Regardless if you are a beginner photographer or seasoned professional you need to stand up for yourself and charge your services appropriately. It is not uncommon for new photographers to get stuck with this pricing question. They usually stress themselves unnecessarily as they are not sure how much should a beginner photographer charge.
We are going to provide all the answers you need to start with your first beginner’s steps in photography business the right way.
Big promise? Let’s get started!
How Valuable Is Your Photography Time?
You need to answer just one question but be sincere to yourself:
How much time have I spent working as a photographer during the week?
If you barely managed to complete your work orders, then you need to increase your prices.
If you had no orders or requests, then you are doing something wrong (hint: marketing) or your prices are too high.
We can’t determine what YOU are doing wrong, but there are common mistakes done by many new photographers that we will address. If not already, please visit our profitable photography archive to check what you need to start your profitable photography business.
Now back to the value of your time as a photographer. Let’s be straight, by lowering your prices you probably won’t attract more customers. People who are looking for photographer services usually have the money and they will pay an extra to get high-quality service. The issue is usually how to find qualified leads, or even better, how do they find you.
As for the pricing, there are no hard and fast rules. One thing does apply: know who your customers are, and you will understand how much you should (can) charge them.
If you are just getting started and you have no idea how much to charge for your services below are some guidelines.
Different Photography Styles Are Priced Differently
My suggestion is to avoid it until you have some experience under your belt. If you fail your gig on the wedding service, that can mean an instant end to your photography career. The impact would not be limited to the bride and groom alone but also to everyone who attended their wedding. They will all be interested to see pictures so they can share with those that couldn’t attend. Can you imagine how many people will hear the news of “not so great” photography work of yours?
How Much Do Photographers Charge for Weddings?
Assuming you are ready, wedding photography prices for beginners can be up to $300. This is the first time a wedding photographer price for the whole event. I wouldn’t recommend going beyond that amount until you become an established photographer. Later, when you have a strong portfolio and your work is recognized then you can earn anywhere between $1500 up to $3500.
In order to get to that higher paycheck, you absolutely need to create your own photography brand.
Remember, every photography gig is a learning experience. Your goal is to learn. People that hired you are the mentors that are paying you to learn. How cool is that? This attitude will make it easy to work with you as you will not be focused on “what is in it for me”. The more you do it, the better you will be. This is a secret sauce to every skill and business venture.
Is there life outside of wedding photography? Well, for other photography styles, you can experiment with the pricing. But again, it all depends on the quality of your work.
How Much to Charge for a Portrait Photography?
For beginners, maybe the best type of photography is portrait photography. The best example of these are pictures taken at schools for yearbooks. This job can be found through referrals.
Usually, some students will recommend his friend (beginner photographer) so that the students can have their photographs for “less” money.
This is a niche type of photography but as a beginner, it might mean a world to you. When starting this is one of the better photography types for a beginner. Consider this as lead generation exercise. Few years down the road when some of them decide to marry, who they will remember to invite for wedding photography? What about when they get their first child?
This photography is usually charged around $15 dollars per student. Take a few pictures and let them choose which one they will have printed.
Also, do not overlook any other type of portrait photography. Any photography gig you can get your hands on will help you in creating a better portfolio that you can later use to attract better offers.
We won’t go into every type of photography but for every type, there is a different price. When starting almost for every type of photography your hourly wage is $35-90 dollars and per image $15-80.
Take any work that can give you recognition.
To better understand how much you need to charge as a beginner take a look at the photography ladder.
Photography Rates Ladder
For a better understanding, we made a group for the photographers. It goes like this:
The last two already have an established brand. It’s easy for them to find clients and to charge more for their services. Their websites have a lot of visitors and they offer advice and sometimes photography courses.
What have they done differently? Well, probably not that much. They are in this business longer than you. It takes time and devotion to get on that photography level.
Now let’s see the difference in photography charge rates.
Photography Prices for Beginners
We already discussed beginner rates (hour wage is $35-90 dollars and per image $15-80). It’s not much, but it can be enough for a living and also you can save some money to later invest in your brand.
As a beginner, the most important part is building your brand because that is what makes a difference between you and the top photographers. Having a good photography business name is a must.
Most of your earnings are going to go into marketing.
