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Photography Pricing

Photography Pricing

After speaking to a number of semi-pro and professional photographers, it seems that there is growing frustration among them when it comes to photography prices and services. As the number of digital photographers continues to increase, it seems there are a lot of misunderstandings as to what a photographer can do for you.

Hiring a Photographer

Individuals and companies of all types regularly call the photographers listed in the Citynet Magazine Professional Photographer Network to inquire about prices and services. Ultimately for many, the choice of whether or not to hire a photographer comes to down price. If they do choose to hire one, they must evaluate the great photos in their online portfolios and decide who they can afford. Since this is the type of thing that is rarely stated, I feel it is time to set the record straight.

Amazed at the Price!

A popular reason for many calls and emails received by photographers is to inquire about basic headshots, event photographers, model portfolio photo shoots and their respective prices. The truth is that the range of photography prices is highly variable and depends on many factors such as location (in studio versus traveling to a location) and length of time needed for a particular session.

Pricing can be as low as $50 up to $500 or higher for a portrait session alone. In my opinion, any photographer selling their services for $50 probably isn’t much of a professional, although that’s not to say that the job cannot be done properly. Still, many people are absolutely amazed at the fees associated with photography so let me explain what is involved in the process.

Your Boyfriend with His $300 Camera is Not a Professional

First of all, a professional photographer is not your boyfriend grabbing a point-and-click camera on the fly. If you want that, simply ask your boyfriend, best friend’s cousin, or grandmother to take your photos and you’re all set.

Second, a photographer’s time and experience are valuable. You’re not simply going to someone’s place of business and asking him/her to “just take a few pictures.” It does not work that way. Even if you only need one shot, it will take time to find the best angle, prepare the lighting, and possibly choose the correct outfit for that one memorable photo. A photographer will give you advice on what to wear, make-up, and so on. They have done this before and guide you as needed. That’s why professional photos look professional and the photos you took using your aunt’s camera with your closet, computer desk, wall, bed, and carpet in the background of a poorly lit photo will not look all that great.

Third, I assure you that professional photography equipment costs a lot more than your best friend’s camera. A high quality camera, specialized lenses, memory cards, digital software, tripods, umbrellas and lighting, and colorful background are professional-grade and are quite expensive. You benefit from the latest professional technology being used in the photographs, and used properly at that.

Next, the time it takes to produce your one headshot is more than the actual sitting session. It involves setting up the equipment in advance, blocking off time for the photo shoot itself, uploading the photos and going through them after the shoot, digital touch-ups to the photos chosen for printing, burning the photos onto CDs, bringing them to the photo lab, returning to the photo lab the next day to pick them up and then waiting for you to pick up your prints or mailing them to you. You may have lots of time on your hands but you should always be aware that photographers are busy running a business.

I think most would agree that that is a lot of work for a small fee, hence the great value you get from working with professional photographers. Moreover, I assure you that one of the biggest pet peeves of all photographers is people who do not show up for the photos and are too inconsiderate to call and let the photographer know that they cannot make it. Photographers don’t get paid in those circumstances (unless a small booking deposit was requested) but still took time to set up the shoot and possibly turned someone else down during that period of time because it was pre-booked.

Finally, a professional photographer does this for a living. If it were that simple, many photographers would not count on gigs to be their livelihood. Again, this is not your father lending you his camera to take a few photos. Photographers take pictures for a living and you must understand that when making inquiries about pricing.

The Cost of Photography Service

Whether you’re a model or actor in need of fresh portraits and portfolio shots, a couple looking for a professional wedding photographer, an event coordinator with a big production coming, there is always one question on your mind: How much?

Can you put a price on lifelong wedding night memories? I’d have to say no (unless you get divorced but that’s a whole other story!). The price of the photos and video might be several thousand dollars but the value is much more since you will get more benefit out of the photos than the paper the photos are printed on will cost.

Let me re-iterate the price versus value issue. The cost of a bottle of water is typically about $1 and its value to you is a dollar because that is what it is worth to you to quench your thirst. If you are walking through the desert, you may be willing to pay a lot more for that bottle of water because its value is now much higher than the cost. How does this relate to photography? Spending a few extra dollars for a photographer who takes an outstanding photo and gets you the acting role of a lifetime is worth more to you than the measly cost of the gig.

You should purchase photography services (and anything else you buy) based on value not price. That thinking can change your life, I assure you.

Stock Photography Pricing

One final point, regarding stock photography pricing. Stock photos are those that photographers amass and sell. It could include a visit to the zoo or photos of an office building. There are many websites now selling stock photos, many for as little as a dollar per photo. There is a lot to be said that goes beyond this article but essentially, keep in mind that when you purchase stock photos, it is also not just a matter buying “some guy’s pictures.” Frequently the photos took hours of the photographer’s time, from set-up to uploading to the stock photo selling website. They should be compensated accordingly.

The Digital Photography Services Price List

It’s impossible for me to tell you what to pay as there are so many different factors involved. A freelance event photographer may charge less than one who has to pay rent for a studio, for example. Most photographers have an established photography price list with varying rates which form the basis of their business. They modify them based on specific needs and ultimately it is up to you to appreciate what they do and pay for services (or not).


View Comments (96)


  1. Avatar


    June 16, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Perfectly written. Thanks.

  2. Avatar

    Jenna Baker

    June 18, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    I’m a new photographer, and I’m having a hard time of figuring out how much I should charge for my services. Is there any way, You can take a look at my work, and help me figure out a price? I don’t want to be charging too much or too little.

  3. Avatar


    June 24, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    I just opened my photography studio with ladies fashion also. Before I begin any shoot I conduct a small workshop shop on how to pose in front of the camera. I think I have something different to offer by doing this. I am having a hard time setting a fair price as I am much lower than the local fashion photographer. Is there a list of standard photographers prices

  4. Avatar


    July 15, 2009 at 12:55 am

    I’m not a photographer. Trying to get a fair listing, of the going rate of a photographer.
    At some point in all of business ethics has to be a part of the pricing. “Experience is only learning from your mistakes”. What is it that makes someone a professional in an area that is not licensed nor regulated. Only by the very people that claim the self given title?

  5. Avatar


    July 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Could you please send me a price list and the standard size photos I could get in a package? I want to compare it with the quotation I got. Thanx.

  6. Avatar


    July 28, 2009 at 10:46 am

    To Mr(s) Dun here above, as a professional photographer myself for over 17 years in the profession. I advise you to read the above text a few times over again and again. It’s WONDERFUL TEXT, believe me!

  7. Avatar

    Arody Sanchez

    August 17, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Could you please post a price list?

  8. Avatar


    August 29, 2009 at 7:11 am

    This article is a good way to justify high priced photography, but not an actual professional price list – falsely advertising (or, groan, artistic), but well written. I disagree that price dictates value, because there are far too many variables to generalize in such a way.

    I know several overpaid pro photographers in addition to several more that are underpaid. I wish your article could have explained how to recognize and select a good photographer that is worth his/her weight in film/bytes. Yes, we all know what a boyfriend with a nice camera is and how nice pictures make us all feel, but defining what a professional photographer is and how to know we’ve gotten our money’s worth would have helped a little more.

    Sorry if I seem grumpy – it’s been a long day. I really found the article to be well written. I was looking for photography prices, and I thought from the URL that is what I was getting – I did find the article’s perspective to be interesting.

    If anyone is interested in photographers’ pricing, google photography. Local photographers will usually post samples and prices on their website – not all of them, but you’re bound to find a few from the list.

