make money from photography

Photography Pricing For Beginners

Mark Lait

Mark Lait

You need to charge enough to make a profit and pay your expenses,
it just won’t work any other way and I can help you with that.

Photography prices for beginners can be a tricky subject, how much do photographers charge? how much should you charge? What if the photographer down the road is charging less? it is easy to fall into the trap of undercutting your photography pricing with the belief that by doing so, you will get the business ahead of the next guy but in every case, all this will do is lead you to an early business closure.

Consider the document ‘Knowing the cost of a session’ which you can get from the resources section on our website to understand what really goes into producing that ‘$10’ photograph and you’ll be very surprised. Because this is such a scalable business, your ‘cost of a session’ is always going to be different depending on what you have had to do to prepare for it. For example, if you’re one of those photographers who does the cake smash thing for kids birthdays, you have to buy the cake which includes the time it takes you to go and get it, return with it, store it and clean the mess up afterwards.

If you’re paying a staff member to do all the running around for this, you could safely estimate that it would take about three hours for that component, so cost of wages would be $75 and it’s important that if you do this yourself that you include the cost of paying yourself, (would you do it for your boss for nothing? I doubt it!).

A cheap cake would be about $40 so your costs, before you take a photo are $115 – now kid shoots are generally commissioned by Mums who have a thousand other things to buy for their kids so they won’t have a big budget to spend on photos – that’s one of the reasons we stay away from them but I know there’s a lot of people who do the

You take the photos with the camera you paid $2,000 for – that’s a cost you have to recoup so if you do 50 sessions in a year – you have to assign $40 to the cost of your camera, it wasn’t free was it? Now your costs are $115 + $40 so we’re at $165 before a photo is taken … Can you see where this is going? If you don’t take these and all the other costs into consideration, you will suffer a slow and painful death in your business, you won’t notice it at first but like I did when I first started out, the bank balance goes down instead of up and that’s because the ones who don’t consider everything that goes into the business of photography have their head in the sand.

Taking pretty pictures will not make you rich, planning and thorough execution of well developed systems will.

I’m not trying to scare you away from starting a photography business, what I am trying to do is give you the resources which will go a long way to making sure you’re successful, all of my systems and lesson are designed to save time, save money, optimise your workflow and equip you with the knowledge I wish I had when I started out. I made a lot of mistakes along the way and you can benefit from what I learned. I started making money straight away but it wasn’t enough and you know what,  when I figured out the cost of a session thing, I increased my prices over time from $40 per print to $250 per print … and people still paid for them. You’ll be surprised what people are prepared to pay for something they see value in.

You absolutely must charge enough to make a profit in your photography business or you won’t have one for very long. You must calculate all of the costs involved in every session AND include your wages to know how much you have to this way you will have accounted for your expenses (and they are considerable) with money left over to put in your pocket, then and only them will you see you bank account start heading in the other direction.

The causes of ‘Ostrich syndrome’ as like to call it, are anything from lack of confidence to poor self-belief. You might not think you have these things floating around in your head but things like ‘why would they pay me when there are so many better photographers around’, ‘I’ll just do it for what it costs me to print the photos’ or ‘I’ll just do it for the exposure’ but you most likely do, we all have self limiting beliefs, even after more than a decade in this business I still experience them.

I started my photography business because, like you I loved photography and I wanted a lifestyle that I could control. I learned very quickly that it was not as easy as I thought to make the money I needed to survive. The quicker you learn this lesson and stop living in denial, the quicker you will find your way to profit. I was struggling, I was becoming impatient and disillusioned, wondering if it was worth the effort and this still happens. Like so many of us, I was never taught how to sell or how to run a business so I just looked at what others were doing and did the same thing,  but through trial and error I refined my business to an annual turnover of 7 figures and I can help you do the same thing. You can absolutely do this, never assume that you can’t.

Have a look at our youtube for heaps of tips on the business of photography and if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments.