How To Price Portrait Photography To Make Money

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How To Price Portrait Photography? Words of Advice from a Professional Photographer

As a general observation, I am shocked at the low prices of a lot of portrait photographers – especially new photographers, and I hope this isn’t offensive to anyone, but what is more important than your photography, is your business skills when running a business.  This industry is completely saturated with under priced photographers – many talented.  Think of this — the stats are something like 95% of all photography businesses fail.  What makes you feel that you should be in that 5% that does not fail?

Business sense, that’s what.  Have you marveled at a local photographer who does really boring work, yet they are always busy and their prices are more than yours?  Why is that person a success and you can barely bring people in even though you are always hearing how everyone loves your work…  It’s because he/she knows how to run a business.

Everyone asks – how should I price my portrait photography?  So and so has $25 8x10s, so I can’t go higher than that.  Okay, so research all the local portrait photographers and find out what they are charging.  Use that as a guide, but understand, many photographers do not have their pricing on their site, and there is a reason for that.  You need to price yourself for profit.  If you are new and still portfolio building, something that is great to do is set your prices based on turning a profit (as I will describe below), then sure, discount your prices and be CLEAR that you are portfolio building.  That way, when you are done portfolio building, you can return to your already advertised REAL prices, and you won’t make your previous customers angry because they knew at some point you would move on to them.  The problem with starting too low is when you start realizing you aren’t turning a profit, and you start to raise them, you are going to be without business because people will get angry with you for raising them.  So be honest and upfront and clear about what exactly is going on, and you will continue to have clients who have built a relationship with you and understand what’s going on.  Don’t drop a bomb on them, by any means.  Once they have invested with you, they are invested, it’s a relationship, maintain it.

Another thing – if you do not need the money right now because your spouse is the breadwinner, now is a GREAT TIME to build an exclusiveness about your business.  You don’t need the money, so why not price yourself to make it well worth it.  So you get a few sessions a month.  You are PAID WELL for your time away from your family, and then as word of mouth builds, you are viewed as a higher priced, more exclusive portrait photographer – and that can be quite desiring for many crowds.

The thing about running a business – you have to take emotions out of it.  By emotions, I mean “I want people to still be able to afford me” “I don’t think I am good enough” “I’ve never done this before” “I can’t afford me (I beg to differ – how much did you spend on your living room furniture?  $3,000?  How much did you spend on that big screen TV with surround sound?  I have news for you – pictures last longer and are more important in the longrun.  Clients will not value your work, if YOU don’t value it.  News Flash:  WalMart’s a la carte pricing is $50 for an 8×10.  I’m not talking about the coupons.  I’m talking about for one of those crappy ugly 8×10 a la carte backdrop pictures of your child with a fake Christmas tree, where you only got 15 minutes to get your child to smile printed on substandard photo paper is $50.  You offer WAY better than that to your clients, don’t you?

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When I see some charging $200 and that includes all the digital files or even some of the files or even a $100 print credit with $20 8x10s, I cringe because that photographer can be making less than minimum wage and has no idea.

Do you have a reason for pricing the way you do? Do you just toss it out there and hope for the best? Or do you have concrete logical reasoning for why you are pricing the way you are.  You need to take your EMOTIONS out of this and think like a business owner.  No business owner should be making less than minimum wage. You really need to think about business management (classes would be a great idea).

So how do you price?  Work backwards to figure out what clients need to spend.  So many people want to skim over this because they are “arteests” and think it’s all about the talent, not about the pricing structure.  WRONG!  Artists work from emotions, and you better step outside of that for a moment and keep those emotions and business separated, or you will BE a starving artist who will one day look back and say “my kids are grown, where did the time go?  I sat in front of that computer for hours for less than minimum wage… I wish I had that time back with my kids….”  No one looks back and says “I wish I would have worked more away from my family….”

Ask yourself how much you want to make per year. My personal goal is always well into six figures, but I’ll back this down to a more reasonable goal for newbies.

Okay – let’s say you want $50,000 SALARY for a full time BUSINESS OWNER.   When figuring this out – what do you value your family time at?  $50 an hour?  $100 an hour?  $10 an hour (REALLY????  You may regret that one day years in the future – don’t set yourself up for regrets)  Don’t laugh – some people do this for $10/hour and then pay a babysitter $5/hour.  It boggles my mind.

Work backwards to figure out your pricing structure.

1.  Income desired is $50,000.  Again, you are a business owner, you don’t need to be working for pennies.  Add 35% to that (that’s for your taxes as a sole proprietor). Yes, you need an additional $17,500 to cover your taxes.  So now your income has to be $67,500 as you are going to owe Uncle Sam a nice chunk.

2. Add your expenses to your desired income – $67,500 plus $25,000 equals $92,500 -Don’t think $25,000 is a lot for business expenses. That’s not a lot at all. Last year alone, my expenses were $70,000.  Expenses means everything – gas money or mileage, office supplies (paper, ink, packaging, file folders, pens, pencils, envelopes, sticky notes, light bulbs, batteries, whatever….etc.), office equipment (computers, software, actions, mouse, keyboard, file cabinets, books, internet etc. etc. etc.), studio supplies and equipment if applicable, portions of gas and electric bills, telephone bills (if working out of home, it’s portions of this vs. full amounts if you have a studio) photography supplies and equipment (cameras, lenses, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies, flash, strobe, softbox, camera bags etc. etc.), packaging supplies (bags, boxes, bows, tape, labels, etc.), postage, props -yes, all those baskets, newborn hats, wraps, backgrounds, chairs, stools, etc., marketing supplies – print samples, business cards, etc. oh and your business insurance.  Do you have studio rent?  Then think much more than $25,000 as expenses.  The figure I am using is based on not having a studio – and I am being nice, most with even part time businesses have higher expenses than $25,000.

3. So you need to bring in $92,500 in sales every year to get your desired income of $50,000. How do we go about that? Okay, ask yourself – how many weeks per year do you want to work? Let’s say 48 weeks per year (don’t forget, you may have your kids home for spring and winter breaks, etc.. $92,500 divided by 48 equals $1,927 per week. You need to have $1,927 per week in sales.

4. How do you want to achieve that? How many clients do you want per week?

If you want 2 clients per week, you will have to have two sales of $963.54  (if you are selling albums/prints, make that $1,163.54).
If you want 4 clients per week, you will have to have four sales of $481.75. (if you are selling albums/prints, make that $681.75)

Umm… okay, why did I add the parentheses?  What are your COGS (cost of goods sold).  If you sell an album, some prints, and a canvas, you are looking at COGS of being around $200 per customer – factor that in.

A little note, how many hours exactly do you work for your client. Hmmm… An hour in transit, 2 hours in session time, 4 hours proofing/editing, an hour uploading and doing office tasks, 3 hours between phone calls and scheduling and emails and questions from client and client sale finalization, packaging, ordering etc.. So you did 10 hours for that client? (we didn’t include other things like marketing and bookkeeping and in person ordering, but I’ll skip that for now – challenge:  log in while you work on a client, EVERYTHING you do related to that client, I bet it will be close to 10 hours or more per client).  Well that’s not bad, that’s about $50/hour toward the business for option one, having two clients per week. That’s half of what plumbers make, though… and guess what, your PICTURES LAST LONGER! :laugh: … but option two puts you at about $25/hour toward the business. Not TOO bad either – but you SHOULD be making at LEAST $50/hour as a BUSINESS OWNER (although myself and others would tell you as a business owner, you should actually be making more like $100/hour because you don’t want to forget having retirement, college funds for your kids, etc. and as a business owner, you should accept nothing less in my personal opinion or you may as well just work a job for someone else that is less stressful than dealing with the public). I challenge you to plug in lower numbers in this equation as well – let’s say you only want to make $20,000 per year – I’ll touch on that at the end.  Although don’t forget, life happens, and you may find yourself in a pinch one day to where you may actually need an income to support your family on your own…. which begs to go back to – what do you value your time away from family at?  One customer takes you away from your family for 10 or more hours.  Is that only worth $250 to you?  Not to me personally…. but to each his own.