  9. Avatar


    September 5, 2009 at 11:03 am

    There’s a difference between being adept as an artist and adept as an entrepreneur. That’s why you find photographers shooting $50 sessions. Best solution is to check their book. If you don’t like what you see, don’t pay it. If you think, “I’d pay $500 for THAT!”…then do it. If you’re happy with what you get, that’s all that counts, right? Plus, you’ve then created an expectation that you want met – it’s concrete and on terms you know they’re capable of achieving. If you’re not sure what qualifies as good… well, aside from an entirely separate problem, you can ask them what makes what they do good. If they can’t explain it to you in terms of what you feel makes sense, then maybe it isn’t a good fit for you… or you’re just stupid… just kidding. 🙂

    Also, look for students, post on Craigslist, and talk to people with pro cameras (you can kinda tell). If they don’t have a portfolio, you don’t need to talk to them. It’s simple, but you can find some great deals. Yeah, maybe not overnight; but if it’s worth waiting for…..

    A lot of photographers have it hard. Equipment is ridiculously overpriced. You’re not just paying for their gear, you’re paying for their brainpower and creativity.

    Finally, I disagree with the $300 camera comment only because, pretty soon, that boyfriend’s $300 camera is going to smoke pro gear. That’s the nature of technology. Can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen go under because of the D40x: 1/3 of the cost, negligible difference in resolution. Buying a more expensive camera doesn’t always necessitate better equipment… oh, that reminds me, you’re also paying photographers for their research into details like this.

  10. Avatar

    Michael Albany

    September 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    I found this article to be well written and very true. I answer questions like “why are your fees X?” as often as I get the “So you’re a professional photographer. You shoot weddings?” (No, I don’t shoot weddings). I am going to post a link back to this article on my rates page. It says everything I need to say in a far better way than I can say it! Thank you VERY much!


  11. Avatar

    Annabel Christie

    September 9, 2009 at 5:33 am

    Wow! What an article that does ALL photographers proud. Thank you for explaining so well the intricate details and hard work we as photographers entail. Working at my BEST to bring the BEST service to all my clients is all I endeavour to achieve. You cannot put a price on quality. The article genuinely explains it in one. Thank you.

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    September 9, 2009 at 7:31 am

    I agree that there is and should be a “perceived value” cost to a photographer’s wares, however, most of the reasons described above for the cost, include the fixed costs of equipment. Any other business amortizes this over time. However, many photographers’ prices for a “package” of prints could easily pay for half the cost of a camera alone. So, it appears at least, that rather than spreading out the cost so that their services are more realistic and affordable, many photographers try and recoup as much as possible as quickly as possible.

    And on that note, many photographers just starting out really should examine their pricing structure. For example, we recently had pictures taken. They were VERY well done, but the pricing was astronomical. No matter how good they were, the price kept us from purchasing more than just a couple of prints–hardly enough to justify the time it took the photographer to take them. Additionally, no one else in our family could afford to purchase them either.

    So at some point, a photographer reaches a “negative return” on their pricing. It doesn’t matter how fantastic of an artiste you are, if the market doesn’t support your pricing, then you’re overpriced. Just like real estate.

  13. Avatar


    September 9, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Dobeman – You make a very good point about the amortization of costs over time. However, what I’ve found is that photographers buy equipment on a regular basis and it’s not cheap. It’s true that as revenue comes in, real businesses will set aside some of that for new purchases but where does it end?

    Also, the demand for and amount paid to professional photographers have both decreased so much in recent years (I think moreso than when I wrote the article several years ago), precisely because “everyone” thinks they can do it just as well with a point and shoot camera. That means there’s less income to pay for new equipment (and all of the other costs associated with running a business).

    There’s no question that photography services are sensitive to supply and demand market forces but a photographer working in an “average-sized” city will have a hard time making a lot of money even if they deserve to make more with today’s “I can do it just as well” mentality.

    Further, I think that most people just want the photos on a CD with a handful of prints at this point. They want to be able to upload them to Facebook and email them to friends and family. Prints aren’t nearly as important as they used to be. As such, photographers make less money from what used to be a major source of income.

    Blahberstein – I don’t believe that the tiny lens of a $300 point and shoot camera is going to trump a $1,000+ L-series Canon lens anytime soon.

    Several commenters have asked for prices. Here’s a general range as food for thought:

    Headshots/Portrait Photos: $100-$800
    Some factors that may affect pricing include:
    – Prints vs. photos on a CD/DVD
    – Purpose (to be used in a magazine, for an acting school application, for advertising, etc)
    – Photographer experience (e.g., 2 years vs 20 years)
    – Studio location (studio in the photographer’s house vs in an office building/studio building vs on-site at your client’s location)

    Wedding Photography: $1,000-$5,000+
    This will also depend on the photographer’s experience, the number of photographers present (some pros bring assistants), choice of CD vs prints, and the length of the event.

    Fashion Photography: $1,000-$3,000/day
    I think that the handful of “big name” photographers who still get extremely well-paid for their work is changing. The same way companies would rather pay $5,000/day to a hot up and coming model rather than $25,000/day to an established model, their pricing for photography has changed as well. I recently spoke to an established New York photographer who used to get $10,000/photoshoot for advertising who can hardly get a paying gig anymore because his clients visit stock photography websites and buy a photo that is similar to what they want for $50.

    Product Photography: $1,000-$2,000/day
    Photographing people is a completely different animal from shooting products. I know some fantastic product photographers who specialize in just that and barely understand what it takes to photograph a model in a dress.

    Event Photography: $1,000-$3,000/event
    Corporate events such as organization/association conferences can be profitable for photographers as well. Note that these clients typically ask for DVD with the photos and have little interest in buying prints. With tighter budgets these days, I’d guess that the lowest price will get the gig in most cases.

  14. Avatar


    September 11, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Thank you so much for this article! It was very helpful and informative… def. bookmarked it to refer back to.

  15. Avatar


    September 29, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Great article. Digital media all faces pressures from amateurs and hobbyists, plus the digital world as a whole is by nature super-saturated. Value added services is what keeps people afloat…

  16. Avatar


    October 2, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Okay, I am looking for construction photography pricing. I spent 3 years, 8780 photos and now the engineers want the pics. $$$$? Someone please help me. This hobby is now a headache. Most of the pricing posted is somewhat helpful. What would YOU charge?

  17. Avatar


    October 5, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    I have to disagree with the comment about the $300 comment made above (no offense to Blahberstien). The Nikon D40X isn’t the camera that the D60 is which is still a far cry of the D90 which is not as good as the D200 then the D300 the the D700 and on and on really…

    The D40X is a good point and shoot DSLR but even at 10.2 MP can’t hold a candle to the mid level D200 which is also 10.2 MP.

    I’ve seen pen cameras with 14 MP but that doesn’t mean that they’re better than the point and shoot that is only 2 MP. The smaller the camera, the smaller the CCD. Packing in more MP with a CCD that is too small only gets you distortion. The D40x is a great camera but it’s not a professional or even prosumer grade camera.

    Lastly, I’m guessing that in most cases, those that buy the D40x are using the lens (or lenses) that came with the camera. Most of the lenses I use cost more than the D40x with a lens included. Its all in the physics at this point… better glass, better pics. I don’t care what your ISO rating is on your point and shoot is, you won’t be taking pictures that an 85mm f1.4 can capture when attached to a quality CCD.

    I’m not bashing the smaller Nikons here, I’m actually a fan of the d40 and d60 as they enable the average consumer the ability to take a better picture than they could before but there is still a difference, major difference in the equipment and it’s not just the price.

