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Pricing photography

Whether you're an amateur photographer looking to monetize your hobby or a professional photographer seeking to set prices for your services, determining the correct pricing structure can be daunting.

With so many factors to consider, it's essential to understand what goes into photography pricing...

Pricing photography

1. Experience

The first factor that affects how much a photographer charges a client is based on their experience.

Like in any other profession, the more experienced the professional is, the more they will typically charge. Here are some rough estimates based on experience that you can charge based on my experience:

Experience LevelPrice Range (per hour)Price Range (per event)
Beginner$50 - $100$300 - $700
Intermediate$100 - $200$700 - $1,500
Advanced$200 - $400$1,500 - $3,000
Professional$400 - $800+$3,000 - $10,000+
Celebrity/Expert$800+ and above$10,000+ and above

2. Type of photography

There are many photography niches.

The photography niche in which they specialize can also affect the hourly rate. For example, wedding photography usually commands a higher rate than portrait photography.

This is due to the event, preparation, and skills needed for wedding photography.

Here are some rough estimates based on niche (varies by location, but this can give you a rough idea):

Photography NichePrice Range (per hour)Price Range (per project/event)
Portrait Photography$50 - $200$200 - $1,500+
Wedding Photography$100 - $300$1,000 - $5,000+
Event Photography$50 - $150$200 - $1,500+
Real Estate Photography$100 - $300$200 - $1,000+
Commercial Photography$200 - $400$1,000 - $5,000+
Fashion Photography$100 - $300$500 - $2,000+
Food Photography$100 - $250$300 - $1,500+
Wildlife Photography$100 - $300$500 - $2,000+
Landscape Photography$50 - $150$200 - $1,000+
Sports Photography$100 - $300$300 - $1,500+
Product Photography$100 - $300$200 - $1,500+
Pet Photography$50 - $150$150 - $500+
Aerial Photography$200 - $400$500 - $2,000+
Fine Art Photography$100 - $300$500 - $2,000+

3. Location

The cost of living and local market conditions can also affect a photographer's hourly rate.

Photographers in large cities or areas with high demand for service may charge more than those in smaller towns. Here are some common prices per hour based on some of the popular cities in the world.

While this is an approximation, it's best to head to your favorite search engine of choice and do a quick search. For example, if you are a portrait photographer, search for "portrait photographers near me" and research their pricing.

Get an average and their experience, and then price your photography skills based on where you think you fit in:

CityApproximate Photographer Hourly Rate
New York City, USA$150 - $400+
Los Angeles, USA$100 - $300+
London, UK£100 - £250+ (GBP)
Paris, France€100 - €250+ (EUR)
Sydney, Australia$100 - $250+ (AUD)
Toronto, Canada$75 - $200+ (CAD)
Dubai, UAEAED 300 - AED 800+
Mumbai, India₹1,500 - ₹5,000+ (INR)
Tokyo, Japan¥10,000 - ¥30,000+ (JPY)
Cape Town, South AfricaR800 - R2,500+ (ZAR)

4. Equipment needed

Photography equipment can be expensive. Various things, such as lenses, cameras, lighting, and other specialized gear, are needed to accomplish a successful photography session.

Photographers who usually invest in higher-quality gear that can produce higher-quality images typically cost more.

Here's a breakdown chart of common equipment photographers need and the price so you can see the investment required:

Equipment TypeApproximate Cost Range
Entry-Level DSLR Camera$300 - $800
Mid-Range DSLR Camera$800 - $1,500
Professional DSLR Camera$1,500 - $6,000+
Entry-Level Mirrorless Camera$500 - $1,000
Mid-Range Mirrorless Camera$1,000 - $2,500
Professional Mirrorless Camera$2,500 - $8,000+
Prime Lens (e.g., 50mm f/1.8)$100 - $500
Zoom Lens (e.g., 24-70mm f/2.8)$500 - $2,000+
Tripod$20 - $300+
External Flash$50 - $500+
Studio Lighting Kit$200 - $1,500+
Camera Bag$20 - $200+
Memory Cards$10 - $100+ per card
Editing Software (e.g., Adobe Creative Cloud)Subscription-based
Computer/Laptop$500 - $2,000+
External Hard Drive/SSD$50 - $300+
Photo Printer$100 - $1,000+
Drone$300 - $2,000+
Filters (e.g., ND, UV)$20 - $200+ per filter
Camera Accessories (e.g., remote shutter, cleaning kit)Varied

5. Session duration

The amount of time a photographer spends on a project also determines the hourly rate. Photographers who offer more extensive services, such as pre-shoot planning or post-production editing, may charge more per hour.

6. Number of final images

The number of edited photos included in a package can affect pricing. Clients may pay more for additional edited images.

7. Overhead expenses

The final factor that usually goes into how much a photographer charges a client is based on their overhead expenses. These are expenses such as studio rent or marketing costs.

Here's a breakdown chart of common overhead expenses so you can see the investment required:

Overhead ExpenseApproximate Cost Range
Studio or Office Rent$300 - $3,000+ per month
Liability Insurance$500 - $2,000+ per year
Equipment Insurance$200 - $1,000+ per year
Business License and PermitsVaries by location
Marketing and Advertising$100 - $1,000+ per month
Website Hosting and Domain$10 - $50+ per month
Accounting/Bookkeeping Services$200 - $500+ per month
Business Registration FeesVaries by location
Telephone and Internet$50 - $200+ per month
Utilities (if operating a studio)$50 - $300+ per month
Professional Memberships$100 - $500+ per year
Software Subscriptions (e.g., Adobe Creative Cloud, CRM)Varies
Vehicle Expenses (fuel, maintenance)Varies depending on use
Office Supplies$50 - $200+ per month
Travel Expenses (if applicable)Varies
Miscellaneous ExpensesVaries

8. Prints

Selling prints is a great way for photographers to get some extra money from a session.

