What is your photography hourly rate? Trick question! Photographers hourly rates are bad for business and in this blog you will learn how to charge. Still many photographers charge by the hour and they think it’ll help them get more clients. There is a better way to charge for your photography and still keep your clients happy.


This blog comes with a Youtube video (subscribe the channel) that can help you learn more. I’ll take you through an imaginary scenario to help you understand hourly pricing. Then I’ll show you there is a better way than hourly photography rates.

Photo 1: Walid Azami photographing in NYC



    Charging hourly for your photography is bad for branding. It lowers your perceived value. People enjoy paying for experiences. We’ll splurge on a vacation, a day at Disneyland or a nice dinner. We want the experience of ambiance, the company we keep and the service. That’s why expensive menu items are something to celebrate. This is why people say “treat yourself” or “I deserve it! I’ve worked hard” when having an experiential moment.The same cannot be true about a junk food item. It’s considered a necessary evil for the moment. Imagine going from class to class in your school, and starving. There’s a vending machine with sugary items down the hallway.Is the trip to the vending machine enjoyable or filled with regret ahead of putting your money in? How’s the regret after you have your low-quality sugar snack? It’s a waste of money, a bad experience, regret-filled and not something you’re proud of. But it was cheap, easy and available! That’s what photographers who charge by the hour could look like. It’s a bad perception of who they are and what they offer.

Photo 2: Photographing on FujiFilm Instax

    Stop charging for your photography with hourly rates. You’re an artist, not an hourly machine and I want you paid like an artist. When you charge for your work, make it for the experience not for the hours. Customers will pay a decent rate for something that makes them feel special or brag about.

    Charging for the hour robs your business of that opportunity. Avoid photography hourly rates where you can. You’ll be something that’s quick. You’ll be a decision from haste, not from privilege. There’s no privilege in sitting for a photographer for one hour, looking at your watch. It’s hard to think of that as an artist experience. It’s even harder to pay a big budget for something that’s a photography hourly rate. Let me further convince you before we discuss how to fix it.

    The short of this: When you act like a vending machine. You’ll get compensated like a vending machine.
  2. You’re Cornered!
    Now that I have your hourly rate, I have your minute rate. Once you’re an hourly photographer, you’re also a “minutely” photographer. Watch the video, it’s going to break you down even more below!


Imagine that I hire you for a quick promo shoot. I’ll wear one shirt and need 2 images total. I’ll use this image on my Linkedin, my blog and any social media posts.


You’re a great photographer, and I send you a DM from my Instagram. You decide to say it’s your photography hourly rate is $80 per hour. You might be thinking I’ll shoot for a couple of hours. 2 photos for $160, is not bad!


(side note: that’s actually bad and my photography pricing course will teach you how to make more).


But I (the photo client), have a different idea. I don’t need different backgrounds. I don’t need different lighting setups or outfit changes. I need one setup and I’ll be sitting down to get the shot with window light.


That means you’ll shoot about 10 images per minute. After about 6 minutes of shooting me, you’ll have about 60 images to pick from. I look at the screen and find several images that I already love! I ask if we could do a few more smiles and arms crossed. We shoot for another 4 minutes (40 more images) and now I have 100 images to pick from. See why photography hourly rates are bad? They’re just so damaging!

Photo 3: Perry Farrell by Walid Azami

ONE HUNDRED PHOTOGRAPHS!!! Sure there will be out-of-focus images, eyes-closed images, etc… but I’ll find my 2 images. Ten minutes and I’m done with our photoshoot because you’re such a great photographer.


Now, your clients are not cruel. They will not pay you for the 10 minutes of photoshoot time. They’re generous and will double it, they’ll pay you for 20 minutes.


At $80 per hour, you are $1.33 per minute and your generous client will pay you for 20 minutes. Enjoy your $26.60 my friend, because this is NOT how you have a success photography business.




The better way to charge is a session fee instead of photography hourly rates. You can do a half day session or full day session. You’ll decide how many hours go into your half-day or full day.


For example, my half day sessions are about 4 hours on average but always under 6 hours. My full day session are 6+ hours can go up to 16 hours. Yours can be something different and that’s okay.


Then create a rate for each one. In the example above, the photographer could have said “it’s $350 for a half day session, $500 for a full day session”.

Not only is that affordable for many but it scares away the hourly types. The hourly clients can become the minutely-clients. Clients who pay for the session fee are less likely to watch the clock and nit-pick everything you do.


I also cannot pin you down to an exact hour/minute rate. That’s a major setback with photography hourly rates. You’re a session fee and you’re asking the client to pay for an experience. I can elect to hire the photographer for a half day experience. If we get the right images at 2 hours, that’s great! If we get the right images at 4 hours, that’s great also!


It’s less pressure this way. It also allows the photographer to be more of an artist vs. an hourly worker. He/She can create to what feels incredible and natural.


Charging per session vs. charging hourly for your photography means more money. When you charge for a session, it’s difficult to request a lower rate if we finish in a fraction of the time. I paid for the experience of photographing with you and that’s what I’m paying for. Sure there may be a limit on how long we shoot. The priority is the experience and pleasure of photographing with YOU!


They are hiring YOU, not your camera. They want YOU. My photography pricing course is a game-changer in this.


There is one situation where charging by the hour is good. That’s when you establish yourself as a session photographer first. Then you can add additional hours for photographing or post-process retouching.


Example: I hire you for a 4 hour shoot (half-day session). Then I brought many outfits and really love the images you’ve created. I ask what it would be to get an additional. You can then charge for that extra hour after the session fee was already established.




I’m really glad this blog about photography hourly rates helped you. I think this article would help you even more. It’s about 5 photography money myths.


If you want even more help and realize how profitable a photography career can be, sign up for my free photography survival guide.