The Two Keys To Consider When Setting Rates As A Photographer

As a client, have you ever wondered how a Photographer comes up with the rate that he quotes you for the project that you queried about? Do you find yourself thinking that s/he just plucked it from thin air? This blog post is for you to gain some clarity.

Are you a Photographer with a budding business, but still a bit confused about how to price your work? This blog post is also for you.

*Please Note: I do not claim to be the ultimate expert, but I’ve gathered a lot over the past few years, and would love to encourage you to do your own personal research, in order to make informed decisions.

Recently, I was asked “What is your flat rate?”, and for a minute, I was taken aback. It got me thinking how common it is for other photographers to charge “flat rates”, what exactly is included, and are they aware that it may not be the only (or best) way to price their work?

There is a lot to take into consideration when it comes to pricing, and this goes for absolutely any business with a product/service on offer. As a Photographer, or other such person in a creative field, this aspect may get a little complicated at first, but in the long run will prove to be worthy of serious consideration. We’re creative people, passionate about our work, but we also need to ensure that we are being purposeful about how we sustain our passions as a business. The stuffy business side may not be our favorite thing to pay attention to, but if you’re serious about making this your life, you have to commit yourself to finding a way to work on it consistently. Just think of it as another piece of artwork.

When considering how to properly price your work, you need to also keep in mind that not all clients or projects are the same, and will require varying levels of your creative genius. I mean, if you’re a Photographer like me that provides services for personal and commercial reasons, then you should already understand some of what I’ll be talking about for the rest of the article. Keep in mind, however, that you can decide that your particular niche (weddings, for example) may not apply, and that’s fine.

The two things that Photographers should absolutely keep in mind when pricing their products/services are Creative Fee and Usage Fee

Creative Fee

A Creative Fee is the rate that a professional will attach to the completion of their creative work. It is focused on not only the equipment used, but heavily on the knowledge and skill that the professional has to utilize to complete each project successfully. There are various factors that may factor into the stated cost of a creative service including, but not limited to, the scope of the project, the special abilities of the creative expert spearheading the project, as this individual’s experience and reputation in his industry. Some may also factor in the cost of overhead charges and equipment use into their rate.

Below, I list some of the most common initial expenses that can be factored into setting a rate for your Creative Fee:

Transportation: Is the location of the project outside of your usual locale?

Camera/Equipment Usage: Wear and tear is a real concern for any professional with equipment that is integral to completing their work.

Assistance: Depending on the scope of the project, the best end result cannot be achieved by just one person. Everyone needs a little help sometimes.

Special mention, but no less important:
– Electricity Usage:
– Editing Software
– Storage (External & Cloud)
– Time Spent in Post-Production

As you can tell, the work of a Photographer is not just Pose/Snap/Post. This fee is probably as close to a “flat rate” that many creatives come to, however, it is only one half of a larger picture.

Usage Fee

The Usage Fee is where you start to do a bit more tailoring. This fee is dependent on how the client intends to use the content that your expertise creates. The Usage Fee can vary based on a variety of factors, but it is easier to think of it as a separation between personal and commercial.

Some clients only intend to use your content for personal use, opting to decorate their personal space (home, office, etc.), as well as their personal social media accounts.

On the other hand, other clients will intend to use the finished product for a myriad of commercial reasons. In simple terms, the content created will be used for the generation of income, whether directly or indirectly. This could include anything from product advertisement, to individual personal branding.

It is important to take the Usage Fee into account at the beginning of the client-professional relationship, as most usage fees will accompany a Usage Rights License. The Usage Rights License is essentially a rental agreement between photographer and client, clearly specifying the intended purpose of content use, mediums and formats to be used for presentation, as well as the period the content is intended to be used.

Below are a few examples:

Advertising: Sells something, like an ad, and can include both physical and virtual spaces for presentation.

Promotional: Promotes something, like a poster for an upcoming event.

Public Relations: Awareness-driven and less commercial than plain promotion.

Corporate: Annual reports or internal materials like sales kits and manuals.

Editorial: Informational in nature, not necessarily commercial. May accompany an article or be included in a book.

Personal: Not used to generate any form of income or compensation from the images.

I hope this has given you a clearer idea of how to set your rates in a way that maintains the integrity of your work, while providing the most value for your clients.

Take Note

PetaPixel published an article titled, “How Much Should A Photographer Charge In 2016“.
It is a great starting point for doing your own research to making informed decisions about your business and career.

Blog Post Image By Thorn Yang

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