How much should I charge as a beginner photographer?

For many creatives, talking about rates and figures is a cringe-inducing subject. Not only do we sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about our rates, but we often have no idea what they should be or where we should position ourselves in the market.

But knowing your rates is essential, especially if you are running your own photography business. Rather than pulling a random number out of the air every time someone asks you to quote for a job, take a look at the tips below to help you work out what you should be charging for your work.

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If you’re starting as a professional photographer, you’re probably asking yourself these questions- “How much does a photographer make?” or “How do I price my photography services?”. We have put together this comprehensive photography pricing guide to help you answer precisely these questions. This guide will assist you in determining a competitive and winning pricing strategy for your photography services.

Like all entrepreneurs, photographers struggle with getting the Pricing of their photography services right. With so many photography services one can offer to clients, it is even more complex to arrive at a photography pricing model suitable for specialties such as wedding photography prices.

It can be a challenge for beginner photographers to figure out how much to charge for photography. If you under-price, you may end up leaving money on the table or, worse still, come off as a low-quality provider. Over-pricing photography might lead to business loss as clients review many photographers and choose based on photographer prices.

As with any industry, there are standard professional photography prices that have been prevalent. But with the advent of digital photography, new software, and social media, the business of photography is rapidly transforming. Photography services, which were earlier a preserve of professional photographers, are now readily available at much lower prices from amateur or hobbyist photographers. This phenomenon has driven the price of photography services down, and professional photographers need to re-evaluate how to price their photography services by adding a lot more value.

As a beginner photographer, you must offer services that stand out and charge prices that justify your work – based on your knowledge and your talent. 

What To Do First

As a photographer, you’ll want to set your professional photography prices to represent best your brand, your specialty, knowledge, experience, and many other factors. When you are starting, a cost-plus-profit model can be a good starting point. As you grow and establish yourself, you can start charging premium pricing for photography services to reflect your increased market value and talent. Our exclusive range of Melbourne wedding photography will help you not miss a thing on your wedding day.

Consider Your Target Audience:

What you photograph or who you shoot for will heavily influence your rates. A family portrait photographer, for example, will charge very differently from a fashion photographer. The intended use of the images is a significant factor in calculating this figure. For example, a high-end fashion image used on billboards, magazines, and online will be seen by many people and is used to sell a product. This naturally warrants a higher fee than a family portrait displayed on the fridge of a suburban mum. An advertising agency’s photography budget will be higher than that of a young couple. Know your target audience and consider both their accounts and intended use for the images.

Work Out How Much You Need To Make To Pay Yourself:

If photography is your primary income source, your rates will probably need to be higher than if it is just a hobby. This is simply because you need to be able to live off your earnings. To work out how much you need to make, you need to sit down and work out your living expenses and your goals for profit. This means working out how much you need to make to cover the costs such as rent, car insurance, utilities, food, and another day to day expenses. Once you have this figure, add to it your ‘salary’, or how much profit you would like to make. Roughly dividing this by the number of jobs you hope to win or the number of hours you intend to work should help you reach a ballpark figure. Of course, this is slightly different if photography is not your primary source of income.

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Research Your Competitors:

How much should I charge as a beginner photographer?

Find out how much other photographers with a similar target audience or skill set are charging. This will help you get a better sense of the competition and the average market costs. You do not have to charge the same as other photographers, but having a rough idea of what they charge will help you align yourself within your chosen niche.

If a photographer’s rates or packages are not displayed online, you can pose as a potential customer to enquire about them. We have the best wedding photographer in Yarra Valley to capture your beautiful moments on your wedding day.

Price Models For Charging

Charge By The Hour:

Charging by the hour is common for event photographers, especially if there is no outlined image count. Don’t forget to factor in post-production time, as processing can often take longer than the actual shooting.

Offer A Set Package:

Particularly common for portrait and wedding photographers, set packages to let you outline precisely what a client will receive for a fixed price. Additional expenses are sometimes added onto packages (other prints or images, for example.)

Half And Full Days:

Many photographers charge either a half or a full day rate to simplify things, depending on how many hours they will be shooting. A half-day is typically up to 4 hours, with a full day being 5 hours. Post-production may be included or separate from this rate.

