How to Set Your Photography Rates

Photographer behind the lens

Learning how to set your photography rates is important to the growth of your business. Rates too high or too low could mean you’ll miss your ideal client. Here’s what you need to know to set rates, whether they’re new or changing. 

Photographer behind the lens

Professional photography is an exciting career. You get to take part in events you may have never had access to in the past, watch people tie the knot with their soulmates, see the love parents have for their children and vice versa, and experience scenery you may not have even known existed.

As exciting as all of that may be, professional photography is a job, and you need to make money while taking advantage of the additional benefits of a career in photography. That leads to one of the biggest problems for entry-level photographers. How do you go about pricing your services?

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Average going rates for photography

The going rate for photography varies wildly based on various factors. For example, the photography price list for beginners will be significantly lower than the list for experts. 

Moreover, other factors like packages, venues, your location, type of photography, and how many people are involved can play a major role in how you should price a job. Keep in mind that it’s important to think about pre-production and post-production photo editing hours as you price your work. 

Here’s an example of  professional photography rates for various types of well-established photographers:

  • Average photo session rates: Per-session rates range from $200 to over $8,000 depending on session requirements. The average client pays $5,000 per session and takes advantage of $500 in additional upgrades. 
  • Family photogrpahy rates: The average family clients pay $1,100. This includes $295 for a session plus $50 per additional person over a total of 8. Collections range from $495 to $995, with the average client paying $795.
  • Couple’s session rates: One-hour sessions start at $395.
  • Wedding photography prices: The average wedding photographers charge between $4,000 and $5,000 per wedding. 
  • Portrait photography pricing: Portraits cost between $600 and $900.
  • Commercial photography pricing: Commercial photographers typically charge hourly rates ranging from $100 to $400.  

 

Why you shouldn’t try to undercut the average too much

As a beginner or even an intermediate photographer, you may feel the drive to undercut your competition. After all, everyone wants to save money. In this field, that’s not necessarily a good idea

Photography is a professional industry in which your customers expect to pay for your expertise. If you offer a portrait for $50 when the going rate is $500, you may cause potential customers to shy away because they simply don’t believe they can get quality photos for such a low price. 

 

If you’re constantly booking up, it might be time for price increases to your packages. You have to value yourself and trust that you can charge more and still get booked. – Hannah Fitz, Wedding and elopement photographer and business owner

 

Why you don’t want to charge too much for your services

Based on the reason for not undercutting the competition, you may think, “If I charge more than everyone else, potential clients will view me as a leading expert.” That’s not necessarily the case either. 

Although your clients know they’re looking for a professional and are willing to pay for one, price ranges that are too high have the potential to turn those who would purchase your services into your competitors’ clients. 

 

Considerations for pricing a photography job

Although you’ll likely put together a price list, that price list should be fluid. Instead of strictly adhering to policies and procedures, it’s better to price your photography with the uniqueness of the job in mind. 

Consider your location and your competition. Also consider what pricing model you want to use, your skill level, and your income goals. If you’re a wedding photographer, consider the cost of travel/cost of living, and what they might be in a year or two. – Amy Lawson, Brand photographer and business owner

For example, wedding photography packages are naturally more expensive than family sessions. More people are involved, and the pressure on the photographer to get things right is far higher. Below, you’ll find details on the factors you should consider as you price jobs. 

Photography packages

Clients typically expect savings when they bundle services. That’s true when people look for cell phone service, insurance, food, and yes, photography services. Consider offering your clients different packages to choose from. Think of things like:

  • Time: Offer a package for a two-hour session, a 4-hour session, a 6-hour session, and an 8-hour session. Reduce the cost per hour as the number of hours moves up, but set overage costs in case events last longer than expected.  Some photographers prefer to only charge by the hour rather than worrying about package costs, the number of people, and other pricing-related factors. 
  • Prints: Make it easier for clients to order more prints by offering multi-print packages with discounts on those with the largest number of prints. 
  • Other perks: Think of different add-ons that can expand your revenue from each job, and include those in your package pricing. 

Your location

A photographer in New York City is going to be more expensive than a photographer in Sneads, Florida. Call around to your competition and act like a customer to find out what the going rates are for similar services in your area. 

How many people are involved

A photographer doesn’t just walk around a venue and snap pictures of naturally-occurring scenes. The best photographers take an active approach to teaching their clients and other subjects how and where to pose. 

When you have more people involved, you have to produce more creative poses, work with more people to get those poses right, and work harder in general. When you have to work harder, you should charge more. So, consider the number of people involved in the shoot when determining the price for that shoot. 

Type of event or experience

You may wonder, “Why are wedding and corporate photography services typically more expensive than portrait and family photography services?” The answer is simple. 

At weddings and corporate events, you’re taking pictures of something that will only happen once. People don’t get married hoping for a divorce, and corporations typically only bring photographers to events where they plan on product launches and other major happenings. 

These are high-expectation events for photographers. When your clients have higher expectations, they should expect to write a larger check. 