  18. Avatar

    Roze Miller

    November 19, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    I always have my doubts of being a “professional photographer” beacause I have had no schooling for photography. I guess you could say I have the most expensive point and shoot in the world (Canon 20D). I love what I do. I’ve done shoots, corporate events, personal events, etc… have the equipment and just recently got my own studio. BUT just NOW after reading what YOU wrote… I realize I AM A PROFESSIONAL!! Thanks for opening my eyes to that!! You made my day!!!

  19. Avatar

    Cormac Byrne

    December 1, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Many valid already put forward already. I would like to put one of the most important points to everyone. Apart from the cost of camera equipment, computers, software, and updating all of these. Not to mention all the other costs and overheads as with any business like insurance, indemnity, staff, public liability, premises, furnishing, and much more.

    One of the biggest points to consider here is a photographers time. Anything from 25 to 35 hours can be spent working on any one wedding. From the time a couple come into the studio and book the photographer, that is the time which will be taken up before a completed wedding album will be handed to the couple. The photographer will spend a number of hours with the couple at a pre-wedding discussion.

    Photographing on the day before and throughout the day, possibly into the night. Then after the wedding there are a nunber of hours spent downloading the images, filing and sorting the images. Getting the images ready for the couple to view (online in some cases). Meeting the couple again after the wedding to finalise the images which they have ordered. Editing these images so that they are corrected and ready to print.
    Sending the couple a pdf to approve and make changes to if needed. Spending more time to changing the pdf (back and forth a couple of times possibly). Printing the images (or sending the files out to a lab to print). Etc.

    I would just like people to realise that professional photographers are running a business like other professionals and there are a lot of costs involved.

    There are many other points I would like to bring to your attention but I have said enough on this visit already 🙂

  20. Avatar


    December 30, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    my good friend has been a part time model now for a few years and has always been more interested in the photography aspect of her experiences. I’ve been setting her up with a few portfolio jobs the last few weeks and i’m wanting to do more with her, possibly go full time; i handle the business and she the photography.. Not exactly sure on pricing and how to market her work. Is there any help you could offer?

  21. Avatar


    January 11, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    I am looking to start myself up as a photographer but I need jobs to be able to afford the best equipment. I have a basic dslr and have a few weddings under my belt so im getting my experience but have had a few people enquiring about me doing portrait work and getting a price of me. I need to get a 3 head flash kit to get me started but what else can I do to establish myself?

  22. Avatar


    January 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! i was just struggling with adjusting my prices, but after reading this article, i realized that i was being underpaid! people just don’t realize how much work goes into what we do, nor do they realize that there is a difference between a mom with a camera and someone that has taken the time and energy to learn the art of photography ( but yes, there are some good photographers who are moms with cameras, i respect that. you can tell who they are too, they’ve taken the time to learn, practice it, and it shows).

    I took the time ( and the money ) to go to a college and study photography, all aspects of it. i do deserve to get paid for my experience in addition to talent! and there is a major difference, like many people have said, between the quality of equipment. i started out with a D80, and i gradually upgraded all my lenses. then i took the plunge and bought the D700, and there is a huge difference in the quality of the images! especially when you factor in the difference that good lenses make. unless you shoot with a full-frame or a film camera, your images will be cropped automatically in your camera, MP don’t matter. just saying.

    Thank you for saying what so many of us struggle to put into words!

  23. Avatar


    February 1, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I have been taking pictures for a long time i have my certificate to open my own business. I just don’t know what to charge. I have my own equipment and I am good at what I do. Please give me advice.

  24. Avatar

    Noel Coates

    February 13, 2010 at 6:05 am

    I just wanted to point out that a camera is just a tool, it does not portray whether you are a professional or not, some of my fellow wedding photographers have used point and shoot compacts because its quieter during the service and when allowed they switch back to their slr. However I do believe that a professional is someone who makes a living from his or her photography, a semi-pro is someone who makes a bit of money on the side from their works. I think if you want to get an idea how much to charge, do the research, use the internet and phone other photographers for quotes for similar services that you are looking to sell, after all you are not signing anything.

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    February 15, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks for this article, Brian. It’s aggravating to constantly have to explain to people that charging $400 for a one hour sitting or $50/image for an unlimited copyright release is not exorbitant. Yes, Jen, artistic talent and professional skill are individual and vary by the photographer, groan away, it’s a fact of life. Most good photographers are only mediocre business people because if they loved book-keeping and negotiating contracts they’d have become lawyers or accountants. People think that they can buy an expensive camera and that makes them a photographer but after twenty plus years in the business I can tell you that even having the best pro gear doesn’t make someone a good photographer. Just like owning a Ferrari doesn’t make you Mario Andretti. I wish that other people out there who want to make a living at photography would realize that by underselling they are causing confusion in the market and making it a wearisome fact of life that to be a photographer means constantly having to explain and defend one’s prices. I was a lawyer once. I didn’t have to quibble with clients about billing out at $400/hour but I can tell you for a fact that the amount of education, equipment and labor that goes into an hour of my photography is more than what went into an hour of desk jockeying in a silk stocking law firm, all the egos of all the partners in America notwithstanding…

  26. Avatar

    Jennifer M.

    February 15, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Well put. Thanks for this article. I am an aspiring photographer who is trying to figure out prices, and this article really helped to clarify that it is okay to charge “higher” rates for my work. It feels like a lot to ask someone to pay, but really, a lot of expense is covered in that fee – equipment, time, etc. And like you said, this is how you make a living – it’s not just a free service – anybody can do that.

  27. Avatar


    March 8, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Great article! I have been taking pictures since 2006 with a point and shoot and made a lot of money. I am an Event Photographer and in my TOWN, in my City, the prices were reasonable. Depending on what your local professional photographer is charging, what your target market could afford, and what type of service (quality) you offer, a price list from someone else is not going to help.

    You have to do your homework. You have to be creative and offer something the other professionals are not. You have to be available when they are not!

    In one weekend I made a cool $742 taking pictures at an outdoor event. I had my laptop, DSLR camera, a commercial printer, and my Canon 430 EX flash. The line was long and I had to hire someone to do the printing and packing for me. No, I am not a professional yet but made some good money in one weekend.

    Now, I want to learn more about portraits and working in studio. There is a lot of homework to be done and I will do it!

  28. Avatar

    Kristina Garcia

    March 9, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Im having a hard time pricing my service. I need help please and also on what type of packages to do. Its driving me crazy. I have a booking and Im not sure how to get it started.

  29. Avatar


    March 15, 2010 at 3:50 am

    My opinion is that, no matter how much expensive is your camera, it doest make you a better photographer, you just take better photos. To be a good photographer, you just have to have the talent that every artist has. Not everyone can sing or dance, no matter what mic or dancefloor you got. So not everyone can take photos, no matter what camera you have.

    You may have $5 camera and with you creativity your photos be the best, make the best. The idea and the dedication to the moment counts.

    Now lets say that you have a talent and you have a good camera, then you can make miracles.

    So, you can always start with a camera that suits your budget. Learn it, feel it and understand it. Everyday new models are coming. You can’t hunt the technology or else you’ll become the victim of the market (another story).

    Thank you.

  30. Avatar

    Pashminu Mansukhani

    March 28, 2010 at 3:53 am

    Yes, there are several factors to be considered when selecting a photographer. The level of experience, exposure and finally the rate for which the photographer is ready to work also makes lot of difference.

  31. Avatar


    April 8, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I have always loved taking pictures and never thought I could turn my hobby into a “job.” Yesterday I borrowed a friend’s children, dressed them up as fairies, and took pictures of them and the spring blossoms. I framed one of the pictures and took it to their mom’s shop. She cried and two people in the shop asked me what I charged. How cool is that?!? Now I have a ton of research to do. Thanks for the great article!