5. Back to what do you price?  I personally like to work by worst case scenario  so I figure at the very least, I know I will have 2 clients per week, even during slow time, so that means I would want to guarantee two sales per week at $1,164. So therefore I would price my work so that every client would spend at LEAST $1,164 which means my lowest print package should be $1,164 (or $682 if going to take on 4 clients per week).

Personally, this is just my opinion, but I don’t think a business owner should be making less than $50,000, but that’s just me.  You should network with some other local BUSINESS OWNERS (not photogs, but business owners) and see what they are making.   Want to work with lower figures?  “Oh I just want to do this part time for fun… $20,000 is plenty for me to have part time…”

Okay, let’s work with lower numbers.

Goal: $20,000 Add 35% to that for taxes equals $27,000

Expenses: Add all your expenses up – I’ll be nice and pretend you aren’t spending on all those group buys, trendy items, and you don’t have any SUPER expensive equipment, so let’s say your expenses are $15,000 per year (do you REALLY think that is high? I don’t – not at all – see above list and I challenge you to REALLY evaluate what you are spending every year – most photogs are spending at LEAST $20,000 per year in expenses if not much much more. So $27,000 plus $15,000 equals $42,000

So for you to make $20,000 per year, you need to have sales of at least $42,000

$42,000 divided by 48 weeks per year of steady work equals $875/week in sales without cost of goods sold factored in. You need $1075 (including COGS) per week in sales to have an income of $20,000 per year – so if you are only taking 2 clients per week, you need sales of around $640 for each client. Just keep that in mind…  icon wink How To Price Portrait Photography To Make Money

Also keep in mind, if you are taking on 4 clients per week so that your sales need to be much less HOWEVER when taking on FOUR clients per week – you are working 40 hours per week – that’s FULL TIME for $20,000 per year… umm… That means that you are working a full time job for $10/hour – your time away from your kids is valued at $10/hour? You are missing 40 hours per week of your kids’ lives for $10/hour as a BUSINESS OWNER.   Makes you think, doesn’t it?

I just challenge all new business owners to really look at their figures and use these simple concrete ways to project your income, to define your income, to price yourself out, and actually structure your business as a real business, and operate as a business owner who knows basic business management 101 now.  Work your business proactively with good reasoning behind it.   Remember, IF WE DON’T VALUE THIS INDUSTRY, NO ONE WILL.

Thank you to the incredible portrait photographer Jodie Otte of Black Horse Studio for this thought provoking answer to the question: “How should I price my photography?”

 How To Price Portrait Photography To Make Money

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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284 Comments and 49 Replies

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  1. 201

    [...] 04:34 PM How to Price Portrait Photography? Jodie Otte's Advice | MCP Photoshop Actions and Tutorials Blog fo… ————————— [...]

  2. 202
    bobby says:

    Your logic is flawed because you start your pricing guide with “if you want to make $60,000 a year” and “If you want 2 clients a week” as if those things are under your control. I want to make a $200,000 a year and have 1 client per week. Does that mean I can charge $3,840 for each shoot?
    Charging $200 works for me because I don’t have the overhead you have and for a 2 hour shoot and 2 hour post processing, I still make $50/hour that pays for my hobby. The best part is I take better pictures than most of you guys and take business away from you AND I have my day job.

    You want to blame someone for losing business to us, blame yourself for picking a career that requires skills that anybody who can read a book and go out and shoot can pick up. Being a plumber, electrician, doctor, or other professions requires a license. Even a monkey with a camera can take a decent picture here or there.

    • Chris Davis says:

      Actually, yes anyone who can read a book can take decent pictures. Your logic is flawed on one point, its not about taking good pictures its about taking great pictures. That is where the art comes into it.

      • shawn says:

        it has nothing to do with taking crappy pictures or great pictures. it’s about running a business period. if you can manage your business properly an average photographer can make good money. and as far as saying anyone that can read a book can take descent pictures. well, I know a lot of people that can read but when I see their photos

    • Wendy K says:

      I disagree Bobby with your comment. How I don’t completely agree with this article and it’s author, I do agree that our work is valuable, much more so than someone with a snap camera. My work is worth more, my time, my trouble and the outcome is envied by most. If your work is good and above standard in quality and beauty, people are willing to pay your worth. The fly by night kitchen housewife photographers won’t last, so they price their work to make grocery money, let them be, who cares? If someone won’t pay me what my work is worth so they get less quality from housewife photographer and pay less…it’s their loss because years down the road they’ll wish those moments and memories won’t be near as nice to look at as if they’d paid a few extra dollars for something I could have given them.

      • Wendy K says:

        I mis-wrote something in my comment above…meant to say that years down the road they’ll look at those photos and wish they’d spent more to have someone like me take them!…lol….sorry about that.

        I want to add that I do appreciate the information you offered here. You took a LOT of time obviously to share information you have and to hopefully help those that can’t afford to pay for the information. Even though I don’t completely agree with “every” detail you suggested, I do agree with the majority of it and feel you are very intelligent and I appreciate your time and trouble here!….=)

        I shared some senior pics I took last month, the girl above by the old windows and the guy in this comment box….hope you enjoy them =).

        • scarlett says:

          Wow Wendy… are there even words to describe the way I feel about your comment. I don’t think attacking housewives who want to make a little money is really becoming of you. As a so called professional and member of society you should be a little more kind. Everyone starts somewhere. And honestly from the looks of the photos you have up you still haven’t made it out of the starting gate. seeing your pictures above I would never pay you for them. It looks like you took some crap pictures on a point and shoot and ran them haphazardly through a retouch app you would find for free on your cell phone. Get over yourself and deflate your head a little. Or better yet take a picture of it.

      • Lisa says:

        Wow that hurts, I have been a photographer for 15 yrs at least. I am one of those housewife photographers thank you very much. I taught H.S. art and photography for 6 yrs of that. Just because I can be the best mom to my kids and wife to my husband doesn’t discount me as a good photographer. I know my stuff! I think its people in the business that think they are superior are what really hurts us all.

        • Jeff Wright says:

          I prefer Lisa’s sample pictures over both of Wendy K’s; and I think Wendy’s attitude is part of what wrecks a lot of photographers. Lots of confidence is great as long as you aren’t rude about it.

          Attached picture was taken days ago, and is my first attempt at portrait photography. Taken with a 33″ reflective umbrella (strobe) setup from CowboyStudios in the middle of a very bright Texas afternoon.

          Everyone starts out as a “fly by night whatever”, but you have to start somewhere.

          I’m an 18 year old kid, but hard work pays off. You do what you can and progress as often as you can. The fact is, everyone who has commented on the original article read said article to get some advice because some of their skills are sub-par. Humility is key in a business over run by egos. -.-

          Sorry for bringing this year old post back.

          Awesome article by the way! It has really settled some questions that I have struggled with. [:

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Bobby,

      If your still there. Would you have the skills for medical photography? Or movie set photography? Anyone can pick up a camera, just like anyone can pick up a wrench. It’s what you know you can do with it that counts. I see plenty of people running a photography business and I can tell they don’t know how to control their camera.
      If you had to rely on your photog business and not your full-time job to rely on, you probably wouldn’t last long.

