How much should you charge as a photographer? If youre new to all of this, setting your rates is one of the most difficult and important things you’ll have to do before you can make money as a photographer.
So to get you started, I’ve compiled this quick step-by-step guide with everything you need to know to make a side income with your photography. If you’re wanting to go full-time, I’ll have another guide for making photography your primary source of income.
COST OF DOING BUSINESS
Most photographers don’t think about the cost of business. Even if photography is just a hobby, it costs you money. If you want to make money, you have to be able to cover your cost of doing business and then some. Pretty simple math. So let’s calculate your hypothetical cost of business each month. Try this on your own to figure out your Cost of Doing Business.
- Software $20
- Gear Rental $30
- Buying a new Camera $1200/24 months = $50
- (Since you don’t need a new camera every year)
- Travel $40
- Gear Insurance $10
Again, this is just the cost of you photographing part time. If you want to go full time, this will get a bit more complicated, so refer to my full time guide. But now you’ve calculated your monthly expenses or cost of doing business for one month.
Now it’s time to do a bit of research. What kind of photography are you doing? Portraits? Family photos? Real Estate? Weddings? All of the above? Each of these areas require different skills, time commitments, gear AND different prices.
Once you know what you want to do, you can do a bit of research. What are say local real estate photographers charging? For example a Real Estate photographer in Colorado may charge $100 for an hour and provide 25 high res. images. A beginner portrait photographer in Colorado may charge $50 for a 30 minute mini portrait shoot and 10 photos.
These rates will vary greatly based on your location, that’s why research is important. Figure out the range of what these services cost near you, maybe that’s $100-300 per hour. Now, you need to realistically figure out where you fall. If you’re just beginning and have a basic portfolio, you probably shouldn’t be charging $300/hr. until you have more experience and a body of work to justify it.
So let’s get down to profit, which is probably why you’re here, right? Remember your cost of business? That’s critical to keep that in mind. You’re going to need to make at least that much not to be losing money. So if you’re a beginner, charging $150 for a 2 hour shoot, and your COB is $150/month, you need to book at least one shoot this month to break even — two if I want to make a profit.
FEEL IT OUT
I would assess your rates at least every year, I do every 6 months. You really should be improving and probably increasing your rates to match what you’re providing to your client. Careful not to raise them too quickly. If you start losing a ton of business your prices might be too high.
The opposite is also true. If you’re flooded with work and feel burnt out and not making any money, your rates might be too low. 6-12 months is a fairly good amount of time to feel out the market and get an understanding where you fit in.
One last note about undercutting. I see a LOT of beginners either don’t do research or they try charging WAY less than all of their competitors in hopes of getting more business. This is called undercutting and it’s not a good thing. Not only are you going to burn yourself out charging less than your worth, it’s going to be harder for you to make a profit. You’re also going to damage your local photo businesses and the industry as a whole.
One day, someone will undercut you, and you’ll have to lower your rates even further to get clients. Now you’ll have to work even harder, for less money, just to try to turn a profit. Undercutting is bad news and hurts everyone.
So that’s my quick pricing guide, be sure to check out my full-time guide if you’re looking at making photography your sole source of income.
Until the next post, Get Out and Go Shoot!