Photography pricing can vary from one location to another and across different types of photography work. But there are some general things you can do and consider when deciding on your rates.
Let’s look at the factors you need to consider while setting prices for your photography business.[Note: ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]
Find Out How Much Photographers in Your Area Earn
A quick Google search for photographers in your area will yield loads of results. But be sure to look for the ones who have the same type of service you offer. So if you want to get into weddings, then look for local wedding photographers.
Just beware that it can be challenging to find photography pricing online. Many photographers don’t show their rates on their websites. In most cases, it’s not that they want to keep everything a secret from other businesses. It’s just that in general, the needs of their clients vary so much. So it only makes sense that they set their fees according to the services people need.
The good news is some photographers share their starting rate. That will at least let you know where you should start your pricing.
But what if you still don’t get much information about the photographers in your area? Then consider looking at websites such as payscale.com. Simply type in your profession, and you’ll see a scale of income in your area. Apart from payscale, recruiting sites such as Glassdoor and indeed.com also offer pricing information.
Factors to Consider Before Setting Your Rates
Each genre of photography work has different prices. Don’t leave that part out of your online search!
If you live in Los Angeles and photograph families, search for “Los Angeles family portrait photographer.”
Experience in the field also vastly affects the rates. What if you only have one year of experience as a photographer? Then don’t compare your prices to someone with ten years of experience. Those veterans can charge way more than you can as an entry-level photographer. Likewise, don’t set your pricing similar to someone who’s still a student. You won’t earn a living at all if you do.
Now, how much should I charge for photos if I don’t have any experience at all? Set your pricing closest to the lowest rates. Doing so allows you to attract customers early on. Furthermore, it also allows you to expand your portfolio, which you can show to future clients. As you get more experienced, you can increase your rates accordingly.
But remember that setting your pricing to match your competitors isn’t enough. You should also consider your costs to operate. Your expenditures may include subscriptions to editing software, website, and email hosting.
In addition to your costs of operating, take a look at how many hours you invest in each job.
Include time communicating with clients before the shoot. You should also consider location scouting and the commute to and from the location. Furthermore, you need to factor in all your editing time after the shoot.
Finally, don’t forget to account for taxes when setting your photography pricing. The percentage will vary based on where you live. Be sure to check your local and federal tax rates.
For example, in the U.S., there’s a self-employment tax that’s in addition to the standard income taxes. We recommend that you put aside 25-30% of your income for tax purposes.
Your tax will also vary depending on your type of business. Sole proprietors typically pay the highest percentage.
To make sure you’re clear on your area’s requirements, speak to a tax specialist for guidance.
So do you see now how many factors affect your pricing?
How to Structure Your Rates
There are different ways to structure your photography pricing, depending on your business type.
First, let’s discuss what the four types of photography are. There are plenty of genres and businesses connected to photography. But for this article, we’ll be talking about event, portrait, real estate, and commercial photography.
Photography Rates at a Glance
Photography rates vary so much from one area to another. But this quick guide below will show you the price range of on average. Remember that some photographers charge more or lesser than the rates below. The values also don’t reflect the final prices that you may offer your clients.
- Event Photography – Hourly rates range between $150 to $500.
- Wedding Photography – Hourly rates range between $150 to $250. Packages range between $2,000 to $5000.
- Portrait Photography – Hourly rates range between $150 to $350. Packages range between $250 to $1,500.
- Real Estate Photography – Listing rates range between $150 to $500.
- Commercial Photography – Day rates range between $800 to $5,000. Licensing fees range between $250 to $10,000+
Apart from the prices stated above, there are also other variables to consider. For instance, the pricing for group portraits may be different from doing portraits for one person. And in commercial photography, day rates are separate from licensing fees.
As mentioned before, it’s difficult to be too specific about the pricing. It varies and fluctuates too much to create an accurate price range. So let’s look at the breakdown for each photography business below. That way, we have a better understanding of the pricing model for each option.
Event Photography Pricing
For event photographers, having an hourly rate is standard. Prices can vary, from at least $150 to $500 per hour.
Most photographers require a minimum number of hours for a session. If the client doesn’t meet that limit, they may have to pay more. The reason for this is to help make sure they’re not taking an event job for only $200. It also encourages clients to go with a bit more coverage time.
You may charge $300 per hour if it’s less than 5 hours coverage. But for 5 hours or more, it may be $200 per hour.
The pricing depends on experience, location, and type of event. There may also be additional fees for any special requests from clients.
Event rates include editing. Make sure that your hourly coverage rate leaves room to allow for editing time.
The number of photos you can include with your rate may vary. Some event photographers send all the best pictures in their hourly rate. Others put a limit on how many photos they turn over for each hour of coverage. Some may also offer packages that include physical copies of the images.
Wedding Photography Pricing
Couples look for exceptional photos that are above and beyond standard event photos. In most cases, they ask for special requests that vary from other clients. Some of them may like large prints, while some may only need a single album. Some may want to include engagement photos, while others want to focus on the wedding.
But whatever requests they may have will affect how you price your photography.
For wedding photography prices, it would be best to create packages. That way, you can tailor your rates according to the services your clients may need.
Wedding pricing photography often includes the number of hours you need to cover the event. Furthermore, you have the option to set the number of photos you may give your clients. Do you want to send them everything you took for the entire event? Or would you instead select the best ones yourself?
Your photographer wedding prices should also include physical products such as albums and prints. Combining these items with your package creates a personal touch. Not to mention that you can earn more if you offer such services to your clients.
But photography pricing shouldn’t just end there. You can also consider additional services such as engagement sessions and save the date cards. After all, why should a couple hire a separate photographer for those events when you can do them yourself?
Your local market and the quality of your work are the two main factors that determine your rates.
To help you set your photography pricing, look at what the other photographers around you offer. Specifically, do your research on their packages. What do they include? How much are they? Can you provide the same services competitively?
For wedding photographers, packages may be as low as $500 if they’re still starting. But rates for wedding photography can go as high up as $20,000. Although, of course, in general, most businesses only charge up to $5,000. Any rates higher than that tend to be from renowned professionals.
Of course, you shouldn’t copy other people’s packages. Instead, figure out what they may lack and fill that void with your service. That way, you can offer your customers a full, unique experience. The more you provide at a much friendlier price, the more likely you’ll get clients. Of course, you also shouldn’t go too low on your photography pricing. Just stay competitive!
Portrait Photography Pricing
As wedding photographers, portrait photographers offer packages as well.
So what are the factors you need to consider when setting your portrait photography pricing? In most cases, you need to know how long the session is going to be. Then, you need to find out how many people should be in it.
Remember that time is money. So setting limits to your session will help you earn more. The longer they want to pose in front of the camera, the more they have to pay. And the same goes for the number of people they can include in the group. Especially since working with large groups takes a lot of time to photograph. Even if just one individual closes their eyes accidentally, you’ll have to start all over again.
Your photography pricing should also include a set number of photos you can deliver. Of course, you can specify whether they’ll receive them as digital files or prints.
To make your business more lucrative, give them access to both digital copies and prints. While some people simply like to post their images on social media, others love to have physical copies of their portraits. So diversify your services and offer them different options. That way, you not only earn from digital files, but also from the albums you create from prints.
Like most photography businesses, portrait session rates vary. But most professionals will start at no less than $250 for a basic package. For such pricing, they often offer up to three hours of work plus digital copies of the photos.
But pricing for portraits can go also go into the many thousands. Again, it all depends on your market and skill level. As always, look around on the internet and see what your competitors offer.
Real Estate Photography Pricing
Real estate photography is always in demand and offers opportunities for entry-level photographers. It’s easier to start here than other businesses. Why? Because it doesn’t require a long list of equipment, and it’s easier to learn. (However, that’s not to say it doesn’t have its own set of challenges.)
Unlike other businesses, the pricing for real estate photography isn’t per hour. Instead, you get paid per house listing. And in most cases, most clients expect you to deliver between 20-25 photos.
The size of the property also determines photography pricing. If it’s a larger house, you’ll need to charge more. Why? Mostly because you have more area to photograph. It would take you more time to take pictures of every feature of the building. Furthermore, you may also have to deliver more than 30 images to make sure you include every room and facility.
Real estate photographers in most markets begin at $125 per listing. For bigger properties, it can go up to $250 or more. Remember that this business deals with flat rates. So, for the most part, it doesn’t matter if you’re relatively new in the field. As long as you can show your skills, clients will give you the same amount they pay veteran photographers.
But the pricing can go up to about $500 for more experienced professionals in higher-priced markets. If a client has a multi-million dollar home, they need the quality of the photographs to reflect the property’s value. So most of these real estate brokers prefer hiring veterans in the business instead of beginners.
Online platforms for home listings dictate the number of files you need to deliver. In the U.S., these allow up to 25 photos. Turnaround needs to be quick for real estate clients. In most cases, you need to deliver the files within 24 hours. So you need to account for that in your rate calculations as well.
So what makes real estate photography attractive to entry-level photographers? It’s the fact that you don’t need to have an extensive portfolio to start. A lot of real estate business hire new people all the time and train them. Some only require you to have a camera, a wide-angle lens, and a computer. That’s it!
Starting in this photography business is easy. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you still build your portfolio as you gain experience. As you grow, you should also invest in better equipment, including lighting. That way, the quality of your photos also improves. Eventually, you can transition from being an employee to a full-time business owner or contractor.
Commercial Photography Pricing
This type of photography business is the most challenging. It requires years of training and experience before you get any acknowledgement in the industry. But once people recognize your work, you’ll have the chance to earn a lot of money.
