Set Your Prices
So this is one of the most popular questions we get all the time about setting your prices for your business. And this is going to change per your region, per what type of photography you're doing, what your experience level is, what you're doing. But it's definitely something that's very important. And it's a base place to start, not only how you're dealing with clients, but how you're structuring how you grow as a photographer and as a business, it's also going to inform how you put money back into your business. So setting prices is very important and it is one of the baseline things to get going with your photography business. So let's get into it. So to start with, what kind of photo business are you starting? The thing we have to recognize to help you figure out what your first set prices are going to be is where to start based on what you're shooting now a wedding or an event. We're gonna talk about typically charging per hour a headshot or a portrait. We're going to talk about ...
shooting per photo or poor sit down session as far as fine art and printing goes, we're gonna talk about selling your print and how much that is worth it to you. And again, that leads back to what is worth it to you. Now, I'll throw out some prices for you and what we charge and especially in the case study will dive deep into that. And this is something I really want to help you figure out what prices are good for you to start off with, what is your our worth and where you located now based on where you're located, we might need to see what other photographers are charging in your region. Photographer in Los Angeles or Hollywood where we are is going to charge actually a lot more than a photographer would in a smaller town in another place or another country. So let's start to look up different photographers in your region and maybe get some quotes. Maybe see what their estimates are online. Not a lot of photographers post their prices online. So you may need to request a quote but getting an idea of what photographers are charging for. The type of photography that you're doing in your region is a really good place to start. For example, I know that most headshot photographers that are medium range in L. A. charge about $600 a session plus makeup. Now if I'm just starting out, I'm probably not gonna be able to charge that much yet because I don't have a name out there. I haven't reached that point yet. Um so I may start at 200 just to get going. Now if I was a really experienced photographer and I've been doing it for a long time in my region in Los Angeles, they're charging up to $1,200 a session. So the only way I can figure that out is by discovering what photographers are charging in my region. Again, that's going to be different all over the world. So I can't throw out an exact price for you to start at. But look that up and I would usually start at around 50-60% less than a medium range photographer to start. The next thing to take into consideration for sessions would be, what is your time worth you? How much is an hour worth to you to charge? Now, if you're thinking about say minimum wage where you live, you can kind of target your hourly rate at minimum wage, but chances are you're not gonna want to do that. So a good place to start anywhere around the world is Double The minimum wage. So whatever the minimum wage is, you can look it up online wherever your region is, double that, that's what your hour is worth to you. And you can round it to like a really like round number like $20 an hour, $30 an hour, $ an hour. Now apply that to both the time it takes you to edit the time it takes you to meet with a client. The time it takes you to shoot a wedding And then that's where you can start to base your price. Say you go shoot a wedding for six hours. The minimum wage in your town is $15 an hour. You will double that at 30. Right? So now I'm gonna go shoot a wedding for six hours or 10 hours, we're gonna apply the hourly rate to our $30 an hour. That's your rate for the wedding. Now you can add more to that. When you talk about editing and post, how long does it take you to edit a photo? How long does it take you to edit 200 photos now. Find out how much time that takes and apply your hourly rate to that and now add that to your wedding rate. So an example for this would be the minimum wage, $15 an hour, double that. So we're at $30 an hour. We're going to shoot a wedding for 10 hours. So it's 10 hours times 30. That's $ that you're charging for that wedding. Now I'm gonna say it takes me two hours to edit 100 photos because I do it really fast. So that's $60 on top of your 300, that's $360 now for shooting a wedding and editing your wedding. Now you can apply in meeting with the client beforehand. That may take an hour. You can apply doing contracts and stuff like that depending on how you want to go. Now in my mind, $360 to shoot a 10 hour wedding is not a lot because I charge a little bit more. I'm at the point now in my career and I've been shooting for about 10 plus years, 10, 12 years where I charge about 150 to $200 an hour to shoot a wedding. Now that's a little bit more average for Los Angeles. uh and I think a little bit better than $30 an hour. It's really just you really just kind of find a way to gauge that based on the photographers around you and what your hour is worth to you. And I think as you grow, as you become a better photographer, more experienced photographer, um you'll be able to keep upping that every year and get to a point where you're charging a lot more also when you're doing post and on the side too, so also take into account the style of photography and what is more sort of precious or what's more, you know, more work to you a wedding, maybe a lot more work than going out to the beach and shooting a couple or going out and shooting a family session. So that hourly rate for the wedding might be more to you than the hourly rate for you shooting a family portrait. And so take that into consideration when you're trying to figure out how much to charge per hour. Another thing to think about is, again, I'm using an example, but shooting in Los Angeles, actors who have head shots or business folk who have head shots are much more important and have a much more bigger investment in it. So I can charge a higher hourly rate for them. Then I worked for a graduation photo who may not be able to afford something like that or they're not using them for for them to gain money. Um I would usually charge about 100 to 100 and 50 to shoot a graduation photo versus a headshot where you know, I would charge closer to 600 or you know, between four and 600 because