How Much Should a New Photographer Charge

Figuring out how much should a new photographer charge for his/her services is no mean feat because, in most cases, we are talking about self-employed people and a multitude of factors. The location, competition, quality of the work, type of work, and business renown all amount to a complicated equation that has no universal solutions.

This is by no means an industry-specific dilemma. All individuals who manufacture products or provide services that touch the realm of the subjective are confronted with the same problem: the impossibility of adequately quantifying their worth.

We are talking portraits, weddings, custom photo shoots, real estate and so on. Established photographers have numerous advantages, such as experience and a certain reputation, that allow them to set their own rates, within the tendencies of the said economic environment naturally.

how much should a new photographer charge

Trickier still is the impossibility of outlining a definitive schematization in a confined space, because of the walloping differences between the different states. Therefore, I will limit myself to rather general considerations on the main concerns on how much should a new photographer charge for weddings, portraits, photo-shoots, real estate, followed by the presentation of a deductive procedure that I found particularly eye-opening and which should be helpful for those of you who want to delve deeper into the matter.

The Crude Statistics

Do not paint a relevant picture, from my point of view. A chaotic aggregate of numbers encompassing the whole of the US is probably why some of the newbies are so confused to begin with. An attempt to break down these numbers is a something of a Herculean task.

Statistics from the Department of Labor state that a photographer makes about $15 an hour, for a median annual wage just north of $30000. This statistic may be helpful further along the way, for judging the average worth of an hours’ labor.

These figures, while characterized by a wide circulation on the Internet, do not take into account the different attitudes regarding the profession between, let’s say, Maine and Montana vs. California and Texas.

If you are a new photographer and do not wish to get a headache, my advice is to get a professional opinion from the academic or accounting fields, because analyzing data by yourself may point you down an erroneous path.

The point where these raw figures prove their worth is in the mapping out of trends. For example, projected data shows that photographers working in the media industry should expect a radical downfall in the number of jobs and their rates. On the other hand, those who ply their trade for scientific research corporations (especially aeronautics) are on the rise in median income, yet they should expect a stiffer competition in the near future.

Stats on Specifics

Those of you looking for instant gratification in the form of numbers for specific activities should take these amounts with a pinch of salt. The best advice on this topic is offering clients various options of personalization. Moreover, adjust yourself to the idea of trying your hand at many types of events, both for professional purposes as well as marketing ones.

A large survey has been compiled for 2015 over at, that boasts numbers that are more than satisfying – the better part of the US states, rounded by countries with similar economic profiles from Western Europe, East Asia, and Mexico. Adjusting your rates for a beginner status is difficult, however, one should never make the mistake of underselling. The average numbers go like this:

  • Wedding Photography starts at $1000 for the four-hour, no assistant variation while the works (translating into whatever the bride requires) cost a minimum of $3000. As a side note, if you cater engagements, then halving the stated amounts should place you in a correct interval.
  • Portraits present the largest variation in price, with difficulties on attaching a tag. Modest, single portraits in natural surroundings go for a minimum of $150 an hour. On the other end, senior portraits that include equipment transportation commence at $1000 a day.
  • Real Estate shooting prices come at about the same delimitations as portraiture, an average of $200 for the hour and $1000 for a whole day.
  • Product imagery stands out in this survey, because of the apparently subjective taxonomy, with a median price of $300 for small shoots against natural backgrounds and going for as much as $1500 for very large affairs.

Blue Eyes on a monetary background

A Practical and Humanizing Approach

The most helpful take on the question of pricing seems to be that at It is an approach that exhibits the author’s practical knowledge, topped by his perspective on economy as truly part of the social sciences. How much should a new photographer charge becomes a matter of balancing 5 factors and integrating them for a formula that transpires common sense.

The main, highly quantifiable ingredients of the recipe, are competition, cost-of-goods, and your own financial target. The last one works better if you aspire at being, or better yet already are a full-time photographer. This is because you have a good idea just how much is your labor cost, based on a sound history.

The cost of the goods, cost of labor, median price of your competitors and final annual target conspire into a price per minute (or per hour) coefficient that provides you with a clear-cut view in estimating every service you offer, regardless of the degree of sophistication or customization.

Now, we have arrived at the point where the subjective factors come by – quality of work, personal confidence and externally-perceived value (something I like to call renown). With these in mind, when you are new to photography as a business, you should come up with a figure (ideally between 0.75 and 1) by which you should multiply your first figure, the result of the so-called objective factors.

