How to Start Charging for Photography?

As a portrait photographer, I used to struggle with the idea of charging for my services. After all, photography was a hobby that I loved, and I found it hard to imagine someone paying me for something that I enjoyed doing so much. But as I started to invest more time and effort into my craft, I realized that my passion and talent were worth something.

If you’re a budding photographer, you might be struggling with the same dilemma. Perhaps you’ve been taking photos for a while, and you’ve started to receive requests from friends and family members to take their portraits. Or maybe you’ve been honing your skills and you feel ready to take the next step and start charging for your services.

Whatever your situation, the good news is that it’s entirely possible to start charging for your photography – and in this article, I’ll be sharing some tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to determine your rates, accept payments, deliver photos to clients, and more.

So if you’re ready to take your photography to the next level, grab your camera and let’s get started!

How Much Should You Charge as a Beginner Photographer?

As a beginner photographer, you should charge similar prices to photographers in your area that have similar experience and talent.

As a beginner photographer, one of the most common questions you might have is how much to charge for your services. It’s understandable to feel a little lost when it comes to pricing – after all, you’re just starting out and you might not have a lot of experience or a well-established portfolio.

But the truth is, even as a beginner, your time and effort are valuable, and you should be compensated accordingly. In the following sections of this article, we’ll dive deeper into how to determine your rates as a beginner photographer and what factors you should consider.

When Can You Start Charging for Photography?

You can start charging for photography when you feel like you want to start charging.

That’s it, plain and simple.

As a beginner photographer years ago (although I still have a beginner’s mindset), I remember feeling uncertain about when I could start charging for my photography services. I had been practicing with friends and family and honing my skills for a while, but I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to start taking paying clients.

The truth was, I was afraid of coming across as inexperienced or unprofessional, and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone who might hire me.

But one day, my friend reached out to me saying that he had a friend who needed some portraits taken and he gave her my number. She reached out to me asking how much I charge and I gave a number that sounded good at the time.

She agreed on the price and it was then that I realized that I didn’t need to wait for anyone’s permission to start charging for my photography. I had the skills and drive to make it work. And while I still had and have a lot to learn, I knew that I was capable of delivering high-quality photos and providing a great experience for my clients.

So, if you’re in the same boat as I was, wondering when you can start charging for your photography, my advice is simple: don’t wait for anyone else to give you the green light.

Believe in yourself, value your time and effort, and take that leap of faith.

But this confidence can be easier said looking back on the situation, so I wanted to provide some tips you can use to start charging for your photography.

5 Tips to Start Charging for Photography

Let’s dive into the five tips I wish I knew before I started charging for photography.

1. Know Your Photography Niche

The first tip to start charging for your photography is to know your photography niche.

When I first started my photography business, I didn’t have a clear idea of what my niche was. I enjoyed taking photos of everything and anything — from landscapes, portraits, events, you name it.

But as I started to get more clients, I realized that I needed to narrow down my focus if I wanted to stand out in a crowded market. And this way, if a potential client landed on my photography portfolio, they would see that I specialize in a certain niche which is important for branding.

To determine my photography niche, I started by looking at my portfolio and identifying the types of photos that I enjoyed taking the most. For me, it was portrait photography and lifestyle photography. I love capturing candid moments and telling stories through this niche.

Once I had identified my niche, it allowed me to start developing my pricing strategy that would reflect my current expertise and the value that I could provide to my clients.

I realized that by specializing in a particular type of photography, I could position my brand as a specialist instead of a “jack of all trades.”

Specializing in a niche also allowed me to create a more streamlined workflow and focus on delivering high-quality photos that aligned with my client’s expectations.

This, in turn, allowed me to charge more for my services and attract clients who were willing to pay for the level of expertise and quality that I could provide.

Plus, by specializing in a certain niche for client work, I was able to better analyze each session afterward to see what went well and what didn’t so I could improve next time.

So, if you’re a beginner photographer, my first piece of advice is to take the time to determine your photography niche. Look at your portfolio, identify the types of photos that you enjoy taking the most, and consider how you can position yourself as an expert in that area. By specializing in a niche, you’ll be able to develop a pricing strategy that reflects your expertise and attract clients who value your skills and experience.

2. Know Your Value

The second tip I have is to know your value.

I struggled with this in the beginning as well. I enjoyed photography and loved taking photos, but I didn’t feel like I had enough experience or expertise to charge what I was worth.

I felt afraid that if I priced myself too high, I wouldn’t get any clients, and if I priced myself too low, I would actually be losing money with the cost of gas, equipment, time, etc.

But after a few client sessions, I started to see the value in my work and the impact that my photos were having on my clients. They would post photos on their website or social media and it would help drive awareness and traffic to their brand!

To determine my value as a photographer, I started by looking at the industry standards and researching the pricing strategies of other photographers in my niche. I also took into account my own experience and expertise, as well as the amount of time and effort that went into each project.

It’s important to be honest and objective with your work — you don’t want to be delusional. You have to look at your work from an objective standpoint and compare it with other photographers to see if your composition skills, image quality, and other experience are on par if you want to charge a similar price.

By understanding my value, I was able to develop a pricing strategy that reflected my skills and experience and attracted clients who valued my work. I learned that it was important to communicate my value to potential clients and not be afraid to negotiate on pricing when necessary.

3. Set Your Rates

The third tip is to now set your rates.

As discussed, it can be challenging to determine a fair price that will also attract clients. You want to set rates that are competitive and also take into account the first two tips I discussed.

Let’s take a closer look at a few factors that you should consider when setting your rates.

Factors That Will Affect Photography Rates

  • Experience: As a beginner photographer, it’s essential to consider your level of experience when setting your rates. It’s okay to charge less if you’re just starting, but as you gain more experience and skills, you can raise your rates.
  • Location: Your location can also impact your rates. If you’re in a big city or a popular tourist destination, you can charge more than if you’re in a smaller town with less demand.
  • Niche: The type of photography you specialize in can also influence your rates. For example, wedding photographers can typically charge more than portrait photographers.

Services and Packages You Are Offering

When setting your rates, it’s also important to take note of the services and packages you are offering.

Are you going to charge hourly or by the session? Are you going to offer special packages? For example, you could offer a 1-hour session and provide 10 photos for a $200 but offer a 2-hour session and provide 20 photos for $350 as an incentive for clients to book the 2-hour session.

As mentioned, just take a look at the photographers in your area to see how they are pricing their services and packages so you can gain some inspiration.

After you gain some experience, you can deviate from the norm if you choose.

Examples of Rates You Can Charge as a Beginner Photographer

As a beginner photographer, you might consider charging anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour, depending on your niche, experience, and location. You can also offer packages that include a set number of hours or photos, which can help attract clients and simplify your pricing strategy.

How to Determine a Fair Hourly Rate for Your Photography

To determine a fair hourly rate, you can factor in your time and expenses, including equipment, editing software, and transportation costs. It’s important to consider all of the expenses associated with your work to ensure that you’re pricing yourself appropriately.

When setting your rates, be sure to clearly communicate what is included, such as the number of photos, the length of the shoot, and any additional editing or retouching. By being transparent about your rates and what is included, you’ll be able to attract clients who are willing to pay for your services and appreciate the value you provide.

4. Photography Payment Contracts

The fourth tip is to create a basic photography payment contract. When I first started I quickly learned the importance of creating contracts and detailed invoices for my clients.

This contract not only protected me from any misunderstandings or miscommunications, but it also provided my clients with a clear understanding of what they were paying for.

When creating a contract, it’s essential to include details such as the scope of the project, the payment schedule, and any additional fees or expenses. It’s also a good idea to include information on cancellations and rescheduling, as well as what happens in the case of a dispute.

For example, you can charge an upfront fee and let them know that if they cancel the session that it is non-refundable.

When it comes to invoicing, it’s important to be detailed and transparent. Include information on the services provided, the amount charged, and any additional fees or expenses. You’ll want to clearly communicate payment due dates and accepted payment methods, as well as any late fees or penalties.

