How to Estimate Photography Jobs in 6 Steps | A Guide for Freelancers


Whether it’s for weddings, portraits, fashion, or commercial purposes, photography is in high demand. Your photography business will not only survive but thrive if you price your services correctly.

Keep these tips in mind when estimating photography jobs: know your costs upfront and always add a markup.

In this article, we’ll cover:

Consult the Client

While giving a photography estimate, talk to the client about some important details. This should be factored into your pricing. 

Here are some great questions to discuss:

  • What is your financial plan?
  • How many photos are you looking for?
  • How many solo and/or group shots do you require for events?
  • What is the final look you want to achieve?
  • Who will make use of the photos?
  • This is particularly useful in commercial photography, where the client may wish to distribute the images widely (in which case, charge more)
  • What’s the location?
  • Do you want prints?
  • Are there any props you want to include?
  • How many guests are coming? For big events, you may need to hire an assistant.

Check Competitor Pricing 

Implement some market research to see how much your competitors charge for similar photography jobs. Your customers will be doing the same, and you’ll want to ensure you’re meeting their expectations, says Format.

Examine the costs associated with your chosen niche, such as headshot photography, event photography, portrait photography, and so on. This can be used as a pricing guide. A beginner photographer will want to set a lower price than the industry standard.

Analyze your competitors’ pricing strategies as well. Is it possible to get a custom photography package from them?

Find the Cost of Materials

Calculate the total cost of all materials to ensure you don’t have to pay for them yourself.

Prints or albums and the cost of packaging and shipping them to the client are examples of materials. It’s possible that you should price photography prints separately. According to the Joy of Marketing, an unframed 8×10 print should cost at least $24.20.

External hard drives, cloud storage, and online galleries all cost money when it comes to digital files.

Also, try to save money on materials wherever possible. Ask your supplier for a discount if you only buy from them or order a certain volume every month. You can also buy in bulk, but make sure you have a lot of similar projects lined up in the future to ensure that you’ll use it all.

Calculate the Cost of Labor

Working in photography may appear to be a dream come true, but don’t underestimate your worth. 

Each job requires a significant amount of time and effort. You’ll need to calculate how long the job will take.

Take into account the following:

  • Pre-production time: Make sure you have all the necessary materials and set up the necessary equipment.
  • Time spent on the job site waiting for everyone else to get organized was included in the shoot time.
  • Time spent traveling and client meetings.
  • Editing and uploading images in post-production.

Calculate your hourly rate by multiplying the number of hours by your hourly rate. 

The following is a list of typical hourly rates for photographers:

  • $35 to $90 per hour for students
  • $50 to $150 per hour for semi-professionals
  • Professional rates range from $75 to $300 per hour.
  • Professional rates range from $250 to $500 per hour.

According to Rosh Sillars Photography Business and Marketing, whether you charge the high or low end of the scale depends on how many photos you’re producing, how much production is involved, and where you’re located.

Determine Overhead Costs 

Photographers typically have a lot of overhead. The following are examples of overhead costs:

  • Post-production, lighting, backdrops, and camera lenses are all new.
  • Payments on a loan
  • Licensing and insurance
  • Repairing old machinery
  • Business cards, online ads, and your website are all examples of software advertising.
  • Travel, hotels, consultations, gear rental, location or studio fees, lighting, makeup, styling, casting, and retouching are all examples of specific job costs.

To figure out your overhead costs, add up all of your previous year’s expenses and divide by the total number of jobs you completed. 

Calculate what percentage of the total that number represents. According to Format, you should factor that percentage into your hourly rate.

Your expenses, for example, were $10,000. You worked 20 different jobs. $10,000 divided by 20 equals $500 in overhead per job. $500 equals 5% of $10,000. Before you add your markup, add 5% to your total costs for each job.

Add your Markup

Time to make a profit! Add up your materials, labor, and overhead costs for the job. Then add your markup on top of that number.

If you’re in a high-income area with a lot of demand for your type of work, you can charge 3.5 times your costs. If your market has a tighter budget, you can double your costs, according to Digital Marketing School.

Add sales tax to the estimate if required by your state.


How Much Do Photographers Charge?

On average, photographers charge $15.62 per hour. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the range is $9.33 to $36.09.

However, to cover overhead costs, freelance photographers usually charge a higher rate for photography services. 

Here’s some information:

  • $35 to $90 per hour for students
  • $50 to $150 per hour for semi-professionals
  • Professional rates range from $75 to $300 per hour.
  • Professional rates range from $250 to $500 per hour.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Photographer for an Event?

Photographers for events typically charge $150 to $250 per hour, including post-production and digital files. Add-ons such as prints and photo booths are charged extra.

Large events may necessitate the use of multiple photographers as well as an assistant. Longer events may result in a lower hourly rate. A photographer, for example, might charge $150 per hour for the first two hours and then $100 per hour after that.

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