What new photographers NEED to know about photography pricing

Guest post by Mike Allebach
 | Photography by Mike Allebach

Remember Mike Allebach's 12 things wedding photographers want to tell you, but can't? He's here to let newbie photographers know all about valuing their time…

New photography pricing advice as seen on @offbeatbride #photography
Be true to you | Photo by Mike Allebach

The sky isn't falling and the photography industry doesn't need another “price justification” blog post to share with clients. Yes, owning a photography business is tough. Owning any business is tough. Especially “fun” businesses. I still have hard days, weeks, and months. There is more competition than ever, yes. There are also lots of photographers who have successful businesses… based on solid business principles.

Value your time

Instead of writing another, “this is why we charge what we do” blog posts for clients, the photography industry needs to better educate its new photographers. When you are making less than minimum wage and calling yourself a professional, it's just a sad hobby. Do it for fun, or do it for money — or both. But raise your prices as quickly as possible if you call yourself a business. Value your time. Let other people show you they value yours. Many people are better keeping photography and business separate. It's okay to keep money out of photography and just do what you love as a hobby.

Interning > School

Interning with successful business people is much more important than photography school.

Learn business.

Track your hours and get honest with what you are making.

What to charge

A helpful rule of thumb for first year of photography business is charge 10 times what you want to make after taxes and expenses. If you want to make $100 on a shoot, charge a minimum $1,000. Divide the $100 by the hours you put in and that's your hourly wage. A $2,000 wedding can quickly look like a $6/hour job if you aren't careful.

So many photography students are making less than minimum wage working for themselves. It's sad. Know your worth. Value art and convey that to your clients. We all start somewhere. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Just be honest with yourself. Do I have a hobby or a business? Am I going to treat this thing like a business or a hobby? From there, love your clients. Value them. Treat them like no other business treats them. Do your best. Make mistakes. And realize, maybe you do have one of the best jobs in the world.

More killer photography advice from Mike:

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Comments on What new photographers NEED to know about photography pricing

  1. I completely agree with valuing your time but I feel compelled to point out that if you subtract taxes and expenses, what you are left with is not your “hourly wage”, at least not as most people define it. The minimum hourly wage does not have taxes removed. And if you’re trying to compare it to a job you had as an employee, it’s a little more complicated because the taxes you pay when you’re self-employed are different.
    I would suggest taking out large expenses ( rental equipment and overhead ) and divide that number by total number of hours worked to get a rough idea of your “hourly wage”.

  2. Love this! Always value your time and others will join you in valuing both you and your time.

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