      • Cindy says:

        So true!!
        Let’s say you learn from a book how to cut the hair…You decided to make it a hobby but charge like 5$ the haircut.You do really nice haircut but you are maybe missing some techniques but overall that looks great.
        People if they have to chose between you and the hairdresser who charge 15.Who do you think they will pick?The cheaper…Logic
        But what is underneath the price of the hairdresser is her equipment that she change regulary,the chair she has to pay each month and her experience.
        If she’d do it like a hobby none of this things would matter!
        So if i follow your idea…Nobody should have their buisness…
        Same thing for photographers…Because we can’t compete with those prices.
        If it would be just a few people doing that i would be ok with it but i don’t know why,it’s kind of a trend everybody has the ”hobby” to photograph…So it’s harder…

    • Tracy says:

      Would love to see some of your photography! I’ve attached mine for you to look at (fair’s fair).

    • Victoria says:

      Oh wow, Bobby, you are a complete a$$ to say such a thing. I bet you don’t take wonderful pictures to be quite honest with that attitude. And I disagree, not just anyone can take amazing pictures. I know a TON of people who cannot take a creative, artful picture to save their life and even if they took a class it’d be all technical and lacking in the creative art. You cannot TEACH that side of the business, it is a TALENT. Just like playing a sport is a talent. You can learn the rules all you want, but if you don’t have the creative eye and talent you won’t be great at it.
      Plus, why are you so proud of the fact that you take away business from professionals that love their work and it is their full time career??? Why intentionally low ball pricing that hurts the true professional photographers that love their job but also need to make ends meet as this article clearly describes. I might make $200k a year on paper, but after all is said and done I’d be lucky to make a quarter of it in profit. However, your “day” job doesn’t require all that because your BOSS (owner of said company) pays for all the overhead which includes YOU. You just pay Uncle Sam and the rest is profit to you. You sir, are a douche.

    • Jackie says:

      The art of photography is a little more than “a monkey with a camera”. If you really have as little respect for photography and your fellow photographers, it always shows in your work. There are plenty of potential clients out there who will be happy enough; those of us who take photography seriously like to cater to a clientele who know the difference between a talented photographer vs. someone who read a book.

    • Heather says:

      You are seriously clueless and your attitude is what will separate you from those monkey photographers and true artist. may can learn the technical from a book but creating art comes from within and not everyone is gifted with that ability ;)

      I don’t blame anyone. I have stepped aside and the clients that come seeking me see a value in what I do because it is not run of the mill what every tom,dick and harry ( or monkey as you say) is doing. See,while you walk around strutting and bragging you are surrounded by thousands more like you. If it suits you then so be it.

      Do as you wish but you obviously have no respect for the industry or the people who helped paved the way. Your attitude is the reason why people don’t value the industry. Thanks.

    • Denise U says:

      FINALLY..someone with a BRAIN posts! I COULDN’T AGREE more with you Bobby- I make hair accessories for like $3 a piece..and I am trying to apply this logic to that and think..soooo I should be charging $90 for a bow? No.

      I am getting into photography and I feel the same about it..people charge WAY too much. $50 an hour sounds good to me considering I don’t have a degree of any kind!

    • tyler says:

      I want to see your work that is so good, it’s taking business from professional photographers..

  3. 203
    Steve Freund says:

    Your article should be required reading for anyone considering professional photography. Those balancing another job and family time will realize that they are working for below their regular wage, actually working overtime for under-time wage.

  4. 204
    Marianne says:

    Maybe I would take what this writer had to say more seriously if they didn’t come off like a huge BITCH. I certainly wouldn’t hire them. Tone down the attitude for your next article, and maybe I’ll read uit.

    • Nicole Dawn says:

      This is a completely inappropriate comment. The article is well writen and gives a general understand on how to figure price… If you disagree, then simply state that or what you disagree with. If you are not a professional photog or plan on becoming one, you should find something better to do with your time. As she said, “To each is own.”

  5. 205
    Ritz says:

    Wow you answered every question I had like you were reading my mind. Very well written. Thank you for posting it free of charge!!!lol

  6. 206
    Linda says:

    Hi my husband and I oped a Studio a1 year ago and we are doing our taxes by our selfs. We don’t know the difference between supplies and office expensive. Where can we find ? Also we never marked down the milage for our cars. How do we calculate now? Thank you!

    • Lisa says:

      You are kind of out of luck on the mileage. The IRS requires pretty extensive records if you are to be audited. The only suggestion might be to log your on location shoots which and mileage to a store in which you have a receipt. The best method is to keep a log in each car. A simple calendar will work and write the starting and ending mileage and where you went. Total it up at the end of the year and keep that notebook for records. There are also several ways to write of this mileage. Either by % of total miles used on the car or # of total miles x the IRS amount. And as I read it, supplies, office equipment, camera equipment are all the same – an expense and can be written off as just that. Although, for some of your more expensive equipment you can choose to use amortization over the life of the equipment. Seeing as how you guys seem a little lost in tax department, it might be wise to hire an accountant. You will be sure your refund is filed correctly and probably get back more than you will on your own. And if the IRS comes knocking, which it does frequently with photog business, you will be much better off having someone else do your taxes. At least until you understand it better. Hope that helps!

  7. 207
    vibram says:

    What is the stupidest thing you’ve done because someone dared you to?

  8. 208
    Deborah Kuykendall says:

    href=””> Ok, this is my first time to blog here…So, here it goes! I have entered the contest, and would really benefit having the IPAD, as my husband is a Dissabled Army Vet, and I am at the hospital or clinic with him at least once a week. The IPAD would allow me to work on my art/craft, where ever I may be!

  9. 209

    I am in the process of seriously starting my business. I am in the later stages of photography school at a local community college but I believe my images are great even though I haven’t finished school yet. I haven’t decided if I will be renting a space yet or operating as a home based business. Your article really helped me. It was chock full of info and believe me I took notes and bookmarked it. I appreciate you taking the time to write it. This is more than a hobby for me and I intend to make a good living doing it. I am also signed up for a photography business class in the fall. Thanks again!!!

    • Hi, I would really like to know the name of the photography business class you found. I am looking to go back for my 2nd BS Degree and major in photography. That would be a great side class to take. I currently majored in web design and development. I took photography classes throughout high school as well and some mail order college classes for photography back in the day for a certification. Also, are you going online for the business class or at the community college? I am going to check our local college’s to see what we have available. All my courses I have taken were back in the day with film photography and I want to get some new education with the digital and studio lighting. Thanks for any insite that you share!

      • Paul Rhodeman says:

        question…are those mail photography classes any good? I’d like to take some on lighting and getting the courage to go manual on my camera.

  10. 210
    Sheila says:

    this just gave me a wake up call.

  11. 211
    Anthony says:

    Thanks so much for such a good break down of the business side of things. Pricing is hard. Especially for newbies. It’s so easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re doing okay and forget all the expenses and extra time you invest outside of what a client is paying you for.

    Many thanks for the article.

  12. 212

    I agree with the article. The problem is, is that how do you get two clients per week, especially ones willing to pay that in an over saturated market?

    • Fenix says:

      The sad part is you may not be able to. What the author isn’t saying so blunty is if you can’t bill enough to stay in business you won’t be. If your market is over-saturated or there isn’t a market for your photography you will fail.

      As she said, you need to be able to do $42,000 in sales just to take home $20K. You’d make $20K at the mall with a lot more sleep and time with your family.

