How Much Should You Pay for a Photographer?

How Much Should a Portrait Shoot Cost?

Google says that portraits range from  $150-300. 

They can also go up depending on the complexity and needs of the image.

A photographer will need to charge a minimum of $400 per day to cover the cost of living when they are keeping up their equipment, paying insurance, and studio rent.  Often a single shoot takes half a day plus the editing another full day.  Will the photographer need to buy something new to achieve a vision of a client? Such as a lens or light or backdrop that they do not already possess is also a consideration.

A photographer’s pricing should depend on time the photographer will spend scouting, shooting, and editing an image.  And whether additional people will be hired to create the image needed.  Also how that image will be used. 

Questions that a client should be ready to answer when asking a photographer how much they charge:

  • Will it be used commercially, as a public relations image , multiple places that may generate revenue for you?  
  • A magazine article- in such a case, the magazine should pay the photographer for each use.
  • Will you be asking for multiple portraits such as for a corporation?
  • Or is it mostly small business, personal/family use?
  • Do you want makeup, hair, wardrobe supplied, do you want to just walk in and be taken care of or would you rather handle that yourself?
    • Is this photo going to help you get new clients, new jobs? Will it be the first impression digitally or in print before you meet someone?
  • Do you want choices of polished images meaning hours of editing time for a photographer or just one that the photographer chooses for you?
  • Is this to preserve a memory that cannot be redone such as a wedding?
  • Do you want to look au naturel or polished?
  • How organized and professional do you expect the photographer to be?
    • Should they have their own studio, or portable high-end equipment/lenses and lighting?
    • How much experience in guidance and knowledge of post production do you expect? 

With all that being said, don’t be afraid of a little negotiation.  A photographer may find that they want to photograph undiscovered artists or musicians and want to maintain a certain style/look for their website or will anticipate creating a book compilation or something similar that could bring them additional revenue and they will use a sliding scale to determine a cost if they have also an interest and it will be worth their time.  If a photographer has a philanthropic interest they will also be flexible giving non-profit discounts for non-profit organizations.  

Another approach is that you can simply start by saying what your budget is and let the photographer determine if they can create a simple or complex package to meet your needs.

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