This method is actually a variation on concepts set forth in a book, “Pricing for Profit”, available on Amazon. Practical applications of economics are becoming easier to grasp and kind of fun.

Camera Shooting Dollar Bills

When it comes to approximating the value of your own work, you have to be able to successfully balance between the slopes of perceived arrogance and self-induced humility. A better understanding of the concept of opportunity cost (both as an economic term and philosophical thought) might aid you in this. The essential is that there are no golden rules to how much should a new photographer charge, just wide-ranging general guides.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3

5 2014 Wedding Photography Trends to Watch out for

The year is well underway, yet many in the field of wedding photography are wondering what the most relevant 2014 wedding photography trends are. Read on to see our picks, which include online advertising, printed albums, and a whole new esthetic, in terms of actual picture-taking.

2014-wedding-photography-trendsFine-art photojournalism is in, vintage is out

‘Fine-art photojournalism?!’, you might exclaim. What’s that? Just what it sounds like: a blend of styles that brings together the candid quality of photojournalistic shots with just a dash of the impeccable style you would expect from fashion and editorial shoots. In other words, it’s the type of photography that manages to look both glamorous and unscripted. The vintage style, popular a few seasons ago, is reportedly falling out of grace with an increasing number of photographers, who are striving for a timeless look, instead of one that just looks dated from the get-go.

Truly professional photography

It was bound to happen, wasn’t it? On the one hand, we’ve seen a virtual boom of DSLR ownership among non-professionals over the past few years. On the other, an increasing number of photography hobbyists are going pro. These two factors combined bring us to one of the most interesting 2014 wedding photography trends. The experts predict this to be the year when the professionals will need to learn to set themselves apart from the non-pros. What’s the best way to do that? By finding a niche all your own and catering to the tastes of clients who know that a friend armed with a DSLR (no matter how expensive) is not quite the same thing as hiring a professional photographer.

Spectacular wedding albums2014-wedding-photography-trends02

In terms of 2014 wedding photography trends, one thing is for sure: much like in 2013, high-quality fine-art printed albums will continue to rule. Yes, yes, we know: these days everyone and their grandmother has Internet access and is dying to share digital wedding photos on social media. However, while providing your clients with a DVD of pictures taken on the big day will remain the standard, what will truly set the professionals apart is the energy they invest into creating a beautiful book of hard-copy mementos.

Stagnant pricing

The economy is ever so slowly recovering, but while this doesn’t justify price increases, the afflux of hobbyists turned professionals in the field of wedding photography warrants that prices will stay the same. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it means the clientele is getting used to the idea that access to professional wedding photography services is something that comes at a price. In brief, the clients are becoming educated – and this is happening thanks to a handful of professional wedding photogs who are standing their ground, even in the face of economic sluggishness. What they’re doing actually benefits the entire field, since it means that emerging photographers don’t have to start out from the very bottom, in terms of fees.

2014-wedding-photography-trends03Wedding photography blogs

They’ve been around for just about as long as high-speed Internet connections, but the experts in 2014 wedding photography trends say that they’re here to stay for this year. It’s all thanks to the increasing weight and importance of online advertising. Social media has a lot to do with it, but so do the hefty prices that photographers are expected to pay, in order to have their work exhibited in bridal shows. Print advertising overall is declining and that’s obviously because there’s no comparing online publicity to what money can buy offline. As numerous professional wedding photogs are saying, these days a massive part of their business is coming in from their blog – so if you don’t have one already, you’d better get to it.

Rekindle Your Passion for Wedding Photography in 3 Easy Steps

It happens to the best of them: we haven’t asked, but we’re sure that, were you to catch her on an off day, even contemporary glam photography guru Annie Leibovitz sometimes feels like the spark is just gone.


Bottom line, no matter how passionate you may be about wedding photography, sometimes that passion just vanishes without a trace. Sometimes you feel stuck in a rut and, no matter what you do, you’re just not happy with your work. It happens to us all, which is why we’re here today to show you what you need to do, in order to rekindle your passion for wedding photography in three simple steps.

Ever felt this way? You need to find your passion for wedding photography again!