      • When you really look at it, this is why so many people start branching in part time. Those part timers over saturate the industry and devalue the product. I think that from a business/marketing standpoint, the trick is to be the “Apple” of the industry. Focus on branding your business in a way that there is no mistaking who you are and what people think of when they hear your name.

  13. 213
    Jennifer says:

    I am a trained photographer, 10 years experience, and also shoot for magazines. I have moved AWAY from portraits for the mere reason that the ‘SamsClub Photo Kit club’ has priced me out of the running. I can try to explain to someone that I’ve just spent 5 hours editing their images after a 2 hour shoot with high end equipment and business insurance and licenses, and show them a portfolio that is miles above the rest, but honestly, People don’t want great anymore…they want ‘good enough’ at a cheap price. For instance, my latest competitor who stole a very lucrative client from me, charges $35.00 for a 1 hour session with a full disc of retouched images… WHAT?!?!?! I have been too afraid for too many years to state my worth, but by Gosh, I will NOT be settling to compete with these hack jobs. Oh, and I’m not even CLOSE to charging $1000 for a print package… Nope mine start out at $250 and I STILL cannot compete. Ridiculous.

    • Lisa says:

      I agree! I tell my people, if they want less go to JC Pennys. I’m moving more towards Seniors and Wedding Photography. I feel those are 2 areas in life people are willing to pay for the high quality I offer!

    • Gene says:

      This is not an article to help you determine pricing – local compatitn des that!
      This is an article that helps you determine if you should bother trying toget into photography locally. If you can do $100k a year in your area, maybe it’s not worth getting into the business. Keep photography a hobbie and find other better paying less compettitive work.

    • I am new and starting out, so I am guilty of doing what you hate. I am not trying to outprice professional photographers though, just get portfolio work so that I can get as good as all of you wonderful photographer! I have spoke with many great photographers in the last few months and they all have the same complaint so I have upped my prices because of that. They complain that anyone with a camera thinks they are a photographer and they are killing the market with these prices. I agree. I don’t want to knock you guys out of business, I aspire to be as good as you and to be able to charge as much as you do. I hope one day I will be. Please don’t give up. Yes there are going to be those cheap people that don’t want to pay for quality but those are not the clientel that you want to attract, am I right? Obviously they are the low income population that can’t afford quality and probably couldn’t tell the difference until it smacked them in the face.

      I was hoping to learn something from photographer’s like you about how to charge or even ask the prices that you do for sessions. I feel that I am a little scared to ask for a higher price. But, another photographer told me that if you don’t respect yourself and your work, and you are charging below average prices for the work then that’s what people expect of you. If you charge more then you are likely to gain thier respect and business. I was also told to always take the money up front before even scheduling the appointments and that alone will bring in a higher clientel. They have something invested at that point.

      For your person that’s offering retouched images, they are probably not really retouched. That term is used losely. I bet they have just edited and cropped photo’s. Plus I bet they haven’t even formated them correctly for printing. After a person gets those photos they will hopefully see the difference in the work of a professional. I know I can! I guess I am responding because it’s dissapointing to hear that you have quit due to a few newbies oversaturating the market. People are getting sick of places like Portrait Innovations, Walmart, Etc. People see that they are spending $100 plus for one pose, and a package of pictures that don’t suit their needs, so they are willing to now go with a professional photographer. The industry is going to change.

  14. 214

    [...] to auctions or something of the like to soothe that desire. Here’s a great article on pricing by Jodie at MCP Actions….“Their photos are so much better than mine!”It’s true – there are many, MANY talented [...]

  15. 215
    David says:

    Thank you for taking the time to outline this info. Some common sense, and some great “wake up call” items. And for Marianne who said you came off with attitude, I think she may have been hearing herself think while reading this great, free information. You didn’t come off that way at all. She, on the other hand….

  16. 216
    Sangeetha says:

    While I think no one should under price their work, Charging $600 for 1 8×10 and 2 5×7 after 1 hour photo session shooting at least 10 different poses is ridiculous. There should be a balance

  17. 217
    Derek says:

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon this, it really made me think. I just started my own photography business and I always struggled with what to price. Starting high is a good choice so you don’t have to raise your prices on people. Thank you for posting this.


  18. 218
    Craig Adler says:

    I just have to tell you THANK YOU! So much for your incredible advice. I’ve been a hair stylist/airbrush makeup artist for over 35 years and now have decided after working for photographers, I can do it to. I’ve come quite a long way, learning photoshop techniques and lightroom3. My skill with the camera are improving everyday. I have been frustrated about how to price out my work without giving it away. So when I saw your site, it just makes sense and I thank you for how you’ve designed the blueprint for the inventory of expenses to everything. I will be visiting again time and time again, sincerely thank you again, Craig Adler

  19. 219
    Lisa Johnson says:

    I agree and disagree with some points this photographer makes. Charging for your work is based on the area you live and competition, as well. If you price too high, you lose money or too little and you lose more money/time. Some money is better than none, but what to sacrifice? Create a pros and cons list about your work and fees. Compare with others and then make a decision. I find it hard to believe with this economy a freelance photographer could make anywhere close to what she has stated. A full time studio,perhaps but you have all the extra costs that go along with it. Many photographers that I know work from their home studio or only on location. Competition is high for the best picture and price. The comment to leave emotions out of it cracks me up. It makes me think of this famous quote, “NOT PERSONAL! That is my WORK, my SWEAT, and MY TIME AWAY FROM MY KIDS! IF THAT IS NOT PERSONAL, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS!” Erin Brockovich:

  20. 220
    Kim says:

    This article was both scary and enlightning for me… While going through my PB stage, I charged 50.00 per hour. I’ve sense grown tremendously, and have more than enough to show people on all subjects. Now, I’m getting some comebacks, and I cringe to tell them I’ve increased my prices even though I made it very clear to them before that I will increase them after my newbie stage… I’ve completely gone through my savings (money that was given to me after my fathers death) and 95% of it was simply to get business started… New equipment, computer, software, studio lighting, backdrops, lenses, packaging materials ect… Now I’m lucky if I get 2 clients a month…. I love how people swoon at my photo’s but can never commit to a date when I ask when they’d like to do their own… At a meezly 100.00 per hour for the session, but countless hours sorting, uploading, editing, and burning… I’ve spent almost every penny I have, and am so tempted to charge 20.00 per session to get SOMETHING in my pocket….

    • Lisa says:

      I stuggle here too. I have found Senior pictures and weddings people are willing to pay for so I am moving there!!! But I will say where this article is wrong is that every market has its own Market Clearing price. Mine, here in Memphis is much lower than say Dallas where people generally have more money. YOu have to figure that out to find your price!

    • Anne Hutton says:

      One word — MARKETING! We are photographers, artists, office managers etc. etc. but we are nothing but a secret if we don’t market! Now you have learned the photography skills you need marketing skills! I have had my portrait business for 17 years, I consider it a success. I’ve been through all of the changes in the past decade — some good and some bad. I have learned to keep it fresh, keep evolving, keep competing…you have to stay on your toes all the time…I market constantly. I feel I have a good product, I am high end in my pricing but my success is due to marketing! It’s easy for me because I am passionate about what I do.
      This was a fabulous article. It may not be exact for your business or location, the numbers were good examples, the message is clear.

  21. 221

    It is in reality a nice and helpful piece of info. I?m happy that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  22. 222
    Backgammon says:

    fabulosa capara mi fluista te vimosedil dista emeje. chimo te ranhadaca rapuv nos colamo o respro eisidamer afusco bien.

