Photography Pricing
Learn how much to charge for freelance photography jobs and projects.

What's my rate?  

Working as a freelance photographer certainly has its perks and provides the freedom to plan your own hours as well as the ability to choose the types of jobs you’d like to take. However, it can be difficult when the comfort of a salary is not there and you are the one who has to decide how much to charge as a photographer. Depending on which type of photography you offer, it is important to understand how much you should charge as a photographer and what to consider when deciding your photography pricing. When you work as a freelancer, a photographer’s hourly rates is often unpredictable or nonexistent, leading to confusion around how much you should be making monthly, yearly and from each job or project.

Photography Pricing

 

Freelance photographer rates vary. They are often decided and negotiated between the client and the photographer on each individual project.

So how much should you charge as a photographer?

The short answer is, it depends on a lot of variable factors and rarely will two freelance photographers earn the same amount for the same job. To give you a loose idea, here is what an average photographer earns in the UK. Determining how much to charge as a photographer can be helped by becoming familiar with the average photography salary. In the UK, 15% of freelance photographers earn between £20,000 and £30,000 a year, however, most freelance photographers earn less than this. On average, freelance photographers earn around £18,821 annually, with starting salaries thought to be as low as £12,000. Hourly, freelance photographer rates come in at around £25.62 per hour on average.

However, these figures are skewed by the number of new freelance photographers joining the industry with the average rate for a working photographer with over a year’s experience a lot higher. Here is a breakdown of the types of photography as well as what to consider when naming your price.

 

1. Photography Pricing From the Clients Perspective

When working as a freelance photographer, it is important to develop a knack for finding clients, developing a working relationship, and eventually keeping them as a constant source of income. When starting out as a freelance photographer with no contacts, any leads you can dig up are gold dust. Leads can come from an array of places. Post on your Facebook page, go through your LinkedIn contacts, if you made any leads during your education or course, now is the time to contact them. Often it’s friends and family that give freelance photographers their first job. Be thankful for the work, these early clients form the backbone for your freelance career. Through networking, word of mouth and personal recommendations freelance photographers can find their first few paid jobs quite easily. Building from this and sustaining a business is the difficult part. 
 
These methods listed above are much more personal than unsolicited emails and will allow clients to gauge your character and form an impression of you, a much more valuable way for them to decide who they would like to work with. So, when you do start securing clients, it is important to think about things from their point of view when deciding how much to charge as a photographer. 

Note: new freelance photographers often offer their service for ‘experience’. We would strongly recommend against this as it devalues your skill and undermines the industry. If you’re good enough, you should be paid. If you’re starting out and feel you’re still learning then lower your rate but don’t give it away for free. 

Photography pricing in the UK


 
Honesty
It’s understandable if you want to keep your 9 to 5 a secret, in fear that it will make you look unprofessional, but it is always vital to be upfront with clients about what position you are currently in as it affects the amount of work you can take on and how long it will take you to do it. 

Particularly in the corporate world, part-time photographers will be less appealing, but the underlying point is that your work, and how you approach promoting your work, should be the most important thing, regardless of what else you do to pay the bills or fill your time.
 
Contracts
Even small one-off jobs are more secure with contracts. They add a formality that will work as a positive asset in your professional life. Essentially, they decrease the risk of working with new and established clients by clearly outlining what the relationship is between you and your client and what is expected of both parties. 

Many new photographers shy away from using contracts, particularly for small jobs, as they perceive them as an extravagance that a client will balk at, however, contracts not only add a level of professionalism, they set a president for a new client and can help get photographers paid on time.

2. Photography Pricing in a Niche Market or Multiple Sectors?

Fashion Photographer
A fashion photographer will work closely with fashion designers, retailers, brands and models to create a specific look that follows the brands’ particular aesthetic and shows off their products and styles. ‘Fashion Photographer’ is a broad title as the term can refer to fashion shoots that take place in a studio, others on location with large fashion teams whilst a photographer who shoots fashion shows will often classify themselves as a ‘Fashion Photographer’ albeit the role is more akin to events photography. 

The fashion sector is a highly competitive market and is one that falls victim to exploitative brands who ask photographers to work in return for credits, experience, exposure or prestige. This has resulted in an extreme pricing range with very little mid-range pricing. New photographers are undercutting the competition whilst top level photographers who can offer exceptional results are seeing a higher return than in the past due to their demand.  

Fashion photographers, more so than most other sectors in the photography market, tend to price based on the specific brand. Prestigious brands attract most applicants who like the idea of adding big names to their portfolio.

The other major factor is kit. A fashion photographer with a studio will have higher overheads such as studio rent, lighting upkeep and staff. Such expenses must be factored in when setting an hourly or daily rate for the business to show a profit. 

Pricing up a fashion shoot ranges from £20 - £40 per hour for most new photographers (without a studio) whilst established photographers can command rates between £40 - £80 per hour. Top tier, agency represented photographers, can earn substantially more, however, finding representation generally requires years of experience and an exceptional portfolio. 

Street Photography Rates
 

 

Sports Photographer
Predominantly taking photographs at sports events, sports photographers must now how to perfectly capture the action of the moment. They will work with sports writers and publications to ensure that the teams are shown in the best way.

The speed in which a sports photographer can turn around a shoot is vital. We work in near real-time capacity now and online publications often require images as they happen. The average yearly salary for a sports photographer is £19,000. 
 
Event Photographer
Event photographers work at a wide range of occasions including corporate events, birthdays, baby showers, club nights, concerts and festivals. They often do not have a particular niche to begin with and instead work for those wishing to have their event photographed be it businesses or individuals. 

Over time, event photographers tend to specialise in certain sectors and often price their service based on that sector. Private clients (eg: birthday parties or baby showers) tends to pay a modest rate and the work can be seasonal whilst corporate event photography pays well and comes with more additional add-ons such as retouching and occasionally artwork / Photoshop / graphic design work.  On average freelance event photographers earn £190 to £320 per job. 

Wedding Photographer
Wedding photographers work for couples who wish to have their wedding day recorded. The photographer must artistically direct the couples’ special day by capturing memories and telling the story of their relationship and wedding day. 

It is important that the photographer has an eye for capturing and displaying emotion and they will work closely with the newly married couple when choosing and editing the final images. Some wedding jobs require the photographer to scout the location before the wedding, travel to exotic locations and capture thousands of images that will later be whittled down to a handful of keepers. 

In the UK, the average yearly salary for wedding photographers is £19,136.
 
Photojournalist
Photojournalists work for the press and the media. They tell visual stories and are recruited to provide a vital element to news articles that a journalist cannot do alone. The primary focus of a photojournalist is to capture the image that best tells the story. 

However, with online content becoming a major outlet and more media sites utilising ‘real’ images, photojournalists are currently in a state of flux. Budgets for print has dropped and work is less stable.  

For photojournalists, the average starting salary ranges from £12,000 to £16,000, this can raise to between £18,000 to £22,000 with more experience and then anywhere between £25,000 to £60,000 when the photojournalist becomes very experienced. 

Portrait Photographer
Portrait photographers can work from their own studios or travel to others. They stage the set and surroundings to complement their subjects and their clients, who include babies, school children, pets, families, headshots, actors, business people and individuals.  

We’re seeing a spike in portrait photography for professionals looking to invest in their personal brand. Profile images and professional shots for use in press are becoming more and more in demand. Pricing for portrait photography is often based on studio time and post-production. Due to higher overheads, portrait photographers often have to set higher rates to cover additional costs. The average salary for a portrait photographer is £107 to £128 per job.
 
Travel Photographer
Travel photographers are paid to seek out the most unique, tranquil and exotic locations all over the world. They have a keen eye for architecture, destinations and nature and the job is based around where you are.

Travel photographers find work with a variety of clients including location specific brands such as airlines or tourist offices. Travel photography requires a lot of time, well, travelling! The cost of which should be factored into your rates. Freelance travel photographers often use travelling time to edit images, do their admin or seek out the next job. The average yearly salary for a freelance travel photographer is £22,000.
 
Advertisement Photographer
Advertisement photographers create images that can be used as part of the marketing visuals for various businesses. They will usually work to a brief with clients and will focus on showcasing the clients vision.

Most large brands will use an agency to source a photographer for their advertising campaign. Smaller brands prefer to source photographers directly to cut out the middleman and save on costs. The average yearly salary for a freelance advertisement photographer is £22,000.
 
Stock Photographer
Stock photographers take photographs of everyday objects, landscapes, and made up scenarios, all to be used online in the public domain. Stock photography agencies are the middlemen between photographers and photo buyers, they host photos and pay the photographer commission on a regular basis.
Rates will be set by the Stock site. On average stock photographs generate £1 per photo.

Wildlife Photographer
A wildlife photographer takes photographs of animals and various environments in their natural habitats. The job role requires a lot of travel and time in exotic places. Most wildlife photographs are published in wildlife publications. The average salary for a wildlife photographer is £16,900. 

 

 

3. What to Consider When Setting Photography Pricing 

The cost of doing business (CODB) varies from project to project. The main aspects to consider are the client you are working for and how much work you are expected to produce when trying to decide your freelance photographer rates. 
 
Photography, like all other job roles that exist in the arts and creative industries, sees those in the top ten-percent make an above average living, while the rest put in a lot of effort to make a mediocre living or barely scrape by at all.
 
With the industry so competitive and having such a large gap between the highest and the lowest earners, it is vital that you have a prepared pricing plan and aim to earn as much as possible, within reason. There isn’t a set photography hourly rate, like other job roles, but here are some factors to consider:
 
Costs of materials
Photography is a business that requires a lot of equipment, and as a freelancer you will be required to provide these yourself and all together, they usually add up to thousands. It varies but the essential kit that every photographer requires include but aren’t limited to:
  • Camera
  • Lenses
  • Filters
  • Lighting
  • Reflector
  • Tripod
  • Diffuser
  • Studio Hire
  • Photographic Paper
  • Post Production Costs
Photography lens
Time taken to carry out a project
Ask yourself, how much time will I need to set aside for this project? How much research is involved and how much research has already been carried out? Am I working towards a brief or providing the concept as well as the photographs? Have I got a basic photography hourly rate?
 
It is important to remember that post-production will often be the most time-consuming part of any photography project. A wedding photographer, for example, may shoot for half a day, produce 1000 shots and spend the next whole day sorting through the images. 
 
You should always agree on an expected delivery date and payment method with your client and stick to it. Pre-production, which includes location scouting, gathering and setting up equipment, or buying or renting anything that you may need for the photo shoot, is also a vital process to consider when it comes to calculating the project time.
 
Many clients, particularly those in the private sector, do not appreciate the amount of work that has to be done before and after a shoot. Quoting for a job, therefore, requires a fine balance between a competitive price and not scaring away a potential job. 
 
Tip: When quoting, break down a quote into pre-production, post-production and shoot time for the client so they can see where your time is going to be focused. You could also add in an ‘extras’ column if there are miscellaneous costs. Beside each sub-quote, note if it is necessary or optional so the client can choose which aspects to purchase. 
 
Branding, Advertising and Marketing Costs
Every freelance photographer needs to self-market and self-promote their work in order to be successful and to attract clients. Although the majority of branding is one off, such as website creation, business cards, and an amazing portfolio, how you market yourself and your work is a constant cost to think about and to be prepared for. These costs include:
 
  • Website Creation
  • Networking Events
  • Business Cards
  • Online Portfolio
  • Offline Portfolio
  • Advertising expenses
  • Stands at expos
 
Travel Time
You should also consider raising the price if the job requires you to travel far away from your home. Many travel, wedding and event photographers have to travel far and wide for work. Clients are often happy to cover these costs to secure the services of certain photographers, however, ensure that this is discussed and agreed before saying yes to a job. We would strongly recommend including these costs in the contract. The allure of flying to an exotic island for a shoot may seem like a holiday but it’s often hard work, hotels and airports so think twice if you choose to cover your own travel costs. 
 
Paid by The Hour
Some photographers, typically those who work in events will set an hourly rate for each job. This allows photographers to be paid appropriately for a day’s work as well as for any long hours or overtime. The majority of the work that each project requires will be expected to be completed in a short time frame and if you are being paid hourly, you want to ensure that you are being paid for all of your time and are paid as much as possible for the job. The more experienced you are, the more you can charge per hour, though this method of payment can be unpredictable for all parties involved so it is vital that you state how long it will take you to complete the project before beginning it. It is wise to work out how much you need to earn each year and divide this until you come up with an hourly rate that will help you to reach your yearly goal.
 
Per-image-pricing
You may want to consider pricing your work per image. This will make it easier to set prices and you will consider the size of the images, the time taken to capture the image and edit it and how the image will ultimately be used. With this method, there is less risk for the client as they can have more control over how much they spend and thus, this type of setup may be more appealing to them.
 
Copyright
In the digital age, issues surround the copyright of images are all the more prevalent, but as a freelance photographer, it is vital that you protect every image that you take. 
 
Research from the British Photographic Council collected data from a survey completed by
1,698 photographers working in the UK market. The subjects were asked about their views on copyright, their income and and the threats to their businesses. The results revealed that freelance photographers who keep their copyright earn on average 33.2% more than those who routinely give their copyright to clients. As a photographer you completely own all of the work that you produce regardless of what the client decides to do with it, this needs to be clearly stated on the contract.
 
