Photography Services Pricing | Why I Charge What I do

For those of you that have hired a professional photographer before I’m sure you have asked yourself why these prices?  Why is that photographer so expensive?  I just want pictures of my child and all he/she has to do is hold a camera how can they charge so much?  Well I’m here to help! This is an ultimate guide to photography services pricing and why I charge what I do.

dollar signs
First and foremost, lets clarify what a professional photographer is.    There are many varying opinions on what defines a professional vs a hobbyist photographer.  In my opinion there are a couple of factors that define this.

Professional means:

  1.  Your photography generates over 50% of your income
  2. You are running a successful business that is generating enough income to sustain itself
  3. You are able to deliver quality portraits and products
  4. You are consistent in your artistry
photographer holding camera

Secondly there are also different ways in running a business and delivering your artistry.  Theses photographer classifications refer to the way the images are given to clients and the process to produce those images.

  1. Shoot and Burn Photographers
  2. Shoot and Share Photographers
  3. In Person Sales Product Photographers

Photography Services Pricing | Shoot and Burn Photographers

Essentially anyone with a digital camera are a shoot and burn photographer.  This type of photographer is easier to explain if I give you a little information of portrait image formats.  There are two ways to capture an image with a digital camera.  First being RAW format and second being JPEG images.  JPEG image files are smaller compressed image files that limit the ability to retouch an image file. 

Shoot and burn photographers capture images in this JPEG format.  These photographers do not retouch files before sending to the client.  Essentially what you see through that camera lens is what you get.  Shoot and burn photographers typically have the lowest price point for photography services pricing out of the various types of photographers.  This type of photographer is referred to as an “amateur” photographer.  The image files are downloaded from an online source.  Image files can be printed but print quality is usually sub-par as the image itself has had no retouching.  

Photography Services Pricing | Shoot and Share Photographers

Shoot and share photographers prefer to complete retouched digital images that can be used for various web-based medias.  The retouched images are typically stored on computers, SD cards, or USB drives. When the files are being retouched they are formatted to visually look beautiful on a screen which is commonly referred to as a low-resolution file, in other words low resolution files are not suitable for printing.  There are also many different colour profiles and when an image is retouched it is edited to a certain colour profile.  Every lab colour profile is different which is why prints may look very different at consumer print labs.

Shoot and share photographers typically have a middle price point for photography services pricing. This usually is where most new professional photographers start out.  When I started my business this I where I started.  This is a great way to provide a service to clients depending on the needs of the client and wants of the business owner however it didn’t work for my needs and wants for my business..

This type of photographer also typically has less personal contact with clients.  Any communication is usually done over the phone, email or texting.  This type of photographer is usually more of a meet at a location or studio, takes portrait images and those images are sent online to the client to choose their favorite images for retouching. The images are then retouched by the photographer or sent out to be retouched and delivered via an online gallery, SD card or USB drive.

I find this type of photography to be less personal and usually find that families tend to want to go this route due to not wanting wall art and the wanting more online based portraits as this is now such a digital world. Am I right?

Photography Services Pricing | Fine Art Product Photographers

Fine art product photographers tend to be the highest photography services pricing.  This type of photography is more of a luxury type experience.  This experience is why their pricing tends to be so high.  With a luxury experience it is much more personalized.  The focus of a product photographer is to have clients display their images.   This type of photographer is more focused on physical products such as wall art, prints, canvas, and albums.

With this type of photographer there are consultations to go with every session.  Every photographer is different with the process to their business.  For my photography sessions I have the following meetings.

  1. Virtual Pre-Consultation: Go over the details of the session, pricing, wants and needs of the session, wardrobe, products I offer and more.
  2. Portrait Session: This is where the magic happens
  3. Virtual/In Person Viewing Consultation: This is where families see the final soft proofed images for the first time and order the products that work for them and their home.


Photography Services Pricing | Gear

camera lenses for photography services pricing
One of the leading expenses for photographers is the cost of acquiring the equipment needed to produce beautiful portraits.  This is an astronomical expense.  This expense is the leading cause of the higher amount of photography services pricing.

Not only did I need a digital camera that can meet the needs of my business and the portraits I am taking but I also had to take into consideration which lenses for my camera.  Other factors that I needed to consider are:

  • tripods
  • studio lighting
  • reflectors
  • diffusers
  • camera triggers
  • batteries
  • maintenance of the equipment
  • camera bag
  • camera straps
  • SD cards
  • flashes
  • white balance equipment

To give you an example I photograph with a NIKON D810 which retailed at $5000 when I purchased it and a NIKON 85mm lens (my most used family portrait lens) retails at $2000.