  32. Avatar


    April 13, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    What is the best way to price and list your photo packages?
    having a hard time doing this. Also bein able to seperate family and friend’s to do your work, and charge without the guilt.
    any help is welcome!!!!!

  33. Avatar


    April 14, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve been taking pictures for years now and I would like to sell some of them. I would like to know how much to sell them for, for the different sizes?

  34. Avatar


    April 16, 2010 at 6:54 am

    The camera DOES NOT MAKE the photographer. Give an expert any form of camera, and he or she will make it work.

  35. Avatar


    May 7, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Hi there

    Do you have an approximate fee for “Site Photography” like landscape, construction site, architecture etc?
    A full day price and a half day price range will be much appreciated
    Crystal x

  36. Avatar

    Ron Alexander

    May 24, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    This was a great article to find online. I will be starting up a photography business on the side and I was concerned about what to charge. Right now, I am not charging, and had no idea what to charge, as I am still gaining more experience and knowledge in photography. In addition, I have not taken any classes, I just shoot wht looks good to me, and then I make my final decisions afterwards.

    I must say that I realized my Canon Powershot SD1200 took some nice pics that my D70s couldn’t compare to. Granted we are also talking a 6MP difference. Now before the masses gang up on me, I am upgrading to a D300s and will focus more so on portraiture. The prime lens is/will be 50mm F1.8. Like someone else stated I would like to slowly upgrade my lenses, but want to have the knowledge of what to buy rather than just buying everything under the sun,

    So thanks a lot for this article, it helped me out a lot.

  37. Avatar


    June 2, 2010 at 4:22 am

    Love your article. I was wondering if I could post this on my website/blog with credits and a link linking back to you? I would love for my clients to have access in reading this 🙂

    • Avatar


      June 2, 2010 at 4:26 am


      Please make sure you follow the terms and conditions of the website. Do not just copy and paste the article as there are legal implications for doing so without paying the licensing fee. If you like the article, please link to it, don’t steal it.

  38. Avatar


    June 2, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Nice article! Good comments!

    I am a professional photographer, portraits, weddings, event, and small products.

    I started with a Mat G ( you old timers will know what kind of camera that is) in 1975. Shot my first “for hire” wedding in 1982. I am now all digital.

    No Jen it was not an attempt to justify high priced photography. It was an attempt to make you understand a little more of what goes into professional photography. There is a huge difference in a $300.00 camera and inkjet prints and a full sized CCD “pro” camera and quality lab prints done by a lab that knows what quality and color control is. There is a big difference in someone who shows up with a camera and no other light modifiers (flash and reflectors) to shoot you on location (because they don’t have a studio) and clicks the shutter 200 to 300 times for a session in hope that they can get 20 to 30 good ones and a pro who shows up with enough equipment to own the light and shoots 20 to 40 and shows you 16 very good pictures.

    If you can’t tell the difference, the first is all you need then be happy with the $50.00 job and what you get for your money.

    If you want a family treasure that will last indefinitely, then seek the pro and pay the price.

    I will not boar anyone with the difference in cameras and photo enlargements but will say that in the old days a “pro” could take a Kodak Brownie and get a good picture, however, if you think their results would not be better with a Hasselblad then you are mistaken.

    In the digital age the lines of what is a pro camera and pro-consumer and the true point and shoot are not as easy to discern as the before mentioned Brownie and Hasselbald. Yes a pro can take MOST $300.00 point and shoots and make a very good picture. If he is a pro and had his gear it would be a better picture 100 times out of 100.

    It is also very true that the semi-pro is cheaper. They have less overhead.
    I have rent on the studio, utilities, cameras, backgrounds, props, studio lighting, samples for the studio walls, insurance on the gear, studio and errors and omissions. It’s a lot more than you think. That is why a pro will need to get $100 to $200 per hour for the work he does.

    1 hour session
    2 to 4 hours of processing and retouching (depends on skill level)
    1 hour meeting with you to show “proofs” and get your order
    1/2 hour to finalize images and place order.
    1/2 hour to meet with you to show your enlargements.

    That is a minimum of 4 hours and a minimum of $400.00 they need to make from the sale. Of course the hard cost of the order comes out of that and the rest of the $400 has to cover their overhead. I can tell you they need to shoot 4 to 5 of those per week to even come close to breaking even and 8 to 10 a week to get a steady paycheck.

    You might say “charge less and shoot 50 per week”. I refuse to lump my studio into the “Shopping Mall” style of work where they have a 20 year old student working with lights nailed to the floor and 24 stock poses they put you EVERYBODY in and then runs you over to the computer and puts the super hard sell on you that you must pick 4 pose for a $99.00 min. per pose and if you don’t buy right then the images will be deleted.

    You just paid $396.00 for cookie cutter photos that 49 other people got the exact same pose and background. But you saw their ad and should have been able to get out for $59.95. Really…. doubt it! And to top it all off some other person’s kid was pouring their fruit juice over your child’s head while you were looking at the proofs and getting the hard sell and now you child is sticky and screaming bloody murder. Fun and relaxing photography experience. Really…..doubt it. You have just been HAD!

    If you still can not discern the “pro” from the “mall” or the “we only shoot on location (because we are part time and have no studio)” then please, don’t even pay the $50.00 to the semi-pro part timer. Just save you pennies and get you a $300.00 point and shoot and a ink-jet printer and have your self a blast doing your own photography.

    It will be good enough for you!

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    June 3, 2010 at 1:41 am

    I agree with Ed , as well Im a little concerned with department store discounts it seems people dont care about quality just price until they see quality work THEN THEY REGRET IT, as Ed said the time it takes, overhead, insurance, the list goes on and on as well this industry changes quickly so updating equipment is expensive, and trying to stay ahead of the industry.

    Every time you turn around it costs big money. I care about every photo session too much and Im way too picky to give out a CD of “unretouched” portraits to my customers to make a quick buck so they can go to this department store and print off your work and it looks like crap. Some of the general public dont realize these are not pro labs;our equipment is calibrated with the lab to ensure consistant quality every time, not just “good enough”.

    Why is it in this profession everyone wants to be a photographer, every where you go someone is a “semi-pro hobbiest” and they think they know more than you do. I would not want to try a hand at singing in front of 1000’s of people just because I wish I could sing or see the glamorous side of this profession when I know their are people that are trained or are gifted at what they do and know their equipment. Same goes for photography. (and yes you do pay for experience- thats a fact of life).

    Same goes for anyone who works for an employer you do a good job, you get better at your job, pretty soon you want a raise dont you, you worked hard for that didnt you? Everyone wants and needs a reward, our reward is that we have captured special memories for our clients to cherish forever. And I’m definitely not doing it because Im getting rich and there is no such thing as “gravy money” in photography; its work.

    If you’re a Master Photographer and charge more than the rest of us you deserve to- your a Master in your field and have the “proof is in the pudding” so to speak- no pun intended. They have experience and expertise and worked very hard. If you dont want quality get “Uncle Larry” to take your photos then go to a department store kiosk- thats what “good enoughs” can afford to invest in and then spend $200.00 on a pair of jeans, go figure!!!

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    June 3, 2010 at 7:49 am

    I’ve done hundreds of headshots and I can classify the individuals that I have photographed into many different categories. One category is the people who recognize a quality photo versus those who can’t tell the difference. While going through photos with the client sitting next to me, I often find that they have no idea what looks good and what doesn’t and (thankfully) rely on my keen eye to tell them what I think looks best.

    Given that so many people like that exist, it’s no wonder that they go to portrait studios in the mall. They think that $29.95 at Sears is a fair price to pay, even if the photos are taken by 16 year old high school students.