When pricing for a job, discuss the option for the client to buy the images outright. Image ownership should be considered as much as the time it takes to capture the shoot. Agreeing on the ‘usage’ of an image is paramount and will determine the cost. Worldwide usage of a model will cost more than national coverage, for example.  
 
Your Competitors
You are not the only freelancer in the job pool and therefore it is important to keep a keen eye on competitors. Remember, clients are weighing up your talent and skills alongside others. So, when setting a photography rate, it’s important to be aware of what your competitors are doing and ask yourself what can you provide that is unique to you and will make you stand out in a competitive market. How much to charge as a photographer can often be easier decided by looking at your competitors.
 
Taxes
As soon as you start earning an income from freelance photography you will need to complete your own taxes. To do this, you will need to register yourself as self-employed through HMRC. Afterwards, you will have to submit a tax return that details your yearly income. The deadline is 31st October for paper submissions or 31st January for online submissions.
 
Benefits
Salaried jobs have a contract that details the health and holiday benefits that each employee is entitled to. These include dental, vision, life insurance, pensions, time off due to illness and holiday pay. As a freelance photographer, it is crucial that you consider adding these to your final fee. You do not need to require a separate fee for each of these, but it is advisable to mentally add them to the price that you come up with for each job or project.

 

4. Freelance Photography Pricing Fee Guide

Freelance photographer rates and the photography hourly rate can change depending on where your work is ultimately going and what type of platform it will be published on. When it comes to how much to charge as a photographer, the basic photographer rates for varying media sectors according to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) are:
 
Magazines
Magazine shoot rates vary greatly with the key influencing factor usually being the size of the publication and the scale of its reach. For commissions, photographers can earn up to £800 a day for large magazines and up to £300 for smaller publications. For stock pictures the rate can go up to £480 for a cover in a large – circulation magazine or £250 for a smaller magazine.
 
 
Public Relations
Most photography jobs in PR go on for the whole day as the industry rarely accepts a half day job. For commissions, photographers can earn up to £480 for a day if the budget is high if the budget is on the lower end of the scale, photographers can earn up to £310 for a day’s work.  For stock pictures that have a high budget, you can earn up to £550 for a cover, for low budgets, this number is £350.
 
Corporate Work
For photography in the corporate sector, companies will require you to take photographs that promote their organisation or as part of an advertising campaign. For commissions, you can expect to earn up to £1500 for a high-budget project or up to £800 for a low budget project.
 
National Newspapers
Some of the lowest photography rates come from national newspapers and although not recommended by the NUJ, some of these publications charge around £250 for a day’s photography work. The average day-rate is £200. For stock pictures, a photographer can earn from £65 to £210 depending on the size of the images and how much of the page they are covering.
 
Regional Newspapers
Regional newspapers typically offer quite low rates and for commissions, the day rate ranges from £100 to £120. For stock images, the rate ranges from £60 to £100, depending on the size of the images.
 
Videography
Videography shoots usually last a day or two, but the post-production process adds up to two extra days. A day’s shoot for a commission pays up to £500. TV news footage ranges from £250 to £300 depending on the video length.
 
Broadcasting
Photographs used in television broadcasts pay a varying amount depending on the length of time the image is broadcasted for. For commissions, you should earn at least £275, but this rate can rise to £435. Stock pictures can range from £85 to £110.
 
Books
Commission rates for books vary from £300 to over £500. If the book can be marketed across a range of categories, the fee increases. Stock pictures that are used in UK books have a rate ranging from £60 to £480, the rate varies depending on which countries the book will be sold in.
 
Online use of photos
For the online use of photographs, the rate depends on the size of the images. For advertorial and newspapers, the rate ranges from £150 to £625, the rate increases the longer that the images are online. For commercial and business uses, the fee ranges from £110 to £850 and for editorial uses, it ranges from £65 to £425.

 

Photography Office setup

4. Photography Pricing Summary

Freelance photography is not a venture for everyone; it’s time-consuming and requires a lot of knowledge on the inner workings of the industry, but if carried out correctly it can be an extremely rewarding career choice.
 
There is rarely a fixed fee to any project so it is important to have negotiation skills as well as being competent at money management, as it will be a constant part of your job and livelihood. Use this guide to analyse how much you need to make yearly from photography and what vital factors you need to consider when negotiating a fee. It will be useful to keep coming back to this guide to remind yourself of the average fees for each sector and types of photography and how to approach setting a final price. 

 

Photography Pricing Rates 2018

 

 

 

 

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