Pricing My Photography

Another excellent article on getting paid, this time the focus is specifically on what you should charge for your time as a freelance photographer.

Handy diagram for calculating expenses and final sale price. (Cost-plus Pricing Model)

Here is a brief breakdown of what is covered:

Cost of Materials

  • Factor in price of prints/photobooks, inc. packaging and shipping cost.
  • No physical prints? Digital files come at a cost too, take in to account hard drives/CDs, cloud storage etc.
  • Source materials from same retailer — possibility of getting discount in return for using their products exclusively and helping to promote it.
  • Buy in bulk to save on costs, although only as required!
  • Offer advice to clients about cutting material costs, this can be a great relationship building tool if you save them money and increases the likelihood of them sending others your way!

Cost of Labor

When you love your work, you can unintentionally undervalue the cost of your labor. That’s the flipside of building a creative career. Just because you enjoy it, doesn’t mean that it’s isn’t work.

The time and labor you put into your work needs to be reflected in your total cost, whether that’s on a photoshoot or retouching afterwards. The total time includes:

  • Pre-production — Procuring the appropriate equipment and ensuring you have everything you need for the shoot.
  • Shooting — Take into account the time it takes to get everything into position, i.e. models, props, and lighting, as well as the time for the actual photoshoot itself. When you’re in the studio you’re on the clock!
  • Post-production — Time spent editing/retouching images for the client. Be sure to include the download/upload time of photos and finalising the product (Burning CDs, copying to hard drives, uploading to cloud storage).
  • If possible, try to also include time spent travelling and meeting with the client.
Photographers should ask themselves, “How much is my time worth?” and your photography pricing should reflect that. The more experience you get, the more you can increase your cost of labor. Ultimately you’re worth what a client will pay for your time. What makes them agree to pay more? If you are professional and deliver high-quality images on time.

Overhead Costs

Overhead costs can be scary for an entrepreneurial photographer. You want to start making money, but you need a lot of equipment to get started. In the photography business, the tools you use can affect the quality of your work and management of your time.

This will cover things such as:

  • Equipment — Cameras, Lenses, Backdrops, Lighting
  • Studio — Do you have a space that can be used as a personal studio? Take into account renting a studio space long-term or the cost for one-off shoots.
  • Hardware/Software — maintaing work computers and keeping editing software up-to-date.
  • Wear and Tear — Repair/Replacement of the above.
  • Advertising — Anything from business cards to digital advertisements. While it can contribute to the success of your business you need to consider how much extra business its generating and whether its worth the added expense.

Final Pricing!

Now that you have your material costs, labour costs and overhead costs all figured out, combine those figures and to work out the total expenses for your next assignment. Finally, add your desired profit (e.g. 20%) and you’ll have your final sale price.

  • Pricing will vary, don’t set anything in stone!
  • Prepare ‘package’ offers with different prices.
  • Stay flexible (especially when you’re starting out)
Adding your profit can be very subjective. You need to have an accurate understanding of your photography’s worth. Here are some points to consider when you’re calculating your profit percentage:
  • The quality of your work and how you package your finished product
  • The perceived value of you and your products in the marketplace
  • How confident you are in your skills
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