Photography pricing – How much to charge for your photography

Hi, guys, I think you’re really going to
love this episode because it’s that information that many photographers want
to know and it’s about pricing your photography how much to charge for your
work. Now how much should you charge for your photos is a common question that I
get asked all the time and it’s not without good reason
pricing your work can be challenging it requires finding a balance you don’t
want to underprice your work or you might end up making a loss or being
perceived as low-quality but you also don’t want to overcharge as
you could easily lead to clients going elsewhere.
Now as someone who’s been in the business for 25 years trust me when I
say running a successful photography business requires much more than just
talent. It requires hard work, dedication, business savvy, as well and part of this
business savvy is knowing what to charge for your photography. Now professional
photographers can be grouped into two categories: commercial photography and
social photography. Now depending on which one of these categories you fall
into, the way you structure your pricing may vary now a commercial product
photographer, for example, may get fewer jobs per year and therefore charge more
than say a social photographer who’s working every week or every day.
Commercial photographers may also require more equipment and studio
facilities than social photographers do but they may travel less. So what is
commercial photography? Well commercial photographers such as myself
take photos purely for commercial purposes we deal with
business-to-business relationships and we don’t generally get involved working
for individuals. Commercial photography covers everything from fashion
photography to product photography and it’s used for advertising purposes,
editorials, annual reports and commercial photographers generally charge by the
day or half-day rates per project and sometimes usage fees as well.
What is social photography? Well unlike commercial photographers social
photographers deal with a consumer relationship. This means they work
directly with individuals and the general public. Social photography
includes things like weddings, events, portraits, families or couples
photography. Now some social photographers charge by the hour but day
rates for projects are also common but generally they’re working on upselling
which is a big part of social photographers work. They rely on
additional income from selling extra prints, frames, albums etc. as well. Now due to the nature of each photographer they’ll have their own needs for
equipment, studio space, travel expenses, etc. and the costs associated
with those will vary now this is part of the reason why so many people find it
difficult to price their work there’s no easy straightforward answer each
requires a tailored approach for each type of photographer. So my photography
pricing guide, well regardless of whether you’re a commercial or social
photographer your aim as a business owner should be the same and that is to
make a profit now this may sound obvious but this is where many photographers
fall short too often they think the only thing they need is skill but in reality
good business sense is equally important if not more important. Put simply, to work
out your pricing you need to consider how much you’d like to make per year and
then factor in how much work you’re willing or able to do that year. Now
we have a great blog post on that has some formulas
for calculating your expenses and revenue needed. Now that basic formula
can provide a guideline for working out how much money you need to make now this
will include business costs, outside services, your earnings, your profit and
taxes and this will equal your total revenue needed. So let’s break each of
these things up to give you a clearer idea. First of all
business costs. Business costs are the costs of running your business this will
include things like your wages, your studio rent, your equipment, your annual
rates, your advertising expenditure, your insurance, your travel and various
miscellaneous costs. Now to calculate business costs try creating a detailed
spreadsheet with any and all associated costs with running your business. This
will provide an accurate account of all the cost that you’re going to incur.
Outside services are something that you don’t provide yourself but can be
considered part of your business costs for example… retouching, CGI work, models,
stylists, makeup, printing – all of those things are outside services and keeping
a track of those can be done using a job sheet which is included also in our
business section and on our blog as well. Now your own actual earnings are very
important, this is what you’d like to earn for your work and this is what will
make the six day weeks and the twelve hour days and the day-to-day stresses
worth it. Profit, nobody goes into business just to break even
think about how much you’d like to make and try to add this to the equation
remember turnover is vanity and profit is sanity. Another thing you need to
consider is taxes unfortunately we all have to pay our taxes so let’s consider
this very simplified and basic example let’s say your business costs are £58,500 per year let’s say your earnings that you want to
earn are £60,000 per year and your profit that you’d like to make is
£20,000 and your taxes are £12,000 therefore the total
revenue needed to meet all of that is £150,500 – now to calculate your project pricing divide the total by the number
of working weeks in a year if we assume that you’d like to take
three weeks holiday a year that would leave you 49 working weeks in a year so
the total figure of 150 thousand five hundred divided by 49 equals £3071.
This is what you need to make in sales per week to
cover your total business expenditure and earnings. From this point you would
need to consider how many jobs you can actually fit in per week. A portrait
photographer for example may have to undertake three or four shoots to cover
this while a commercial product photographer may only have to do one or
two shoots. Now this pie chart gives a great visual representation of some of
the costs that I’ve just demonstrated now it is very simplified obviously
there will be many other extra expenses you need to include in there as well
things like telephone, miscellaneous office bills, maintenance, things like
that as well but it gives you an idea of the process and what you need to think
about to formulate your expenses and your profit and your total revenue
required. Now we’ve gone one step further than that we’ve actually created a
pricing calculator that allows you to input some figures and slide them around
to work stuff out so let’s take a look at that. So on our blog you’ll find a
blog post about our pricing calculator and here it is and it’s very simple and
easy to use and it’s actually too simplified but it’s there to give you an
idea of things you need to think about. So on the first slider, we have your
studio rent or your monthly mortgage payments let’s pretend that your studio
rent was $2,000 per month so we’ll put that in on the slider or there abouts
let’s assume that your studio facilities, electricity, water, internet, telephone,
those sort of things were coming in at about $320 a
month your advertising costs may be coming in about a $1000 per