Here is a breakdown chart of the different types of prints you can sell and the average price you can charge:

Additional costs for framing or finishing can vary depending on the quality of materials and labor involved.

Print TypePrint SizeApproximate Price Range (Unframed)
Standard PrintsSmall (8x10 inches)$20 - $100+
Medium (16x20 inches)$50 - $300+
Large (24x36 inches)$100 - $500+
Extra-Large (36x48+ inches)$300 - $1,000+
Framed PrintsSmall (8x10 inches)$70 - $300+
Medium (16x20 inches)$150 - $500+
Large (24x36 inches)$300 - $1,000+
Extra-Large (36x48+ inches)$700 - $2,500+
Canvas PrintsSmall (8x10 inches)$40 - $150+
Medium (16x20 inches)$100 - $300+
Large (24x36 inches)$200 - $500+
Extra-Large (36x48+ inches)$500 - $1,500+
Metal PrintsSmall (8x10 inches)$50 - $200+
Medium (16x20 inches)$150 - $400+
Large (24x36 inches)$300 - $800+
Extra-Large (36x48+ inches)$700 - $2,000+
Acrylic PrintsSmall (8x10 inches)$70 - $250+
Medium (16x20 inches)$200 - $500+
Large (24x36 inches)$400 - $1,000+
Extra-Large (36x48+ inches)$1,000 - $3,000+

9. Licensing and usage

Commercial photographers often charge based on the intended use of the images. Licensing for commercial purposes typically costs more than personal use.

10. Season and date

Prices can fluctuate based on the time of year, day of the week, and peak wedding or event seasons. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, you must know that wedding season extends from late spring through early fall.

11. Session location

Specialized or remote locations, destination shoots, or studio rentals may have additional costs.

12. Post-production work

Extensive retouching or editing can increase the price, especially in fields like fashion or commercial photography.

If you are very specialized, such as a beauty photographer or headshot photographer, you may opt to have retouching work included in your package and include these prices in your package.

Most photographers combine certain services and just charge an overall fee. For example, for basic color correction, basic adjustments, color correction, and skin smoothing, they'll charge a set amount or include it in their package:

Post-Production ServiceApproximate Price Range (per image)
Basic Color Correction$5 - $20
Exposure Adjustment$5 - $20
Cropping and Straightening$5 - $20
White Balance Adjustment$5 - $15
Contrast and Tone Adjustments$10 - $30
Color Grading$10 - $30
Removal of Minor Blemishes$10 - $30
Skin Smoothing$10 - $30
Background Removal$10 - $40
Object Removal$10 - $40
Composite Editing$20 - $50+
Advanced Retouching (e.g., fashion and beauty)$20 - $75+
HDR (High Dynamic Range)$10 - $30
Panorama Stitching$10 - $30
Photo Manipulation (e.g., adding or removing elements)$20 - $75+
Special Effects and Filters$15 - $40+
Digital Art and Illustration$20 - $100+

13. Client requirements

Unique client requests, custom setups, or specialized techniques may require additional fees.

14. Market competition

Local market conditions and competition can influence pricing strategies. Highly competitive markets may lead to lower prices.

15. Client expectations

Meeting specific client expectations, including style, creative concepts, or delivery timelines, can affect pricing.

16. Taxes and fees

Sales tax, transaction fees, and other government-related expenses can affect pricing.

Here are the common taxes and fees you can expect to pay as a photographer:

Tax or FeeDescriptionApproximate Price Range
Income TaxThe cost to register or obtain a business license, which allows you to operate your photography business legally.Varies based on income and tax laws.
Sales Tax/GST/VATTax on the sale of photography services or products, typically a percentage of the total transaction.Varies by location and tax rate, typically 5-15%.
Business License FeesTypically, 15.3% of net self-employment income.Varies by location, from $50 to $500+ per year.
Self-Employment TaxIn some countries, self-employed individuals are required to pay a separate tax that covers Social Security and Medicare.Varies
State/Local PermitsPermits for operating a business in specific locations, such as home-based businesses or studio rentals.Varies by location, from $25 to $500+ per year.
Use TaxA tax on goods and equipment purchased out of state or online and used in your photography business.Varies by location and purchase amount, typically 6-9%.
Property TaxIf you own property or a studio space, you may be subject to property tax based on the assessed value of the property.Varies by location and property value.
Photography Association MembershipsMembership fees for joining photography organizations or associations.Varies by organization, typically $50 - $300+ per year.
Insurance PremiumsThe cost of insurance policies such as liability, equipment, and business insurance to protect your business.Varies by coverage and location, typically $500 - $2,000+ per year.
Website Hosting FeesThe cost of hosting and maintaining your photography website, including domain registration.Varies by hosting provider, typically $100 - $500+ per year.
Transaction FeesFees charged by payment processors (e.g., credit card processing fees or PayPal fees) when accepting client payments.Typically 2-3% per transaction.
Accounting SoftwareExpenses for accounting software or services to manage your finances and taxes.Varies by software, typically $10 - $50+ per month.

We know that tackling photography pricing can seem daunting. Try to sort everything out slowly, or even be accompanied by a senior/mentor in your niche.

Assess and evaluate your skills and portfolio, and finally, make your dreams come true!

As long as you start working on it, you will finish it eventually. Good luck!

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