How Much Should You Charge For Your Photography?

Model: Ambe DeVille.

50mm - 1/60 @ f2 @ 200 ISO


We're an alternative modeling & photography magazine so we won't be discussing how much you should charge for wedding, food, or event photography. At a later date we will post an article on "How Much Should You Charge For Your Modeling" from a model's perspective.

The first thing you should ask is: how much is your time worth?

How much should you charge for your photography (style & standard of quality), travel time, post-processing, and media? Photography is a highly competitive field and it can be time-consuming searching for new clients. How much you should charge for your photography depends on multiple factors.

  • Experience. If you are just starting out, you should look into becoming someone's assistant. Learn the basics. Once you start shooting solo, you should do trade shoots until you've built up a substantial portfolio. Find some friends that are willing to let you shoot them. In the beginning, if you want to photograph an established "name" model, you will likely have to pay to work with them. In year one, I didn't charge anyone for a shoot. I have now been shooting for 10 years.
  • Research. Do some research and look at your local competition and see what they are charging. Most photographers post their rates on their websites. Are your photography skills on the same level as your competition? Is there a demand for your style of portrait photography? Don't lowball. Your rates should be around the same level or not too far off from your competition. If you start too low, it will be hard to raise your rates later.
  • Limits. If you are doing a portrait session, you should limit the amount of edited photos you deliver to the client. 5 edits. 10 edits. Never give the client all the raw photos. Only deliver the best and be clear in the beginning about how many photos you will deliver. Don't promise a quick turnaround time, if it's not possible for you. Be realistic about when you can actually finish the photos.
  • Prints & Licensing. Don't stop with just giving your client a CD. A good portion of your profit can come from selling prints and licensing.
  • Equipment. Beyond your camera, portrait lenses range from $100 - $2,500. Then there's lighting equipment, background stands, computers and software. Eventually, you will need to pay off your equipment. If you're experienced, don't shoot for free!
  • Time. I recommend charging per look and not by the hour. If you're subject wants additional looks, there should be an additional fee. Don't have a rush shoot because you are charging by the hour. Make sure you get the shots you need to satisfy your client.
  • Make-up. Hook up with a local pro make-up artist. If your client wants professional make-up, offer that option at your make-up artist's rate. Some clients have no idea how to apply make-up for a photo shoot, so you should have a make-up artist available, if needed.
  • Goals. What is your goal for the year? To earn a little extra income to pay for your gear or to make a living doing just photography?


In part 2 of this article we will discuss how to break down your daily cost of business (DCOB).


~ Danny Stygion

editor (@) sinicalmagazine (.) com.

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