    On the other hand, some “high end” studios like Magenta are in malls all over the place and they use their marketing as a way to convince you that the photographers (also young, inexperienced, non-photographers) in their store are worth the $500 and up price for the photoshoot (note that they then add on fees for printing, framing, etc). I’ve had many people tell me that they blew $500-$1,500 on photos in these places (and some were too embarrassed to tell me how much they spent) and then came to me for much better photos.

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    June 14, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    The digital world has turned photography upside down but the true and tried photographer is going to make a come back.. The technology of digital has killed real photography and the Cd has replaced the print. The fine film cameras are clogging up the used sections of camera stores and lenses are discarded like trinkets. Polaroid, the 4×5, the 2/14 and the 35mm will rise again but then again the real photographers may have joined Ansel Adams by that time. Anyone ever price an old Ansel Adams print lately wonder if a CD will go for close a million in the next 75 years. Photography is in need of help and it can,t be save by 24 million megapixels.

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    Shawanna Turner

    June 29, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I’m a beginner in wanting to become a photographer. I know a photographer who is gonna train me on how to get started. I’m gonna pay him $350 to teach me. 2days out of the week for 3hours for 5 weeks. Is this a good deal. He has an outline on what i will be learning. He has taken shots of me before and i love his work.

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    June 29, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I know many other people have said this but this is just a fantastic article and meticulously written. It feels great and I really appreciate you backing up us photographers out there.
    Thanks again.


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    June 29, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    What kind of price list do you guys have for family photography? Do you charge a sitting fee and what about a travel fee? I feel like what I have asked a prospective client is reasonable. I have only asked for a $125 sitting fee and since it will be almost 5 hours round trip of driving for me felt like it was very reasonable. What do you guys think? She emailed me and asked me to reduce the fee.

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    June 30, 2010 at 5:05 am

    the same as kinata.,., Could you please send me a price list and the standard size photos I could get in a package? I want to compare it with the quotation I got. Thanx.

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    June 30, 2010 at 5:06 am

    The same as kinata. Could you please send me a price list and the standard size photos I could get in a package? I want to compare it with the quotation I got. Thanx.

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    June 30, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Melissa – I’ve come to realize that people don’t like a sitting fee. I try to make more standard rates. For example, if you want to charge $125 for the first hour, then make that your standard rate for the first hour of photography. You could then build from that and say you would charge $75/hour after that. Indicate to the client that the session usually takes up to an hour and so the $125 is what most people pay. That’s one way to look at it.

    Regarding your 5-hour drive, I would charge a travel fee. So if you have to travel to a client, your fees would look like this: charge $125 for up to an hour if they come to your studio/home/apartment set-up, $175 if you have to go to them and they are within a half an hour drive, and charge an extra $100 for any drive/client that is up to 2 hours away after that first half hour. Again, this is just one way to look at it. There is no right or wrong and different photographers have their own method of charging.

    If someone does not appreciate that your time is worth something, you have to pay for gas for your car, and all of the above article that I wrote (i.e., you need to treat this as a business, and businesses have expenses), then don’t do the shoot. Let me say that again. Do not do the photoshoot if it’s not financially worth it. You always have the option of walking away – never forget that. More gigs will come along.

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    July 31, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Will I am starting a photographering freelance work. I am personal starting my price range is 25 to 50 dollars per picture and all other necessary fees to make this new business work.

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    September 1, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Thanks, this was very helpful!

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    Jon D

    September 18, 2010 at 8:18 am

    The NPPA has a great tool that a lot of professional photographers use to price their work. Please check it out and let us know how your making out!


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    October 8, 2010 at 9:10 am

    i am a photographer with out a qualification, i take amazing photos and i charge just about nothing compared to these hot shot photographers, but i am giving people the same opportunities to have their photos and portraits done with the same quality but for around a 100th of the price!!

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    Keith W Davis Photography

    October 27, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I have turned professional recently at the suggestion of friends and family. My fees are mid range for event photography but I am not sure that I am charging enough compared to other pros or maybe too much for my area.
    Professional photography appears to be a tough business to get into with the digital world surrounding us.

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    Edward Ginsberg

    January 8, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Your comment about the $300 camera is interesting but one that I strongly disagree with. What makes a good photographer is his/her eye and aesthetic sense, not his camera. You can have a klutz photographer with a $5,000 camera. As Ansel Adams said, (and I paraphrase), Owning a Nikon doesn’t make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner.

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    January 14, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Brilliant article, very helpful as I am taking my talent ‘pro’ after being hassled, harrassed and nagged by my friends for years to do so. This article AND all the comments are extremely helpful. Thanks everyone.

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    January 21, 2011 at 10:28 am

    The writer of this “article” or should I say editorial, was a bit pretentious and preachy. Some of it was informative, but they spent too much time putting down the beginning professionals in order to herald the reasoning for their exorbitant prices.

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    February 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    You don’t have to have any qualifications to be a professional photographer, I know many who have gone to school for that and just don’t have the eye to be a good photographer. It takes more that just liking it. If you continue to charge at 100th of the price, you will just be known as that photographer that is really cheap. In other words, you might create amazing photographs, but they aren’t worth much to anyone. If I were you, I would consider pricing and be fair to yourself… give your art WORTH and stop undercutting those that make a living from their craft.

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    February 3, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    David, I didn’t spend any time putting down beginning professionals. Also, if you think that these are exorbitant prices, you missed the entire point. Read it again.

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    February 3, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Edward, It’s a combination of talent and equipment. That’s the bottom line.

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    February 18, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I am relatively new to charging for what I love doing, but I have quickly learned that while its easy to undercut everyone for a quick guaranteed buck, all your doing is screwing everyone else over and more importantly, you are screwing your self over. I have quickly readjust my prices from where I started and I still have clients (more so now than before). Just something to keep in mind.

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    March 2, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Edward… I agree with the $300 Camera is not a professional… I can take just as good shots with the a $300 camera as I could with a $5000 camera, but what am I costing myself in the end, being a professional has nothing to do about ability to take a shot… or to please a client… it is getting consistent results, is is courtesy, it is honesty, and working to take care of a client, and meet their needs… As a professional myself I take the time to research my equipment not because it is the best but because I depend on it to get the results I need, and the quality when producing enlargements

    Being a professional is not about the camera, it is about the whole picture (pun intended) , from the equipment, to the service you give, to the amount of work you put into your craft, and how you respect your competition,

    A professional will constantly be aware of the market, the art, what his client base is wanting, what his competition is doing, and what they are charging, and out of respect, keep the price compared… you are not selling a picture, your selling your canvas that you painted with your talent, they can get a picture anywhere…. I do not take pictures, I sell memories, and life moments captured in fine art…

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    March 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Hey, could anyone tell me the costs for photography? I’m thinking about opening my own buisness.

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    March 29, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Theoretically, a knowledgeable photographer could get a great picture from a point and shoot, but realistically, he or she doesn’t have control over aperture, shutter speed, exposure, flash ect. An example: Every point and shoot I’ve ever used has a seriously unresponsive shutter. Sometimes by the time it does fire, my subject is gone! Whereas with my D700, I can adjust the speed and trust that it will instantly go off. I am a semi-pro getting paid 35% commission on whatever the customer purchases. That roughly boils down to $1 an hour.

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    April 1, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Ok i have a ge x5 point and shoot it works pretty good. How much should i charge for person’s photos since i’m just a beginner.