month when you consider your telephone, internet advertising, your newspaper,
press, article advertising so let’s put that in
a $1000 per month. Internet services, website hosting, maintenance those sorts
of things let’s put $105 per month. Miscellaneous costs, banking, professional
fees, accounting, that sort of thing let’s tally that up to being about $300
per month and then let’s assume that you want to pay yourself I
don’t know four or maybe now let’s go a little bit higher let’s say you want to
make sure that you pay yourself at least $5100 per
month. Now what will your hourly rate be so if you put in an hourly rate let’s
say you were able to charge around about $200 an hour for your
services then let’s look at the results so your total outgoings are shown in
this box and that’s showing that monthly your costs would be $8825
now that equates to 10 billable hours per week so using
the slider example that we’ve got on our blog there you can see that you’re going
to need to bill ten hours per week at that hourly rate to meet those costs now
whilst this examples quite rudimental it does give you a good idea of how sort of
business flows and ebbs with costs and expenses revenue and earnings so it’s
well worth playing around with this slider to get yourself familiar with how
to configure and think about your business operating costs. So you can find
that slider over on on our blog. Now this
formula along with the simple examples that I’ve just discussed should give you
a good idea of how to start calculating your pricing. Now if you’re still not
sure, it’s also worth considering what your competitors are charging as this
should give you an idea of whether you’re over or under charging but keep
in mind their costs may be different to yours. Your level of experience is also
something to think about if you’re an experienced photographer you may be able
to charge higher prices than someone who’s just starting
out, chances are you’ll have more equipment, maybe a studio of your own, an
assistant, not to mention greater knowledge and a
greater level of skill all of which clients will generally be willing to pay
for. So let’s talk about types of pricing once you’ve determined how much you
should be charging you need to think about how you’ll present that pricing to
your client the most common method among professional photographers is to choose
a day rate but there are a few other options too. Now day rates or half-day
rates are the preferred method of charging for many professional
commercial photographers including myself a day rate covers the cost of
your time for that day or half day’s work however it does not account for
additional costs such as assistant fees, additional images, post-production, time
usage fees and other services so with my day rate if I’m using an assistant I’ll
be charging extra for the assistant if there’s additional post-production work
we’ll be charging extra for that on top of the day rate now the other charging
method is per job which can be suitable for larger projects quoting per job
takes into consideration how many hours or days it will take you to complete the
job and it includes any additional costs that may be incurred this allows you to
put forward one fixed price for the overall project. The other method is
hourly, this method of pricing is more common among student or amateur
photographers though some portrait and event photographers may also charge by
the hour. Charging for your time by the hour, photographers generally add the
additional cost separately afterwards. Another method is per image. This is
commonly used when shooting things like packshots and it’s charged per
picture, for example, a product photographer may charge £5 for
an image of 100 items at £5 each or £2 per image for
500 items so it’s all to do with scale and quantity.
But for this type of photography, it’s usually very easy to replicate and
reproduce ecommerce type imagery. Another thing is usage fees usage fees
also known as licensing fees are what a client pays to use your images and
they’re based on the amount of use or exposure that that image is going to get
and how long the images are going to be used for. Usage fees are usually only
applicable for bigger jobs and bigger clients and adding them to work done for
smaller clients will only create confusion and it isn’t usually worth the
hassle but on large-scale advertising campaigns and projects photographers
like myself and product and advertising and fashion photographers will often be
able to charge usage fees – now what do professional photographers charge as I
mentioned earlier when working out your pricing it’s worth taking the time to
find out what other photographers are charging however you need to be
realistic with this keep in mind their location their specialization the level
of experience as these will all have an impact on their pricing so I’ve outlined
some general rates that you might expect for professional photographers so top
product photographers who generally charge a commercial day rate can charge
maybe around £3000 or $5000 per day and prices
for high-end product and advertising photography pallate Jonathan Knowles or
Peter Lippmann are usually even higher and these will have additional usage
fees applied to their work as well. Now we cover more about usage fees and how
they work in our business section on Karl Taylor Education so make sure to go
and check that out too. High quality wedding photographers can cost up to
£2000 per day that’s about $2500 per day and
even award-winning photographers that’s award-winning wedding photographers they
can charge much more maybe £5000 / $7000 per day.
Portrait photographers may work for as little as just a few hundred dollars for
a family or group shot shoot and they may try and shoot two or three of these
per day and be able to make a decent living. Top portrait photographers may be
a charge £2000 for a shoot
and top celebrity portrait photographers maybe commissioned at much higher rates
anywhere up to 8000 or 10,000 per day. Unfortunately, there’s
no definitive guide when it comes to what to charge for your work but what
I’ve discussed here today should offer you a good starting point. So take the
time to go through some of the costs of running your business and think
objectively about your level of experience and level of skill and what
you have to offer the client. Don’t allow yourself to make the common mistake of
undervaluing your work or your time and make sure to consider all of the costs
associated with the job. It’s also worth considering your pricing from time to
time and not just to account for inflation as the years go by your skills
as a photographer should hopefully improve and your techniques improves
your knowledge grows you’ll be able to offer more to your clients and therefore
be able to charge more. As photographers we never know everything and it’s
important that we keep learning and improving taking the time to invest in
yourself as a photographer will pay off in the future and you’ll find your
confidence and skills grow. Remember if you’re looking for ways to practice
and improve our classes offer a wide selection of topics suitable for any
skill level they offer an opportunity to follow along and understand the
techniques which you can then put into practice we also have a large volume of
business skills and business marketing and pricing within our business section

