Pricing is one of the most important things in the work of every photographer. It's a double-edged sword because you risk asking too much and scaring off clients, or asking too little and earning nothing.
When it comes to beginner photographer prices, many amateurs don't know how to do the right thing. It was the same with me: at first I set minimum photography rates, and then I realized that I was earning practically nothing. Then I started asking about the price list and found that other photographers charge 2-3 times more per hour.
I created this photography pricing guide specifically for those who want to set the right rates for their services. Of course, photographers rate differently, but I have tried to be as objective as possible to give you the correct information. I hope that my guide will help you!
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Understanding Photography Prices for Beginners
Technology does not stand still, and recently there have been a lot of smartphones with good cameras that guys take pictures with. This is one of the difficulties of working as a freelance photographer because few people want to pay money for their services. That's why it's so important to choose the right pricing model: the price should be such that your customers keep paying you and you make money at the same time.
Basic Pricing Methods
Hourly Rate VS. Flat Rate
I thought for a long time and came to the conclusion that there are two main methods by which you can evaluate photography services:
- Hourly rate. This option is great if you are going to work at an event. Most often it is used by those who are engaged in corporate or wedding photography (keep in mind that in the second case, the work can be delayed because a wedding is quite a long event). When choosing this method, analyze what the hourly rate of photographers in your area is, and try not to exceed it. Also, consider that you will need to spend time editing pictures, and this time amount should also be included in the total bill.
- Flat rate. When it comes to beginner photography pricing, many choose this option, but it's not the best idea if you just start your photography journey. Amateur photographers may not immediately understand how to properly price their services in full, so they often remain at a disadvantage in this case. If you're just starting out, it's better to choose a charge per hour. If you still chose a fixed rate, be sure to discuss with the client, what will be included in the final payment. This may include location selection, time spent on post-processing, and printing the finished photos. I think every photographer may draw up a little contact where they will include all the steps of the job and the time to do them. The client will be able to see them clearly, and then there will be no mutual complaints.
When you start your photography business, be sure to do some preliminary research. You should be able to explain why you are demanding this particular amount of money for your services. Be sure to factor in the post-processing time in beginner photography prices, because sometimes it lasts for hours.
You can roughly estimate how much time it will take you to edit pictures with Skylum's online photo editor. However, keep in mind that its capabilities are limited compared to the handy Luminar Neo, which you can install on Windows and Mac. Of course, I recommend this app, as I use it myself and it helped me out more than once when I was a newbie. It's a great replacement for Photoshop. And if you're looking for the best free Photoshop alternatives, go to the link.
Rates Based on Experience
Of course, experience is very important, because it helps determine how much money you can charge for your services. Here's a quick guide to help you figure it out:
- Beginners. Those who have only recently picked up a camera and are beginning to master it. They most often take pictures for social networks and local advertising. In this case, beginner photography rates reach $25-50 per hour.
- Students. There are many people who are in photography school or university and want to start working. They already have some knowledge and experience, so if you are one of them, you can set the tax at $50-75 per hour of photography session.
- Entry-level photographers. When they graduate from photography school or university, they can already be considered such photographers. Of course, their experience cannot be compared to that of professionals, but the knowledge gained is clearly worth $75-125 per hour.
- Professional photographers. They have a lot of experience, so they will not work for pennies. Such photographers make up to $250 an hour. Of course, the requirements for their work will be much higher than for the work of beginners.
- Top photographers. They are true masters of their craft, who have spent many years in training and practice. They, too, were once amateurs and wondered "How much should I charge for photography," but that time is long gone. The average hourly rate for such photographers ranges from $250 to $500.
How Much Can a Photographer Earn?
Well, I'm sure you're wondering how much a photographer can make in a certain period of time. Let's take a look at a few of them:
- For a half day (or 3-4 hours) it's $75-$1500.
- For a full day (or 7-8 hours) it's $175-5600.
- For a week it's $875-28000.
- For a month it's $3500-112000.
- For a year it's $42000-1240000.
Of course, these are approximate figures based on the fact that you will be working five days a week almost all day. Plus, it will vary depending on the experience of the photographer, the type of photography, and many other factors. We'll talk about them in the next section.
If you are just starting to provide photography services, you will definitely need the best photo organization software. I recommend Luminar Neo because you can easily manage your files with it. Also, you can merge your local photo libraries in a matter of seconds.
Factors that Affect Pricing for Beginner Photographers
The first thing you should understand is that you are not just a photographer, but a businessman who wants to get paid for what he does. This may sound ridiculous, but it's really important. You need to understand that if the price is too high, potential clients won't want to work with you. If it's too low, you run the risk of not even recouping your own expenses.
Another important point is profit. Unfortunately, not all photographers are able to do the calculations so that they not only break even but also earn something more. The easiest way is to understand how much income you want to make per year, and then decide what you will need and how much you can work with. Then you can figure out how much to charge.
Whether we're talking about product photography or event photography, there are several factors that go into how much you'll price your services:
- The cost of materials.
- The cost of labor.
- Overhead costs.
- Fixed costs.
- Variable costs.
Let's talk about each of these factors in more detail.
The Cost of Materials
How much do beginner photographers charge? To answer this question, you must first understand that there are costs for materials without which you cannot manage. This includes, for example, the cost of printing photos (if the client needs it), hard drives, hosting cloud galleries, packaging, and delivery of printed pictures. If you use paid photo editors with professional features (such as HDR photo merge), the cost of the subscription should be included as well. Remember that you should by no means pay for them out of your own pocket, otherwise, profit is completely out of the question.
The Cost of Labor
In this case, the workforce is yourself, and as strange as it may sound, many photographers underestimate the cost of their work. Remember an important rule: It is essential to keep in mind that a significant amount of time and effort is invested in your work, be it during a photoshoot or the subsequent retouching process. These factors must be appropriately acknowledged and incorporated into the overall cost of your services. The greatest difficulty arises with the calculation of the cost of time. Here are some tips:
- Be realistic and count every minute you're at work. I mean, you shouldn't include in your total time the half hour you spend looking at your Facebook news feed, but if you arrive at the studio at the set time and the client isn't there yet, you should include that time in a total bill.
- Don't forget that your work doesn't end with the photo shoot. If you are one of the novice portrait photographer, don't forget that you will need time to set up your equipment, adjust the light and advise your client on the best pose to take. This also takes time.
- Be sure to count the time you spend editing images. In some cases, you will need to make small improvements, while in others you may work on one picture for half an hour. You can give an approximate time to the client, but don't give the exact time until everything is ready.
This most often includes the cost of photo equipment. There is a simple principle here: the more money you spend on it, the better and more professional the finished photos will look, which means the more money your client will have to pay. The most important rule is that you can't cut these costs, which means they have to be included in your photography packages.
In addition to equipment costs, overhead may include:
- Getting insurance to protect your camera or lenses.
- Paying for help with your photography business, such as an accountant.
- Advertising costs: paid promotion on social networks, printing business cards.
How much should I charge for pictures if I'm a beginner and don't want to raise the price quickly? It is the reduction of overhead that makes this possible. In the beginning, you can run your business on your own without spending money on an accountant, or make do with a camera with 2-3 lenses rather than 10.
Fixed and Variable Costs
The fixed costs are very simple: these are the costs that you incur all the time. This category includes the cost of your equipment, post-processing software, and marketing. Don't forget that it is very important to find the right application at a good price. In addition, there is a lot of AI-based software that can save you time enhancing your pictures, which means getting more orders and making more money. If you are looking for an artificial intelligence photo editing app, try Luminar Neo and you definitely won't regret it!
As for variable costs, as you can guess from the name, they will not be fixed. It all depends, for example, on where the location of the photo shoot is, the prices of rental equipment if you do not have it, and the fee to an assistant if a large-scale photo session is planned.
How to Discuss Your Photography Prices for Beginners with a Client
Budget estimates are very important, so it is imperative that they be prepared for each client. Yes, it takes a lot of time, but it avoids problems. I can tell you from my experience that if you spare a few hours for this, there is a risk that the client will refuse to pay for the service if it wasn't in the estimate, or start arguing with you.
When you make your photography price list for beginners, include all the costs I mentioned above. Don't forget to specify whether your client needs photos printed, and if so, in what format and on what paper. The cost of your services will also depend on this. Be sure to find out where you will need to get to in order to take the photos. I once had to go to a cottage that was 100 km from the city. As you can guess, I included the cost of gasoline in the total amount.
Be sure to specify how many rounds of feedback you are willing to receive. Sometimes you meet clients who are constantly dissatisfied with something, even if you've done everything perfectly. If you don't discuss the number of rounds of feedback, get ready for the fact that you'll have to redo everything a huge number of times without expecting to be paid.
How to Structure Freelance Photography RatesDetermining your rates as a freelance photographer can depend heavily on the specific niche of photography you are working in. Photography encompasses a wide range of genres and business opportunities, so it's crucial to understand the average pricing structures in your particular field.
Here, we’ll delve into a broad overview of the main types of photography and their corresponding average hourly rates.
Photography Rates Per Hour at a Glance
Photography rates can fluctuate significantly based on the service provided, with established photographers generally commanding higher fees than those who are just starting out.
Below is a brief guide outlining average hourly rates across various photography services:
Event Photography: Capture the moments of various events with a charge between $150 and $500 per hour, depending on the scale of the event and your level of experience.
Wedding Photography: This niche has a wide price range, varying from $50 to $250 per hour. Comprehensive packages can range from $2,000 to $5,000, inclusive of various services.
Portrait Photography: Here, you can expect to charge between $150 and $350 per hour. Complete packages might vary from $250 to $1,500, depending on the client’s needs and the complexity of the shoot.
Graduation Photography: Typically, rates for this service range from $100 to $299.
Commercial Photography: Day rates can vary widely, ranging from $800 to $5,000, with additional licensing fees anywhere between $250 and $10,000, dependent on image usage and distribution.
Family Photography: Capture priceless moments with rates generally between $150 and $350 per hour. Packages can range from $300 to $1,500, with additional travel or equipment costs possibly incurred.
Real Estate Photography: For real estate listings, rates usually fall between $150 and $500, influenced by the size and location of the property.
Pet Photography: Tailored to capture your furry friends, rates can vary significantly, typically ranging from $100 to $250 per hour. Packages can range from $200 to $700, with additional costs for travel or specific requirements.
Fashion Photography: Navigate this competitive field with rates ranging from $200 to $500 per hour, or more for highly experienced photographers. Day rates can range from $1,000 to $5,000, with additional studio, equipment, and licensing fees potentially applicable.
Now let's take a closer look at each genre.
How to Price Your Beginner Photography Services
We've already discussed quite a bit, but you may still have a question about how much should you charge for a photoshoot. It is very difficult to make an exact template for what you will charge for your services. Choosing the specific genre in which you work can make it easier. So, let's break down this question in more detail.
Depending on the experience of the photographer and other factors, the standard price is $150-$500. Here it is important to specify the exact time you will need for the job. The fact is that sometimes events are held in remote locations that are inconvenient to get to, which means you can spend a lot of time on it and miss out on your benefits on another order. If the client needs less time, they should be willing to pay the amount you specify, otherwise, the trip may simply not pay off.
If the event location is nearby, you can use the standard hourly rate. Make sure it includes your image editing work.
Statistically, you can work in the wedding photography genre and get $1,000-2,000 a day. However, this is an approximate amount, and it can vary depending on the client's wishes. More often than not, the length of a wedding starts at 6 hours, so you have to be prepared to work long hours. In addition, the wedding can drag on for a longer period of time. Here the choice is yours: you can perform the agreed number of hours or agree with the client to extend it. In any case, remember to include in the payment every minute you worked.
Also, keep in mind that more often than not, couples will want finished printed pictures. Some will want a small album, while others will want hundreds of pictures. In any case, this should be discussed with the client before the photo shoot begins.
I will give another little tip on the photographer's charge in the wedding photography genre. If you have a little experience and analytical thinking, use packages that help both you and the client understand what they can get and for how much. For example, a client would have to pay $1,000 to shoot a six-hour wedding and send digital photos. If he wants you to choose photos and edit them, and then print them to make an album, it will cost $1,500, and so on. This way customers can feel that you approach them individually, and you can add charges for extra services or reduce them based on a ready-made template.
The approximate price is $150-300, but there is a small nuance. Most often portrait photographers work in a studio, so if you don't have your own, you need to know a clear photo shoot period. The fact is that you have to rent a studio, spend time installing equipment and selecting lighting, as well as negotiating with the owner about the time. If the client is late, it does not mean that you have to include this time in the work, because you are already limited in it.
However, remember that you will need more time if you are doing a group portrait photo. If someone in the group blinks at the wrong moment, you'll have to redo it. In addition, if the client wants printed pictures, their cost should also be included in the work. I recommend making packages for single portrait and group portrait photos, with or without prints, for example.
Prices can range from $100 to $400 per session. A lot depends on whether you need extra props. Most of the time you need a graduation gown, cap, and tassel to take a graduation photo. If the client has these props, the price won't change. If you have to rent them, it will be higher.
My advice is to go to the school or university website before setting a price. There you can see examples of graduation photos and understand how much it might cost. More often than not, schools expect a certain amount of money and are unlikely to agree to increase it significantly.
If you work in this genre, you will have to accept the fact that the rate will have to be set for each client individually. Here you should choose to be paid by image rather than by the hour. Don't forget about the licensing fees, because this is the genre where you can make good money on them alone. The point is that you still own the photo, which means that if the client uses it for commercial purposes, they need your permission.
The cost will vary greatly depending on such factors:
- How long it takes to set up each product;
- Whether special lighting needs to be used;
- How much post-processing will have to be done.
However, these are not all issues. You should also definitely find out the scale of the project. You will need this to plan your work because if you are commissioning a huge number of photographs for an international company, you need to allocate a lot of time and rent the right equipment.
The standard price starts at $120 for a 30-minute photo shoot. However, this figure is conditional, because most often customers are asked to print pictures to make a family album. Be sure to add to the cost the time spent on post-processing and printing.
Real Estate Photography
If you are an entry-level photographer, this is one of the easiest genres to start your career in. You don't have to work with a live model, which means all you need is a camera, a wide-angle lens, and a computer with a post-processing application.
In the case of real estate photography, you will most likely be charged for the number of pictures. On average it reaches 20-25, but if the space is large, prepare that there will be more pictures, and therefore the price will be higher. Statistically, you can earn anywhere from $120 to $500 for photographing real estate.
The amount starts at $100 per hour if there are two pets in the frame. If there are fewer or more pets, you can adjust the price up or down. I recommend always performing such a photo session in the presence of the pet's owners because unforeseen situations can arise.
The price of the work ranges from $100 to $300 per hour. It may depend on whether you collaborate with an agency or a model separately. In the first case, the charge may be lower because the agency itself provides makeup and outfits for the model. In the second case, don't forget to include them in the rate.
Tips on Growing Your Photography Business and Defining Beginner Photography Rates
What tools can you use to calculate beginner photography prices? I recommend the NPPA Calculator, where after answering the questions you can get your own pricing model. Be sure to include your projected income and expenses for:
- Office and studio rent, including internet and phone.
- Marketing, including hosting your website and paid social networks promotion.
- Insurance for photographic equipment.
- Printing of photos.
- Packaging and shipping of pictures.
- Moving by car/bus or other means of transportation.
- Subscription to a photo editing application or purchase of a lifetime license.
- Your time spent on work, post-processing, and professional development.
If you want a quick and easy way to create a photography price list for beginners, go to The National Press Photographers Association website. There you can do it for free. If you want to personalize it, use your editing skills or just download a ready-made template and fill in the numbers you want.
For growing your business, you need to make it profitable for the client to work with you. How do you do this? By giving them great pictures, of course, and making the price a little lower. How do you do that without compromising yourself? For example, you can save money on materials. This does not mean that you have to reduce their quality. I recommend that you find a vendor that you work with and buy all the materials from him. I'm sure that if you advertise it, he will give you a small discount as a regular customer.
You can also buy materials in bulk. This will give you the opportunity to save money, but be careful and do it only when you have a lot of customers. If the materials are just lying around, it won't do you any good.
Frequently Asked Questions about Beginner Photography Prices
How Do I Start Charging for Photography?
First of all, you need to look at the prices of other photographers who work in your chosen genre. This way you can understand within what limits you can set the charge. After that, calculate what costs you will incur on your own for equipment, studio rent, buying a subscription to the photo editor, etc., and also decide what kind of income you want to have. Based on these calculations, you will be able to make a conclusion about the pricing model.
Should I Charge per Hour, per Day, or per Project?
It all depends on your preferences and the genre you choose. For example, in commercial and product photography you can get paid per shot. If you work with other genres, you can choose to be paid per day or per hour. As long as you are a beginner, the second option is more suitable.
How Much Are Corporate Photography Rates?
Statistically, the standard rate is between $100 and $250 per hour. Everything will depend on your level (beginner, intermediate or professional photographer), as well as your portfolio.
What About Event Photography Rates?
The pricing range of services typically varies between $150 and $500, taking into account factors such as the photographer's level of expertise and other relevant considerations.