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    April 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I usually charge much less for pretty girls – I’m sure all photographers do this. There is obviously the chance that you might end up getting noshed which has its value. Its only happened twice so far, one of which wasn’t really a good blowey – a little inexperienced… but its definitley the case that if you want some good photos doing, and you are a bit of a slag, you’ll get them cheap. Promise.

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    May 10, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Most clients have no idea of the time involved in photographing events. You have low-lighting situations and outside shots to take and many different people of various shades of color which will call for an adjustment each time you photograph. The art of photography is a field of professionalism not well respected by clients. A good photographer will have great shots with awesome angles and people will love their photos but in the end they only think about the cost of the print there is no thought that a $3,000 camera was used with $1200 lens and $30 Flash Cards, they don’t think about the adjustment and editing to photos, the uploading them to their computer, driving to the lab and doing the work or sending them off for printing services and paying postage fees. Its amazing to take on the job of a photographer, good luck to beginners its a long road to success Dont forget God he will guide you and learn to listen to that soft voice…….

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    May 28, 2011 at 7:06 am

    I submitted some images to a magazine with the question… Are these images good enough for your magazine? I was shocked when I looked at the next issue on the stands. Without notifying me, without my permission, and with no fee negotiated, they picked 1 of 8 and made a full page ad with a national company. When I contacted them they said we gave you photo credit and we will be getting you paid. They offered $50 for the image. I refused it. Any comments on this one?

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    Fine Art Photo Prints

    May 31, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Very good points! Yes, I totally agree $300 camera is not professional. A quality SLR is essential for acceptable photos. However, in the end it’s not the camera that matters, but the photos!

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    Elray Marais

    June 1, 2011 at 2:19 am

    I do a lot of wildlife,have never sold them as I do not know what to charge.,Please could you five me an idea as what to charge?
    Kind Regards

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    June 2, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    what ever camera you have to point-and-click or slr if you know what you are doing with photoshop cs5 then you are a pro 😉

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    June 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I would consider myself a prosumer photographer working to become a professional. I agree with the majority of this article and all of the comments except for the people that say us prosumers and some professional photographers should charge MORE for their services. You see, I don’t charge much for what I do, I also currently have a full-time job doing something else. I absolutely LOVE photography but I’m also a working mom and wife with a family to feed. When I look at it from the consumer side I would love to be able to hire someone that is good at what they do, do it because they love it and don’t ask for much (I realize I’d have to drop a good amount of money for a photographer). That is what I plan to do as a photographer. I don’t expect it to be a full time job, though I love it.. I want to offer consumers LIKE ME the joy of having professional quality pictures without paying thousands of dollars. I just don’t have thousands of dollars to drop on a photographer and I have a full AND a part time job.. I recently shot a wedding with my Nikon D3100, charged very little and the bride cried when she saw the pictures. She’ll have a lifetime of memories that WITHOUT someone like me around she wouldn’t have had, she would have had her cousins cousin or someother taking pictures with a throw away camera printing the pictures at WALMART and frankly, that’s not fair to her. I think having someone around like me for consumers that can’t afford thousands is a good choice. If the quality of a more expensive photographer and the STYLE of a more expensive photographer strikes someone willing to pay that price and they pick them over me, then FINE! If someone loves MY work and can’t afford thousands I would be HAPPY to do their shoot for a couple hundred dollars. Anyway, I digress….

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    June 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    To all of the people asking what to charge for your photography.. Start low, then if you see demand increasing.. increase.. It’s that simple.

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    June 20, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I am also just starting out, I don’t have any lights other than an extra flash, I don’t have any real backdrops but use huge canvases painted by a group of special needs adults, or plain fabrics that I buy from a fabric store. My props are from yard sales, thrift stores or my own cellar or handmade by me. I shoot on location, their home or in a converted factory in a corner room with 5 huge windows for natural light. I get the use of the room for free in exchange for doing the occasional portrait session for clients of the adult special needs program that has that space. Basically they let me use it because my son has attended the program for almost 6 years now. I have a key and full access to my “studio”..
    My prices are purposely set lower than most. Not because I don’t have a lot of equipment. Not because I’m not a professional. Not because my work is terrible. Instead I have priced my sessions for the lower income folks, the parents of special needs children, the single Moms, the families with elderly parents in nursing homes, the relatives of terminally ill family members that want one last photo taken. I do free sessions several times a year and give folks a free 8×10 and 10 image DVD with rights for each free session. Eventually I plan on contacting shelters to see about doing sessions for families living in them, also free…and hospitals about taking photos of high risk children, and newborns, free for the parents.
    I do these things because although I need to make money from my business, I don’t need to get rich off it and my goal is to enable everyone, regardless of income, or any other reason, to have professional portraits done of their loved ones.
    This is VERY important to me because I have 2 special needs children and having been a very low income single (divorced) Mom I was never able to get them done. My main focus group are special needs children, adults and their families, but I have been doing other portraits too….and word is spreading, not because of my prices being low..but because of the work I produce with the equipment I am using.
    So just because a photographer’s prices are lower than what others charge it doesn’t mean they are a hack, or just somebody with a camera who thinks they can take photos. Some may be, like myself, a person that does it for the love of doing it. For the joy that seeing a beautiful portrait of their baby, children, families, etc brings people that couldn’t afford it without my prices. I spend extra time with families, I am patient with the mentally and physically challenged clients, I know how to be with two of my own!
    The smile on the faces of those people, people that are forgotten by most professional photographers who charge prices that could buy my client’s food for a week, or medicine for their sick child because there isn’t any health insurance, are worth the loss of a few bucks to me!

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    June 20, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Great minds think alike I see 😀 Glad to see another who feels the same as I do!
    I also forgot to mention in my previous post that I edit the photos, and then have them printed at a professional lab. I treat my welfare Mom with the handicapped child EXACTLY the same as I treat the family that lives on the hill in the huge house.

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    July 7, 2011 at 12:02 am

    I don’t think there is any set formula for pricing photographic services as there are just too many variables. Like it or not the advent of digital photography has given the average hobby photographer the ability to hone their craft to the point where they make the lower range professional almost obsolete. Now a talented professional can still make a good living but these days it seems you better be great if you hope to charge top-dollar. I believe these days charging by the hour and providing work-for-hire is a wiser strategy than a per image/print pricing strategy. I always find it reasonable to consider the pricing of other professional services. Kind of hard to argue a photographers services are any less valuable than say a plumber. Regardless of what you charge you better provide value to your clients or you will soon be out of business. When deciding if you can make a photography business profitable you need to realistically understand what pricing your market will bear and have a strategy that allows you to survive your competition. Utilize a marketing plan of educating your clients what differentiates your service from all the $50 Charlies out there. There is no shame in altering the level of service you provide to allow you to be more competitive. If the demand in your market is for hamburger then it does little good to serve up filet. McDonald’s seems to turn a healthy profit- if your ego as an artist can’t handle this concept you better have the talent to back it up or be prepared to starve. The ultimate bottom line is charge what you need to make your business feasible. If you don’t know how to determine this then do yourself a favor and don’t start a business.

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    July 9, 2011 at 2:40 am

    To the two ladies above, there are so many low cost, dept store-based studios around–think $9.99 for a sitting with multiple prints, if they charge for the sitting at all. Are you charging approximately the same, or less? If not, aside from the “free” shoots you offer, wouldn’t it make more sense (financially speaking) for someone with little disposable income to go to one of those places instead? Why charge a small amount instead of just donating your services where you see a need?

    Many photographers who run profitable businesses donate their services to families in need, various charities and through organizations like NILMDTS and Help Portrait or independently. Often, they do it quietly and it is through charging sustainable prices that they have the ability to do this on a regular basis. Same outcome (helping people), different business model. One of the beautiful things about philanthropy is the more you earn, the more you can give to others–while making sure that you can continue to pay your mortgage, biz insurance, health insurance, childcare costs, etc.

