How to Set Prices for Your Photography Business

Setting prices for your photography business can help set you up for more work, like this photographer is discovering at her photoshoot.

Whether you’re a seasoned photographer with years of experience, or you’ve just graduated from college with a degree in photography, setting the price for your services is very important.

There are a number of factors that go into determining how much you should charge for your services.

Here are some questions to help you with pricing photography jobs:

How much does it cost to run your business?

To keep your business afloat, part of your income needs to be invested in running your business. This can be broken down into several categories:

  • The cost of your equipment (cameras, lenses, stands, lights, film, a computer, Photoshop, and other photo-editing programs)
  • The cost of your office lease
  • Business license or permit fees
  • Travel costs (car, gas, train, airline tickets, hotel, etc.)

It’s important to make sure you aren’t underpricing your services just because you are new to the business and passionate about your career. As a creative, it’s natural to want to do your work for any cost since it’s something you love. However, remembering how much it costs to run your business helps to note that photography isn’t cheap and you need to charge your clients appropriately so you can keep your business going and pay the bills.

How much do you pay for marketing?

Whether you use a marketing agency or do it yourself, think about how much money you are investing to get your name out into the world. Some of the most common ways small business owners are marketing their services are through paid ads on social media, email subscription platforms, and websites that host their portfolios and draw in customers through SEO best practices.

You also are likely to be purchasing marketing collateral, such as brochures for your services and business cards to hand out at events. Even the apps on your phone that require monthly payments (for creating digital content for your business) should be noted. If you run an Instagram page to promote your work and also share some clever photography jokes, and you use a meme generator subscription for $10 per month, that adds up to $120 a year. Before writing it off as insignificant, think of it as building an online presence to attract potential customers.

Out-of-the-box thinking for marketing helps your brand to stand out, so making sure you include those costs in determining your business’s pricing is crucial for your business success.

Investment in Professional Services

Aside from marketing agencies, what other professional services are you investing in? Maybe you need to hire an accountant, a financial advisor, assistants, or a PR agency. If you want your business to succeed, you will likely reach a point when you will need to hire some external assistance instead of tackling everything on your own.

Extra Miscellaneous Supplies

A really popular trend at events such as weddings, corporate events, parties, etc., is having a professional photo booth with props that match a theme or are just fun. While you may not intend this as your main type of photography, if you want to expand your potential client base and get more work, offering additional services like the photo booth can help you appeal to a larger audience.

If you choose to do this, you’ll definitely need to incorporate these expenses into your budget and shift your service prices accordingly. Next, create a pricing menu — think about the kinds of services you will offer as an add-on to a package, and what comes with the standard option.

How much do other photographers in your area charge?

Most potential customers compare photographers for value and the most cost-effective services. To be a top competitor, researching other photographers in your area will help determine how much you should be charging as your baseline. You don’t want to overprice, but you also don’t want to underprice.

Also, take note of how long they’ve been doing photography professionally. If they’ve been at it for years, their skill set allows them to charge higher prices than novices charge.

How much copyright ownership does your client want?

Once you start getting customers, some of them may not care about owning their images, while others will. You can charge more to give customers full ownership so that their images don’t appear on your portfolio or are used to advertise your business. On the other hand, if you are using someone’s photo collection as part of your portfolio, you wouldn’t charge as much, so you can stick with your standard baseline pricing, as those customers are helping you promote your business.

How much time are you investing in this business?

If you’re new to the photography world and are just doing it as a side hustle, you probably shouldn’t be charging the same prices as someone who does it professionally as a full-time venture.

Have you included taxes?

Speak with a certified public accountant (CPA) to help you figure out how much taxes you will need to pay. That should be included in how you price your services, or else you will end up paying out of pocket for any owed tax and decrease your profits.

What additional costs will come with the services you offer?

Are you planning on selling photos digitally? Or are you offering prints on variable media such as paper and canvas? Your customer may also ask for unique items such as photo albums, mugs, keychains, posters, etc., that feature a favorite image or a collage of photographs.

As I mentioned earlier, you also may want to think about creating a pricing menu that features a list of add-on services so that you can offer a standard rate and easily charge more if the client wants additional services. You may also think about “specials,” i.e., if someone is looking for an engagement photo shoot along with their wedding pictures, you may offer a package that offers them a small discount for hiring you for both events.

If you plan to do that, just make sure your standard service still offers a good deal, as you are competing with other photographers in your area. Good luck with your new business venture!

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Pauline Germanos

When she’s not writing for SB, Pauline runs an intuitive healing business… and is still writing as she types up psychic readings! As she was raised by entrepreneurs, she knows what it takes to be a small business owner.

Pauline writes on a number of topics such as small business owner resources, marketing, and customer service and retention.