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How Much Should I Charge for a Photo Shoot?

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

If you have been working on your photography skills for a while, you may feel like you’ve gotten to a point where you can start getting some work in the field. One way to do this is to do photo shoots.

Photo shoots can be of just about anything. You may photograph products, families, landscapes or any other kind of subject matter. The type of photos you are shooting may come into play in the rate you charge, but ultimately, you will want to decide, what should that rate be? Here are some tips that will help you figure it out.

Figure Out Your Expenses

When doing a photography shoot, you’ll want your expenses to be covered at the very least. Here are some expenses you may incur:

Cost of Materials: It’s likely you already have most of the materials you need. However, you will incur costs with digital files including hard drives, cloud storage and client hosting. Material costs will increase if the client is requesting physical prints, photo books or shipping.

Cost of Selling: You may be working for a specific client, or you may be selling your prints online. If you are selling prints through your own web site, you will need to figure in the cost of maintaining the site. If you are selling prints through a third party, you may owe fees and percentages of each sale. These should also be accounted for.

Overhead Costs: Overhead costs include wear and tear on your equipment and software, rent on an office space and/or studio, marketing and advertising costs to run your business, insurance and more. They can also include payroll if you work with a staff. To figure out what you should be charging each client, add up your yearly expenses and divide that by the number of jobs you think you’ll be doing every year.

Travel Expenses: Travel expenses may or may not be incurred when doing a photo shoot. They can include the cost of getting to your shoot as well as food and accommodations if you are shooting a wedding or another type of event.


Next you will want to think about the time you spent on labor. This includes any planning done for the shoot, going out and buying things for the shoot, the shoot itself and the time you took processing and editing the shots. The amount of money you want to charge for the hours you spend may vary depending on your experience level and the type of shoot you’re doing.

If you feel like you’re not very experienced in photography, you may keep prices low. This will give you a chance to build your skills and portfolio while charging next to nothing.

If this is the case, let clients know why you are charging such low prices. That way, they won’t be disappointed with their shoot. Once you gain experience, you can begin raising your rates.

Another thing you need to think about is what type of photography you will be doing. Here is an idea of what people expect to pay for specific genres.

• Commercial Photography: Commercial photography is used for marketing and advertising purposes. Photographers may expect to get paid anywhere from $20,000 to $85,000 for these types of shoots.

• Event Photography: An event photographer may take photos of conferences, weddings and the like. Rates typically range from $200 to $500 per hour.

• Portrait Photography: Portrait photography usually costs $150 to $300 per session.

• Graduation Photos: Graduation photos are usually $100 to $400 per session.

Photographers can charge higher rates if their photos are going to be widely viewed. This is one of the reasons why commercial photographers are so well paid.

Testing Out the Model

Once you have rates in place, see what your reaction is. If you are getting a lot of jobs, your rates are probably pretty fair, and you may even consider raising them in the future. If you’re not getting a lot of work, think about lowering them.

Figuring out what to charge for photography is tricky. The tips in this article should get you on the right path. What rates do you think are fair for your customers?

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