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How to Calculate Photography Pricing

It is important to price your work for your ideal client and to build value into your photography practice. First, let’s take a look at how you can arrive at a photography pricing structure that is fair to both you and your clients. 

Especially for new photographers, it can be far too easy to misjudge all of the expenses and time that goes into producing an excellent photo shoot. Take these items into account to make sure that your pricing covers your expenses, time, and expertise. 

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Consider your annual revenue goals.

A good place to start is by setting an annual goal for yourself. If you want to make $70,000 this year, how much do you have to be earning, on average, monthly? How many shoots can you reasonably book, plan for, shoot, and edit in a month? Dividing your monthly revenue goal by the number of shoots you can realistically book can give you a rough starting point of what your expectations are. 

Of course, you may not be able to book as many clients as you’d like, or your annual revenue goal may be unrealistically high. In these cases, you’ll have to make adjustments, but this is still a useful starting point to define your goals. If you want to be booking $5000 jobs, you can start thinking about who those ideal clients are that have this budget, and making lists of clients to start pitching. 

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Know your fixed and variable costs.

One of the most common mistakes early-career photographers make is neglecting to take a realistic view of what their costs of doing business are. Your fixed expenses are things like, equipment, editing, and marketing software fees, and rent if you have a permanent studio. 

Your shoots should cover a portion of all of these expenses. For example, that $4000 camera may be new now, but with each shoot, it is likely to depreciate slightly. Your clients are not just paying for your labor, they are also paying for the use of your equipment. Depending on your specialty, you can have a separate line on your invoice for equipment usage which can be billed hourly or at a flat rate per shoot. Other specialties, such as family or wedding photography, would simply build this into their pricing without including a line item.

Your variable costs are those that change depending on the amount of work you do. For example, you may travel for a shoot, or have an assistant who you only hire for certain jobs. All of these should be included in the pricing for the jobs that incur those costs.

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Define your hourly rate.

Your hourly rate should reflect your skill and expertise, as well as the degree to which you are in demand. Remember that your hours of labor do not only apply to the shoot itself, but also to the time in pre-production and editing photos. 

With specialties such as portraits and weddings, the industry standard is to provide a set amount of time for a set price. For example, you may charge $450 for a one hour portrait session, or $3200 for 7 hours of wedding coverage. For commercial or product shoots, you may choose to have your hourly rate on your invoices apply only to the duration of the shoot, but make sure your line items for pre-production and editing are sufficient to cover your hourly rate for the amount of time you spend on those tasks.

Be transparent with your pricing.

Now that you have service pricing that will help you create a successful, flourishing photography business, it’s time to include this information on a dedicated page on your website. While some photographers may have been hesitant in the past to share pricing details online, it’s important to recognize that when you’re marketing your expertise and the experience of a photo session, transparency in pricing will not scare off your ideal clients. Pricing is just one piece of the puzzle–client testimonials, thoughtfully curated portfolios, and  information across your website and social channels detailing client expectations are what will really seal the deal. By the time a client who really appreciates your work lands on your pricing page, they’re already sold!

Adding a service or booking section to your website is a simple way to incorporate pricing. Zenfolio offers an integrated service block and a seamless calendar and booking tool built right in to help you describe exactly what each service includes. It will definitely make your life a whole lot easier. For more information on setting up your services or booking block, just click here!

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