    As far as pricing goes, those who make their sole living from photography may have to charge more than others just to stay in business. If you look at recent groupon deals, quite a few small businesses, including photographers, have fallen upon hard times because they lost money on these “deals.” Pricing also depends on where you live. The cost of living varies greatly in this country. In some cities, $400k will buy you a huge home; in others, you might be able to find a studio apartment for that much. So it makes sense that someone in a small town might charge less than someone in Chicago or LA.

    Re: the questions of what to charge, at the very least, you must cover costs if you want to stay in business. And that doesn’t simply mean the cost of printing. If you have to feed your family, and don’t get most of your income from another job, you’ll have to make a profit as well. Your plumber, hairstylist and mechanic probably charge enough to pay for their time, overhead and living expenses. Why should professional photographers be any different? There is a great resource here: http://www.stacyreeves.com/photographers-pricing-guide/

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    July 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I love reading what all of you have to say. It is endlessly helpful.

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    July 14, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    I am looking into selling my stock portraits of horses and other animals and scenery, i don’t know what to expect publishers to pay for each photo? Is there any advice anyone on here can give me about publishers and what they expect to pay for stock photos for calendars and other products like that..
    Elise Photography @ Facebook.

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    July 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    As I am embarking on an attempt at making a living in photography, I find it interesting that it seems that there are many variables in getting a price for your services, especially geographically..

    In my experience, here in Miami Beach, Florida, prices can go through the roof!!

    I am talking of one fashion photog. who did a campaign here for $120,000/day…. no typo folks…
    Obviously his name (withheld as a result of a bad memory) and experience plays into it… also, the fact that on a fashion shoot there is the concept that the advertising company had better hire the best (and usually the most expensive) as then they cannot be blamed for any bad results “Hey, we hired the best in the business, what do you want us to say?”

    My sister-in-law, a model still, and now a photographer, charges around $500 for head-shots, comps, etc.. The clients come to a room in her house that is setup nicely as a studio… very professional, and a calm, ‘homey’ atmosphere to put the client at ease… I don’t know the details of her after-shoot money-making, relating to prints, comps, etc… but as you can see, she feels like she can charge that amount.. and it seems to be working for her.. She chose a comfortable price out of a ‘range for the industry in the area’

    PLEASE do not undercut. If you can’t make it in your area by charging a ‘professional’ rate, don’t become a photographer. It’s as simple as that. Take photos for fun and do something else for a living….

    I just charged $3,500 for my first wedding, and I did great. No assistant but a backup camera and gear.., plus I brought along 15 cheap point and shoot cameras to give to the guests (and a promise to credit the photos to them for the album if their photos made the cut) and I got a surprising number of cool shots from them!! I know an acquaintance that books around 12 weddings a year at $10,000 each. They fly him all over the world, all expenses paid, yadda yadda. He has no more experience than most, but he is a former model and can carry himself a certain way and all the bridesmaids want him to themselves… you get the idea… variables/?/ I could NEVER charge 10 grand… no way, Jose..

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    July 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Interesting… but i did not find the answer i was looking for.
    If i am not paying the photo-shoot fee, but merely asking to re-use (for my own project) a picure that appeared somewhere else, and it isnt a once in a life-time shot or anything, is $20 enough? I dont want to cheat the photographer, but the pic will only appear for about 20 seconds in my video.

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    July 21, 2011 at 10:10 am


    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m also breaking into the ever demanding field of photography. I’ve always loved taking pictures ever since I was a kid. I just recently learned (and this is SO hard to explain to people) the difference between taking a picture and taking a photograph. I took classes on how to develop my eye (another hard thing to explain to people…lol). You’re dead on as far as researching either hourly or per session pricing in your area. My first gig I almost had to give away but it was well worth it because it came back to me 10 fold by word of mouth.

    I guess my point is that people just breaking into the field should follow your advice, but most of all, follow their hearts.

    Thanks Again Jose,


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    Lisa K.

    August 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    This article does give valuable advice to those just starting out. One thing that is hard to nail down is where do you start your pricing as a general geographical photographer of people, events, weddings, etc. No one will ever speak out as to what they feel is adequate as a place to start or for certain jobs. Can someone please be free enough to speak up on what is a fair price for a professional photographer taking photographs, not pictures, a lot of us out here don’t want to sell ourselves as the cheapest photographer just to get the job, we want to be paid for the services we provide fairly.

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    August 18, 2011 at 3:55 am

    Hi there

    I started like a regular guy with a new camera to the dslr world. Well I thought that it would give me better pictures (sure it did), but I used it in auto mode all the time. Early this year I got back to taking pictures and I decided to take some free online classes, WOW it changed my life ever since then I wanted to be a photographer. Now I understand light, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, depth of field, dynamic range, etc. I have a full time job, but also want to be a photographer; so I decided to buy my own gear as I was learning more and more. Now I want to start my own business with a D5000, some pocket wizards, Sb700, an umbrella, tripod , filters, several lenses, etc… I am not a very experienced guy in photography, but have some knowledge of what am doing. So my first client was actually my coworker’s daughters, in which i didn’t charged her anything at all, and I gave her a CD and some print pictures. This helped me out to figure it out how good was I on the field. I did a pretty good job, of course I had taken pics of my family before to practice. Then it came to the most difficult part… pricing. I had no clue what to charge, I didn’t wanted to be expensive so that I get more clients and raise some money for more equipment. But I think that as u go u always will keep learning, and at the end is up to you how much is that you want to charge. Pretty much I did a $300.00 session for free, but this doesn’t mean that I didn’t get anything out of it… hahaha well I didn’t get to sleep with her or go out on a date with her, not even a little kiss :). Just a very pleased thank you. But that first time helped me out understand kids more, learn some poses, get to practice more with my camera and interact with people, and during the post production it helped me out even more; and besides she was a single mother of 3 kids in which make me feel good as a person, because I was helping her out in a way. I just didn’t feel right charging someone if I din’t knew that I was going to do a good job. This gave me more confidence with my self and with the work that i was doing. The following clients that i had were people that i knew and I din’t charged them much for my work, around 50 to a 130 dollars. Since they were friends I din’t wanted to charged the much, but it gave me something else in return, experience. My goal is to be a Professional Photographer and live out of it. But in order to charge those high prices that they do, I need to be sure that my work is worth that amount of money. So next time You ask yourself how much should you charge people you should ask yourself first of the quality that you will be given them. Because they will be paying you to capture a part of their life in a picture for them. And you don’t want to hear that you are not good, because that probably will shut down your dream of becoming a photographer.

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    September 21, 2011 at 1:25 am

    We, as a photographic community, must agree on collective standards. And educate our clientele as to what discerns our work from “your uncle/boyfriend/sister’s” snapshots. Do great work and believe in it. Do not compromise integrity. Do charge accordingly.

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    October 3, 2011 at 1:19 am

    i am pretty new into photography but have had my own graphic design business for the past 6 years so i am very business savvy and no what im worth, what to charge, and how to deal with people. I do hip hop photography and in my city, have created my own identity that now everybody wants. I knew going into it i was going to be big. And while people were telling me to charge $300 for a 1hour-2 hour shoot. i didn’t agree. My thought process was. Ok, i will charge low $75.00 build a portfolio, get some clients in my city and go from there. So as the clients trickled in, so did my reputation. But not to sound cocky, i knew it was going to happen. Because my style is so gritty and unique i knew these rappers were going to eat it up. So basically what i did was flood the market cheap, got my work out, and now i have cornered the market with a high price. Basic business strategy. Its just like selling heroin in the slums. Get the heroin out cheap until there is a demand and then raise your price. So basically what i am telling you young photographers like my self is. To make it, you need to hustle. a hustler could sell a 300 dollar shoot with a compact camera. But a pro with know business knowledge , will be taking pictures of trees in his back yard. It helped that in the beginning , i wanted the experience more then money. So i didnt care about the money. But now my work is out and im doing 2 photo shoots a day for $150-$300. Take my advice, i wouldn’t steer you wrong.