Commercial photographers often get the highest salaries when it comes to photography businesses. Most of them get hundreds if not thousands of dollars per hour. Apart from that, they also earn from licensing their photos for commercial use, which yield tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So it also goes without saying that it’s tough to set pricing for commercial work. You’ll need to ask a lot of questions before you can even determine the costs. For instance, is the project for a small company or an international brand? Is it for social media or a billboard campaign? How much is the budget? Those questions we mentioned are just some of the few factors you need to consider. Then, of course, you should also think about hiring a crew, equipment, and production costs.
The pre-production alone may take weeks or months. Then the photoshoot itself can vary from one day to a few weeks. After that, you’ll need to set aside time (and money for post-production).
A standard pricing model for commercial photography pricing is the day rate. Although, there are some that may charge per hour or project. The fee often includes a set number of final images. As we mentioned, there are also licensing fees for the photos on top of the day rate. Even though companies pay top dollar for the photoshoots, the photographers still own the pictures. And the clients need permission to use those files for marketing.
Licensing is a way for photographers to ensure their clients can only use the photos for a specified period. It can be as short as one season, which is a few months. Or it can last for a few years. When their license expires, they have the option to terminate or extend it for an additional fee.
Since commercial projects can vary so widely, photographers often don’t create set pricing at all. Small jobs for new photographers may be as low as $500 per project. But a large photography business can quickly charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for a campaign.
Social Media Pricing
Social media has become so popular in the past decades that some clients only want pictures for the internet.
So if you’re a photographer getting into this business, how much should you charge for Instagram pictures?
The pricing varies depending on the type of photography business you run. In general, photographers just send image files to the clients and let them decide what to do.
Typically, photographers only charge clients if they want prints and other physical copies of images. But people can use the digital files in almost any manner they want without fees. This pricing model is accurate for most photography businesses.
But pricing for social media is entirely different for commercial photography. Since companies will use the images for marketing, they will have to pay for licensing. The only difference is that the rates for an Instagram campaign are often significantly lower than a print ad.
The pricing for social media also varies a lot. It can be a few hundred dollars for one small company ad. But it can reach up to 10 or even $20,000 for some high-profile Instagram campaigns.
When to Reevaluate Your Rates
It’s not enough that you establish your photography rates. You also need to make sure to reevaluate them regularly. They should always reflect your level of expertise and quality of work!
Early on, you may want to review your rates and consider price hikes every three months. As you become more experienced, the rate changes may only happen every 9-12 months.
One issue that a lot of photography businesses have is they set fixed increases. In other words, they always add a certain amount without figuring out how much they truly need.
Don’t increase your photography pricing using an arbitrary amount. You can’t just say you’re adding $100 to your fees without reason. You need to know where every penny of that money goes. That way, you’ll know if your rate is not going to be enough.
So before you set new photography rates, calculate your costs. Then come up with a number that you think will sustain your income and allow growth. But at the same time, you should also remain competitive with other businesses. If your fees are too high, you’ll likely lose customers.
Ask for Professional Advice
So how much should photographers charge in 2020?
As a photographer, it’s understandable your business knowledge is limited. So as you gain more clients, consider hiring a financial consultant. They can help you make sound decisions as you earn more money. Of course, it’s not fun that you have to pay for their services. But at least, you get a better handle of your business resources in the long run.
Sometimes researching on the internet isn’t enough. In most cases, it’s just way too hard to see your competitors’ photography rates. If that’s the case, consider business coaching from professionals.
Business coaching is a relatively new trend among photography businesses. But it’s quite useful, especially if you’re still starting. You can begin by searching for coaching in your particular field. It could be anything from wedding photography to portrait photography.
Once you find an excellent coaching service, consider booking a session. Although you have to pay a fee, you get professional advice on almost anything regarding your business. Of course, that includes setting photography rates. Apart from that, you can also ask them about how to deal with invoicing and other financial matters.
Coaching can sometimes be expensive. But it’s a good option if you want to know the specifics of running a photography business. So if you’re desperate for reliable resources, feel free to give it a try.
Do you think you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Then consider studying the ins and outs of your business yourself. After all, no one else knows better about what you do than you. Most photographers choose this route. The only problem is that not all of them truly know how to run a business.
But if managing money is your talent, then this is your opportunity! Manage everything yourself. It may be tiring. But at least you don’t have to hire a consultant. Plus, you gain total control over your photography business! And there’s nothing like seeing your earnings grow through your work!
As creatives, we often find it challenging to set a price to our talents. But as photography business owners, it’s crucial that our rates can and will sustain our work and life.
So do your research to find out if your photography pricing is at par with the rest of the industry. And don’t be satisfied with your rates. Always increase as your business grows. That way, it remains sustainable as your enterprise gets bigger.
It’s also essential to figure out a pricing model that’s easy to understand. That way, your clients know exactly why you came up with such rates. Do you charge per hour, per day, or project? It would help to be transparent so people can trust you.
Setting photography pricing can be intimidating. But as you gain experience, you’ll understand how it all works. So just be patient. Everything will come easy as you learn more about your business.
To get your portrait photography business a kick-start, read our eBook – Profit from Portraits!