I know that that's a little bit more time, as far as uh preciseness goes for a business aspect, where they're going to take that investment and make more money versus a nice family graduation portrait they're going to put on their mantel in their home. So you have to kind of take that into consideration as far as creating your hourly rate. But again, a really good way to start is creating an hourly rate for yourself and deciding how much an hour is worth to you. Now, I know that I keep mentioning an hourly rate now, that's not meant for you to put how much that you charge an hour on your website or tell people how much you charge an hour. This is just to help you figure out how much to charge as far as your packages and stuff, go on your website, say you're charging $100 an hour and you want to set up a wedding package for 10 hours, you wouldn't put that you are $100 an hour, you would put that this wedding packages $1000. Because I know in my head that it's gonna take me 10 hours, it's gonna, I'm gonna charge $100 an hour for a 10 hour wedding. So this is just to help you figure out across the board how much you want to charge, You don't have to put your hourly rate. So I know I charge $100 an hour. It's gonna take me two hours to edit photos. Uh So when I put up that I want to edit for two hours, 100 photos, I'm gonna say that it's gonna cost you $200 but I would never say that it's an hourly rate again, the hourly rate is just to help you figure out how much you charge for an extended period of time. So generally also as either headshot photographers or event wedding photographers, you'll have bonus options. That means like extra prints, prints in general engagement sessions, extra shooters, stuff like that. And again I tend to use for shooters, I tend to use the hourly rate. I'll have a second shooter on for me that shoots at a lower hourly hourly rate because not as much pressure is on for them. So I'll calculate how much a second shooter would need to shoot for that wedding might be less than I do and I would apply that hourly rate to them and add that on as far as prints go. It depends on how you're delivering your prints to your client. We're going to talk more about printing and I'll talk more about prices and printing when we get to that. But a lot of time you will set a certain number of digital images like say 200 for a wedding or five for a headshot session and then you'll start to add up from there. And usually again I added to the amount of time it takes me to edit those and that I applied to my original hourly rate that I want to charge for my personal hourly rate. So you're not only paying yourself but you're running a business and you need to be able to put money back into your business to pay for all the essentials. You need to pay for your website host. You need to pay for your equipment. You may want a new lens in a couple of months. So you need to start thinking about saving money and putting money into the business for you to spend. Um you're also gonna need to potentially pay for taxes depending on where your region is. And so what I do is a rule of thumb, I very minimum every time I get paid from a client 15% of that goes right back into the savings account or the business. Now if you want to start saving more I would up that to 2025%,, Even 30% because some of that is going to have to go to taxes. Usually when clients are paying you, you know, taxes are being taken out. So you're gonna have to think about that as your sole proprietor and LLC, you'll have to start paying quarterly yearly taxes for that. So putting money aside for each paycheck is really important. Now take a step backwards and we go back to our hourly rate, Maybe add 15% or or 30% to that hourly rate so that, you know, you're making that much more on top of it and that again, is going to depend on what photographers are charging in your region. So you can see how all of this is very complicated and very complex based on where you are. This is a little bit more of a guide for you to figure out. But the big important thing is that you're paying yourself and you're paying your business because you will not be able to sustain that for very long unless you are getting money in and out. So you're starting out your business, you're figuring out how much you want to charge. You may be shooting for free for friends, you're balancing out, Hey, can you shoot this real quick for free? Um, there's a big question, as far as discounting goes, um I promote discounting when you're starting in the first 3 to 6 months of shooting photography, if you have friends that are asking you do this or friends are asking to shoot weddings, you're just starting out, Tell them your price, tell them you're $100 an hour price, Show them an invoice for that. And if you want to help them out, discount show the discount, but show how much you're worth because you're worth a certain amount. And if you start just shooting for free, you're telling them you're only going to charge them $50 an hour or whatever. They're gonna start taking advantage of that later. They may recommend you to someone that was like, it was only this much. But if you have proof and you show them this is how much I'm worth and I'm discounting you 60% 90% 50% 10% whatever because you're my friend, you'll be able to see that discount and you'll be able to still be able to advertise how much you're worth as a photographer, you can do this over time and I still do this As my prices have increased and I charge $250, $300 an hour. If I'm shooting a wedding for a friend, I will still show them the invoice of how much I'm worth Even if it's got a 90% discount on it. So you can only do that for so long if you want to keep raising your prices, but just make sure that people know how much you're worth. So I know this is a lot of information for you to take in and creating your own prices, but in the worksheet we're gonna include a formula for you to figure out your hourly rate and how much you would charge for a sit down session and a package session for a wedding. I'm also going to talk more about this in the case study with Phil a little bit more casually because this is so complicated. In addition, I'm gonna go ahead and share my current price sheets for my really high end photography company, my old starting out a wedding photography company and my new headshot company. So you can see what I'm charging in my area and how I structure it all. This is meant for you to kind of figure it out for yourself and this is part of running your own business. But this is as much information as I can give to you to kind of set your own prices and be successful yourself.