Business + Marketing

How to Price Your Photography: Key Factors to Consider

June 3, 2021

By Laura Grier

© EtiAmmos

Recently, the folks at Zenfolio asked adventure traveler/photojournalist Laura Grier to share how she sets her pricing to help guide other professional photographers in their quest to price their photography correctly and competitively. The company shares the highlights with us below. The full video conversation can be viewed here.

Let’s face it, when it comes to running a photography business, pricing your services isn’t a topic that most photographers like to talk about and is often not the top priority. That’s because most photographers get into the industry as lovers of art and creativity. Unfortunately, most quickly realize that unless they are able to get paid for their work, it will remain nothing but a hobby.

[Read: Pricing Portrait Photography to Suit Your Clients and Your Growing Business]

Making a living as a professional photographer is one thing, but time needs to be invested in setting up a foundation to build upon; how you put your pricing together is certainly a key part of that. Things to consider immediately include:

  • Treating your photography like a business
  • Knowing your value
  • Planning in advance
  • Valuing your time

The first step is to really be aware of your time and how much goes into everything you do so that you can price yourself right. It’s important that you feel comfortable building in hours for consultations with clients, location scouting, editing the images, shoot prep and so on. Your perceived value plays an important part in that. I initially doubled my prices in the beginning and then felt more comfortable in building my time for photo and non-photo services into my pricing.

How To Price Your Photography: Factors to Consider

Before you can best price yourself and understand your value as a new or developing photographer, there are a few factors to consider that will influence your pricing:

  • What you perceive your value is in the marketplace and the perceived value of your products
  • How confident you are as a photographer
  • What your competitors are charging (so you can name your price)

You also need to weigh in the cost of your goods and the cost of operating your business each year. This includes:

  • Education: videos, books, conferences, workshops
  • Subscriptions: any recurring services you use
  • Photography gear: cameras, lenses, bags, flash, backdrops, etc.
  • Editing gear: computer, Adobe products, actions and presets, etc.
  • Business and web: website hosting, email, etc.
  • Design: branding, web design, templates, etc.
  • Insurance: seriously, you need this
  • Travel: to and from sessions, any travel expense for conferences or workshops
  • Advertising and marketing: social media and web ads, printed marketing material
  • Cost of goods: what you pay for the products you carry (prints, canvas, albums)
  • Rent: if you rent a studio space
  • Taxes: try save about 30% of each sale for taxes

But what if you’re just starting out and don’t know what your expenses will be? You can guesstimate with a little research and go from there. The simplest formula for figuring out how much you should charge is to calculate your expenses, add your desired income and divide that sum by the number of sessions you want to do in a year. 

[Read: How to Price Elopement Photography and Determine Your Value (No Undercutting]

Here’s a great free expense calculator from NPPA with a list of typical expenses a photographer will have. Fill it in based on your projected expenses and it will calculate your costs for the year.

Some photographers pick their prices arbitrarily without real reason. They simply feel that they should be charging a certain amount, and so they just pick that number. This isn’t the best way to set yourself up for a successful career as a photographer, though. You end up with inconsistent pricing that is all over the place without logic or reason.

Basic Photo Pricing Factors

The very basic factors—quality, perceived value, confidence—are all intangibles. You can offer the best quality, present your work beautifully and be entirely confident in your ability, but all this doesn’t help you come up with a price. At best, it gives you a self-focused approach to pricing, which says, “this is what I think I’m worth” but that isn’t enough.

When it comes to pricing your photography, while it wouldn’t be smart to copy your competition’s pricing, I feel it’s important to at least be aware of what the local competitors are asking. You don’t want to be so far off the line that you are looked at as being unrealistic.

Portrait of Laura Grier for pricing your photography interview.
Photographer Laura Grier.

Laura Grier is often referred to as the Indiana Jones of Adventure Travel Photography and was recently added to the Discovery Channel UK’s “20 Richest People in the World List,”—people who are rich in life experiences that is.  It is no surprise that Laura turned her life of travel, adventure, and exploration into a profession. As a photojournalist for 20 years, Laura has made a life out of exploring the world, capturing, and writing about her experiences. She has presented for brands like Canon, WPPI, Zenfolio, Samy’s Camera and CreativeLive.  

Zenfolio is a website builder and all-in-one platform that is continually simplifying all the integral parts of running a successful photography business so that creators can focus on what they do best.