The number one question I get asked as a professional photographer is, “How do you price your photography services?” Well, that is something, as a budding photographer, you should have ready in your back pocket. I decided to put together a guide to help you navigate pricing your photography services. You will be able to determine what the right pricing and packaging are for you and your photography services.
Getting the prices of your photography services down is not the easiest thing to do. Creating a comprehensive pricing model for photography services is often complicated. There are a plethora of photography services at your disposal. And many beginner photographers struggle at introductory pricing their photography services. You do not want to price below your offering, leaving well-earned money behind. You also do not wish to cheat your clients for everything they have. Either avenue can leave you with negative reviews.
How do you find the right pricing for your photography services?
It’s best to look at industry standards when figuring out your professional photography prices. The problem I see with the photography industry is that digital photography is full of all kinds of software, social media, and the business is changing at every moment. That has saturated the market. And now, we see photography services at low prices, often done by amateurs. That being said, photography prices have gone down. It is essential, now more than ever, to show your value to clients on the web and on social media. It’s time to take a real hard look at your photography value, and what you offer to clients. Your quality must be supreme to justify higher prices. Showing your audience your photography talent rather than telling is vital here.
You are a trusted professional photographer. That means that you know your brand more than anyone else. Your prices should reflect your professional brand. Beginners should first look at a cost-plus-profit model. As time goes on, you’ve collected many clients that you can start turning down projects, you can then charge more. This will, in-turn, reflect your increased market value. Now is the time to price your photography at a premium. You will have then earned the price.
Considerations for developing your photography prices
There is a lot that goes into earnings for photographers. It is first going to depend on your specialty within photography, how many sessions are involved, the number of prints offered, and touch-ups your subjects get. Figuring out how much to price your photography services will span across multiple avenues based on what services you will deliver to your clients. Please, always include base costs, expenses, and a successful business plan. It would be disappointing to have an unprofitable business model.
Here’s what the basic prices of your photography should include:
Business running costs + Cost of materials (cameras, lenses, backdrops, travel) + Cost of your time and labor + Profits + Taxes = Your pricing
Now, let’s look into what the cost of running your business in photography looks like:
For your business costs in photography, you need to map out all of your business running costs. First, document everything involved in keeping your photography business afloat, including fixed costs and variable costs. Everything should be kept in a spreadsheet or on paper. The business costs associated will include:
- Equipment such as cameras, lenses, lighting, repairs, and replacement costs.
- Costs of running a studio, including rental fees.
- Marketing materials, including business cards, social media, advertisements, websites, and networking costs.
- Paying for any professional services such as assistants, second-shooters, accountants, and more.
- Any other incurred expenses for running your business.
How to figure out Cost-of-Goods-Sold (COGS)
If you have taken an accounting or business class, you may have heard of COGS. It equals the total cost of producing your goods or services, including labor and materials. COGS includes the cost of prints, post-production (editing and web), packaging, and shipping charges. Remember to keep in mind your photo editing retouching services, and do not be afraid to include the cost in your pricing list. Remember, lots of time is spent on editing and retouching photography, so you may also want to think of hiring companies that include those services to save you time. Then, factor these costs into your pricing for photo editing. Note: any hidden costs associated with delivering your photography work should also be included in the pricing of your photography services. This may consist of any proofing or storage of image files.
Your time and labor come at a cost, too.
Time means money. Do not cheat yourself out of the time and money spent on delivering quality photography to your clients. Always factor in the cost of time and labor for every assignment you do. If you are a wedding or event photographer, always factor in pre-production, travel, and meetings for your clients. You also need to include time for equipment setup, the time it takes to shoot your photography, any delays, and post-production time. Think about how long these variables realistically take. Remember, you may have overages at some point, so be realistic about that, too.
All about photography business profit margins
Once you have figured out all of the above, it is time for profit margins. This is where your take-home income is sorted out. Remember, each project is going to be different from the other. You still want to get to the right margin, though.
Here are some factors in deciding the profit margin:
Always do a competitive analysis. Look at other photographers in your vicinity and see what their rates look like. You also want to make sure you are looking at the same niche as yours. So, if you are a wedding photographer, look at other wedding photographers. Same with portrait photographers and commercial photographers. Competitive prices are going to either make you or break you, so make sure you are charging competitively. Most clients shop around local photographers. But don’t set your prices too low or high, as prospective clients may not take you seriously. Instead, keep a price range to give flexibility to your clients and keep you on track with your profit margin.
You also want to look at your perceived value. It’s keen to know the quality of your photography services. Of course, the experience will give you the advantage. That doesn’t mean you need harsh low prices because you are a beginner. The perceived value of your photography business is diminished if you charge too small of a price. And remember to never work for free. Be fair and run special discounts so you can build your portfolio at the same time.
Consider your photography quality and how professional you are:
Weigh the benefits you bring to your clients. Maybe you have extensive training. Perhaps the pre and post-production quality of your work is exceptionally high. Your training and quality assure your clients that you will do perfect work 100% of the time. Your experience will give you the advantage to capture the best shots. Remember, as time goes on and you have built a portfolio, your skills will improve.
Top of the line photography equipment is going to score you some brownie points with your clients, especially in the commercial sector. Your cameras, lighting, software, and other tools will determine this. If you have a photography studio, a built-up portfolio, and up to date website, you have a high perceived value. Premium pricing would be appropriate here.
Remember, having a quality portfolio website will be the most significant contributor when clients are deciding whether to go with you or someone else. You’re going to be judged by the quality of your site. Always update your portfolio to your best projects.
Copyrights are a significant factor when pricing your photography services. Handing over rights is a big deal, so make it one. If your wedding photography clients do not want their photographs in your portfolio, that needs to come at a price. You should price appropriately to hand over the copyrights. You can charge a slight discount if the photos are for building your portfolio. Or if for a single-time use. On the other hand, if your work is going to be featured in a national commercial publication or advertising platform, then you should be charging a higher rate.
Remembering taxes, too
You want to charge the standard tax rate for your area when factoring in pricing. Make sure you add taxes into all-inclusive pricing if you price that way. Come tax time, you shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket when filing.
Defining work scope for photography quotes
You need to make sure your contracts have a place for the scope of work in them. This will help you figure out the services each of your clients need. Always calculate the costs and extra expenses associated with coming up with the price. Maybe your client wants hard copies post-production. That fee associated with the hard copies should be defined in your contract. Always know what the final costs look like, no matter what form your client wants your work in. Your clients do not want to have to pay out of pocket for these extra costs. Putting those costs in writing in the final contract and price quotes should always be done and agreed upon before you actually do the work.
Have you considered the following?
|Your business model||Yes||No|
|Reasons for pricing||Yes||No|
|Your perceived value||Yes||No|
|Add-ons for more revenue||Yes||No|
|Deciding to charge based on time or based on images provided||Yes||No|
Ways to take on your photography pricing model:
If your business is centered around a product, interior, food, or architecture photography, image based-rates make sense. Think of the caliber of work your clients will expect. If your job is to their quality, then charge at a premium. In the photography industry, premium rates are standards when charging for image-based because of the use of your work. Your images will be used in national campaigns and advertisements and should be priced that way.
Charging hourly or a flat rate
Many wedding, corporate, and event photographers charge hourly or a flat rate for their professional photography services. Having all your costs and fees factored into the price will be the most important. Remember, meetings with clients, pre-production, post-production, and deliverables all come at a cost. Always factor those costs in.
It is prevalent for a portrait photographer to charge a flat session rate. Many offer packages that are priced depending on volume. Retouches should also be included here. You can also include alternative backdrops, prints, editing, or any other service you have to offer.
Remember, your experience is going to factor into your take-home pay. Price according to your experience and level of knowledge within your photography niche. Here is a guide for how much different backgrounds charge:
|Amateurs/Hobbyist photographers||$25-$75 per hour or $100 fee.||Used in blogs, small advertisements, local.|
|Student photographers||$50-$100 per hour.||Dependent on school attendance, stage of education, experience with assisting other photographers. Better portfolios command rates.|
|Entry-level photographers||$50-$150 per hour or $25-$125 per image.||Often work other jobs and are not as committed.|
|Professional photograhpers w/experience||$75-$250 per hour or per image.||Make a living solely on their photography work. Invest in their equipment. Experienced in pre-production and post-production stages.|
|Top photographers||$250-$500 per hour or $200-$1,200 per image. Paid up to $10,000 per day depending on specialty.||Highly-coveted photographers in fashion, sports, film, in national and international advertisements, and entertainment.|
Photography services pricing based on areas of specialty:
|Area of Specialty||Rate||Considerations|
|Portrait Photography (school portraits, commercial clients)||$150-$300 per session.||Steady work during a particular season due to school schedules. Commercial photographers have more steady clients.|
|Wedding Photography||$1,500-$3,500 per wedding. Top wedding photographers may charge upwards of $15,000 for a destination wedding.||Mostly seasonal work. They only have a moment to capture the best image, which means high-pressure.|
|Website Photography||$25-$150 per image.||Local and small businesses. Consider website traffic before quoting a price.|
|Product Photography||$25-$150 starting rate per image.||Highly dependent on small or large business and whether the images with be local or national. Dependent on the campaign.|
Full-time photographers should always price their services to make a living off of their photography businesses. Also, consider whether or not you are full time or not with another job while you build up your business.
Pricing plans may need to be reworked depending on seasonality. Wedding photographers may focus on family sessions during the off-season. Remember to be dynamic with your pricing always.
I hope this guide on how to price your photography services was helpful to your photography business. It should, at the very least, give you some structure when approaching your photography pricing model. Remember to always look at costs and expenses. Always consider every factor when determining to price for your photography business. You want to make sure you maintain a profit margin so you can continue with your photography business for years to come. Good luck!