The danger of feeling stuck and trapped within monotony is that you develop an entire range of very negative, self-deprecating thoughts about your work. And while, at first, it may seem like these ideas will propel you toward creating ever better wedding photos, this rarely ever happens. Rather, you become more prone toward creative blocks, which, in turn, lead to creative frustration and a whole lot of resentment. In fact, what these thoughts are there to tell you is that you need to take better care of yourself, both as a person, as well as a creative individual, who happens to work in wedding photography. Here’s what could have gone wrong and made you feel that your work is subpar, or otherwise inadequate:

–          You keep compromising. Instead of working toward honing your creative vision, you’ve let go one time too many.

–          You don’t value yourself and your work enough. Yes, it’s perfectly fine to turn down a job or two every now and then – especially if you’ve been feeling stressed, overworked, and burned out.

–          You feel underappreciated and, hence, uninspired.

The good part is that all creative individuals, no matter the field they’re working in, feel this way every now and then. If they say they don’t, they’re lying (either to you, or to themselves). The part that’s even better: you can fix these feelings and make them work for you, not against you. Here’s how:

Step #1: Where do you see yourself?


This may sound like a total cliché, but in order to find your passion for wedding photography all over again, you need to refocus on your vision. Your ‘voice’ as a photographer. Your signature style. This may mean that you’re going to have to start learning to turn down projects that don’t align with that creative vision. It’s all a matter of prioritizing and of asking yourself: ‘does this job make me feel proactive? Am I working to achieve a dream, or simply going with the flow?’ If your answer is geared more toward the ‘going with the flow’ option, perhaps it’s time to step back and assess whether or not you really need to say yes to the umpteenth White Wedding gig this year. Refer the potential clients to someone who can do the job and move on.

Step #2: Step outside your comfort zone


The paradoxical thing about being a wedding photographer is that you sometimes end up saying yes to engagements that you know won’t help you learn. They are clearly not the type of work that you want to be known for. You would like to change, but simply can’t seem to motivate yourself to try something new, and would much rather stick to the beaten path. But if you genuinely want to find your passion for wedding photography once again, you need to step outside that comfort zone and experiment. What’s the worst that could happen? No, seriously. Consider the best and the worst possible outcomes of doing things differently. Hint: it’s always worth trying out something new, if only for the sake of the experience.

Step #3: Kick back

Take a break from work. Drive off a few hours away. Be with yourself and no one else for a few days. Learn to unwind and enjoy your own company.


Think you can’t afford that?

That’s a fair issue. If money is standing in your way to relaxation, then work your way through this problem. Price your shoots better and as soon you’ve got some money saved to take a short break away from work, do it. You’ll thank yourself for it.

How To Price Newborn Photography Sessions

Guest Post by Kelly Brown There are few things as precious as a baby’s first weeks of life, and the photos taken during this joyful time will be cherished by families for years to come. Newborn pictures are priceless, but a professional photographer’s services are valuable –– and part of your job is to price sessions in a way that’s fair to both your client and yourself. When it comes to setting your price list, there are several things to keep in mind…

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1. What Are Your Overheads?

Make sure to allocate a certain amount of money per year for overheads, and take this amount into consideration when deciding how much to charge clients. Always keep in mind the cost of running your business, including rent (whether you work from home or in a studio), gas, electricity, the cost of packaging –– even the cost of the clothes you shoot in! If you’re using top notch equipment, the high quality of your work will be reflected in your higher prices.

2. How Much Do You Want To Pay Yourself?

Kelly4Since you’re self-employed, you have the advantage of setting your own salary. But before you do so, consider the cost of living in your hometown, your personal bills and expenses, as well as how much money you’d like to put into savings each year. Add this amount to your overheads so that you can estimate how many clients you’ll need to work with per year, and how much you’ll need to charge them per session.

3. How Many Sessions Per Week Can You Work?

Decide how many days of the week / year you’re able to work (keep in mind that you’ll want to give yourself holiday and sick days), and divide this amount by how much it costs you to run your business. Voila, now you know how much you need to charge per session!

4. Will Your Minimum Package Cover All Your Expenses?

Your smallest priced package should cover all your expenses and pay your personal salary. This way, if clients choose to purchase a more expensive package, the extra cash is an added bonus that you can stash away in savings, or even spend on vacation.

5. Don’t Back Down On Your Price List

Chances are you’ve had clients ask you for a discounted rate. While it can be tempting to lower your prices, don’t cave. You’ve already worked out how much you need to earn per year to make ends meet, and if you start discounting, word of mouth will spread and soon price reductions will be expected. Stick to your pricing structure, and never sell yourself short!


