In this guide, I’ll be discussing everything you need to know about tipping photographers.
Being a photographer myself, there have been times I’ve received tips and other times I have not.
With that being said, I wanted to discuss what the etiquette is for tipping photographer, how much to tip, when to tip, where to tip, and lots more!
With that being said, let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
What Is The Etiquette For Tipping Photographers?
Just as we would tip a helpful waiter at a restaurant, tipping photographers has a lot to do with expressing satisfaction for the service they provided.
It’s like giving them a standing ovation, but in the form of some extra cash. However, it’s not always a straightforward matter, as it can vary based on several factors, including location, culture, and industry norms.
Imagine you’re at a café in New York and the waiter provides exceptional service – topping off your coffee before it’s empty, meeting you with a warm smile, and making sure everything is perfect.
Your natural instinct could be to tip around 15-20% of your bill. But, if you are at a café in Tokyo, the rules around tipping are completely different. You might even offend someone there by tipping!
Tipping photographers works in much the same way – there are no one-size-fits-all rules, and it’s often tied to cultural or regional norms.
Previously, tipping photographers wasn’t as common. But the trend is slowly changing. Think of it as a nice, surprise gift – not an obligation or a requirement.
Would you give your best friend a gift on their anniversary because it’s polite, or because you appreciated them? I would guess the latter.
When you receive your unique, dazzling wedding photos stunningly capturing each of those beautiful moments you shared with your loved ones, you may feel showering some extra appreciation on the photographer.
While there’s no hard rule on how much to tip, etiquette suggests 15-20% for lower-priced services. For more expensive photography services, a lesser percentage would be appropriate.
Let’s take a moment to talk about commercial photography. Consider it like professional services where you don’t usually tip your tax consultant or your lawyer.
Tipping photographers for business purposes isn’t usually necessary. But when it comes to personal events like weddings, family portraits, engagements, and such, the analogy is more like your favorite hair stylist who just gave you the perfect haircut. A tip goes a long way in showing your appreciation.
But remember, check local customs and speak to the photographer or studio themselves, they’ll guide you on whether tipping is expected or not.
It’s not mandatory, but surely works as a wind beneath the photographer’s wings, encouraging them for the extra mile they might have covered for your perfect shot.
How Much Should You Tip A Photographer For Their Services?
As you navigate this complex practice, it’s important to remember that tipping a photographer is not a hard and fast rule, but instead a gesture of appreciation.
The commonly suggested tip amount in many service industries is around 15-20%.
However, with photography, various factors come into play. Is the photographer a self-employed individual or are they part of a company? Did they bring any assistants on the job? How long was the photoshoot?
Let’s say you’re having a family portrait taken. The photographer makes you feel comfortable, they’re patient with your little ones, and they spend an extra hour making sure they get the perfect shot. In such cases, providing a tip of 15-20% can be a great way of saying thank you.
Now, consider a photographer you’ve hired to capture your corporate event. They’re part of a larger agency and quoted you a lump sum for their services. In such a case, people often consider tipping them less like 10 – 15% depending on their satisfaction with the service they received.
Nevertheless, with photography, especially for more significant events like weddings, a lower percentage could be more suitable if the costs are particularly high.
So, in a scenario where you’ve hired a high-profile wedding photographer, you may want to tip them a smaller percentage of the total cost, as the overall amount can be considerable.
Similarly, when it comes to tipping second shooters and assistants, you might want to think of it as divvying up a pizza.
The lead photographer gets the largest slice of the ‘tip pie’, and the rest should be appropriately divided among the other members of the team.
Lastly, remember that tipping should be done after all services have been rendered. This way, you can review the photos first and determine if the services were satisfactory.
So, while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how much to tip a photographer, understanding the nature of the service and evaluating the effort expended can help you decide on an amount that feels right and fair. After all, tipping is about gratitude, and it should feel as good for you, the tipper, as it does for them, the tipee.
Who Should You Tip When Hiring A Photographer?
Firstly, if this is a personal photo shoot like a family portrait, a newborn session, or an engagement or wedding shoot, tipping the main photographer can be a wonderful way to express your satisfaction and gratitude for their work.
Picture them as your favorite chef at a restaurant cooking up the most incredible, unforgettable meal, wouldn’t you want to show them some appreciation if you could?
Secondly, if there were ‘sous-chefs’ involved in creating this delicacy– in other words, second shooters or photographer assistants, it’s fitting to tip them as well. They are, after all, a crucial part of the team that brought your beautiful ‘meal’ to life – those cherished photographic memories.
