Photographer Pricing Calculator

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This is the estimated minimum fee you should charge for a 1-hour session; it is likely low due to other costs not factored in here (such as transportation, fuel, bank & credit card fees, business cards, sample prints & albums, frames, repairs and maintenance, education, etc.).

The challenge is twofold:

  • On the photographer side, many people enter the photography business and under-charge, keeping prices low and then they go out of business in a year or two;
  • On the client side, many people can’t imagine what it takes to have a photography business where you can only spend 20% or less of your time shooting and will balk at paying even a subsistence wage for photography.

This means you may have to get creative with your pricing, for example lowering your session fee but selling files, prints or albums on the back-end (this is actually a pretty fair way to price for you and the client – your session fee covers your business costs, and your sales — if you did a good job and the client likes the work — will make up your profit).

Pricing photography and services is not easy, so use this tool as a starting point and pay attention to your shooting time. For example, if you want to work a 40 hour week, you can shoot about 8 hours. Maybe that’s 8 one-hour portrait sessions, or maybe it’s 1 eight-hour wedding, or maybe some combination. Maybe you shoot more one week and less the next, making up the lost time in other business activities. In my experience, it is very difficult to pay yourself more than 50% of your gross sales as a home-based photographer. If you have a studio, you will be running a very tight ship to be able to pay yourself 30% of your gross sales.

If you are planning to sell products such as prints or albums, keep in mind that photography businesses are unique in that we are a combination of

  • service (shooting an event or session)
  • custom fabrication (pre-planning, after-session editing, post-processing. etc.)
  • retail sales (making prints, albums and other products).

Because of that combination, using a standard 100% retail markup will likely cause your business to fail. If you offer photography products for sale along with your services, the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), a group dedicated to helping photographers succeed in business, recommends at least a 20% (or 1/5) Cost of Sale for most photography businesses. This means that you should take the COST of a product and multiply it by 5 to arrive at a retail price. For lower-priced items (say a 4×6 print), even a 5X markup will cause you to lose money on the amount of time you spend processing the order, so be sure to set a minimum product fee.

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6 Replies to “Photographer Pricing Calculator”

  1. Stephanie Richardson

    something about the math in the calculator isn’t working quite right… I can put in that I want to get paid $10 dollars an hour and it says that I need to charge $199.45 but if I put in that I want to get paid $500 an hour it says I need to charge $52.99

    1. nick Post author

      Thank you Stephanie, it seems a plugin update confounded the math, I think it should be working correctly again!


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