Tips From theLoop: How to Price Photography? (August, 2016)

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for theloop_128.jpgtheLoop is the photographer-only forum for PPA members. It's a perfect way to network, and get photography advice from your peers. Have a photography question? Post it on theLoop and watch the answers flood in! PPA photographers want to get to know and help each other, so don't be shy. Head on over to the theLoop and connect with your fellow photographers, and get answers to some of your most pressing questions. 

Here's an example of one of this week's questions!

Q: I hope to have my web site finalized in the next month but have been going back and forth about pricing structure.  Part of me wants to Not be a discount service. I want to do more boutique is the plan.  -Ryan Berman

Hi Ryan, 


I think the answer to your question really depends on what you're basing your pricing on. Speaking from personal experience, giving all those photos edited to the client is a nice gesture, but it's not worth the time unless you're getting paid for each one. Looking at the competition's prices definitely has its place in marketing, but if it's the only thing you look at your business probably won't succeed. Here's a link that I found to be very helpful when setting my own prices: How much should photographers charge in 2016?. The article also has a link to a calculator that was very useful to me in figuring out my expenses. I hope that helps!  -Christopher Harrison 

Hey Ryan, 

Have you checked out the PPA business challenge? Angela Kurkian (Director of the PPA education department) actually has a section in the challenge where she goes over pricing. She'll be starting a new one in September, and I think having a question like this makes you a great candidate for the challenge.

Check out the Pricing Strategy Webinar we have out on PPAedu and the Self Assessment tool which will ask a series of questions, and make recommendations. If you would like to be added to the September Business Challenge, let me know and we will take care of it.  -DJ Adams


You have to look at your cost of doing business when you're setting your portrait prices. The PPA Benchmark Survey summary is a very good place to start in understanding your business and how you should be pricing for profit.

Business portraits (headshots) are a very different market from high school seniors and families. In my business, there's a flat fee for business headshots ($149) that includes one finished image and a broad package of usage rights, with the image delivered as a digital file in sizes for print and web. If the client wants more than one finished image there's an additional charge of $30 to cover the retouch and finishing time.

I don't understand the business model for seniors and families that you're considering: flat fee that includes a lot of retouched images. It's very appealing to clients, but doesn't serve you very well as a business person. Think carefully about how much time you'll spend retouching each image. Even if you can do a nice job in 7 minutes, multiply that by 60 images and you've got 420 minutes of intense retouching time in the job. That's 7 hours of work on top of your session time. If you need to earn $50/hour then that's $350 just for your time. Follow the PPA benchmark guidelines for a 25% cost of goods, and you've marked up your time by a factor of four to get $1400 you need to be charging your client, plus your session fee.

Personally, I couldn't stand spending 7 hours retouching one client's images. I'd go mentally bonkers and destroy my body from sitting at a computer that long.

When I started down the path to portrait photography I spent 3 days in PPA's SMS Business Workshop. It was well worth the trip to Atlanta. We spent a full day on pricing. I haven't looked recently, but I presume those classes are still being offered. -Mark Turner

Check in with theLoop to see what other photographers are posting, and how you may be able to help them!