  23. 223
    Kimberly says:

    These are great ideas and tips. Thank you very much for sharing.

  24. 224
    CSigars says:

    From what I’ve read, there is a lot of good information for up and coming photographers like myself, but for those complaining and bickering about the small stuff and think you’r better than everyone else. I just want you to step out side of your box and realize there are bigger things going on in the world than you. I’ve just spent over a year in Afghanistan working with the Military and talk about an eye opener. People need to realize how good they have it and no matter what they do in life, understand that it is not worth doing unless you enjoy doing it. So what ever you may price your work at always remember every day is special so live to make yourself happy as well as your client and you’ll never have any issue with wealth.

  25. 225
    Lisa says:

    Great article. I will say the one thing you did leave out is market clearing price (the top price in which your market will tolerate before you start loosing business), which significantly flaws your argument. Every market will handle a different price. Yes I can say I want to charge $500 for a sitting fee all day long, but here in Memphis times are tough and getting harder. I have to charge way less than if I were to live in Dallas with a much more affluent population. Yes, I agree that I need to value my time and set my prices to make a profit, but in an area in which I live and there is a low market clearing price, I need to watch my expenses and make myself more efficient in order to turn a profit rather than just raise prices and find myself out of work all together!

  26. 226

    Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you really recognize what you’re speaking about! Bookmarked. Please additionally seek advice from my site =). We may have a hyperlink exchange agreement between us

  27. 227
    A.S. says:

    How can I view the other comments?

  28. 228
    Saul says:

    Does it always has to be Right or Wrong, is there a way people can get some education in regards to tolerance? The fact that any of you disagree is just a difference on opinion not you nor the author is right but we have to respect the fact that the author took the time to write this article and it may give many of us the lead on how to deal with this. Now for you Mr.. 250k, if you were doing that amount of money you would not be wasting your time with us in this forum and with the 350K give me a break there are more divorces than weddings now a day. Let’s give an applause to Jodi Friedman for the nice article and let’s think each of use how to use that information properly.. Now if you want to say how to do it, go ahead take the time and effort to make an article like this one and don’t be the minus factor where we have people trying to bring pluses!

    Have a nice day!

  29. 229

    This is great! Thank you for sharing. I forwarded it to 3 former assistants/interns who are starting out in the field, and I think it will help them a lot. Thanks for making it so easy to understand!

  30. 230

    This is all true and not many teach it. The best place to learn this is at the Texas School of Photography in April. In a class taught by ANN MONTEITH. Remember that name, she knows how to teach this and teaches it around the country as well. the website for Texas School (people come from all over the US and the World for that matter! Including Italy, England and Australia!) Its so important. I know several photographers who got overly eager and didnt follow this and bankrupted their families and wound up divorced. Its easy to do, and once your prices are low, its hard to get them up. Price for Profit from the start or start now to keep from being in that 95% that fail.

  31. 231

    Thank you for this article, it was just what I needed! Remember the scene in “Moonstruck” where Cher slaps Nicolas Cage and yells, “Snap out of it!”? I think this was the “snap out of it” that I have been needing when it comes to figuring out my pricing and taking the emotion out of it. I think I can now sit down and write out my prices and feel confident that I am charging a fair price for my vision. Thanks again!

  32. 232
    Christen says:

    Amen! Thanks for sharing!

  33. 233
    Jes says:

    This was great! I live in a small community and put way too much emotion in my pricing. Now a year later and I am kicking myself big time! I am going to have to navigate the tricky price change; if I don’t all my work is for not. “sigh”

    Sound advice- thank you.

  34. 234
    Frank Butler says:

    Hi Jodie,

    Just read your advice and I would just like to say that you could not be more correct and you are a very cleaver and smart busIness woman. I am not a photographer I run a chauffeur driven business and I charge what is a fair price and the price reflects my service and my time plus the expence of running a high end business. Just like a good photographer if you don’t want to pay top dollar don’t call me!!!

    Kind Regards
    Frank Butler
    Butler’s Chauffeur Drive Ltd

  35. 235
    Arno says:

    Nice article, but your 35% tax math is flawed. If you want to end up with $100 after taxes, you need to charge $100/0.65 = $154, and not just $135.

    • G says:

      Funny, I was just wondering why expenses were not taken off as tax deductable. Maybe that’s the difference. Most people in other jobs quote their income before tax, which is the opposite of the article.

      I like the discussion … exactly why I keep photography a hobby. I don’t see how I could match my day job income.

      As someone having a neighbors services pushed on me, I would say the market is saturated. Don’t expect to make 100k+ your first year.

  36. 236
    V says:

    I really like this article, but at the same time, I have to question it. In my area the average price of a good photographer for portraits is about $100-$250 a session. And even then, I’m not entirely sure what they include with that. I’ve recently started my business and it’s nuts in my area. There’s a bunch of people with DSLR’s doing poor work and it’s hard to compete because people see it, and like someone previously stated, “it’s good enough” so why spend more?

    I do have to say though, some of you who are posting your photos… I’m not trying to sound better or condescending, because I to am still growing with my photography, but you guys have a LOT of work to do. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but you speak about other photographers as if your very own is fantastic, by which case, it is far from it.

    I can easily pinpoint several issues with each photo that has been posted and ways to improve it. I know I’m not the best (yet), but I’m not going to sit here and down talk about “over night photographers” if my work isn’t on par or better. For the simple fact, I was an over nighter. I’ve been shooting less than 2 years, not the best equipment, but I’ve studied my brains out to the point of obsession and my photographs clearly show that I know what I am doing (and it’s not just setting up shop and snapping some shots).

    I’m just trying to bring some reality to the table, because so far, the work I see in this thread is NOT worth $200 a session.

  37. 237
    Yasmine says:

    I have just reopened my photography business full time after having my pricing structure all wrong previously. In fact I was working long hours and making negative sales. This article is extremely helpful and I now know how to price my work.

    Thanks a million!

  38. 238

    I am try to photographs plz teach me

  39. 239
    Jalexa says:

    You are such a lifesaver! I’ve been going back and forth about what to do, searching the Web, asking around…and lo and behold you’ve had this article all along. I should have known better and just come straight to your site.

  40. 240
    Diane Murphy says:

    Thanks so much for the article! My daughter wants to be a photographer for a profession, and she seems to have a good eye. She’ll be heading off to college in a couple of years, and I do hope she’ll include business courses while pursuing her degree, to understand the financial portion well enough to make a good profit! It’s a real eye opener to consider ALL of the costs, personal and monetary! Here’s a shot she took of my new grandson!

  41. 241
    Barry Perhamsky says:

    Here’s how you should charge. First, deal with a reliable photofinisher. One who’s been in the business for awhile, and doesn’t plan on going out. Talk to some serious photographers as to a good lab. Get their price list and charge accordingly. Back to this in a minute.

    Second, how do you work? Well there’s two ways. First there’s a photo session. This should be 1/2 to one hour. With this I would give them one high quality 11×14 canvas plus two 8×10′s. I might charge $175. The lab charges me $35 for the canvas, and $5 per 8×10 That’s $45 total. Then you have to think about expensices like batteries, etc. Any additional is of course extra like buying frames for the 8×110′s. And if you take the time to do a very well lighted and posed portrait, well it’ll be worth the $175. If you make $100 or $125 prophet, that’s ok. Now remember you have expensices like rent and gas and electric. So you need to do X amount of portraits befor you make a prophet.

    The next way to do portraits is what we call bread and butter pictures. Now here you’re going to take say photos of babies. parents want a nice picture of their baby. The baby is 0-1 They literally can walk in off the street. For this you again have package deals. A nice 8×10 framed with 2 5×7′s one for each grandparent is $75. again you give them a high quality picture, but you don’t spend any length of time. So you might make $45 prophet on that. But you’re taking alot of pics. You may do 10-20 in a day. That’s $450-$900 If you do that.

    So you set aside times to have sessions, and days to do bread and butter shots.

    Of course you’re going to have the people come in, talk with them, decide on clothing,etc. what type of portrait…perhaphs geans with no shoes sitting on the floor and some wooden boxes, etc. When all is discussed, you’ll need a downpayment, then the rest when the pictures are delivered. Now also you need to let them see the proofs and decide on what pics. Different poses and different sets. But don’t take these stupid pics of a kid in an eggshell. But it depends on your clientel: different strokes for different folks.

    Barry Perhamsky

  42. 242
    J King says:

    Well, there’s a whole lot of good and bad advice throughout this thread.

    You have to determine what type of photography company you are. Are you content to always be a one man shop? Do you want to franchise?

    We currently have four studios in two state and are opening two more this year. Plain and simple, price to the market. Our studio in Dothan, AL is priced almost half of the one in Destin, FL. That being said, anything under $300 net is a slap in the face. If you can do that with a shoot and burn on location setup, more power to you and I wish you would call me and give me some advice. If you have a studio setup you should factor in your cost of goods and about $100 for overhead. You end up around $450 for a shoot. Unless you are in a wealthy market. Then, charge whatever the market will bear.

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    Frank says:

    Just starting out and been researching pricing. Awesome article! Thanks.

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    Jamie M says:

    I’m a poor college student with a diploma (couldn’t afford a degree at the time)in photography but I live in a town with a thousand and one rich suburban soccer moms who went to best buy, bought a DSLR, threw it into auto and now are getting paid for “photography”. I’ve done exactly one photo shoot for my best friend and I just cannot compete because no one cares that I take my time, edit my photos on something way more advanced than picnik (which i just found out is now ribbet). So how can I possibly market myself when everyone around me is suddenly a “photographer”?

  45. 245
    Virginia says:

    I am so sick of all of these ppl leaving comments on articles like that talking about “momtographers” and housewives who need grocery money so they go out and buy a baseline DSLR and then undercharge for what they call “photography”. I am NOT one of the photographers – but I am writing this because WHO CARES?! Stop insulting other people, and just worry about your own business. It makes me sad to think that so many photographers who comment on things like this seem like bitter people who are not humble human beings and just want credit for where they are in life even if it means insulting other people. Leave the mom’s alone, let them do what they do and then you do what you do. Again, no i am not one of these mom’s – i am just saying this because i am so sick of reading comments from over-entitled, mean people.

    • I agree – when I asked this question on facebook it was interesting to see the two sides to the story. I present this as what others dislike. I hope it did not come off as these are my opinions for the whole piece. It was a survey.

    • Amber says:

      THANK YOU for this post! I am a housewife but I also have a true passion for photography. I am struggling with how much to charge my clients because of the simple fact that “I am housewife.” It makes me feel like my time and effort isn’t worth as much as any other photographers is that doesn’t have children…

  46. 246
    Stu says:

    Great info and awareness of expenses and potential income. Most people don’t work backwards as you suggest and most see photography as a hobby to make money at, not as a business.

    As a photographer, minister, and hypnotist, I try to balance what I do and keep the goal (income) in perspective. In the past I did however borrow from Peter to pay Paul sort of speak in that I would take income from one venture to pay for another or do freebies to be nice.

    Now I treat it like a business and thank you for your insight.
    Brilliant article

  47. 247
    Lacey says:

    Great Post!!! Gave me a great idea on different options. It doesn’t mean we need to do the exacts. Just gives us an idea of how the layout works. I liked the other post by Barry Pahamsky as well. Just to give you a sense of what different ways you can appoach your sales. Thank you for all the time the factual comments took!!!

  48. 248
    Lacey says:

    an image to go with my post

  49. 249
    Ady says:

    Hello I would just like to say thank you for this article. It has really helped. I have been learning and developing my photography over the past 6 years. Studying all the features of my cameras, working with light, posing models, building rapport and taking photographs, being creative and basically everything to do with photography. I have won a couple of competitions and feel that my work is starting to get there.

    Due to recent let downs in my main career, I have now started considering the option to go self-employed. Therefore I have been leaning more towards the business aspects of photography. Going to business workshops, learning about tax and national insurance, marketing, networking etc etc.

    One thing that I have found difficult to find advice on is the pricing. I don’t want to be a shoot and burn photographer. I don’t want to spend my life struggling to put food on the table and to pay the bills and I certainly don’t want to be doing a dead end job that I have no interest in.

    My passion is photography. I love creating art and I love even more that I could potentially be my own boss. I am not naive and I know this will not be easy but I literally have nothing else to lose. I’m in the process of updating my portfolio, website and online presence in order to aim my work at a different market. A market that will know the value of art hanging on the walls in their homes instead of a CD collecting dust in a drawer somewhere. A market that is not interested in getting the cheapest price for the most images but one that is willing to pay for something unique and different, something that is of high quality. There is nothing worse than a starving artist.

    I have learnt a lot from this article and I hope to be implementing some of this into my pricing strategy. I want to make my passion for photography into a career that I love.

  50. 250
    Lisa says:

    After years of researching/reading about/listening to professional photographers about how to price your work, this article really helped make it all come together. I painstakingly put together a pricing package for a mom who wanted me to do her son’s high school senior shoot. I’ve been a serious amateur for years and am finally ready to crank it up a notch by actually *gasp!* charging money for my work.

    Considering the value I put on my time, I came to $400 as the price for this shoot which included a decent print package, unlimited locations within a 20-mile radius, unlimited outfits, and a DVD of the electronic images that they ordered as prints.

    Imagine my shock when I was reprimanded via an e-mail, saying she couldn’t believe how expensive I was. She said the photographer who took her other son’s senior pics charged $250 for EVERYTHING — the session, all the prints, yadda yadda yadda — so now she’d have to rethink everything and “get back to me.” What the mom doesn’t realize is how generous I was being at only charging $400. You just can’t win.

  51. 251
    MichaelL says:

    Well done Jodi, well done.

  52. 252
    Ady says:

    Lisa – I think a lot of people have the same problem, I suppose the only answer would be to market your work towards people who appreciate art and are willing to spend what it costs to get it, without trying to undercut you for what you are worth.

  53. 253
    Jen says:

    Wow, this was very informational and helpful. I appreciate the way you broke it down. Thanks so much!!

  54. 254
    Mal says:

    ok so now that you have what your average sale should be at the 50,000 a year how do you ad you time to that

  55. 255

    [...]  Hi Karla… before you start charging $20 a session, you may want to read this article>… And there are tons more, with wonderful info and insight for people just starting out in the biz [...]

  56. 256
    NatashaRose says:

    Omgosh my head is spinning! I am cheap! Laugh now Cry later is what I feel like right now… I really need to get my prices together, thankfully I moved to a new state, so now I have new customers. Thanks for throwing the real numbers at me.

  57. 257
    Nickolette says:

    I am new at this whole photography business and I found this very helpful! I will admite I did the whole pay by the hour and I did not make any profit. So by reading this has helped me come up with ideas on how I should charge. Thank you so much!

  58. 258
    Veronica says:

    Thanks so much for this article. I have really been struggling with the emotion aspect (“I am a new photographer, I shouldn’t charge as much as xyz.” “What if I don’t get business because I’m too expensive?”)

