field for some years and can tell the differences between different photographers and their level of knowledge. You are knowledgeable in discussing your work, are able to promote your services and are a part of the photography field in some way. At this stage you can typically charge 200-400€/ hr (230-460$). You are expected to know how to photograph in different locations, experienced in lighting and printing. You handle post-production well and deliver your work in a timely manner.
You can always go up from here and again, these are not set in stone but are to guide you to know how much you could be charging.
5. Speciality Based Rates
If you decide to specialize on one area, you can then raise your prices for the right demand. This might not be something you look into right away, but once your practice starts feeling more personal and you’ve distinguished your way of photographing.
But I do also want to highlight that it is completely healthy to be an expert on multiple photography styles at the same time, but defining that one area to be great in, will also make it easier to be known for exactly that speciality. You can read my previous article on how to start a photography business.
By being an expert in a specific type of photography, specialized photographers have their work valued higher than general photographers. Here are some examples on how you can specialize:
- Contemporary / Art Photography
Choose your specialization based on your interests. But be aware also, that some of these are more lucrative than others: If your speciality requires more equipment, you can charge more for your services.
In the beginning, charging 30€/hr might be where you feel comfortable. But be aware – start raising your prices immediately when you notice you are being booked more and your expertise starts to take off.
Deciding what kind of role photography has in your life, you can price yourself better. If it’s a hobby, then sure thing, asking for a small fee is an additional income.
But if you’re thinking of turning it into something that will sustain your practice – you should know what kind of prices the local photographers take on specific events / photoshoots.
Half-a-day photoshoot – 400-800€ (460-930$)
Half-a-day- photoshoot consists of 2-4hrs of photography.
This can be anything from a portrait, commercial or even a wedding if you’d like.
You can price yourself depending on your expertise on the style of photography at hand, and also the budget that your client has in use.
I might charge 500-600€ (580-695$)/ portrait, but again, if there is a specific need to have the images ready within day, I’d add an extra fee of quick delivery.
If the client wants to have a two-for-one photoshoot (2 separate people, one photoshoot), I usually create a less costly package for them.
Full day photoshoot – 900-1500€ (1050-1700$)
Full day photoshoot consists of 5-8hrs of photography.
If the day is going to exceed these hours, you can then charge extra for any additional hours and charge per hour.
These types of commissions are usually used in commercial photography and any type of photography that is planned to be done within that one day.
Sometimes some sessions can be sold as packages based on the number of images, so the photographer knows in advance how much post-production might take and can curate a more suitable package for each client.
Beginner Pro Tip: In the beginning having lots of photography jobs might feel amazing, but be careful not to book yourself for too many small gigs with low profit. This in not sustainable in the long run.
What to consider when discussing the pricing with your client
Usually the photographer sends a budget estimate to the client and lists everything the fixed price will include. This way you ensure you get properly compensated and the client will get exactly what they want.
You should state the amount of the images, the possible print pricing, how many feedback rounds the client can have (some like to send them back and forth for days, you want to avoid this), and then of course travel costs and the actual duration of your shoot (hours / days). Larger commercial shoots might take some days.
If you don’t take the time to outline the scope of the project, it’s impossible to know what to charge. I’ve heard of cases where the amount of images or the feedback rounds were not discussed in advance which led the project to last for weeks on end and just exhausting both parties.
There are direct costs when producing your final product. If you provide prints of your images or photo books, the pricing will vary from the basic digital file photographers nowadays return.
Also remember to add packaging and shipping and even better if you have an estimate of these prices before you send out the package.
Before you order packaging materials in bulk, make sure your clients are interested in having the service of sending physical prints or books.
And you’re good to go
We have detailed the material costs and the overhead costs of photography pricing, and you should know now how to price your work.
You should always have an understanding on how much special services cost and if you have a small clientele, you might be able to charge more for a service – if they want you specifically to do it. For example, how much does a photoshoot cost to arrange? Will you be buying or renting your equipment?
So monitoring your costs, and knowing what elements a professional photoshoot consists of, you can build profitable professional business of your practise.