photographer happy about figuring out pricing

Beginner Photographer Pricing Made Super Easy!

upset photographer about pricing

Confused about what to charge as a beginner photographer?

It can be very confusing to figure out what to charge as a beginner photographer when you are just starting out, but we have simplified it for you by using the minimum wage of $15/hr to calculate the prices.

You need to know two things when you start a photography business. It is much more time-intensive than you would have ever thought, and many more costs are involved.

I have seen way too many posts giving bad advice lately, so I figured I would use my MBA and share how I break down photographer pricing for you all to learn from.

Remember it isn’t just the photoshoot that you are spending time working. There are now approx 12 hours of backend work for every hour of a photoshoot (up from 9 in 2012) to allocate for in running your business. This isn’t just culling, editing, and delivering the shoot to the client. It’s marketing, website, SEO, blogging, networking, social media, client service, responding to inquiries, data management, invoicing, scheduling, accounting, computer and gear maintenance, traveling to and from the shoots, researching locations, purchasing, education, and more.

Anyway, let’s go to the pricing guidelines for anyone who wants to take home $15/hr from photography. This is likely not a livable wage, but it is truly for education purposes for anyone starting out looking for a base rate as they are new.

professional photographer pricing

New Photographer Pricing Guide ‘aka bare minimum’ pricing for the industry:

Let’s not pull numbers out of a hat or ask in a Facebook group full of unprofitable photographers or be in groups where they ask for photographers that don’t charge an arm and a leg or ask for a reasonable photographer (neither of those actually makes sense but take a look at the blog posts there as it is good reality check)

Let’s get the numbers accurate so you can make a living from this and truly help you figure out what to charge as a beginner photographer. Let’s just say that as a new photographer, you need to take home $30k. I’ll calculate those numbers for you.

The numbers below are based on a full-time photographer grossing $40k before income tax and self-employment tax (will give approx $30k after those taxes). I also used average costs from photographers who have been in business for over 4 years (from time and costs study of over 10,000 photographers globally). For more information on this and to calculate your own, please visit HERE

Please note this does not include studio costs, but it does include the following-

  • Accounting
  • Bookkeeping
  • Legal fees (business licenses, permit renewal, LLC renewal, etc)
  • Business liability insurance
  • Equipment insurance
  • Annual gear budget
  • External hard drive costs
  • Desktop/laptop replacement budget (spread out over the years)
  • Prop replacement budget
  • Lighting replacement budget (spread out over the years)
  • Off-camera flash replacement budget (spread out over the years)
  • Battery replacement/backups
  • Memory card replacement
  • Backdrop and stands / floor drops
  • Misc (camera bags, misc gear)
  • Photography training/mentors/coaches/courses
  • Website design and updates
  • Printed marketing materials
  • Google ads
  • Listing sites
  • Editing software
  • Album design software
  • Actions / presets
  • Website Hosting
  • Domain renewal
  • CRM software
  • Gallery software
  • Email software
  • Camera cleaning
  • Camera servicing and tuning
  • Cloud storage
  • Computer data backup
  • Accounting software
  • Misc office supplies
costs of running a photography business

It is also based on how many shoots you can physically do in a year, based on time studies of 10,000+ photographers worldwide (2021-2024 study).

Mini sessions – This is calculated on obtaining 165 shoots a year – $380.97 per session.

Family – This is calculated on obtaining 91 shoots a year –$675.16 per session.

Newborn – This is calculated on obtaining 62 shoots a year – $1085.61 per session.

Wedding – This is calculated on obtaining 26 shoots a year – $2,588.17 per session.

This is the baseline of what you must charge to profit from each shoot to make $15/hour take home. If you can’t get all those shoots in a year, you likely won’t profit. You will need to up your marketing efforts.

It also considers 2 weeks of vacation, 1 week of sick time, and working 35 hours a week. Because we also don’t get paid vacation or sick time, let’s just try to calculate these prices on working a typical hourly week.

Beginner Photography Pricing

Again, these baseline packages are based on time and expense studies of professional photographers who have been in business for four or more years. There is a mass exodus of photographers who don’t make it to year 3, and that is because they aren’t even charging minimum wage prices. They lose clients’ images because they cannot afford the right equipment or gear. I don’t want you to make this mistake.

These package prices do not include health insurance, dental insurance, 401k, pension, or anything else, so hopefully, you are able to have those through a partner. Or, hey, let’s raise your prices so you can afford to go to the doctor!

If you need to make, more $ than the $15/hr take home (which every photographer should do for the amount of time and money you have invested already into learning the art of photography, then raise the prices from these prices, sell more products and outsource editing and other tasks that also take up time to shoot more than the allotted prices.

Hope this helps anyone looking for pricing guidance when starting out!

If you need to see for yourself or calculate a higher income than the minimum wage, please use Picsello’s Smart Profit Calculator. Picsello is an all-in-one software whose mission is to help you succeed.

PLEASE share to help any newer photographers you know! If you have any questions, send me an email [email protected]

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