Photography Services Pricing | Running a business

Running a business has a lot of hidden costs no one sees and doesn’t think about.  Licensing fees, business insurance, stationary/office supplies, computers, phone line, internet coverage, postage, storage devices (those files take up a lot of space on my hard drive) and mandatory office programs are all part of these hidden costs.


A business license is necessary to legally run your business.  With a business license you are able to get a GST/HST number and are able to claim taxes at the end of every year and reap tax benefits.  With you GST/HST number you are also able to open a business bank account with the bank and apply for business loans if that is ever needed.


Business insurance is imperative to have to protect yourself in case of an accident. Insurance fees vary due to the nature of this business and options available but a huge part of photography services pricing.  You can choose from simple liability coverage or go as far as protecting your equipment and replacement coverage.


Office supplies is a fairly low expense compared to some of the other expense for running your business. Even though it is one of my lowest expenses it still impacts my photography services pricing.   Office supplies like printer ink, printing paper, pens, stationary, postage, envelopes, business cards, holiday cards, welcome guides and so forth.


Another fairly large expense for my photography businesses was computers.  Due to the nature of this business a higher end computer was necessary due to the need for colour correct screens and sizes of image files.  A large amount of memory in a computer is a huge asset, unfortunately with an increase memory size and screen resolution means a much larger bill when purchased.

photography services pricing - computer

Photography Services Pricing | Studio

portrait studio photography pricing

There are varying options for photography studios and all have pro and cons to each.  I currently have an in-home studio.  This was the practical solution for me as I have two little ones and I gave me to flexibility to keep things close to home and also cut down on my overhead costs.

Some photographers prefer to lease a studio outside of the home which is another great option as well.  This option is another astronomical expense to raise the photography services pricing. A con to leasing/renting a studio are that it does add to the overall monthly costs to your business however some photographers just don’t have the room in their home to have an in-home studio, and prefer to not have people in their home.

With any studio comes the monthly rent payment but can also have the added utilities bills.  Depending on conditions of the rental you may have the added costs of internet accessibility, telephone line, hydro and water bills.

Some other expenses that come with my studio are cleaners, furniture, snacks, beverages, my coffee station.  I keep my studio fully stocked with anything that is needed to keep my clients comfortable and happy during a session.   I also sanitize everything after every session to keep my studio as clean and healthy as possible to aid in keeping the babies that enter my doors healthy from any germs that may cause illness.

Photography Services Pricing | Time

meet the artist and her family

My Wonderful Family!

You might see a photography session as a 2-hour assignment. What you may not realize is the travelling time to reach the location, the setup time, time spent talking to the clients at the venue. There are a number of variables involved in a photography session that take time out of my schedule for instance:

  1. Pre-consultation before the shoot
  2. The photography session
  3. Transferring and backing up the data
  4. Post-processing
  5. Ordering appointment
  6. Delivering the products and digital files
  7. Scheduling a delivery

That isn’t even going into time spent building relationships with the client, marketing, and office hours. Retouching itself may take over a day or many depending upon the number of photographs.

All this time equates to one thing for me and my business and that is time I have to take away from my family.  Time that my children have to say to me “mom can we spend some time together today”.  I don’t get to leave the office and my day is done.  I live, eat and breath my business.  I do this to provide the best possible experience and customer service for my families as well as beautiful images for families to love as well as I love what I do! This is one of my largest reasons for my photography services pricing.

Photography Services Pricing | Software

With photography comes some pretty expensive monthly paid programs that are needed for retouching, the ordering appointment, business management, online gallery viewings, and email marketing, screen calibration and my webpage.


Retouching of every image  involves using programs such as Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop are used.  While they are on the lower end of my monthly fees they still play a part in my overall photography services pricing.  Then let’s not forget the pre-sets that are needed for the retouching itself.  These are tools that help with the actual retouching of things like skin, colours, backdrops and more.


The ordering appointment requires programs like Fundy, or Pro select these are the highest prices for all the software I use.  These programs allow for viewing of images for clients, wall mock ups, making an invoice with product selections and invoicing for purchases made.


For business management there are a substantial number of programs out there that may be utilized.  Programs such as 17 hats, Dubsado, Acquity and so much more.  I currently use Dubsado and it is a customer relationship management program (CRM).  This technology is essentially used for customer interactions with contracts, invoices, and information emails.


