How Much Should I Charge for Photography Services?

Tips for how much photographers should charge.
Charging money for photography sounds fun, but how much?

I received a phone call a few months ago from a photographer who had moved out of town and wanted to pass a reference to me.  FANTASTIC!  The client was a business who wanted a photographer to shoot their black tie event.  The photographer who called me had shot the event for many years.  I asked the photographer how much the client paid to shoot the 2-hour event, and he said it was a $500 job.

Next, I called the client.  I could have immediately told them that I was willing to accept the same $500 price that they had paid the photographer in years past, but I wanted to make sure I got as much out of the deal as they were willing to give.

I remembered something from a Dale Carnegie book (How to Win Friends and Influence People).  He said something to the effect of, “The first person to mention the price in a business transaction is ultimately the loser.”  I thought I'd put that to the test, so rather than quoting the business a price of $500, I asked them a question.

The question I asked was, “What is your budget for this shoot?”  The representative from the company said, “$1,300 for the 2-hour event.”  I shot the event and received almost three times as much money from the gig as I would have if I had been the first one to mention the price.

If you're going to be successful in your photography business, you need to be business minded.  The price of photography services is quite subjective, and many clients simply have no idea what hiring a photographer costs.

I am not suggesting that photographers should never quote a price.  It's nice for clients to know exactly what you'll charge just by looking at your website; however, you can also lose a lot of money in potential business by being too forthcoming with your prices.  This was the lesson I learned.

21 thoughts on “How Much Should I Charge for Photography Services?”

  1. An excellent suggestion regarding pricing from a well-worn and tried and true expert on the sales process. I’ll have to keep this in mind as I’m branching out into more services owing to the slow sales of prints at the moment.

  2. Great post! I would however ask another more or less relevant question. If you take pictures for/of your friends and they offer you some money, would you take it? I always say no and ask them for some nice chocolate or a bottle of wine we drink together instead. But the truth is photography costs money and I’m pretty short of it now that I try to make the change and go professional 🙂

  3. great info. i will have to use that question, what is your budget for this event. often times we want work and low ball the offer.

  4. What about pricing for prints? Say someone wants to buy prints from you.. how do you know what to charge if you’ve never sold a print before.

  5. I was once told this little story regarding how much to charge for such and thought I’d share:

    A wealthy, elderly couple go to France for their honeymoon. While they’re there they run into a friend of Van Gogh’s. The friend offers to take them to Van Gogh’s home and the couple are excited and agree. Once they meet him the husband asks Van Gogh to paint a portrait of his new wife. Van Gogh agrees. The man starts asking about time frame and shipment back to the US – but Van Gogh tells them to go out in town, eat lunch, and return and the painting will be done. An hour later they return and Van Gogh has a magnificent piece of art for them. The man asks how much he owes and Van Gogh tells them $10,000. The man is taken aback and cries out “$10000!? It’s amazing but for ONE HOUR’S worth of work?!” and Van Gogh says “No, $10000 for decades of education and practice to be able to give you something this amazing in only one hour.”

    Granted my pricing is still quite low for what I feel my work is worth right now – but I’m just beginning and working my way up there. I hope this helps or at the very least brings a smile 🙂

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  8. It is good post, but I do not see everything completely clear, specifically for someone not involved in that topic. Anyway quite interesting if you ask me.

  9. Any tips for a new photographer regarding prices? Everyone quickly asks for prices and I give them. However, I have not been able to book anyone.

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