How Much You Should Charge For Your Photography, Even If You Are A Beginner

how much to charge for your photography

Pricing can be one of the trickiest parts of starting your own photography business. There are a lot of different little factors that you have to take into account.

Lucky for you, I have a super simple way for pricing your services - in 4 easy steps.

1. The Importance of Professional Pricing vs Being the Cheapest

The Problem with Cheap Prices

If you're selling your services based on price-point, you're going to attract a certain clientele. These people are usually bargain hunters who aren't going to value you or your craft.

You might think that if someone isn't willing to pay much for your services, they'll be more pleased with whatever they get.

Paradoxically, this is the opposite of what happens. People who are bargain hunters want a lot for a little. They want to get "every penny of work" from you.

These can also be people who don't have respect for creative work. We all know the type.

This type of customer can make your life more difficult and you won't get paid as much for your troubles.

On top of attracting bargain hunters, pricing your services too low has another downside. It can turn away quality clients.

The other type of person believes that you get what you pay for. If they see that you're not charging a lot, they'll assume you don't provide professional services and they'll hire someone else.

The Benefits of Professional Pricing

how to charge like a professional photographer

When you use a professional-level pricing structure, you're going to be working with an entirely different set of people.

These are the people willing to invest in themselves, their families, and you.

They value photography and the craft that goes into what you do. They come into the transaction expecting that you know what you're doing. They'll be more ready to listen to you and what you need from them in order to make the photo shoot a success.

They'll also come into the session with more commitment. They're paying a lot of money for this and they take it seriously.

The Role of Sales Psychology

It's simple - when people see a low price tag, they'll assume cheap quality. When they see a high price tag, they'll think - damn! This must be really good.

The price you charge completely changes the attitude of the client you're working with.

If people are in a bargain mindset, they'll finagle you for all they can get. If they're in a value-based mindset, they're looking for the best experience.

It might seem scary to charge a lot, but remember - value shoppers will find a way to swing the costs if they value what you do.

2. Choosing Services and Products

The average photographer prices their services on factors like, location, hours, number of images, and number of outfits. This is the worst way to structure your business.

The main problem is that this leaves you competing on price. Competing on price is a race to the bottom. There is always someone out there willing to do the job for cheaper. It won't bring you longevity in your photography career.

What's the better way, then?

So glad you asked.

The best way for a photographer to price their services is with an upfront fee and back-end sales.

You can call your upfront fee whatever you want - session fee, creative fee, retainer, or whatever else works for you.

Your upfront fee includes things like:

  1. Your time.

  2. Your services.

  3. Fees to anyone you need to pay - make-up artists, hair and wardrobe stylists, etc.

It does not include any products or images at all. This means no prints and no digitals.

Not sure what your service entails? Check out my post on how to attract high end clients and how to start a photography business.

Back-End Products and Sales

There are two ways to sell the pictures and products, themselves:

  1. Gallery.

  2. In person.

Using an online gallery is perhaps the most popular way to do this - and I can see the appeal. You can just put it on your website once and let the buyer decide what they want on their own time.

Despite it being easier, it's not going to make you as much money.

There's a couple reasons for this.

For one, you risk the client getting overwhelmed by the selection, or getting distracted.

For another, there's no urgency. This is a very important part of sales psychology. If there's no sense of urgency, they won't pull the trigger, so to speak.

Finally, there's no guidance available to clients who maybe aren't so sure what they want or what different products will look like.

When I was using the online gallery method, my highest sale was around $200.

Then, I switched to in-person sales, and my averages jumped to $2700 per sale.

So, what are the advantages of in-person sales?

The main benefit is that the client is focused on an end goal: picking the right package for them. It's very different from leisurely browsing a gallery. You're both there and you're both there for a purpose - to finish the purchase.

This is the time for you to guide them into the best choice for them...

To help them pick the best images and products...

To help them understand how they can use their images, prints and products...

This is when you truly get to set yourself apart and show up as the professional...

Reinforcing you as a trusted photographer and business owner.

Note: In person sales can feel high pressure if you don't have the best interest for your client at heart. If you do, that will show and build the trust you need to grow your brand.

The All-Inclusive Session

how much to charge for photography services

I don't necessarily recommend this strategy, but I do have a few tips if you feel like this is the best option for you. This is an option where the pictures and the experience are included in one price.

The main thing you want to do is keep the focus on the experience. Don't focus on pricing this service based on time, location, and outfit.

Remember: experience, experience, experience.

Make it fantastic.

Overall, this can be a harder sale, because you're asking for money up front before the images are seen.

One way to offset this is to try a deposit.

Talk to clients beforehand about which package will best suit their needs and make them happiest.

The reason I don't recommend this option is because repeat business comes from service and products.

3. Know Your Break Even Number

This is the most important part of pricing - and it's also the step that most people skip.

Don't skip it.

pricing your photography services

You can check out my FREE Break Even Workbook and Training for a more complete overview -, but here are the most important questions you're going to need to ask yourself:

How much money do you need to take home from your business?

How much does your business need to make in order for you to take that home?

How many shoots do you want to do a month?

What average do you need to make this a reality?

4. Use the PROP Method to Price Products

Alright - now you're armed with your break even point and the amount you want to break home. It's time to use that number to create your packages.

The first thing you need to do is price the individual products so you can be sure you're making a profit and not going into debt.

The PROP Method

Here's what you're going to look at:

  1. Product/Print Cost. This is the cost of your product/print from your supplier - including taxes!

  2. Retouching Cost. You need to pay yourself for the time it takes to retouch an image. You need to include this price because if you're not able to do it yourself, for whatever reason, you need to be able to outsource it.

  3. Other Costs.This is for anything you want to add to your product including: packaging, textures, mounting, etc.

  4. Perceived Value. Everything has a value. Digital files have a HUGE PV. It's tempting for clients (and maybe even photographers!) to say, "It's just digitals," but this is what your client wants. And - here's the important part - once you give it to them, you will not make another dollar off that file. The value is huge.

My general rule of thumb is this: use a cost of sale around 25%.

The PRO of PROP is that it's cost-based-pricing. This is the BARE MINIMUM you want to charge. This is PROfessional pricing.

PV is where you can start increasing your prices as your business and brand grows.

You can download my FREE PROP calculator here:

There you have it, intrepid photogs! Everything you need to know to create a pricing structure that makes your business profitable so you can keep doing what you love and bringing home the bacon at the same time. Go forth and snap some photos!