Things To Consider

How Often You Will Work:

Unless you work for a high-volume studio or are on a specific contract, photography is not your regular 9-5 job. Due to the fickle nature of work, photographers generally charge more than the ‘average working wage’ because they are not working all the time. For example, new photographers may shoot only a few jobs per week or only find themselves shooting for a few hours a day.

Factor this in if you are considering an hourly rate. For example, a 2-hour event may be your only job for the day. If you charge an average hourly rate (say, $25), then you are only making $50 for the entire day. A higher percentage (such as $150) is a more feasible income.

Remember, photography work generally comes in bursts, so you need to make a higher amount (albeit less often) if you want to support yourself. 

How Experienced You Are:

It makes sense that a photographer with more experience will charge more for their services than just starting. As you complete more jobs, you will refine your skills and technique and your workflow and the way you interact with clients. A professional who has been in the industry for ten years would be expected to charge more for a similar job than a student or newbie photographer.

Editing And Processing Time:

Unless you have someone doing your processing and retouching for you, the time you spend taking photographs will probably be far less than the time you spend in post-production. Importing, sorting, processing, retouching, naming and outputting are all tasks that can add on hours. You need to factor this into your costing when deciding how much to charge a client, as you are still investing your time. It may only take you an hour to shoot an event, but there might be 3 hours of file management afterwards, turning the job into a 4-hour project.

Expenses:

This will vary depending on the job, but don’t forget to factor in the Cost of expenses. Some photographers like to charge a set fee and absorb the Cost of costs, whilst others prefer to charge a base rate and add expense costs on top of that as needed. Expenses can be anything from materials (the cost of paper for prints, USB sticks, postage, etc.) to services (studio hire, the fee of a makeup artist, travel time, or equipment hire).

Factors to Consider When Developing Your Photography Pricing Model

A lot of different factors influence how much photographers make. These include the type of work performed, the number of sessions required, or even the number of prints and touch-ups. There are multiple ways to figure out how much to charge for photography based on the output that you are delivering to the client. However, make sure that you factor in your base costs and expenses and ensure that your photography pricing plan is fair to post accounting.

The basic premise of figuring your photography pricing is:

Cost of running your photography business + Cost of goods + Cost of your time and labour + Profit + Taxes = Pricing

Cost of running your photography business:

Figure out all your input costs. Before answering the question – How much to charge for photography services, make sure you have put together a cost blueprint. From fixed expenses to variable costs – document everything. Starting to think about hiring a wedding photographer? Check out our range of Mornington Peninsula wedding photography here.

The Cost of running your photography business will include:

  • Equipment costs – cameras, lenses, lighting equipment. Be sure to factor in wear and tear and repair/replacement costs.
  • Office/studio costs -You need a place to work, and depending on where you are based; it can add up to be a high cost. If you are working from home, assign a rental value to that space, and make sure that your business earns and pays for that.
  • Marketing costs -You need to exhibit your work, network with clients, take part in photography contests, advertise, create a great portfolio website and undertake digital marketing activities – these costs add up and are essential to growing your businesses.
  • Fees of professionals – These include accountant, assistants, etc.
  • Any other general expenses associated with your photography business

Calculate Your Cost-of-Goods-Sold (COGS)

COGS is the total cost of producing a good or service, including its labour and material cost. If you provide your client with an 8×10 print, the COGS isn’t merely the Cost of the image itself. The Cost should also include post-production charges, packaging, and shipping charges.

If you work with photo retouching or photo manipulation services, mention these expenses in your photography pricing sheet too. The same if about batch photo editing or high-end photo retouching. The rates can vary greatly, depending on the time required, the picture retouching quality, and the prototype. Many companies offer photo retouching services for photographers. 

Ensure that you include all hidden costs associated with the final deliverables you are selling to your clients. For example, even client proofing, storing, and delivering digital files have a charge associated with them.

Cost of Your Time and Labor

Remember what Benjamin Franklin said – ‘Time is money!’ Many photographers do not factor in the value of the time and labour they would invest in an assignment and hence fail to earn adequately. For example, to determine your wedding photography prices, you would need to factor in the time you would spend in pre-production, travelling and meeting up with the client, setting up equipment, the actual shoot time and the post-production time. Be realistic and factor in delays and overages that are bound to happen.

Review Your Competition

Before finalizing your photography pricing:

  1. Research photographers work locally in your area, especially in your specialty niche (weddings, portraits, commercial).
  2. Make sure you charge competitively as clients shop around locally and compare Pricing before they finalize on a photographer.
  3. Avoid lowering your prices too much to win business.

