Setting photography rates can be a confusing. It’s something that stops most photographers in their tracks. Especially for freelance rates, photography has a number of nuances that should be considered. Whilst using conventional freelance rates calculators may provide a ballpark figure, it can often be way off the mark for your sector, location and experience. Here is our guide to help you find your true worth as a freelance photographer and hit that pricing sweet spot. 

 Photography Rates Jobs

Setting freelance photography rates is a challenge and something that is vital to get right from the start. Charging too much or too little can have a long-term impact on your freelance business. We've found that using an online freelance calculator can be misleading as there are too many unquantifiable factors.

Are you looking to hire a freelance photographer? Click here to post a project and receive freelance rates directly from the freelance photographers. 

For those who are into ballpark figures, the average hourly rate for a freelance photographer in the UK is around £20.

Photography day rates tend to be a little lower than hourly rates. This offers the client more value and provides the freelance photographer with more chargeable hours. The day rate, when using online freelance calculators for photography rates also take into account your location, experience, and age. We at Freelancer Club tend not to put too much emphasis on all of these factors (nor do the employers who use our platform) so take from that what you will. If your work is strong, your price is right and communication is clear throughout, you've got a good chance of landing the job! 

Using a range of online tools, the average daily rate of a London based freelance photographer with 4 - 5 years of experience, aged between 29 - 34 is around £220 (£27.50 per hour). We feel this rate is too low and doesn't take into account a number of key components. Our data shows an average day rate for someone with similar experience to be closer to £300 per day. 

There are a few ways you can figure out your hourly rate and many schools of thought on how much to charge a client, however, we have yet to find a calculator or formula that can do it for you. Here are the things to consider when setting your photography rate. 

Photography Freelance Rates 2019

Setting an hourly rate or quoting project by project? 

Hourly Rate

Setting hourly rates has one main advantage over setting photography rates per freelance project and that is that you will be paid for the work you do regardless of the time it takes. A difficult client can be as fussy as he or she wishes, the photographer will still get paid and, most likely, welcome the extra hours. It does, however, come with a level of trust that the freelancer is billing accurately and not taking advantage of the client. Employers (particularly those running startups or small businesses) have a major problem with freelancers who try to bamboozle them with jargon or fail to show their workings when the bill arrives. One way to combat this is to manage the client's expectations from day one. 

You might say that a project will take 2 days, including 3 edits, all within the price. Anything over this and your hourly rate will kick in. What you don't want is for the project to get out of hand and the client to lose trust in you or your service. Professionalism, communication, and respect, generally leads to repeat business or referrals in the freelance photography world. It's far easier to retain a client than it is to land a new one. Check out time management Apps like Timely or Monday. These tools ensure that you're being transparent and the client can see what they are paying for. Many photography jobs will take place in a client's space or studio. These shoots tend to reduce any such issues as the client is often present throughout the process. 

A simple photo shoot may come with a very picky client who requests multiple changes and edits. Protecting yourself against this type of additional work is paramount to your survival (more on this later). First and foremost, it's a good idea to know your hourly rate. 

Setting Photography Rates

As a freelancer, you should be charging for your flexibility, quality, experience, and delivery. As a guide, here are a few figures to help you find your sweet spot. 

In full-time employment, the starting salary for junior photographer is around £15,000 to £19,000 per year, this can rise to £27,000 with some experience. A middleweight photographer can command between £25,000 to £35,000. Whilst the salary for senior photographer ranges from £35,000 to £55,000. If you work as a freelancer, you can earn anything between £200 and £400 per day with a few years of experience (although most clients on our platform don't care about experience if the photographers portfolio is professional). The rate should increase as you grow, gain experience and become more in demand.  

Project (Flat) Rate

Some freelance photographers believe in asking the client for their budget and charge whatever a client is willing to pay. The slight danger in this approach is if any two clients were to discuss their project with one another and felt there was a discrepancy in the price, it wouldn't reflect well on the photographer. It's highly unlikely this scenario would ever arise, however, with integrity and word of mouth such important aspects for freelance photographers, quoting per project should still have a level consistency that a photographer can justify. 

In cases when the client does not provide a budget, setting a flat rate for a piece of work takes skill. Start by obtaining as much information from the client as possible. This may include their expectations, deadline, usage, and format. The next aspect is to manage their expectations that you can lay out in your contract. These may include the number of changes before you begin to bill for overtime, your hourly rate (see above) and the consequences of missing deadline. 

Setting Freelancer Photography Rates 2019

Give yourself a little wiggle room.

Your flat photography rate probably needs to be higher than you think. Let's imagine your hourly rate is £50 and you think a shoot will take 1.5 hours, you may want to quote £100 in case you go over (and you probably will). There's almost always an 'extra change' that has to be made and those extra changes add up. 

Researching rates & the Gig Economy

5 years ago, the first step when researching rates would be to compare your prices with competitors in your local area. For example, in London, experienced photographers charge between £250 to £500 per day. However, freelance photography work is not always location specific and it's not uncommon to be quoting against global applicants for a remote piece of work. It's less common than graphic or web design, for example, but more clients are sending products to photographers to shoot remotely when they see this as a more efficient way to save. 

The current market has thrown everything up in the air and photographers are regularly being undercut by those with lower overheads, newbies to the industry or those who don't know their worth. In these cases, our data shows that employers rarely choose the cheapest option. The quality of the work is still at the forefront of an employers decision when hiring a freelance photographer whilst professionalism, communication and creativity are not far behind. 

Freelance photographers, like most creative freelancers, must now adapt to the new world of filters, tech and amateur snappers being able to apply for jobs. We interviewed hundreds of employers who highlighted the importance of delivering a piece of work on time. They also valued regular communication, particularly at the start of a project when discussing the brief, as one of their top priorities. Freelance photography rates should not have to drop to compete with the market so long as one recognises how the value of their services has shifted. 

When you set your desired salary, remember to be realistic. Clients will want to see a good level of experience and a solid photography portfolio to justify higher freelance rates.

Undercutting the Market

When setting freelance rates, remember that photography is a competitive area to work in. Some clients ask photographers to propose a price on a project-by-project basis with a skeleton brief. This is incredibly difficult when starting out as a freelancer, it's also often advantageous for the client as they know you'll try to be competitive and hold you at a cheap rate. 

If clients try to push down your freelance rates, stand firm. Some clients don’t understand the costs behind operating as a freelance photographer and the years of experience you have built up to perfect your skill set. Ultimately, they’re not worth it - but you are.