Deciding how much to charge for a photo shoot can be a tough task. To help you negotiate the seemingly hazardous terrain of exchanging creativity for cash, we have rounded up some handy hints, tips and advice about charging for your photographic excellence.

From Amateur to Professional

Do not be scared to charge even if you don’t have formal training. An amateur is no less competent than a professional, and although an amateur photographer will not have had any professional training, they can be just as creative and talented as a professional photographer.

How to charge when you first start out

Before charging, build up a portfolio to showcase your skills – offer to do photo shoots for friends and family for free or to cover costs such as travel, film and processing if you are using it, storage onto CD and postage if applicable. From here you can start offering your services confidently at an introductory price to gauge your target market, for example offer a 20% discount off your ‘proper price’.

What is a proper price?

This is what the value of that service is in the industry; whilst you may be able to afford to snap away on a shoestring, that could devalue the service of professionals around you. Proper prices cover the costs involved in running a business such as premises, marketing, equipment, travel, etc as well as time on location and to process pictures after. This will invariably vary from place to place and also on the type of audience you are targeting.

Charging for time

Some photographers charge by the hour, day or half day, and often include the time it takes to process a set number of pictures, or save all of the pictures from the shoot to disc. Consider how much your time is worth per hour, and if you include the hours outside of the actual shoot will you be working on the images.

Charging for skill

Other photographers believe that it is not the time it takes to get the shot, it is the fact that the client will get the shot, or shots, and therefore they will charge according to their skill – fees which are easier to command if you are already established.

Charging for the photos

When not incorporated into the time spent on location, photographers make an additional charge to edit an agreed number of photos. This can be per image or for the number of hours it will take to edit the selection.

So… Gimme the figures!

It really does depend on where you live and the type of photography you are doing. Find out what the client wants and gauge what that job is worth in time and skill and expenses then do research in your area to get a better idea of the going rate. Below is a breakdown of how photographers I have known in the UK have decided to charge for a photo shoot and image processing, a benchmark I hope you find helpful.

Time taking photos: £50 - £100 per hour (about $75 - $150)
Processing Photos: £5 to £25 per image (about $7 - $40)
Wear and tear of equipment: £20 per shoot (about $30)
Travel costs and travel time: £1 per mile (about $0.75)
Other costs (cds, film, processing, postage): cost plus 25%

Top Tip

Remember that people are paying you not only for inherent talent and creativity, but also years of building up experience and learning to use the tools of the trade. Do not sell yourself short and always respect fellow photographers – especially those who earning a living with their camera.

July 5th, 2012
Great blog! Thanks for the tips! x
July 5th, 2012
Thank you for sharing this, this does answer some questions I had
July 5th, 2012
If it helps, as a professional actor I have paid 350 - 400 for a four hour shoot and approximately 50 photos to choose from. Women pay another 100 - 200 for hair and make-up. When you choose your prints it's another 125-200 for 50 prints.
It has been five years since I have had them done and this in in Toronto or Vancouver. I don't know what prices would be in other countries but I imagine they are close.
July 6th, 2012
This is such a great article and thank you for sharing!
July 6th, 2012
Fantastic tips thanks ;) I have often wondered how much to charge, it's great to have a guide.
July 6th, 2012
Never thought of it as a disservice to others in the field to not charge enough... that's a good point.
July 6th, 2012
I charge $75 per hour that I'm on location. That covers everything - travel, processing time, etc. Starting to think I'm undercharging a little bit!
July 6th, 2012
@pocketmouse I guess it depends on your costs, a photographer in New York or London would probably have to charge more (due to higher costs) than someone in a small town.
July 8th, 2012
Awesome blog!!! Love the guide offees broken down.
July 9th, 2012
@Scrivna Some of the jobs I've had to drive 30-40 minutes for, and I didn't factor that into my rate at all. And for every 1 hour I'm on location, I spend another ~1-2 hours processing the images. Hmmm. Maybe I should just get faster at processing. xD
July 9th, 2012
Thank you!!
August 24th, 2012
this is such a useful thread. the idea of not undercutting professionals in the area is important to me - there are very few studios around here and i do not want to step on their toes. thank you for posting this.
November 28th, 2012
July 23rd, 2013
Thank you for sharing, this is quite useful. I do like the thought to keep in mind other photographers that do this full time as an income.
December 7th, 2013
It's a valid point to consider the industry as a whole when pricing. There are people in my area now advertising wedding shoots for £99 which appeals to the broader market but totally wipes the floor with people who are trying to take it seriously.
January 13th, 2014
Good read, thanks for the tips!
October 14th, 2014
this is a good the will help me price better
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