Here are some tips to use that I used when creating your contract and invoice:

  1. Be clear and concise: Your contract and invoice should be easy to read and understand for both you and your client. I recommend just keeping it to one page.
  2. Include all relevant details you can think of: Include all relevant details, such as the scope of the project, payment schedule, and additional fees or expenses. For example, what they can and cannot do with your images, cancellation requests, refund requests, etc.
  3. Get everything in writing: Always get everything in writing to avoid any misunderstandings or miscommunications. For example, you can send it over to them before the photo shoot in a pdf for them to sign.
  4. Use a professional tone: Use a professional tone when creating your contract and invoice to convey that you take your work seriously. You can have 1-2 other people read it over when you’re done to make sure it sounds professional and to proofread it.

By creating this contract early on, it will protect you and your business, and you’ll be able to establish a professional relationship and trust with your clients.

It’s important to note that this contract should not be intricate in the beginning and that you want to keep it simple. Also, remember that it’s not only to protect yourself but also to provide clear instructions and details for your client so they know what to expect!

5. Accepting Payments as a Photographer

The final tip to start charging clients for your photography is to figure out how you are going to accept payments as a photographer.

There are several payment methods available from cash, checks, bank transfer, credit cards, and PayPal.

When I first started out I was just accepting cash payments this way I did not have to hassle with taxes (but I believe I was under the $600 requirement to file taxes anyways…shh don’t tell Uncle Sam).

How do You Bill Clients for Photography?

You bill clients for your photography through a payment system that you set up for your photography business.

You’ll need to do some research on your end for the payment processor that works best for you but the popular options include Square, Stripe, and PayPal.

I personally use PayPal which allows me to easily create invoices and then I just send them to them on PayPal and they pay it with their credit card.

You could also set up a simple website and then integrate Stripe with your website and then have clients pay through your website (this option is a bit more complicated).

The biggest thing you’ll want to do is to make sure you keep every receipt and invoice so that when it comes to tax time you have who paid for what and when.

In the beginning, you’ll most likely have a photography business set up under the Sole Proprietor tax structure and then once you start making more money you may want to create an LLC or Corp but that is a conversation you need to have with your accountant.

So what I recommend is just focus on getting clients and providing as much value as you can and keep leveling up your skill set. When you’re making about half of what you’re making at your full-time job then consult an accountant.

Should You Charge Friends for Photography?

A question that often arises when starting your photography business is whether or not to charge friends for photography services.

In my early days, I found myself in this exact situation. A friend of mine asked to take some portraits of her, but I wasn’t sure if I should charge her. Before this, I had been photographing all my friends for free because I was still learning and growing, but I had decided it was time to start charging for my services.

I faced a dilemma because on one hand, charging friends for photography services can be tricky. You don’t want to come across as greedy or take advantage of the relationship but on the other hand, as someone who was trying to be “professional,” it was important to value my own time and experience at the time and charge accordingly.

After giving it some thought, I decided to charge my friend at a discounted rate and just told her that I’m trying to get more serious with my photography and now charging clients. She was very understanding and even encouraged it which was great.

Deciding to start charging was a win-win because it allowed me to start making some extra money and it also showed who my true friends were. The friends that will understand and even support your decision to start charging are the true friends.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, I hope you took something valuable away from this guide! Starting to charge for your photography services can be a nervous, but exciting experience that every photographer goes through on their journey to becoming a part-time or full-time professional photographer.

Just remember all these tips from this guide and you’ll be good to go! Good luck and go get some paying clients!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I accept payments as a photographer?

To accept payments as a photographer, you can use various methods like cash, checks, bank transfers, credit cards, or online payment platforms like Square, Stripe, and PayPal. Set up a payment system that works best for your business and create and send invoices with detailed information about the services provided, payment due date, and accepted payment methods.

How do you bill clients for photography?

To bill clients for photography, create an invoice with details about the services provided, the total amount due, and the payment due date.

How much should you be charging for photography?

The amount you should be charging for photography depends on several factors, including your niche, experience, location, equipment costs, and overhead expenses. Research what other photographers in your area are charging, consider your costs and time, and set a rate that reflects your value and skills.