Pricing Your Photography

This class covers a common question: “What should I charge for my photography?”

Pricing is a difficult part of running a business for many photographers and the truth is that the answer to the above question varies dramatically. To help you overcome this challenge, Karl provides an overview of the costs you should be looking at that will help you determine your pricing. He discusses day rates, outside services (retouchers and models etc), set building and props, agents, equipment and studio rental as well as looks at charging usage fees and how you can find the right balance in what to charge.

In this class:

  • The costs of running a business
  • Day rates – what are they and how do they work?
  • Usage fees – what they are and when to apply them
  • Advantages and disadvantages of working with agents
  • What to consider when pricing your photography
Photography pricing

Determining what to charge for your photography can be challenging.

Please find the accompanying documents for this class here or in the Downloads section.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

Comments

  1. Hi Karl.
    I just want to check something. I’m sure you’ve been asked this 100 times already, sorry.
    Do you advise charging for time estimated on the shoot as opposed to charging per image.
    For example a shoot that I think will take 2 days is charged at 2x my day rate (which I will grab from your pricing document).
    It seems to me that charging per image would give me a much better result and it would be accepted in quotes by a lot more customers. Also this approach would be stepping away from working for the time for money pricing model.
    Thanks Karl.

    1. Hi Will, charges are for time, minimum half day and then by the day. It doesn’t matter if I take 1 image per day or 10, the price is the same because there is a separate cost for retouching the images that are selected, that is the post production work. This is how it is usually run in commercial photography. Charging by image will get have you shooting a high end image for a client that takes 5 hours to produce and 3 hours to retouch and then you get paid for one image!

  2. Hi Karl, just a quick question about the AOP usage fees calc tool. I have been requested to shoot some landscape images to print on magnets, that are going to be sold as a product, however I can’t find anything similar in the calc tool, wondering if you had a suggestion on what could be the appropriate media type to select for this. Thank you for your help!

    1. Hi Bruneck, it looks to me it would be ‘Marketing Aids’ might be suitable under printed media.

  3. I have a pricing issue of a sort and I wanted a little advice. I have been working with a startup company which is a mens line of skin products. The people involved created packaging which is quite sophisticated and had a rough idea of how the photography needed to express the brand. They wanted my help in creating the correct brand styling for the e-comm images (slightly complex) plus other marketing images where creativity in brand styling becomes a richer factor in the final images. The people behind the product have considerable history running ad agencies, as creative/art directors and brand managers for some substantive products. I have a history working with the creative director so that was my in. I’ve created a large assortment of images for the product line and have started working of some of the more creative marketing materials. The company is a start up so I am not being paid anywhere near what I should be charging up front. I gain experience, portfolio and there is a promise of riches on the back end… My options are pretty limited this early in my photographic career so it is what it is… The question is this: We were talking about billing, which will be fairly nominal.. and they suggested a release document for the images. I didn’t want to comment on that document at all until I had a little advice about what is common in the industry under conditions such as these. In my mind, I would like to retain some measure of rights to the images, certainly to freely use them for self promotion. I don’t mind releasing the images to some degree, perhaps for a specific time period. I view them as having value, but also having a slightly limited shelf life. What would be your advice moving forward? The question comes down to ownership and co-use. I certainly do not want to be prevented from using my own images, but I would never sell their use to anyone other than the client.

    1. Hi Gary, on product images such as this which have a specific brand name on the product then they are of little use to you in the future and are only good for your portfolio/website which you will have the rights to show them anyway as part of your work. Unless you are creating other non product related images that are your own unique ideas the I wouldn’t worry about signing the release document. The interesting thing here though is that they are asking you to come up with the creative brief, yet they are all ex art directors and marketing people? I would have expected they would have had a clear brief themselves to give you. If I was running the creative side then I’d be looking at charging for that service too. If you don’t expect these images to be used for any national campaign stuff then I think you can accept the release document on this occasion as they are still a small company. If you’re unsure you can opt to put a 3-5 year shelf life on usage.

  4. Hi Karl,

    Thanks so much for putting together this section on Pricing your Photography! As someone who’s transitioning into this profession, I have no idea of figuring out the price point? Thanks, this was helpful. Since I’ve just started viewing this section, I was wondering do you discuss how to setup a business plan for Photographers? What are the key elements, etc?

    Thanks again for having such a comprehensive course!
    Stephen

    1. Hi Lucas, thank you. Please work your way through all the remaining business classes and I think your question will be answered (including one of our downloadable budget sheets). If you have any questions after that please come back to me.

    1. Hi, as explained in other chapters in this section you should have pricing for ‘Pre-production’ time, actual ‘production’ time and ‘post-production’ time (editing) usually the rates for Pre and Post are less. When you’ve watched all the business videos let me know if you have any questions.

  5. To be honest I was expecting really more than “Go with the market” that is something that if you plan to do any kind of business should know, expected more from this lecture. Disappointing!!!