For more tips from Kelly Brown, tune into “Bumps to Babies: Photographing Motherhood” on creativeLIVE August 23rd to August 25th. She’ll be teaching alongside award-winning glamour photographer Sue Bryce. Kelly Brown is a newborn photographer from Brisbane, Australia and founder of Little Pieces Photography.

Do You Apologize For Your Photography Business?

You’re meeting with a client. You come to the end of your presentation and you hit them with the price. They get quiet and look at you kind of funny. The silence continues. You start shaking on the inside. “What do I do now,” you think.

Then you do the worst thing possible.

“I know it seems high. What if I throw in a few extra things? What would you be willing to pay?”

Doubt creeps in and you blow your sales presentation.

Have you ever had this experience before?

We all have. And yet this one thing kills your business quicker than anything else.Do You Apologize For Your Photography Business?

If you’ve set your prices for a reason (you have, haven’t you?), then you should be comfortable with your pricing. Pricing should be synonymous with quality. If you have a quality product, experience, education, and a solid reputation, your pricing reflects your skill.

Doubt crumbles your reputation and reduces the quality of the product. “She’s not sure about herself,” your potential customer will think the moment they see doubt. “Should I really trust her?” Or in some cases, some prospects will even move to the dark side and think, “I wonder what else I can get away with”.

Both are clients you don’t want.

Both can ruin your reputation.

Both can create a business model you won’t enjoy.

If you’ve found yourself thinking or doing this in the near past, today is the day to change it all around. Ask yourself these three questions.

1. Do I know exactly why I’m in business?

2. Do I know exactly how my business works and what I have to offer?

3. Do I know exactly what to charge for everything?

The more sure you are about your overall business model, the less rattled you’ll become when someone questions you. The more you understand about your packages and why you’ve put them together the way you have, the more you can explain it to your prospects and customers. And when you’re sure about your business model and what you have to offer, you’ll understand exactly why you charge the way you do.

Why Pricing Yourself According To The Competition Is A Bad Idea

You’ve decided to venture into a new niche in photography.

First goal – a new brochure to try and bring in clients.

But where do you start? What packages do you create? What prices do you charge?

The easiest way to find out is to head to Google and type in “your new niche photographer” and pull up a few sites from your competition to find out what they’re charging.

Copy a few packages. Low-ball the pricing. And voila, your brochure is ready to go.

Yes, that’s how a lot of photographers do it. But that doesn’t make it the right way.

Here’s why.Why Pricing Yourself According To The Competition Is A Bad Idea

You don’t know how they came up with their pricing.

Here’s a glimpse into the “copy” method of creating your pricing.

Photographer one decides to advertise his photography and creates a new brochure. He doesn’t know what to charge so he heads online and “copies” his competition. They charge $1000 – he low-balls it for $900. Photographer two does the same thing, only of course the price has now lowered to $800. Photography three – $700. Photographer four – $600. And so on.

That’s how we’ve wound up with many photographers providing a ton of service for $50. And of course we all know you can’t make a full time living spending all day servicing a client for $50. So this photographer either has a full time job making the money they need to survive, or they’ll be out of business in weeks.

If you “copy” pricing, you have no idea where that model came from or if it will work. And chances are it won’t. [Read more…]

2 Types Of Pricing – Which Is Right For You?

In the world of photography, there are two ways to price what you do.

The first way is to package everything out. You charge a low sitting fee and rely on the customer to buy packages and/or extra prints in order to bring in enough sales to manage your business.

For example, a portrait photographer may charge $100 for a sitting fee and have a “popular” package for $500 that the majority of her clientele purchases – meaning her average sale is $600. Minus expenses, she knows exactly how much she’ll profit and how many clients she needs to bring in at this level in order to survive.2 Types Of Pricing Your Photography

The second way is to charge a high creation fee that covers your needed sales quota without needing additional sales in order to make your required limits.

In this example, the photographer would provide a photographic experience with her clients and charge a flat fee for that experience. In this case she might charge $1,000 for her time, energy and the overall experience. She then hands over the files, or they can come back to her for images, albums, frames, etc.

What’s the difference between the two? The level of confidence in the photographer.

When I explained this concept to one client, her response was “How can you charge that much for nothing?”

A creation fee isn’t “nothing” if you’re good.  If you have the expertise, the recognition, the following, and the rapport with your customers, a creation fee can be the best way you operate your business. If you have years of experience, the knowledge to do the best job possible every time, a certain style that is recognizable and not like everyone else, a creation fee can yield you a ton of profit.

