The one-two punch of pricing photography

  1. Determine your fees
  2. Determine your expenses

I’ve written about pricing your photography  and going pro in the past, but I want to share two more resources with you to help you determine what you need to charge in order to make a decent living, have enough money to replenish your photography equipment, and do other things like:

  • take holidays
  • send your kids to college,
  • pay rent/buy a house
  • get a car
  • and save for retirement

Photography service fees

Karyn Greenstreet of Passion for Business used to be a professional photographer, and now helps entrepreneurs “create the business they want and deserve.” She’s got a ton of resources for all types of businesses, not just photography. I’ve been reading Karyn’s blog for awhile now and she’s always got great stuff.

Karyn writes about service fees in this article. I really like how she lays out the topic of fee options. As a photographer you need to work out how you will charge for your services and it’s important to do this before you take on too many photo assignments.

Will you charge:

  • by the hour?
  • the session?
  • the project?

Will you charge usage or photo licensing fees? For some type of work, like advertising and corporate work, this is the norm. For weddings and family portraits, not usually.

I’m fully aware of how excited you get when someone wants to pay you for photos.

It’s a dream come true. When you first starting taking pictures, getting hired sometimes happens by accident, so you are totally unprepared. You start off by practically giving your stuff away. The last thing on your mind is, “Will this photo gig make me enough profit to send my kids to college?”

Maybe you’ve done a few jobs like that. Every photographer has. The mistake of course, is continuing along that path without ever really sitting down and crunching the numbers. Many photographers I know, have never really done that. And it’s not as simple as seeing what other photographers in your market change.

Determine your true expenses

Many people have the impression that digital photography is cheap to produce, especially people that already own digital cameras. I faced this challenge many times myself when dealing with corporate clients.

Maybe you have that same impression yourself. I mean, let’s fact it, once you have your camera, you just start taking pictures and ka-ching $$, money starts flowing into your bank account. Right? Wrong!

Your work doesn’t end when you press the shutter

But you probably already know that. Don’t forget about what happens after you click the shutter. Typically, you’re going to spend several hours per shoot in front of a computer doing tasks like:

  • organizing
  • keywording
  • editing
  • retouching
  • sizing
  • saving
  • sending finished files to the photo lab
  • sending finished files to the cloud
  • creating a web gallery with your files

Screen shot of the Cost of Doing Business Calculator

Cost of doing business

So you’ve got some ideas of fees you want to charge. But will those fees be enough to keep your business sustainable over the long term?

Maybe it’s time you determined your actual operating expenses based on how much money you want to make. A great resource for this is the cost of doing business calculator which was put out by the NPPA a few years ago. Plunk some numbers into the form and see what you come up with. Juggle things around a bit too. Sometimes even just looking at the form and seeing all those categories is enough to make wanna-be-pro photographers head for the hills.

Did I scare you?

All too often we go into business, especially a creative business without understanding what we have to charge and how much it costs to do client work. Sometime we even supplement our photography business by having a full time job. These two resources should get you started on the right track to at least start thinking about it! I hope I haven’t scared you away.

Are you ready to take things to the next level?

Check out the Going Pro kit!

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