Good Pricing For Photography (Beginners Guide)

The 3 Types Of Beginner Photographers


What is good pricing for photography? To answer that question we should identify the various stages of beginning photography. Most photographers fall into three categories, let’s discuss each of them.


  • There is the “I’m afraid to charge” photographer, they haven’t even gotten to charge anything. It’s quite possible they are still in the stage where they are creating more excuses for not charging instead of actually creating business opportunities. Their version of good pricing for photography is different than the other stages. What’s the next stage?
  • There is the quote I’m ready to charge” photographer. This beginner photographer is dabbling with charging, they may not have any idea how to do it but they are ready to do it.
  • The third stage of beginner photography is the “am I charging correctly” photographer. The title alone states they are charging, and moving towards a positive direction with their photography business. They want to know if they are maximizing profits or even on the correct path? They want to know that they are charging enough but not out of the ballpark. This is your final stage of a beginner photography business.

Photo 1: Walid Azami with Dalton Rapattoni

The “I’m Afraid To Charge” Photographers


This is the painful stage that most beginner photographers are in. If you cannot find a way out of this situation, then you’ll likely never see success in your business. Imagine the local burger joint afraid to sell you a meal, or hairstylist afraid to charge you for anything. You would never find them, never be able to support them and they’ll never be successful. Ever.


Should you be sad if this is where you’re at? Be sad if you make this your permanent home or if you make more excuses than opportunities.


How to Start Charging for your Photography Today


The first step is to identify the issue. Reading this means you’ve pretty much done that and waiting on your next step. For 30-60 days shoot as much as you can without charging for your creative fee. The only thing you should charge for is your cost to conduct that photoshoot.


We’re building your courage to ask for money. We are prepping you and the community to see you as a business, not a freebie. Finally we’re letting the universe know that we’re open for business.


During this very-important stage, we’re prepping your whole world for what’s to come. In the 30-60 days, I’d say you should have 5-8 clients who pay cost for your services.


Warning: We want good pricing for your photography, not a good deal for the market place without anything for you. Do NOT spend more than 60 days on this stage. Anything more is detrimental to you, your business and your reputation. Ideally, it’s about 45 days total.


What is Cost?

Did you spend gas or public transit money to attend the photoshoot? Did you rent any gear or spend money for any props? What are your hard costs that went into that particular shoot? That is your cost fee.


The “I’m Ready To Charge” Photographer


Yes! You’re no longer scared to charge. This is a big win. You’ve asked people for cost coverage and no one died. The earth didn’t stop spinning. Let me start by saying that I’m proud of you for getting to this stage and getting out of the danger zone! It’s not easy, not everyone can do it but you did.


What is the good pricing for photography at this stage? Before we get into the money stage, let’s try something tried & true from centuries ago. I’m talking about bartering for your photography.


This is where we start to charge full-rate but still with training wheels on. This is where we let the market know that the shop is open and ready for good relationships. You’re telling the community, universe and yourself a similar but different story now. You know your full rate. You’re just getting there a whole different way.


Why Barter vs. Money?

We’re still building and how’s it possible to move from cost to full scale charging for your photography? I find that many photographers can trade for their services easier than asking for money.


If you’re working with a bookkeeper, it’s easier to say: “I normally charge $1500 for this type of a shoot. Would you be open to $1500 barter for the services your business offers?” instead of saying “It’s $1,500 for ___ number of photographs.”


You’re still getting your full value. You’re still getting a lot of value for your work, it’s just a different path.


The “Am I Charging Correctly?” Photographer


If you’re the beginner photographer at this stage, you already know it’s going well. You’re gaining photo clients and photography jobs. People are referring you and responding to your business calls.


You may not even feel “beginner photographer” here but the goal is still good pricing for your photography. We’re still building and still branding our photo businesses. Now is the time to check yourself against some business setbacks. Keep a journal and take full notes on everything with your business. I always use the Moleskin journals because they look professional, are easy to carry and keep my notes organized.

 If I could recommend 3 questions to ask yourself, I’d recommend the following:

  1. Did you factor in all of the hours in your pre-production, production and post-production? It’s common to forget the amount of work you put into your new business. Watch the video on this page to get more details. Also, my photography pricing course will hold your hand to profitability! That’s listed on the right side of the page (desktop) or at the bottom of the page (mobile).
  2. Did you double your profits by charging a production fee for your services? It’s common to charge 20% for this and it is essential for your bottom line. If you don’t charge this fee, then you’re still a beginner photographer. You cannot call yourself a seasoned photography business if this charge is not on every single invoice.
  3. Do you plan photoshoots that leave room for more upgrades to your photography packages? Will you allow the client to invest more into your business? You’d be surprised how many leave money on the table. Again, my course on photography pricing will fix this issue for you!

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Thank you for reading,