Underpricing can set your standards low, while over-pricing may deprive you of genuine prospective clients. An excellent way to go about Pricing is to keep a pricing range. This approach gives flexibility to clients and keeps you well within your profit margin as well.

Evaluate your perceived value

Evaluate and know the quality of your product or service. Experience undoubtedly entitles you to fair remuneration, but don’t opt for low prices even if you’re a beginner. Charging too low from the start can decrease your product’s perceived value and services in the market.

Tip: Never work free of charge. Keep a fair price, and you could run a special portfolio building discount for your clients. You can even offer up to 100% off in exceptional cases that add a lot of value to your portfolio.

How Much Does a Wedding Photographer Cost?

Wedding Photographers charge somewhere between $800 and 4500 depending on the location, product requirements, and booking duration. Wedding photographer’s costs are a good yardstick for comparing corporate, business or event photography services.

Beginner, student or newly qualified wedding photographers prices start relatively low as they’re trying to build portfolios and have limited experience of shooting weddings and everything that comes with them, from the crazy or random groomsmen to the bride’s mother loves directing. The action all day! It takes a confident and robust photographer to stand up to these characters and bring them back into line so they don’t ruin the wedding photos’ day.

Experienced and creative wedding photographers charge considerably more than beginners, with the average cost of an 8-hour wedding package being about $3000-$3500.

You’ll find cheaper budget options for wedding photography from around $800, but they’re usually best for more intimate weddings at venues. 

Compare these prices to awards night or event photography, and you’ll see that photos for corporate events are very reasonable and in line with the amount of work and professional photography experience required from them.

Product Photography Pricing

Product photographers are yet another niche area and charge quite differently, often quoting charge per photo from between $35 to $250 per finished image for average-sized businesses or usage. At the top end of the photography charging scale, product photography for lifestyle advertising or luxury items can be up around $1000 per image, excluding the creative fee and expenses.

Usage license fees are often included in these types of photography, which may contain some limitations on duration of use, territory and variety of media, e.g. billboard, social media, print.

Event Photography Pricing

How much should I charge as a beginner photographer?

Full-day events usually consist of around 8-10 hours, with the average cost of an event photographer day rate ranging from $200-$350 per hour, depending on the client, location, and work involved. A promise of a good buffet lunch for the photographer usually brings the fee down a little!

Prices for event photography in Melbourne have a minimum average charge of $400-$700, equating to about 2 hours. A full day of corporate event photography usually comes in at around $1800-$2500 excluding GST.

Event Photography

As you can see, event photography pricing varies depending on the event, the client, the end-use of the images and everything else in between, so it’s best to supply your photographer with plenty of detail for them to quote your event accurately and to save any confusion at a later date.

For example, if you want your event or conference photographer to take some business headshots of your staff during the lunch break, make them aware of this as they may need to bring additional equipment such as light stands, reflectors and softboxes to achieve the professional look you’re expecting.

Event photographers will also often quote separately for additional services such as business headshots, although they are likely to offer some form of discount since they’re already on the premises.

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Work Quality and Professionalism

When setting your photography prices, you should consider the additional benefits that you bring to the table as a well-trained professional, the type of equipment you use, as well as the proper pre and post-production work that you provide. Because of your training, you can provide needed assurance to your clients – especially when you’ve only got one chance to do a perfect job. As a trained photographer, your experience allows you to utilize your one opportunity to capture those once in a lifetime moments. Your skills also allow you to create memories that last a lifetime.

Photographers who use professional equipment such as top-of-the-line industry-based cameras, lighting, software, and other trade tools may create higher perceived value. Photographers who also have studios, an impressive portfolio and a professional portfolio website also suggest a commitment to their craft. All of these indicators justify charging premium pricing for photography.

Tip: A well-made portfolio website that showcases your work professionally is the single most significant contributor to building your market value. Clients will judge you from the quality of your website. Ensure that you regularly update your portfolio website to project that you are doing well professionally and are a committed professional.

Conclusion

Do keep in mind the industry price fluctuations, any seasonal factors that might affect your Pricing and rework your pricing plans. Eventually, having photography pricing plans can only take you so far. A sound approach to photography pricing would also entail ‘going with the flow’ and being dynamic in pricing your photography services at all times.