You love telling stories. Whether you’re capturing weddings, breaking news, or taking photos of newborns, there’s something inspiring about photography. But as much as you love your job, you didn’t realize paperwork would be part of the gig. After all, you’re an artist — not a bookkeeper.
Fortunately, the business side of photography doesn’t have to be a hassle. With the right invoice template, you can request payments and keep track of your profit.
Are invoices not your thing? No worries — we’re here to show you how to create a photographer invoice. Plus, you can download a free invoice template to use on your own and tailor to your business.
Short and simple: you deserve to get paid on time.
Invoices remind your clients what they purchased, how much they owe, and when they should pay you. Invoices also are important for tax recordkeeping, especially if the IRS audits your tax return and requests specific information.
Finally, your business appears more professional when you send invoices. Being “buttoned up” can even help your business grow.
Ready to start invoicing your clients? Download our FREE invoice template & start using it ASAP!
Invoices have a specific purpose: to help you get paid on time. They serve as a reminder of what work has been done (or will be done) and how much it costs. Fortunately, they don’t have to be fancy to be effective, but they do typically include certain elements.
Here’s what you should include in every invoice you send.
A professional-looking header. Stand out from the competition by offering a simple, but attractive header. It should include your photography business’s logo/name, contact information, and the date.
Client information. Address the invoice directly to your client. Include a name, address, phone number, and other contact information.
An invoice number. The more clients you serve, the more confusing invoicing can be. Keep track of payments by assigning them a unique number. If a client asks you about an invoice, you can easily look it up with a number. Pro tip: include the number in the name of your digital invoice files too.
The due date. Give your clients a reasonable deadline for making payments. Deadlines can help ensure that you get paid on time, and they’re helpful to your clients too. Put the due date at the top in a bold color so it’s easy to read.
Services sold or hours worked. Whether you charge on a project basis (for example, for a wedding), or you charge hourly, be clear about what services you performed in the invoice description. This helps eliminate any confusion when it’s time to receive payment. Include services, hours, extra equipment and props, taxes, and fees.
Total cost. Add up the photography services you provided and any taxes and fees. Then include the total amount that’s due on the invoice. It helps to make this amount in a large and clear font, as well as in a different color. Attract attention so your clients can easily see what they owe.
Terms and conditions. In a clear, professional way, state how much time a client has in which to pay — and what happens if late payment occurs. Some photographers charge a late payment fee as a way to help expedite the payment process.
How to pay. Many invoices explain how clients can pay you. This is especially important if you take credit cards or use an online service, like PayPal.
A personal thank you. Asking for money can feel awkward, but remember, it’s how you keep your business afloat. So it helps to end your invoice with a personal note. Be genuine and thank your client for doing business with you.
Photography invoices don’t have to be long to be effective, but we do suggest including the key elements listed above. If you’re unsure where to start, here is a step-by-step process to help you get your first invoice out in no time.
Think about what you need to charge in order to keep your business running. If you’re unsure, ask other photographers in your area what they charge. Consider a price for events (weddings and parties), as well as your hourly and overtime rate. Write down what your rate includes — and then test it out! Make sure you’re being fair to yourself and to your clients.
Chances are, your clients will need time to pay. Decide whether you require invoices paid in a couple of days, a week, or a month. Be reasonable and fair, but remember, clients may forget to pay you if the due date is too far in the future.
Invoices should be honest and clear. If you charge on an hourly basis, track your time using a service like Freshbooks or a good ole’-fashioned stopwatch. If you charge on a project basis, write down what your services entail, including the time you will spend.
Use Microsoft Word, Quickbooks, or PaPall to create your own customized invoice template. Don’t want to start from scratch? Download our invoice template to use.
Put it all together and send your first invoice to a client. Then ask yourself, does my client understand it or seem confused? Feel free to ask for feedback from your client. Then make adjustments based on what you learn.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all clients paid you immediately upon receiving invoices? Sigh, it’s typically not reality. Fortunately, there are ways to try to help secure payments along the way, and many of them can work well for your clients too.
Events are usually booked in advance, so you should ask for a deposit to hold the date. Large events, like weddings, usually require a few payments ahead of the event.
For example, you can charge three payments leading up to the event. This makes a large fee less overwhelming and more manageable for clients. Charge one fee when your client books the date, another a few weeks before the event, and the last payment after you provide final, edited photography.
Whether you’re photographing families, newborns, or business professionals, session fees usually work well for portraits. Determine how much time you need for a portrait session. Then decide what price is fair for your time. Feel free to send your invoice when your client books your time. Then give your client a short amount of time (from 7 to 15 days) to make a payment.
Depending on what you do, it may make sense to charge an hourly rate. If this is the case, track your time. If you have an ongoing relationship with an organization, decide upfront if you should send monthly or weekly invoices. If it’s a one-time project, send your invoice as soon as you complete the work. Then ask for payment within 7 to 15 days.
Here’s the bottom line. If you’re not currently sending out invoices, you’re missing a huge opportunity to enhance your business. Invoices can help you get paid faster and appear more professional. And, if a payment is ever in question, invoices provide a record of what was charged.
It doesn’t take a long time to create your own photography invoice, but if you’re looking for suggestions , download our free invoice template today. It’ll give you a starting point. Or, you just may tailor it to your business and use it for the long-term.
I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
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