Don’t strive to be a jack of all trades but having mastery of 3 photography types is recommended when moving up the ladder.
Photography Prices for Semi-professional
You are not at the top yet, but you are slowly getting there, this is how I would describe a semi-professional photographer.
The usual rate for the semi-professional photographer: hourly rate $50 to 140 and per image is around $25 to 100.
Notice that per picture the charging rate hasn’t changed that much. It won’t change because this model is profitable for a photographer even at the beginning stages. It rewards your effort as a photographer, and it allows you to put more effort into every picture.
Your goal as a semi-professional won’t change that much. You will still be all about developing and building a brand of photography.
As a beginner you don’t have to have a photography studio, you can just own a camera and work from home but as a semi-professional, you need to own a photography studio to move up the ladder. You can’t call yourself a semi-professional photographer without one.
Establishing yourself as the best photography studio in the city is your most desired goal.
Photography Prices for Professional Photographer
This is where things get interesting. If you consider yourself a professional photographer, you already own a highly respected photography brand.
On average for an hour they charge from $60 to 250 and for a picture of $40 to 110. You are still going to profit the best from per image model of charge but now your hourly pay is a lot better.
Just from one event, you can earn yourself a nice living for a week.
When you are professional photographer prices are usually negotiable.
Let’s create a situation.
During a week you have 10 photography jobs you need to do. After the week has ended you had trouble getting the pictures finalized.
This means you have too much work on your plate. To correct this, you need to charge more for your service. By charging more you will lose a few of them, but you will still get the same amount of money because you increased your service costs.
Everyone will benefit from this because you won’t get burned out during the week and also you can increase the quality of your pictures by investing more time in them. Remaining customers will be happy.
Repeat this process until you can start having more time for yourself.
Getting to an elite photographer is harder than getting from a beginner to a professional one.
Let’s see why.
Photography Prices for Elite Photographer
Top of the chain photographer. You can’t go above this. Like in most industries there is an elite group. They are 2% in the world of photography and getting to this position these days is almost impossible. You will need to create a world-famous brand in order to become an elite.
I mean that goal is not unreachable, but it requires your life devotion or a lucky opportunity.
Now brace yourself because you will find out how much an elite photographer is charging.
They charge around $300 to 500 per hour and per picture they charge $200 to 3000.
Yeah, per picture they can earn up to $3000. When you are the top 2% everything is possible.
These photographers can make $10000 daily, by just taking a few pictures.
The only thing that separates you from them is a developed photography brand. Don’t think their pictures are that much better than yours.
Quality and experience are a must, but it is nothing without a marketed brand.
Two Ways You Can Price Your Photography
In photography we two types of pricing:
- per image
- by hour
This means you can do portrait photography by the hour, you will lose money. When doing these kinds of jobs, you need to include post-processing work in your pricing.
This is why one portrait picture as a beginner will cost $15 or more. You need to cover all of your expenses and also make a bank.
Also, one other example if someone comes to you and he wants 20 pictures for a website, it will be better if you use per image pricing then by the hour.
Using this you can put a higher price value on your images and make more money.
Think before you choose the way you will charge these services to your clients.
You can’t charge the same amount of money for service in every country or city. The price is not even the same in the USA, Europe or Asia. These prices are mostly for the USA, but they also differ in different cities.
You need to investigate what is standard pricing in your city. Explore and research how much other photographers in your country, and especially your city, charge for their services.
Based on this and the information we have provided you will be able to create a pricing plan for your services.
See how people will react to your prices if you lack customers as a beginner then maybe your prices are too high. If you have too much work then your prices are really low.
The bigger the population of the city the higher the prices are for the photography services.
If you are having trouble finding work in your city you will need to move to the bigger one.
Remember, depending on the type of gigs you are willing to take, this job might require travel. Your chances of becoming a professional photographer are slimmer if you don’t travel to other countries and don’t work every day on improving your photography brand.
Everything looks impossible at the beginning and the same goes for photography. It is difficult to create regular clients and find new ones.
It requires of the photographer to make a lot of scarifies. You might not have time for friends or family until you grow up into a professional photographer.
Focus on your brand and be nice to your clients as a beginner photographer. Later as your brand grows, you will have more time for everything because you will work less but earn more.
Best of luck!