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    November 16, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    I am starting to do more headshot session and coming from a music and event photography background I am in need of a few pointer on packages. My rates start @ 200.00 but beyond just the basic package I am not sure how else to build my price structure i.e…. what are good elements to add to different packages besides photo disk etc?

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    Pitter Patter Photos

    December 5, 2011 at 4:21 am

    I really liked this article and I have to agree completely. My wife is the photographer but I help with much of her business when needed. Over the past 5 or 6 years she has grown it from basically nothing to a nice studio business (as well as on location shoots). I’m extremely proud of her and what she has achieved with her studio (Pitter Patter Photos in the Austin, TX area).

    One thing I can say for sure after seeing everything it takes to complete just one single session that people who complain about cost simply don’t realize how much work is involved. It’s a LOT of work guys. As pointed out by earlier commenters there is the pre-session setup of equipment, the session time (shooting the pics), many many emails/phone calls about which pictures and products the client likes or wants, post production editing when necessary or desired (this can take many hours sometimes), ordering or preparation of products (printing, etc…), and finally mailing/delivering to the customer. In addition to all of that there is the overhead of running a business operation (taxes, accounts receivable/payable, website maintenance, advertising your business, equipment upkeep, and much more).

    After you factor in all those activities then a $500 newborn/family session doesn’t seem so crazy. And why do you pay up to $500 for an hour or hour and half with a photographer? What is it you are getting for that money a photographer is charging that your brother or sister can seemingly do with their super nice point n shoot camera (by the way they can’t come close – for real)? You are getting a few things:

    A. Professional that has done this over and over and over so they know exactly where to shoot, what time of day (lighting issues), background scenery, etc… (everything to make you look your best).

    B. Someone that will coach you on what to wear and how to pose. Remember, they have done this countless times and they stare at faces ALL day long (not only in sessions but also in post production editing). They are EXTREMELY good with faces and posing. They will notice things you couldn’t possibly imagine (trust me). If it is a newborn session they will coach you on the best time after baby is born for positioning the baby while they sleep, what time of day based on your baby/toddlers/childrens nap times and food schedules (varies by age but child photographers like my wife, Naomi, have an amazing understanding of how to work with families and children).

    C. You’re getting someone who is very skilled at the technical aspect of taking the picture in the best lighting and with the highest detail/sharpness you desire. They will also know how to take pictures of you and your family in the most flattering positions. Like I said, they do this all day long so it’s second nature to them as to what will look best. You may think it sounds ridiculous or BS but I guarantee you (GUARANTEE) that a good family portrait photographer can take one look at you for less than 5 seconds and tell you exactly what position is going to flatter your particular facial structure/profile the most. I know because I’ve seen Naomi do it a hundred times before and every time her choice is better than mine by a margin that makes me look like a retarded monkey.

    D. As mentioned earlier you are also getting someone that will handle the ENTIRE post production process of editing and preparing your various print products and hand deliver them (or email/postal mail).

    There is a reason people pay for this service. And the reason is because you get supremely high quality photographs in an enjoyable setting that is more personal and suited to your styles/tastes, is more agreeable to children than a busy Walmart studio, has infinitely more options and poses than a plain old boring Walmart or Picture People studio, gives you enormous flexibility to work with your photographer 1 on 1 when editing your images and ordering products (as opposed to the extremely limited and impersonal Walmart or Picture People), and you get top of the line personalized professional customer service.

    Happy Holidays!


    Click here to visit Naomi’s site @ Pitter Patter Photos

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    January 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    hello im just starting to do perfessanal photos from home and wondered if you could show me how to set out a price list x

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    March 26, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Lynne Colello – What a beautiful baby!Wishing you all the joys of new pnotaehrod, and an occasional good night’s sleep!Best,Lynne and Alan

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    Dallas Wedding Photographer

    April 2, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Great information! Prints used to be great money making sources of income but now emailing photos and posting on facebook have made people want a cd instead.

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    April 4, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    One that writes an article like this deserves props! I will be sure to forward this to the next person who gripes & wines about the cost of the job… I am very happy to have stumbled across your article! It is true in every way… Just reading this puts some of the wind back in my sails as I am an advanced amateur at this point. Just reading this will help me be better at the business end of photography. It was a pleasure reading your article. Until next time, Seth S.

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    July 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    The price of a camera has little to do with the quality of the photography. A 300 dollar point and shoot camera is just as effective as a 2000 dollar high end camera when used properly. I have personally gone head to head with some of the best photographers in a very large metro area, and am one of the very best among them, all of this with a 300 dollar point and shoot. Technical smechnical:)

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    Navin Gupta

    July 5, 2012 at 7:28 am

    It indeed was a great article..I just googled to see the asking rates of pro-photographers, and landed on this. It was so engrosing that I also went through all of the coments posted.

    Thank you for enlightening, on the topic

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    Barry Perhamsky

    July 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    There are three ways to take portraits: Sessions, location, and walk ins.
    The session portrait involves spending time with your client. If someone calls and says they’re interested in a family portrait, you’re not just going to have them come in, pose them in front of a background and take their picture. You’re going to take the time to make something that they can show their grandchildren. A reasonable price would be $250 For this they might get a Nicely framed canvas 11×14, plus 2 8×10’s You’re goint to spend around about 1 hour and take pics in different poses, maybe in different outfits.

    For walk ins, you might have packages deals no higher then $60 You’d have a standard lighting set up. These would be for babies for example. The parents have a 3 month old and want a few nice pictures. They might get 1 8×10 , 2 5×7’s and 8 wallets. frames are additional. You’re not giving them junk, but it’s not like a session You may have two or three days for walk ins, and the other days for sessions and on locations.

    When running a business, you must take into consideration expenses. What is it going to cost you per month to run the studio? So if you do x amount of walk ins and x amount of sessions before you make a prophet. Let’s say it cost you $1200 per months and you make $40 prophet per walk in. Well the prophet goes to the rent, gas and electric, etc. If you do 8 walk ins a day, that’s $320. The point is, you have to sit down and decide how much to charge, and how many portraits before you begin to make a prophet.

    Figure it this way: what does the lab charge you, and how much prophet do you want to make. On a session with a nice framed 11×14 canvas and 2 8×10’s the lab may charge you $45 for the canvas, and $5 for the 8×10’s. That’s $55. Then you need batteries and other such. So figure $75 total. $250-75= $175 Not bad for an hour session. You need to do a little less the 10 of these sessions before you make a prophet. Of course there’s the walk ins. So after x amount of shots, you begin to make a prophet.

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    November 6, 2012 at 4:48 am

    I recently took up photography and would like to know what a few good avenues are to get clients? I have thought about posting on Craigslist for small photography jobs such as family pictures and possibly post to find some couples who would allow me to come take pictures of there weddings for free or at little cost for the pictures they do like just to get more experience. Am I heading in the right direction? What pointers can you give?

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    Parker Hills

    April 8, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Hi there, I found your magazine via Google at the same time as looking for a photographer. Your web site got here up, it seems great. I’ve bookmarked it.



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