    I have been looking for something like this for awhile and am grateful to have stumbled across this page. I am the photographer who has been portfolio building and working practically for free.

    I appreciate the intuitive words!

  59. 259
    Connie Miller says:

    I really like the input on here. I have been doing photography as a hobbie for years. I now want to start doing as a side job. I have been told my professionals, friends and family I do great work. I have an eye for not just taking the photo but the art of it. Let’s hope they start paying me-LOL. I will be doing this from my home to start. On location shoots, when need be. I like the CD’S idea but have a few questions. I would like to have it as an option to buy with a package purchase. How do I price this? How do I find a good processor for my prints? Any suggestions would be gratly appreciated.

  60. 260
    Galya says:

    Reading your article was like you were standing and speaking in front of me. Thank you for this eye (mind) opening article.

  61. 261
    Jim Raison says:

    Thank-you for this enlightening information. The business end has been formost on my mind and what I need to charge for my work. I can see this is going to take much thought and research to make this detemination. I keep dealing with the fact that I live in a small town and know many people. When I do start, will probably have plenty of work initially. Many of these people can’t afford much and I keep thinking about this, but as you said “take out the emotions” good point, so I’ve got a lot of work

    I am currently an amatuer photographer and attending classes at Valdosta State University for a certificate in digital photography. Once completed, have all the equipment necessary to start and I can be validated by 2 professional photographers, I will start a business.

    Jim Raison

  62. 262
    Ian Frank says:

    I have noticed a lot of negative comments on here regarding this post but the one who have posted them don’t seem to add any of his or her work…. Hmmm, I wonder why. I went back to photography after a long stint in film and video and I find it to be a very relaxing and comforting transition. This article is spot on and I thank the author for taking the time to write it. The ones who take heed and apply it will take full advantage of profits and the others…. Oh well, it just makes more room for the professionals and the hobbyist who lover his or her craft. Thank You again.

  63. 263
    unclebob says:

    If your passion is photography… My advice for those wanting to earn extra money is to become a competent photographer and earn money as a second shooter to an established wedding photographer. Earning $150-$200 a day for nothing but shooting is gravy. In time, a reliable and valuable second shooter can advance over the years and work under the umbrella of the pro and make $500 per wedding. All of this without the burden of editing images, running a business etc, and allows you to focus on your passion. The business side will drain the life out of the weekend warrior and his/her family. As somebody who is successful in business, I was shocked at how badly my moonlight photography business failed. Shooting was a luxeery, but created a viscious cycle of editing, time away from family, to the point in which everything eroded away and it became a nightmare. Don’t kid yourself… if you place little value on your product, neither will your client. A lab owner told me years ago to shun digital and shoot B+W medium format film and cater to rich clients. Did I listen… nah! I hear that siren call again. With a fresh perspective,the plan is to go forth on a totally different route, shoot to my enjoyment, soup the negs, sell fiber prints, and charge 20X what I was willing to accept before. But I have a day job and now have a life and could care less about the $250 client or photographer. Good luck!

  64. 264
    oliver says:

    Hi Jodi,

    Thanks for the article, well done! I’m running my own business as well although it is town planning and not photography.

    You may add a few additional expenses: Insurance, medical and sick leave! You’ll be off-duty easily for a week a year with colds, flue or other ailments. Furthermore, as a self employed you’ll have no income during statutory holidays. These amount to another week or so, depending where you live. Combine that with your annual leave and you’ll have to assume some 5 to 6 weeks without income annually. This is further compounded by non-billable time (client acquisition, billing, accounting, equipment maintenance, etc)

    For me, all inclusive with workspace rent, insurance, equipment and other expenses US$ 100 per hour is just about right. These number, however have to be adjusted in accordance to the place you live in: NYC will be more expensive than rural Alabama. Of course also the hourly charge moves with location. I’m in a fairly expensive place (Hong Kong) and my expenses are mostly impacted by the crazy property prices we have here…

    Best Regards,

  65. 265

    I LOVE this article and I struggle with this everyday!! Loving your work and understand that it is great is important. Great times about what you are wanting to make per year which I never thought of!! Is their a certain website you all recommend for offering prints? I am struggling with this as well. Thanks again for sharing!!

  66. 266
    Jessica says:

    I recently moved overseas and I am living on a military base. I am stumped because now my market is only military (we are in Japan). I am used to having a much larger client base and charge about $100-200 a shoot in general. I do packages for $250-500 for boudior and usually about $400-700 for small weddings. My question is – how do you handle a situation like mine? Most military members cant afford professional photography. They just complain about the pricing. I try to keep it simple as possible for them and charge them less, but I dont want to sell myself short. I’m about to open back up over here – any suggestions on how to price for those that can’t afford much?

  67. 267

    Thanks for the info, as a business owner it sure puts things into persective.

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    Eric Smith says:

    Wow! Incredible! I am an upstart. I specialize in Northern Lights Photography but am interested in starting Portrait, Wedding and children photography. I have noticed something else that I did not see mentioned above and that is that a lot of photographers do is perceived by others very differently. Photography is a form of art and therefor subjective in many ways. I know that there are certain rules that are good to follow and that in each field of Photography some of those are more important than in others, but I have experienced personally that it still very subjective. As an example: I shoot the northern lights up in Alaska. I have seen the work of other photographers, some of which have thriving businesses and have been at this for 30 years and wouldn’t buy their work, it is hideous, but that is my viewpoint. Others $500 for one of their prints. I know many (not friends) that see my work (I have been at this for 4 years) and they say they would pay that much for one of my shots. Of course the northern lights are very different than Weddings but I have seen some tutorials from professionals that I would not have hired for my wedding but they make good money.

    Another thing, every client is different. I did a wedding in Alaska for a couple and when we met to discuss their wedding the bride said that she would be happy if just got some disposable cameras from Wal-Mart or used my iPhone. I nearly had a heart attack! The world is changing, and that includes peoples perception of way is beautiful and artistic and exceptable.

    I personally appreciate all of your points of view except for GOD up there that destroyed everyone else with a lightning bolt, that was just incredible! But thanks to the rest of you for your insights. And keep up the good work.

  70. 270
    Chris says:

    What about the guy who does this on the side like me? I don’t need clients, and I don’t need the money, but I do charge what I think I’m worth and love to hear all the full time photogs piss, wine, and moan about how guys like me are “ruining the industry”. I feel you are aiming your article at newer photogs starting out but yet your product of selling actions are for people with poor photography skills and have to make up for them by using a bunch of actions to correct their mistakes. What you should be saying is that photogs should be charging more to afford your actions. If they just learned better lighting techniques and a ton of free tutorials in Lightroom, you’d be out of a job!

    • Chris, I disagree. Actions and presets can save an image – sure. But actions can also do artistic things not achieved in camera easily. Can you build a storyboard with 5 images in your camera? We have actions and presets for that. Can you easily add certain hazes, decrease acne or get rid of jaundice in camera? Nope.

      We have both beginner and advanced photographers that use our products. Likewise, whose to say whether buying expensive lighting gear or using an action to add fill light is the “right” choice.

      Thanks for adding your thoughts.


  71. 271
    Kim says:

    Thank you so much for the article I am just starting off and I am struggling with my pricing. I was not far off but now I see I need to increase it just a bit. As I have gotten more serious about this I have become more critical of my work and I hope improved. As a single om I am doing this on my off days with the hope that I can make it my full time job very soon. I would love any advice that can be given. I have included a sample and I think you can really see the improvments. Thank you

  72. 272
    ruth says:

    Thanks Jodi! You certainly made things a lot clearer for me. I just got back into photography, and I was wondering…what should I charge? And you are correct at all of the calculations you’ve made, after all, I do plan on making a living off of this business and I’m not getting any younger.