Online gallery viewing refers to the program that is used to view and download the matching low-resolution files that come with every product purchase.  I use Pixieset for this.


The purpose of the email marketing to keep my VIP clients in the know with any promotions, model calls and just general information about the business and what is going on.  For my email marketing I found Mailchimp to have everything I needed.


Screen calibration is imperative for a photography business.  This is how I keep the colours proper and the same from the screen of my computer to the final printed product.  I run this program every month or so to make sure what I see on my screen is the exact same quality as the final product delivered to my clients.


My webpage is kind of like the home of my business.  This is where the whole experience starts.  It has all the information you need to get in touch with me, any information about sessions or my business, my portfolio, and my blog.  I currently use WordPress but I have used different webpage hosting companies before and there are a lot of choose from out there.  Wix, Square Space, and Go Daddy are all examples of webpage hosting companies.

Photography Services Pricing | The Experience


The start of my process being a fine art-based product photographer is a quick phone call.  This phone call goes over your needs and wants and is to make sure what I offer is something that works for you.  At the end of this phone call is the client is wanting to proceed I schedule a consultation.  During this consultation (virtual or in person) we really go over everything for your session, we design the session together (colours/props), go over pricing, talk about products I offer, go over wardrobe for everyone, go over the process to a session with our company and go over the contract.  If at the end of this consultation you decide you want to book your session I take payment (in person) or I invoice you (virtual) the session fee and your date and time is set in my schedule.


The day of the session (studio sessions only) you arrive at the studio and are met with breakfast for everyone.  Our makeup artist is ready to get those moms looking and feeling their absolute best for their portraits.  During this time, it gives younger children the opportunity to acclimate to the studio, play in the toy area and get comfortable with me the photographer.  All this helps to get those genuine smiles for your family portraits and always makes for a smoother session with the younger kiddos.  Then when everyone is ready the magic happens and the images are captured.


Approximately 1-2 weeks after the photography session we meet again in the studio or virtually and this is where client visually will see their images for the first time.  I go over all the images with the client and client picks their favorite images to have retouched, we go over products again, decide on products they would like for their home and images for those products the investment is paid at the end of the meeting.

makeup artist

Photography Services Pricing | Professional Services

There are a few of professional services that I utilize for my business full time or when they are needed.

  1. Lawyer
  2. Accountant
  3. SEO development
  4. Editor/Retoucher
lawyer in suit


A lawyer is used for making sure my contracts are in order.  This not only protects me in the case of litigation (not that its ever happened before) but protects my clients as well.  All my images have been copyright protected and anything used without my permission is subject to theft and that is also where my lawyer comes in.


An accountant is obviously utilized come tax time.  Business taxes are far beyond my expertise (and lets be real so very boring) as well as are a much needed and wanted comfort for peace of mind in my business.


SEO stands for search engine optimization and is what is SEO?  SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results online.

My SEO developer essentially teaches me what the heck I’m doing. (it’s very confusing and a bit like a foreign language to me). He helps to make sure I am ranking on Google and gives me the ability to be found online when people are searching for a photographer in my area.


I have very rarely had to use this option but an editor/re-toucher can be utilized to outsource some retouching.  I am very careful about over booking myself and having too much on my plate.  I am a firm believer if I take on too much then the rest of my business and clients won’t get all the attention that is deserved.


Photography Services Pricing | Props

Props are also one of my biggest expenses for my business.  Props can be anything that is worn during a session such as the adorable outfits, tiny tie backs, and soft bonnets for newborn sessions.  My props also include anything that babies sit in or are placed in for sessions such as buckets, baskets, and crates.

Backdrops are also part of my props.  Whether it be my variety of wall backdrops or my fabric backdrops for my newborn session.  Photography props tends to be very expensive and then factor in the international shipping fees and that is one more reason for my photography services pricing.

So, as you can see there are a lot of factors that go into photography services pricing.  Every business has different needs and runs there process a little different.  It’s not just a simple click of a camera button and your done.  When you add up all the monthly fees, extra expenses, props, and equipment needed, the results are astronomical.    So, while one may see that $1000 dollars and think there is no way I’m spending that kind of money on a photographer she is overpriced you have to think to yourself what all does the price include?  A professional photography session is an investment.  An investment in your family and of the people you care most about on this earth.  Always remember you get what you pay for.

The Biggest Difference Between Professional Photographers and Hobbyists

What’s the Real Cost of Doing Business as a Photographer

Average Cost of Baby Photography