How Much Does Professional Photography Cost?
- How Much Does Professional Photography Cost - The Basics
- How Much Does Professional Photography Cost - Simple Portraits
- How Much Does Professional Photography Cost - Upscale and Upgrade
- How Much Does Professional Photography Cost - Packages
- How Much Does Professional Photography Cost - Physical Products
- How Much Does Professional Photography Cost - Bottom Line
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As an advanced photographer looking to expand into paid photography or as a consumer wanting to have some photography done for them, the question of how much does professional photography cost is of interest.
How much does professional photography cost? The answer is full of variables, so hold on, and we’ll discuss some basic ideas that will help!
As a photographer, you want to know not just that your business costs are covered but that you also make a reasonable profit. You want to stay in business, after all.
As a client or consumer, your options will vary in price depending on how much photography is being done, how large the package deal is, and what physical products are included. Moreover, the location and how good the photographer is are additional factors. All of that is involved in the question of how much does professional photography cost.
In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all price list. Just as real estate and job wages can vary greatly depending on where you live, your skill set, your education, and how fancy you like things, the same is true for services and products.
But we can get you ready to compare prices to pay as a consumer and what to charge as a photographer by highlighting some of the things that are common about professional photography. You can then adapt this approach to your area and expectations.
Table of Contents:
How Much Does Professional Photography Cost - The Basics
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So, what are the basics when considering how much does professional photography cost? I’ll speak more to you as though you are a photographer instead of a consumer. If you’re a consumer shopping for a photographer, you can also use these guidelines to help you determine why there are differences between photographers and what you might expect to pay.
The basics concerning how much does professional photography cost depend more on time and skill than equipment. Still, you will need to factor in equipment costs and charges relating to being in business in general. All other things being equal, a newcomer to professional photography usually charges less than a well-established photographer.
The thing is, rarely are all other things equal. A new professional may be willing to sacrifice some profit percentage to garner some gigs. On the other hand, established photography businesses may have more overhead due to renting studio space or using higher-end equipment.
Pro Tip: Don’t give away your work for “exposure.” Exposure doesn't pay the rent, and those arrangements rarely bring you any real work. This kind of deal often only benefits the person getting their work done for free. Exceptions may include when you seek out someone to pose for your portrait work so you can have an initial portfolio, but even then, be sure to get permission to use those photos for your business promotion.
How Much Does Professional Photography Cost - Simple Portraits
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For many photographers, simple portraits may be an easy way to break into professional photography. The two most significant variables are whether you’ll shoot on location or in a studio.
Studio costs can be factored into our price packages or bids by knowing the actual costs. We can rent studio space from other established businesses even without owning or renting a studio. Also, in some cities, there are studios specially designed to be rented out by various photographers.
Traveling to a location for a portrait photoshoot has its share of overhead costs, such as travel and time, but we can usually figure those out quickly enough and then include it in our base charges.
Another big line item to consider for how much does professional photography cost and what we should charge is how much time we’re allotting for the session. A simple head and shoulders portrait might not take hardly any time, especially if our workflow is well planned.
On the other hand, a location shoot with different locations or any shoot with clothing changes takes much more time, which needs to be calculated into our costs and prices. A good example of what I’m talking about here is the typical boudoir session or an engagement or bridal portrait photo shoot.
How Much Does Professional Photography Cost - Upscale and Upgrade
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Now we get to talk about how much does professional photography cost when we’re a more established business or if we are offering an upscale style of photography. Depending on your client base, you can pretty much charge what you want (within reason, of course).
What I mean by upscale is to think of those dreamy portraits that evoke a feeling of glamor or sophistication and what it takes in terms of real skill and a more involved workflow to achieve those looks.
Photography that looks like an art studio or a fashion magazine isn’t simple to produce. Besides the time and effort that should be covered, you can deservedly charge more for results that are truly a cut above and really special. There’s no formula for that; you have to try it out and see what your local market is willing to pay and whether you’re willing to work for those amounts or not.
Besides an upscale portrait experience and delivery, you can also consider upgrades to what you’re offering. For example, an upgrade might include drone images or video footage if you are a professional shooting commercial real estate or existing businesses. For wedding photography, an upgrade might be a second shooter for a higher volume and variety of images.
How Much Does Professional Photography Cost - Packages
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This brings me to the idea of photography packages. An idea that can benefit photographers and consumers regarding how much photography costs is to offer set package deals of the number of images, degree of touch-up, and how many poses and costume changes there are, or length of time on site or in the studio.
For portraits, I like to make several packages available with a base package as, say, perhaps three or five poses and delivered images or 30 minutes of session time, then upgrade the packages from there. Upgrades can include different settings, clothing or wardrobe changes, and more final images delivered.
Weddings and real estate photography can both use drones for an upgraded package. Drone stills and video footage of a location wedding add so much interest for the consumer and should be priced accordingly. Doing so minimizes additional workflow while getting benefits for yourself and your business through higher package prices.
How Much Does Professional Photography Cost - Physical Products
A physical product is a premier line item to include in upscale style and upgraded photography packages. I’m talking about prints, enlargements, and photo books.
Teaming up with a premier photographic printing company like Saal Digital is vital to making this idea work well for you and your clients. Realistically, if you give your client a substandard physical copy or one of your outstanding image files, they probably won’t be that impressed.
On the other hand, a physical item like one of Saal Digital’s amazing photo books can end up netting you repeat and referral business because of how beautifully these books present your already top-quality photography work.
Just like you may show your clients your portraits vs amateur efforts, with photo books and photo enlargements, you really do get what you pay for.
Saal Digital’s photo books have a lay-flat binding for the best viewing experience. Custom covers are available, including an acrylic cover of a chosen image from the book. You can personalize in various ways, too, including removing all barcodes and logos for an individual photographic experience. To top it all off, they come in a beautiful presentation box.
Saal Digital has all sorts of prompts and easy-to-follow workflows for ordering your photo book online. Have a look at some of Saal Digital’s YouTube videos to see what I mean, including the one above that specifically discusses how to order a photo book online.
How Much Does Professional Photography Cost - Bottom Line
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What’s the bottom line? How much does professional photography cost? What should you charge as a professional photographer, and how much should you expect to pay a professional photographer for their work and images?
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, there are some guidelines we can use to figure out what we need to charge or what we’re willing to pay someone else.
Besides the images themselves and how many of them, the style of photography, where and how it’s done, the skill and artistry of the photographer, and upgrades, including well-made physical prints, all need to be considered.