    I also disagree with Chris. Chris if your photog is flawless, than you should charge for quality just as much as a photographer would for editing because that is a rare talent.

    Jodi, I love photoshop, paintshop and other editing software, it makes photography much more interesting as well as fun.

  73. 273
    Craig Inzana says:

    Really good article. I’m in the process of taking business management and marketing classes and this is all very accurate. EVEN FOR NEW PHOTOGRAPHERS. I raised my prices and started getting a lot more business a few months ago. Enough that I quit my part-time serving job (hopefully that wasn’t a mistake).

    The only thing about the article is that not all of us are family men & women; our time is valued a little differently. I’m okay with making 12k a year minimum the rest is all going towards paying student loans off anyway.

  74. 274
    Nance says:

    I’m a housewife photographer. I dedicated my life to be a care taker. So no I can not bring the income like others. My work sells because I have the drive, talent, skills, and people are willing to work with my schedule. My advice is price your work comparable to other businesses. If your photos are like sears and target then price it like them. Honestly I believe the more photos you take and you dedicate yourself, you should become a better photographer. Ask yourself, am I better? Worst? Just as good as others? I believe in myself. The cheapest rate I have is $100 per hour. No photoshop, no prints, just a cd or online proof. Before I started charging, I took free photos of my friends. I photoshopped their photos, posted it on their facebook, and now I’m getting phones calls. Work hard!

  75. 275
    Jay says:

    Good article who need to take it as a business, especially a full time job. I have a good full time job and this is a passion for me. But I am hoping to get paid to cover my hobby / expenses once I am confident and consider my pictures are good.

    One thing though – most of the photos posted here by business owners or by those who think they are good photographers, are SUB PAR. No proper lighting on portraits, washed out edges, burned back grounds, poor framing… so on. You need to develop your skills before you start, that’s is what I am trying to do.

  76. 276
    Cindy says:

    It’s the same here…I’ve seen some people asking 40$ for an hour session with all the digital of the hour on the CD. How people who are serious about it and want to live of photography can compete!?It’s driving me
    I think there should be a law about it asap.Like you can’t go under … and then when people are really gonna pay the full price they will go see the one who has the real knowledge and spent some years of their lifes learning it…I don’t want to be mean and say that people who havent studied it have no talent.That would be false but at least they should learn that fixing those kind of price makes the other ones straigth to bankrupt.

  77. 277
    Jacki says:

    This information is helpful, though I’m looking to start out part time because I do have so much going on right now (college, another job, kids etc..) but photography is my passion and I’d like to try maybe one client a week or less. I figure if it does work out and grow then I could set aside my day job and make photography full time. I also live in an area where most people are low income. Any suggestions on pricing for this?

  78. 278

    […] its something, we love we underprice! Well, no more. Yesterday I read a fab article, find it here Portrait pricing What I realised is I use my heart and not my head when pricing portrait photography. I love […]

  79. 279
    Jessica says:

    It is very difficult when there are so many people who will do a session for $75, edit and give a disc…$75?!?! Ok…I did this for 20 minute mini sessions for prom…5 images edited (but I charged a separate sitting fee)…but I have 2 of them now booking senior photos…I am torn between finishing my masters degree (I am making over $50,000 currently) or doing what I love for less?!?

  80. 280
    veronica says:

    This was an eye-opener. What a helpful article. It is so tempting to lower prices (standards, expectations!), to be “competitive” but you have clearly shown just how detrimental that can be. I want to be in this for real, one of the 5%. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share this.

  81. 281
    Victoria says:

    I know this is an old article, but having only just come across it, the content still rings so true……what a great read thanks for pulling together your knowledge and experience. I only wish I had read it about a year ago when I was re-looking at my own pricing. I agree, if you have the time and money, use it to build an exclusiveness about your photography business.

  82. 282
    Amber says:

    Honestly I think this was very helpful. I’m not a licensed photographer but I take pictures that impress people. I don’t price my time. I price for taking pictures and if they want them printed I have a price for that as well. and to me they’re reasonable prices. You guys talk about it having to be great or at least ok? but there are people who have a natural talent for it. even housewives trying to make money for groceries. I do it for the fact I love taking pictures and my pricing is something I think is a great price for families that don’t want to spend a lot of money on getting excellent pictures that can be shared with family and friends. If you want to take a look. I have a facebook page called AJ’s Beauty Photography. At the moment I’ve only had one customer and i have another appointment scheduled. I don’t expect people to pay the extra pennies for my work but to respect the art I do. I got into this because my English teacher loved my pictures that I took for a Modern Media homework assignment. And asked why I wasn’t in Journalism taking pictures. I’m a photographer not only as a hobby but as a job because I love it. Not because I want to make bank. And everyone has their own preference. Don’t bad mouth someone for something you think is wrong. Too others it might be helpful.

  83. 283
    Kirsty says:

    I’m not here to pick at anyone, i’m here simply because i’m at this point in my career where I need to put a price on my work, and struggle daily to do so.
    I’m 27 years old, and have taken off in my photography. I used to work for my local paper, having done 5 years there and completing my cadetship, but i soon moved on so I could travel, and finally do what I’ve dreamt of for so long: become a freelance photographer.
    I suffer from severe anxiety, and social anxiety, which makes this so challenging. I love what I do, and know I can do it, but putting a price on my time and talent is so difficult – i unfortunately struggle to take my emotions out of it, and have been labelled a “people pleaser” for such a long time.
    I’ve had many photographers tell me i need to put my prices up, but i get anxious and question whether I’m worth it or fear the rejection.

    I’m currently trying to make business happen, and create a price list with packages, but it seems I can’t do it alone. This article has helped me to realise that I do put far too much emotion into it, and spend more time worrying about how my costs might make clients feel, instead of focusing on the fact that A LOT of time, effort and detail goes into my work.

    Has anyone else here found themselves in this position?
    I’ve been questioning if I should do a small business course, maybe, or i’m on the look out to find the right people that can help me out.
    I’m desperate to make this happen, and don’t want my fears to take over. I’ve stopped shooting weddings for the moment, because of how overwhelmed I get, but it totally sucks because this is my passion, and what I want to do for the rest of my life.

    • Toni says:

      I also work as a photojournalist and am trying to get away from that dying profession. Since my photo work away from the paper is not my main source of income, I don’t know what to charge. There are so many “fauxtographers” and “momtographers” in my area taking crappy photos and charging almost nothing. It’s very frustrating.

      I also suuffer from shyness and social anxiety. Funny that people like us would choose a profession that makes us sso anxious

  84. 284
    Eric Horner says:

    First off, I think it’s great that you all post your pictures like they are gold. They aren’t. Some are very good, some are terrible. If you are the best at what you do, you will be hired no matter what your price is. If you are not getting business, it’s because you probably aren’t as good as you think you are. There is absolutely a difference between good and great and between great and amazing. Many people are good. Some are great. And those who are amazing can charge whatever they want. I dabble with photography and I’d say I’m good to great. My main field is videography and I’d say I’m great to amazing… so guess what, my price reflects that. I’m not ignorant and think that I’m the best photographer, but I do occasionally take a pic that is amazing. The photographers I hired for my upcoming wedding occasionally take a great pic, while most are amazing… therefore we are paying them appropriately.

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