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One of the most common questions that photographers ask is how much they should be charging for their work. It’s not always easy to judge the value of your own work, particularly in the creative industries, however, getting it right is crucial.
Learning to set the right price for your photography will not only ensure that you get a fair payment for all your hard work, training and knowledge but it also lets people know that you take your artform seriously.
Of course, if you set your prices too high then you will be uncompetitive and will struggle to find clients; however, if you undervalue your work then you’ll struggle to make a proper living from your work.
Therefore, learning how to set the correct prices for your time and work is critical to succeed in the world of photography. Unfortunately, there is no simple formula or rule that you can use when pricing your work but there are some general principles which will help you to charge the right amount for your work.
General Pricing Principles In Photography.
The following are some of the pricing principles in photography:
The Genre Matters.
The amount that you charge for your photography will depend, in part, on the genre that you are working in. For instance, if you’re doing family or individual portrait photos the market cap on the prices you can charge is fairly fixed by what your competition is charging. However, if you’re working with celebrity clients you will certainly be able to charge a much higher fee!
Real estate photography is a great earner and if you work with a real estate company you can rely on consistent, well paid work. Once again though, there’s a fairly fixed market price for your work in the real estate industry, so finding out what others are charging is the easiest way to get a broad idea of what you should be asking for.
On the other hand, certain genres, such as minimalist or landscape photography, can be much harder to break into and secure a reliable income over time.
Wedding and events photography is another reliable source of income for which you can charge good rates; but you do need to remember that it’s a fairly seasonal genre, with most of the available work being during the spring and summer seasons.
Your Past Experience Is Critical When Setting Prices.
Another fundamental factor when it comes to setting prices for your work is the amount of experience that you have as well as your portfolio and past clients.
If you’ve had some high profile clients in the past then you can expect to be able to charge significantly more in the future whereas if you are a beginner then you’ll have to accept a lower price for your work, even if it’s very good!
Most experienced photographers have a good sense of how much their work is worth and so it’s mainly beginners that struggle to decide on how much to charge for their work.
Pricing Guide For Photographers – The Basics.
No matter what type of photography you are producing there are some fundamental principles which you can apply to make sure you charge a fair market price for your work.
As a photographer you are not only a creator but you also need to be a business person. This can be tough for a lot of creative people who prefer to simply focus on their artform however it’s vital to charge enough for your work to make it profitable!
When calculating how much to charge for your photography you first need to have a realistic idea of how much you need to earn! This means that you should set yourself a fair wage for a month, or the year, and then work backwards to calculate the prices you need to charge.
To calculate your prices for photography you can use the following formula to establish the basics. The formula below lays out how you can calculate the price of a photoshoot, but you can extrapolate from it to fit any gig or client’s requirements.
Expenses (the costs of doing the photoshoot) + Your Desired Earnings (your wage + your profits) + Taxes = Total Cost Of A Photoshoot.
The first thing you have to do is to figure out the expenses of the photoshoot. This includes all the things that you need to rent, including studio space, travel and the payment of any models, if required.
The Expenses – Made Simple.
There’s a wide range of potential expenses that you have to take into account, depending on the type of photoshoot or client that you are working with. Among the most common expenses that you should always take into consideration when deciding on your prices include, but are not limited to:
- Renting a studio.
- Travel costs.
- Equipment hire.
- Advertising or marketing costs.
- Wages for models or hired assistants.
- Your own personal wage per hour.
- Profit (usually between 5-20% of total earnings).
- Miscellaneous expenses, such as lunch or parking charges.
- Outside services, such as stylists and makeup artists.
- Post production and editing (per hour if you’re doing it, or the fee of hiring outside help).
The easiest way to start calculating your costs is to set up a spreadsheet and input the costs for each photoshoot. You should also include any outside services that you need to employ, including any post production work that you expect will need to be done. Of course, if you are doing your own post production then you should charge an appropriate hourly rate for that on top of the photoshoot itself.
Lastly, never forget to include the taxes you will need to pay on your earnings when you are figuring out your business costs! If you’re unclear about how much you’ll have to pay in taxes then you can contact your local tax office, or check their website, to find out a list of tax bands. This will allow you to estimate your taxes, based on your earning expectations, and include these costs in your pricing structure.
Should You Charge Per Hour Or Per Day?
When you’re starting out in photography it’s a lot simpler to calculate your costs on an hourly basis; although there’s no reason why you can’t charge on a daily basis. If you choose to advertise your prices on a daily basis you can first decide on your hourly rate and then if you’re doing a day long photoshoot you just need to multiply your hourly rate by the amount of hours you’ll be working for.
Naturally, your experience and skill level will play a major role in determining the prices that you can charge for your photography. However, even if you’re an amateur or just starting out you should still get a fair price for your work; and although you might have to do some volunteer work to establish yourself in the industry you should quickly start to charge for your work.
A rough guide to the prices you can charge per hour is as follows:
Prices will vary depending on many factors including the location, whether the customer is a new client or an existing client etc.
- Amateur Photographer – $25-$75 per hour.
- Student Photographer – $50-$100 per hour.
- Less Experienced Professional Photographer – $75-$150 per hour.
- Highly Experienced Professional Photographer – $100-$500 per hour.
Alternatively, if you are selling prints of your work then you should charge per image and not per hour. So, for example, if you are a beginner then you should be able to charge between $10 and $25 per image; depending on your popularity and reach. As a more experienced professional you can charge anywhere between $50 and $500 per image! However, you need to be sensitive to the market conditions and how much your potential clients are willing to pay.
A good way to get an idea of what the prices in the market are is to research the prices that your fellow photographers in your genre are selling their work for. Of course, you need to take their reputation and portfolio into account but it’s still an easy way to get a rough guide to what you should be charging.
Getting Your Prices Right Will Ensure A Success Career As A Professional Photographer.
When you’re setting out to work in a professional capacity you need to strike the right balance between charging enough to sustain your lifestyle and cover the bills while not overcharging clients.
It can be difficult to establish a fair but profitable pricing structure however if you first calculate your expenses, including taxes, your own wages and profit margin, then you can be sure that your price is approximately right. Another invaluable way of setting your prices is to use other photographers in your field as a guideline for your fees, keeping in mind the differences in your levels of experience and public profile.