    1. So what were you expecting? Could you give some examples? It would be interesting to know your feedback.

    2. Hi, I included nearly every genre of photography and what the expected achievable rates are for each and discussed the differences and how to analyse your competitors and being realistic about the quality of your own work. Please can you explain what more you would like to know? As with all our customers we provide customer support and am happy to explain anything further.

      1. Hello,
        What is the purpose of naming a topic? The user should get an idea of what to expect on that topic and the content should provide useful information about that topic.
        Very well, you named all the fields of photography, that was not the topic idea, how charging for photography was the main topic of the class.
        You talked about setting a price per day, ok, how is that accomplished? Based on the market? How do you find the price on the market?
        I understand, you have to be based on the market, but, how the market on the photography area works?
        If I had to charge someone for teaching them how to charge for their work based on my experience, I would go a little further than just saying, “you have to see the market”.
        Question, in the world of product photography, how is a market study performed? How do I know what the competition charges? How do I start investigating it? Where do I look for these answers? Without a doubt it is a field that I do not know, and I Can assure you, there are many students on your platform who do not know how this type of photography is charged.
        You say “it is very lucrative” ok, how do you get profitable clients ?, how do you generate a portfolio to present to the first client ?, how things are done?, we are supposed to be here to learn based on your experience, the experience of a master, not somebody to tell us , be based on the market, this is something that can be find on Google.
        Alright, how do I charge base on the market? where can I find a chart that show me the average charge for product photography on my area? is there one? I don’t think so. I hope you get the clue of what am I saying.
        Same thing with the following topic Equipment and Growing your studio. Can you explain to me at what point of the video, you mention how to equip an studio? how to grow an studio? this topic was completely based on your bio. I never heard a, “Based on my experience I think the basic equipment that a studio should have is …..” The only thing I heard about that topic was, how great and amazing you have been since you stopped taking documentaries photos and you decided to open your own studio and the super studio you have now.
        What am I supposed to learn from that?
        It is not in a bad way what I say, but if you are going to charge for teaching you should develop your topics in something with more sense and more answers, outside of just walking around the bush.

        1. Hi eemartinez, thanks for your reply I’m going to highlight your points and answer below them:

          Q1.What is the purpose of naming a topic? The user should get an idea of what to expect on that topic and the content should provide useful information about that topic.
          A1. I don’t understand what you mean by this all of our modules are clearly marked what they are about. Within this course module the most common sub genres of professional photography were listed.
          Q2. You talked about setting a price per day, ok, how is that accomplished? Based on the market? How do you find the price on the market?
          I understand, you have to be based on the market, but, how the market on the photography area works? I would go a little further than just saying, “you have to see the market”.

          A2. I did go a lot further I actually explained what the expected rates were for each type of photography and explained the averages of what photographers charged for those services. I did that based on UK, European and USA economies. If you are in a different country you would have to compare the economy of your country to evaluate what that would be in your region. This can be done by comparing the average of other items in each country. It is impossible for me to provide the rates for every country.
          Q3. How do I know what the competition charges? How do I start investigating it? Where do I look for these answers?
          A3. This in my opinion is just common sense, you call them, email them or ask a business friend to find out for you
          Q3. You say “it is very lucrative” ok, how do you get profitable clients ?, how do you generate a portfolio to present to the first client ?, how things are done?, we are supposed to be here to learn based on your experience, the experience of a master, not somebody to tell us , be based on the market,
          A3. I’m sorry but were you asleep for this course or did you only watch the chapter on pricing. Did you not watch all the other chapters where I covered how I marketed myself, how I connected with businesses, how you network? I’m afraid you have to apply yourself as well! There is no magic formula beyond what I’ve covered in all of the modules in this course, you have to work too. You also ask how do you develop a portfolio? I’m very sorry to be direct (i’m afraid it’s part of my no nonsense nature) but isn’t it obvious that to develop a portfolio you must take pictures? Preferably ones that target the type of market you wish to target as I explained in this course?
          Q4. Alright, how do I charge base on the market? where can I find a chart that show me the average charge for product photography on my area? is there one? I don’t think so. I hope you get the clue of what am I saying.
          A4. As I mentioned earlier (and in the course) you have to investigate but I also gave you the expected rates for the UK and USA.
          Q5. Same thing with the following topic Equipment and Growing your studio. Can you explain to me at what point of the video, you mention how to equip an studio? how to grow an studio? this topic was completely based on your bio. I never heard a, “Based on my experience I think the basic equipment that a studio should have is …..” The only thing I heard about that topic was, how great and amazing you have been since you stopped taking documentaries photos and you decided to open your own studio and the super studio you have now.
          What am I supposed to learn from that?

          A5. Look I’m going to be honest with you, it sounds very much like you want a ‘blue print’ plan in micro detail that you believe you can apply to your/a photography business and that will guarantee you success. Let me make it very clear right now good business also takes a significant amount of initiative, time, hard work and entrepreneurialism. If you don’t have that or are not willing to put the work in then I implore you not to attempt going into business because it is highly likely you will fail and I don’t like to see people attempt these things without the right mindset and expectations.
          A6. Finally I have another business video that is presented slightly differently but essentially the message is the same. Hopefully this one will be more useful to you. I’ve had feedback from many pro-photographers and other business people that I hit the nail on the head with this one: https://karltayloreducation.com/class/honest-business-advice/

  6. Dear Karl,

    I’ve subscribed today and literally cannot stop watching the videos.

    I like to dig into this usage fees topic since it is causing such a headache to educate clients about its necessity. Please share your thoughts/practice on the following:

    If you do not apply usage fees for smaller Clients, how do you specify in practice what the Client can use the images for and how can you control it in case the image will be used for additional purposes?

    It is perfectly true that there are such difficulties in understanding for some Clients what usage fees are and they do not get the fact that in a licensing model they won’t own that intellectual property with its all rights. I am curious about your practice: how to avoid that they automatically think, they buy you out of copyright by paying your day rate only? And in case of not applying usage fees, how to control the usage and rights properly?

    What is your procedure of “educating Clients” on this topic?

    Thank you very much for your time and help!

    Reka

    1. Hi Reka, I’m very happy to hear that you are enjoying the platform. In answer to your question any new client receives our paperwork and in our ‘downloads’ section you will find one titled ‘Usage Fees and Image Licencing.PDF’ and another ‘Copyright tems and conditions.docx’ in the latter one the terms and conditions of commission are made clear and a client would have to sign these for me to agree to work with them. You can obviously modify these forms to suit yourself and your market. Essentially my basic terms are that a client can use the image exclusively for at least 2 years and
      un-exclusively for as long as they like as long as it is used by their company and not transferred to third parties for an alternate use. After the two years is over and assuming I have the other rights (such as model releases etc) then I am able to sell that image as stock to another client that is not in the same market or a competitor to the original client. Obviously there are many occasions when this just isn’t possible anyway such as if you were photographing a bunch of components or products that only that client makes then of course it is highly unlikely you will ever have a use for them and technically they can’t be considered highly creative images. For clients that find it difficult to understand I refer them to the similarities with an Architect, when an architect designs a house for someone the client get’s the house but they don’t own the plans or the design and the architect may use those same designs for another house because the architect owns the copyright to the plans. You can also explain to your client that often, especially on larger campaigns, that a model agency will only license the model usage for a specific period etc. It is however sometimes hard to convince some clients of this procedure and you must appreciate that if you are charging a significant day rate (as I do) that you must respect that they are the client paying for the project and often the concept or idea of the shoot is the art director or maybe even the clients. I also have relationships with many clients where my day rate is simply higher and they keep the images and it’s done.

  7. Hi Karl, My main problem with photography is with marketing is there any agents you can put me in touch with as i think this is the only way i can succeed as a photographrer any help will be really appreciated

      1. Hi Karl, great job!
        I’m a bit curious on what to expect of the industry if a project requires more time than you first thought. (I guess you’ll have a good understanding of how much time a certain project requires, but as I’m starting out I guess I’m likely to be a bit optimistic). Let’s say that a client hires you for a product photo project based on a day fee. What if you in the end need two days, do you charge for two days or is it your responsibility to keep to the agreement? Or isn’t it praxis to agree on the time frame beforehand?
        Thanks a lot!
        Fredrik from Sweden

        1. Hi Frederik, I’m afraid it’s my responsibility to be on point with my quotation with maybe a 10% flexibility. But always keep a check if the client adds more or requests changes from the original quotation as that would all add time and would be chargeable. This is why it’s very important to keep your emails/paper work in good order.

  8. Hi Karl, thank you enlightening me on this. I have always been concerned about bringing up usage fees and your architect analogy clears things up nicely for me. Great content, keep it up!

    1. No worries you are welcome. Keep in mind though some smaller clients won’t grasp the concept of paying more for usage but they should grasp the concept of the images only being licensed for a specific period as the day rate price. Only bigger campaign stuff can you charge additional usage fees to the day rate.

  9. Hi Karl,

    Just moved to LA to pursue my dream after retiring from manufacturing . I like to look at things from all sides if possible and in this case it deals with usage fees. As a client hiring a photographer for my product wouldn’t I be the owner of the image that I get for my campaign? Considering it as a “work for hire” I don’t think I would restricted on how, where or how often I use the image. Please clarify for me. Thanks!

    Ed

    BTW: Great course content!

    1. Hi Ed, yes some clients expect to own the images in return for your day rate or creative fee and many photographers work this way but in the often crazy world of agents and big campaign images the photographer only licenses use of the image for a specific time period (not all clients will like this though) It’s much the same as when you commission an architect do design a house for you, you don’t own the design or plans, they still do. As such in these cases the photographer can even negotiate a higher fee if the usage of the image is going to be over a larger geographic area.

Leave a Comment