Now, let’s say you’ve hired a photographer to take professional headshots for your company. In this case, think of it like utilizing the services of an external consultant. Tipping isn’t necessarily expected here, but would certainly be appreciated if you believe the individual deserved it for going the extra mile.
And remember, tipping is done at the end, similar to dessert after a satisfying meal. It can be given in the form of cash, added payment on invoices, or some like to add a personal touch with a thoughtful gift.
When Is It Appropriate To Tip A Photographer?
When is it appropriate to tip a photographer?
First and foremost, consider the situation you’re in. Are you a private client commissioning a personal photoshoot, or are you representing a business for a commercial shoot?
Historically, tipping photographers is more common for private clients.
For example, you might get a family portrait taken and find yourself so impressed by the photographer’s ability to capture your toddler’s elusive smile, that you decide to tip to show your appreciation.
But what if you’re planning a wedding, a time when tipping those in the service industry becomes the norm?
Well, there still isn’t a hard-set rule. Some tip their wedding photographers; some do not—it really all boils down to the factors at play.
If your wedding photographer drove two hours out of their service area to capture your big day or worked an additional couple hours without charge, you might find it demonstrative of good etiquette to tip.
The amount you choose to tip also relies on various factors, such as the cost of the photoshoot and type of photography being done.
Just as you wouldn’t tip your barista the same amount you would tip your hairdresser after a $200 haircut, you should adjust the tip amount based on the photographer’s work and value of the service.
It’s often suggested by etiquette experts that 15-20% is a good benchmark for lower-priced services, while a lower percentage may be more suitable for more expensive ones.
Lastly, remember that tipping traditions can vary dramatically from one country to another. While in one country a tip might be seen as a kind gesture, the same practice can be seen as unnecessary in another.
Where Should You Leave A Tip For A Photographer?
Imagine you’ve just had a photoshoot – be it for your wedding, graduation, baby’s first moments, or even a professional corporate headshot.
How the photographer captures these precious moments can indeed make a world of difference.
If the photographs turn out to be outstanding, you’ll likely feel the urge to show your appreciation beyond the agreed payment. And that’s where tipping, a kind of symbolic pat on the back for a job well done, comes into play.
Now, to the crux of your question – where should you leave this tip?
As a straightforward act, tipping photographers can simply involve handing them an envelope or a simple thank you card with the cash or cheque inside at the end of the event or session. However, in today’s digital age, other modes can be far more convenient.
Let’s say the photoshoot was weeks ago, and you just received your final photographs. You are thrilled with the results and want to demonstrate your gratitude.
In situations like this, you could add the tip as an extra payment on the photographer’s invoice. Just like how you might add a little whipped cream and a cherry on top of an already delicious sundae.
If cash or direct transactions feel too impersonal, you can put a spin on it.
Picture this – you’re at a coffee shop and notice the barista who carefully crafted your favorite espresso, adding that dash of frothy milk with a swirl.
You pop an extra cash note into the tip jar. So, similarly, if you spent an afternoon with your photographer in the parks for a family portrait, sending a thoughtful gift or a gift card to their favorite restaurant would also be a sweet gesture of tipping.
From cash in person to digital transactions, and even gifts, the goal here is to appreciate the work and service rendered in a way that resonates best with you.
Just make sure that your intentions are clear and well understood by the photographer. Just like that, we’ve demystified the art of photographer tipping!
Why Do Some People Choose To Tip Photographers?
People choose to tip photographers to show gratitude for their hard work, dedication, and the personal service they provide.
Well, it’s similar to why we tip a waiter at a restaurant or a driver after a comfortable ride; it’s a way of showing gratitude and recognition for the delivery of exceptional service. Receiving a tip can be like a cherry on top of a dessert. It’s not necessary, but it’s a nice treat.
Imagine you’ve invited guests over for a dinner party at your house. The food was cooked to perfection, the hospitality was top-notch, and everyone had a wonderful time.
To show your appreciation, your friends might leave a gift, right? That’s exactly what tipping a photographer is like.
When a photographer goes above and beyond to create a beautiful photograph, captures a memory you’ll treasure forever, or makes you feel comfortable and at ease during a stressful event, it feels natural to want to thank them in some way. Tips are a tangible way to show that appreciation.
Nate Torres is a portrait photographer based in Southern California and is also a photography author for Photofocus.com. When he is not photographing clients he is creating educational photography content that he publishes on his website as well as his YouTube Channel. He is also the founder of Imaginated.com, a search engine of educational creators. Learn more about me here → https://www.natetorresphotography.com/about/