How much time the job will take

Your time is something you can never get back. So, it’s important that you make sure you’re paid for it. Before you give the final price for a job, think about how much time that job will take you. There are several considerations that go into photography job timing:

  • Travel time: Your clock starts as soon as you turn the key to commute to a job. Consider how far that job is and how long it will take you to get there. 
  • Time taking pictures: When you show up at the venue, you may be required to stick around and take pictures for anywhere from 1 hour to several hours. Make sure to account for these hours in your pricing model. 
  • Editing time: Chances are you use Photoshop or a similar program to touch up your work before you hand it to the client. That takes time as well, and that time should be a consideration as you decide how much money to charge for the time a job takes. 

Distance to the venue

You may have to drive 10 minutes or 4 hours to a venue. It all depends on where your client wants you to be. However, distance isn’t just about the time it takes you to get to the job. You’ll incur other costs associated with taking jobs that are further away. 

The two most important costs to consider are:

  • Fuel: It costs money to drive anywhere. Your fuel expense is more significant for a job that is farther away. 
  • Vehicle wear: Vehicles only last so long. When you use your vehicle to get to a job, it’s important to consider the wear on your tires, brakes, and general mechanics of your vehicle. 

With these costs in mind, you may want to consider creating a coverage area. For example, your coverage area might be 10 miles. When jobs are outside of this coverage area, charge $1 per additional mile. That way, you know that your drive time, fuel expenses, vehicle maintenance costs, and vehicle depreciation are priced into the job. 

Pro Tip: As you consider your costs, experience, and market, also keep in mind that you need to pay yourself a salary as well. If you’re struggling personally, your photography business will struggle as well. Be sure to account for a certain percentage each month that will go to you.

 

Honeybook can help you manage the money you make

When you price your services properly, you can expect to do more jobs. Of course, when you do more jobs, you make more money and ultimately start to grow your photography business.

That’s where HoneyBook comes in. HoneyBook is an end-to-end clientflow management platform that can streamline your client intake, sales, booking, project closure, and reporting. With everything in one place, it makes your financial management much easier to understand how your photography business is performing. 

HoneyBook makes it easy to:

  • Manage client relationships
  • Generate financial reports like profit and loss statements that give you a better understanding of your business’s growth
  • Create meaningful proposals that will help you close deals
  • Create and send photography invoices to new and existing customers 
  • Accept online payments
  • Maintain an effective schedule
  • Automate various business processes
  • Build online contracts
  • And much more!

Start your free HoneyBook trial to see how HoneyBook can help you manage and grow your photography business.

Why You Need a Clientflow Management Platform for Your Business

Woman on laptop using a clientflow platform

Learn what a clientflow platform is and why it’s crucial for selling and delivering your services. More than a CRM, it lets you provide a seamless clientflow that eliminates process friction.

Woman on laptop using a clientflow platform

As an independent business owner, clients are the heart of your business, and building great relationships is an important part of your success. You aren’t just taking payment and delivering a service–you’re continually communicating, and every touch point contributes to the client experience. 

The complete process of selling and delivering your services is your clientflow, and understanding it will help you improve your business. The skills and expertise you offer can make a positive impact on someone, so it’s your mission to find the right clients and successfully deliver your services. 

Providing a seamless clientflow is the standard for how independent businesses operate and to manage all the moving parts you need an all-in-one system.  A clientflow management platform is the optimal way to eliminate process friction and provide an impeccable experience for every client, every time. 

Learn what a clientflow management platform is, how it benefits your business, and what you can lose without one. 

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What are the benefits of a clientflow management platform?

Beyond a typical business management system, a clientflow platform lets you determine how it functions for your business. In other words, you don’t need to fit your business into the system. Instead, you can customize your work and processes as you see fit. Here are the benefits you’ll reap: 

It’s built specifically for independent businesses’ operations

Other types of business software tend to be too limited or too broad for independent businesses’ needs. You may have individual tools like contract software, payment processing, and meeting schedulers, but a clientflow platform is what brings everything together. 

On the other hand, there are also CRM softwares that are built more for enterprise-level organizations. While your business is about providing services tailored to each client, these types of software are more for managing large pipelines of unqualified leads. Since it’s not fit exactly for your processes, you can end up spending more money on features you don’t need. 

Since your work is focused on the client, your workflows and client journey are symbiotic, and you need a platform that can manage both. For instance, your process for capturing and vetting leads will impact your sales. And once you book clients, your onboarding process can impact the entire project. 

A clientflow platform has everything to build organized workflows that provide clients with what they need–all in a professional, branded experience.

It’s an all-in-one solution for managing your clientflow

As an all-in-one solution for your needs, there are multiple benefits. You’ll save money without having to spend your budget on multiple systems–paying for individual subscriptions can really add up. With one system, you only have one bill to worry about. 

Without having to switch between tools, you’ll also save time (and save yourself from massive headaches!) Let’s be honest–how much time have you wasted switching between software, recording lost passwords, and digging through old documents to find a past contract or client message? With everything in one place, you’re already more organized. 

Without multiple systems to manage, the benefits also shine through for your clients. You have full control over every touchpoint, so you can make sure you’re offering a cohesive, professional experience at every step. In addition to being impressed by your branded process, your clients will love not having to log into different websites just to sign a contract or pay an invoice. That’s time saved that they’ll thank you for. 

It helps reduce process friction

With everything in one place, there’s also less friction. You don’t have to go searching for what you need, which means it’s also easier for you to grow and scale. If you add new team members, they’ll be able to easily move through your SOPs without wondering where to find the tools they need. 

You can also combine steps in your clientflow and let certain steps inform others. For instance, you can have clients select services, sign, and pay all in one step rather than asking them to log into DocuSign, view a proposal in Google Docs, then send you a payment through PayPal. 

Pro Tip: With HoneyBook’s clientflow management platform, you can combine multiple actions into one file. Ask clients to select their services on one page, view their auto-filled contract and invoice on the next pages, then pay while they’re still in the interactive file. 

What do you lose without a clientflow platform?

Now that you know the benefits of a clientflow platform, you might still be asking if it’s worth it. You might be used to the tools you already use, and change is hard–especially in business! We get it, but it only takes one mishap to see why a disjointed clientflow can affect your business in the long term. 

When you aren’t able to connect your workflows with your client journey, you might risk: 

  • Forgetting to counter-sign a contract
  • Missing a key deliverable
  • Not responding to inquiries on time 
  • Project misalignment due to lack of information about your client
  • Double booking yourself
  • No support with handling fraud issues

Overall, managing your clientflow with disparate systems means things will slip through the cracks and you’ll jeopardize your client experience. If your work isn’t organized, your clients won’t have as much of a good experience on the frontend. And the last thing you want is for process friction to leave your clients with a bad impression.  

What can you manage inside a clientflow platform?

Each business’s clientflow is specific to the services they offer, but they follow four main stages. Though the steps within each stage vary depending on your process, you can use each stage to better structure your business and client experience. 

Selling your services

Selling your services includes evaluating your inquiries and determining how to move forward. In order to create a pool of interested clients, you should also consider how your clients research and discover services like yours. This includes optimizing your marketing efforts for lead generation and ensuring you have an updated website. 

From there, your clientflow platform can manage:

  • Capturing leads – Embed unique contact forms on your website or link to them from your social profiles to capture potential clients. 
  • Responding to initial contact – Set up automations to respond to your inquiries with a thank you and next steps.
  • Gathering client information – Send questionnaires that ask for more client information so you can properly determine how/if to sell your services to them.
  • Sending sales collateral – Build sales brochures, pricing guides, mood boards, and other files that help showcase your skills and solutions. 
  • Scheduling initial consultations and discovery calls – Use a meeting scheduler that lets you block time and create specific session types for consultations, client meetings, project work, and more. 

Booking

Your booking should always include a contract and may also include an invoice, and payment, all of which you can create and send from your clientflow platform. You might guide your clients through service selection yourself, or send them a complete booking template with the following: 

  • Service selection – Create brochures or pricing guides that integrate directly with your contract, invoices, and payments. 
  • Contract – Leverage contract templates that let clients esign from desktop or mobile. 
  • Invoice – Create branded online invoices that include custom payment schedules for each project or client. 
  • First payment – Use online payment processing to offer multiple payment methods for your clients. 

Project management

Project management starts with client onboarding and moves throughout your projects to include client communication, execution, and sending your final deliverable. This stage is one of the most unique to each business owner, as it depends on how long it takes to deliver your services, and how closely you work with your clients. You can manage the following inside your clientflow platform: 

  • Client onboarding – Send a branded welcome packet to further set expectations with your clients. 
  • Tracking time – Use a time tracker to accurately bill your clients or determine how to structure your projects. 
  • Client communication – Manage all your client communication in one place so you never have to go searching for an email thread again. 
  • Tracking milestones – Set internal reminders at key milestones and view your project status at a glance so you’re always up to date. 
  • Sending your deliverable – Send your deliverable in a branded template (if applicable).
  • Expense tracking – Take note of the resources required to complete projects so you can accurately bill projects and properly maintain your financial accounting. 

Collecting feedback

Lastly, your clientflow should end with project closure and collecting feedback. It’s always helpful to learn from clients who’ve used your services so you can understand your strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the project, it might also be a good opportunity to ask for an online review, see if they know anyone who would also benefit from your services, or see if you they’re interested in working with you again. 

  • Project closure – Send a summary of your project outcomes, thank your client for their time, and include a questionnaire where they can provide feedback. 
  • Requesting reviews – Direct your clients to your social profiles or Google profile for reviews about their experience. 
  • Asking for referrals – Introduce clients to your referral program, or simply ask if they no anyone who would benefit from your services. 
  • Exploring renewal – Reuse your booking templates to explore additional projects. Just tweak with the details when they’re ready to move forward. 

HoneyBook is the clientflow management platform that enables independent businesses to create efficient processes and remarkable client experiences

Ready to run your business on autopilot? HoneyBook is the leading clientflow platform for independent businesses. It delivers on all of the steps we mentioned above, and much more. 

Throughout your entire clientflow, you can also access workflow automation that takes different tasks off your plate. And, you can view reports on your payments, expenses, leads, and more. 

Once your clientflow is taken care of inside HoneyBook, you’ll have more time on your hands to focus on what you love doing most–the skills that turned your dream into a business in the first place.