Where the problem comes in is mixing the two types of pricing up. And there are two ways in which this happens.

Charges little for everything

In this case a photographer mixes up the two ways of pricing. He decides to charge one fee and hand over the files. But instead of developing his style, his expertise and his experience, he shoots an average portrait, sells it for a low creation fee – $100 – and then wonders why the client never buys anything else. This photographer always needs a second job for income, and will never create a full time business.

Charges a huge creation fee without the experience

This type of photographer goes in with a high creation fee – $1,000 for example – yet gives an average experience. He shoots on boring backgrounds without exciting props. He takes them to the local park instead of creating an entire experience. His work isn’t recognizable and looks like everyone else in the marketplace. He has trouble finding clients willing to pay his fee because they don’t see a difference in what he has to offer.

Can you make money using either of the methods? Can you create a full time business using either of the pricing system? You bet. But which ever way you choose, you have to be the best you can possibly be. You have to charge your prices for a reason – a well defined reason that allow you to know exactly what profits you’ll make. You have to set up your business explaining this to the customer. And you have to be true to your business model, no matter what it is.

The 3 Pricing Strategies Few Photographers Understand

Take a look at your prices and your packages. How did you come up with them?

I took an average of what other photographers online were charging and charge less.”

“I just pulled some numbers that felt right.”

“I charge what I would be willing to pay.”

Do you see yourself in any of these statements? That’s the way many photographers settle into a pricing structure.

Pricing Photography Strategies

Is it the right way to do it? Definitely not. Yet for better or worse, that’s the way many photographers create their pricing structures.

And if you just “settle in” to your numbers, chances are you don’t understand the dynamics behind the psychology of making people comfortable paying your prices.

Value Pricing

What’s the difference between a black and white photograph created by your 7 year old daughter and a black and white image created by Ansel Adams?

The difference is in the value.

The image created by your 7 year old may be beautiful, but there’s nothing that stands behind it. There isn’t a name recognition associated with it. There is no expertise built into mastery of the image. In other words, it’s a lucky shot.

What makes an image valuable isn’t just the paper its printed on or the location the image was taken; it comes from the expertise behind the lens … the person taking the photograph. The more time that person puts into building a name for themselves, the more they will be rewarded for their expertise.

And you can charge four figures, five figures, six figures or more for your work. [Read more…]

Price vs. Value: What Is My Photography Worth?

When you say “What is my photography worth?” are you asking:

What price should I be charging for my photography?

Or are you asking?

What is the value a customer would get by working with me and having one of my images hanging on their walls?

Aha. Two different things right?

If you look at price, you simple are looking for a number. And that’s when you get in trouble. That’s when you start looking at all the other photographers out there, and concentrate on the numbers they use in their own business.

But a number is a number.

Value is what changes it all.

Value isn’t a number. It’s an intrinsic assessment of what you have to offer. If you hang two portraits on your wall, one snapped by a seven year old child, the other by Annie Leibovitz, one would definitely argue the Annie Leibovitz has a lot more value to it.

Yet they are both portraits of you. What is the difference? [Read more…]

Do You Really Want The Help or Are You Just Making Excuses?

I had to laugh in an ironic sort of way.

Why is it that the people that need the most help often are the same ones with the most closed minds?

Let me paint you a story.

A photographer runs a business, yet can’t seem to understand why she’s struggling to survive. It’s not her fault after all. It’s the economy. It’s the industry. It’s everybody else. And occasionally she needs to confirm it in her mind that it isn’t her – it’s everything else. The odds are stacked against her and she’ll just have to wait it out until things return to “normal”.

So every once in awhile she does a little investigating to prove she isn’t at fault. She orders my Pricing Your Photography and skims it. Not reads and applies it. Skims it. Nothing new, AND SHE”S REALLY SHORT ON MONEY, so she returns it for her money back.

That’s perfectly fine with me. You see I’ve had hundreds of people buy my Pricing Your Photography, with only a handful returned (from people just like her). And the comments have always been overwhelmingly positive –

“I can’t believe how low I was pricing before. I’ve almost doubled my rates, and now I know why.”

“Now I know my business will be successful.”

“I’ve never looked at my prices like this before. You made something I used to guess at into a science.”

Yet I’m always intrigued when I hear the “nothing new after skimming it” that comes with a return. So I did a little investigating to determine how this photographer really is priced. And what I found didn’t surprise me – its definitely what I expected. [Read more…]