33 Replies to “Photography pricing – How much to charge for your photography

  1. Hello Karl and Happy New Year from Tampa Florida! Thanks for the insights and professional knowledge. Be well and stay encouraged!

  2. Great video Karl. Very well explained. Everybody has to put in the work to know their numbers. It also gives you much more confidence when a client wants to negotiate. And boy don't they always want to.

  3. Doesn't matter how much you charge: You have to be good at what you're doing or need vitamine b, otherwise all the other photographers will do it as cheap as possible or even for free. This is only for social photographers. The market is really loaded and if I'd have to start today I'd probably do it as a hobby because it's a hard business.

  4. First let me say, I do agree with you 100% – What I think is left out, is the dynamic between the rates they come up with based on these criteria, vs what are they actually worth. Example: lets assume one of the viewers has the same $200/hr rate and I have it as well. Why should they make more money than me to do a ecom shoot where they take 8 hours to do it, and in my studio which has 4 separate studio sections permanently setup with lights etc, and I can knock out 20 outfits for ecom in 1 hr with 3 model with no setup time. I think educating people to know they are not worth as much as they think they are. I see so many people gorilla shooting, no permit, no insurance. You and I shoot medium format and have higher quality deliverables than most watching your videos. It is just my opinion that some education on what they are worth not what they need to make. – just my opinion, not disagreeing with you at all, just wanted to add.

  5. Thank you so much for all the information. Extremely useful stuff and you explain it so well. God bless you!!!

  6. Excellent video and very important information. Best thing about your videos is that you’re at least not selling walkmans 🤣

  7. Absolute gold advice.
    I suspect that the best practice option for any aspiring photographers is to adopt the advice herein from the start and work slowly up from there, charging as a 'hobbyist' until skill level, client base, professionalism and interest grow and then adjust accordingly (and annually). Slow and steady over years – Not a welcome suggestion to the more 'insta-grat' attitude that appears to be in vogue at present.

  8. Karl, thanks again for another informative video. You always come across as a true professional and I’m always looking forward for the next one. How do figure in education costs and equipment costs? I feel like paying off those costs should be included in the costs of doing business but spread over a period of 3-5 years. What are your thoughts?

  9. Hey Karl this is a long one :/ How would you factor a wedding photographer working 48weeks of the year doing engagements and weddings? On average 2.7 weddings, a month at avg $4,323 each with about 47hours of the actual shoot and editing (2nd shooter is paid $500-$650) and 4.6 engagement shoot a month at avg $617 with about 4.3 hours of shoot and editing. I'm still struggling to make a profit, I have no studio, and if needed I just rent on an as-needed basis and bring my backdrops and equipment to the location. About 38% of my earnings go to taxes, and I'm able to get around 28% net. There is a tax loophole that we are doing this year to only get taxed at 32%. There will be times where clients pick the same date, and just last year I counted 11 clients not booking due to not available, can't afford my price, I didn't like their venue, or a client is not my type of client to work with (the bridezillas or actual photographers that are getting married are the worst…). at the end of the day, I feel like I could be netting more doing only engagements shoots, or even just do headshots for $250 for 45mins shoot and edit, which is 2x earning then doing full weddings or/and spend my time working another part-time job. I looked at my competitions, and I can't raise my prices (it maybe limiting beliefs or the stats i currently see), been doing a/b testing facebook marketing to clients earning $89-149k salary, but the ROI and the bread and butter are still the clients wanting to only pay $3700-$4800 + $400 in prints. How can i net more?

  10. Nice video! You might have a good plan but its not real world. Photography is feast or feminine, My advise is keep your over head the lowest you can get it. If you just don't get the work your done! “Charge what the market will bear” Good luck guys!

  11. "Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity". Perfect! Great breakdown Karl. Indeed how much are we worth? I like the pricing calculator – makes answering this challenging question somewhat easier.

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