How Much Should Photographers Charge?
Photography pricing in 2020 is more important than ever for planning your event budget. Are budgets getting tighter? Do you need to stretch the dollars further?
How much will photographers charge. How do photographers prices compare?
The are lots of photography prices listed throughout the web. How to do calculations templates and all manner of resources.
This article focuses on listing some real rates. How much photographers actually charge. Some of the numbers are from us (a real photography business and not a photography magazine that outsources copy writers) and other data we’ve researched online.
One interesting aspect is how Australian photography prices and rates compare to some other comparable cities around the world. So we provided a few examples converted to local AU currency.
To get the best value photography prices and rates for both the photographer and the hirer, they will need to have open communication. Matching the skill and service level of the photographer to the needs of the business is not always easy. Can your business afford not to hire a professional freelance photographer. Can a photographer afford rates that are too low.
Hiring a specialist photographer is going to require some investment, that goes for any specialised field. A professional event photographer is also a game changer for your peace of mind and getting great results.
Event Photography Pricing 2020
Event photography pricing and rates varies a little by virtue of there being at least half a dozen different sub genres of event photography. And that’s just in the Corporate and commercial side of the coin. The obvious omissions being all the domestic or personal types of events such as wedding, christenings and birthday parties.
We’ve added 3 lists of event photography pricing. One in Hong Kong and the other London and a mixed rates list from the US. All large cities with lots of similarities to the Sydney event market.
Event pricing in Sydney is very similar in scope and value to these. Non the less here’s our take on Sydney’s event pricing.
Trade show and Conference event bookings can include many types of event photography skills. We’ve been booked for trade show photography that also include Gala Dinner Awards presentations, product photography, general roaming, group portraits, candid shots and so on.
Event photography enquiries sometimes also have requested photographers by the hour rates, half day or full day. It’s not typical we quote by the hour as the hourly rates are much higher. Half day rates are commonly requested. Our pricing includes travel so this needs to be allowed for if your keen on quoting by the hour prices.
If you are a beginner taking shots for birthday parties, night club photography and similar smaller events the fee may be lower.
Quotes for Corporate events will need to be scoped out and shot list presented for accurate rates to be offered. Otherwise the photographer may not charge enough or charge too much.
Average rates are quoted as time spent at the event for an experienced professional photographer. Requesting a quote is always recommended.
Event Price Summary
Full day events of 8-10 hours, the average photographer day rate is from $200-$280 per hour.
Prices for event photography have a minimum average charge of $440.
Typical event photography pricing in Sydney averages from $440 – $2500.
Event Photography Rates List
- Prices Per Hour – $200-$280
- Half Day Rate Average – $880
- Day Rate Average – $1600
- Minimum Charge – $440
- Typical Cost – $440-$2500
- Average Travel Charges – $0 – $1200
- Preliminaries – $0
- Standard Editing – $0
- Photo Use Licence – $0
Photography Pricing and Rates List
Photography Price List in 2020
- Beginners/Hobbyist – $10
- Amateur Event Photographer – up to $50
- Photography Student – up to $120
- Semi-pro Event Photographer – up to $150
- Professional Corporate Events ~$220
- Wedding Photographers ~$800-$3600
- Business Portraits ~$150-$350
- Product photographers ~$35-$170
This section provides a little bit of detail in how we estimated the numbers. Some we know because of direct experience, other values is throughout our network of contacts. And finally, there’s enough detail online to make the other assessments on the going rates in Australia.
There are always many variations in all such things these days. We suggest that all Event and Marketing Managers get a quote from a professional that is tailored to their specific needs.
Photography Prices for Beginners
Beginner and Hobbyist photographers typically are’t paid, or they don’t usually ask for a fee.
Some beginners and hobbyists are pretty good. Others are really just starting out and have only basic equipment. If they are taking a couple of shots for their mate, hopefully, they will buy them a beer. In the Sydney CBD, that’s about $10. So when thinking about photography prices for beginners, they just might be happy with the value they are getting from the experience bank they are building.
Amateur Photographers Level of Experience
Amateur rates up to $50 per hour. One could argue that by description an amateur would not earn money from their effort. Let’s go with the idea that they sometimes do and it’s only a side interest. There are a lot of the upcoming event photographers that will get a free ticket to a show and photograph it. If you don’t mind late nights and solo work this can be fun if you like live music. So a ticket just may be worth $50.
Photography Tertiary Student
Photography Students fee is up to about $120 per hour. That’s about right in AU dollars if they are part way through a multiyear structured photography course.
Event Semi-pro, rates up to $150 per hour. This description get a few people riled on up photography forums? Like most of the categories, there’s a fair amount of variation up until this point in their career development. At semi pro level you’d be building your own network, might start to pick up semi regular shoots with a client. Developing or building your contacts list should be an active part of their process.
Professional Corporate Photographers
Professional Corporate prices are from $220 per hour or around $400-500 for typical 2 hours run and gun type shoot. Our recommendation is to book minimum half day shoot for better value.
Business Portraits (Corporate Head Shots)
Business Portraits rates are $150-350, for a 2-hour session. If the photographer doesn’t have to travel to far. Many of the full time pro photographers we’ve seen have a minimum of $500 per session. Taking the high amount and dividing by two, to give an average rate per person. Which makes sense and hopefully they encourage the Business to arrange for more than one employee at a time.
Average Price for a Wedding Photographer
Wedding Professionals* $800-3600. Wedding photographers are listed here as a comparison to the business focused genres. Beginner wedding photographers prices start obviously on the low side as they have limited experience. On the opposite side, some do top consistent work and charge accordingly. Some wedding specialists near us can easily double the top rates with average photography packages from around $6000 and up.
Many wedding photographers prices are quoted for a standard 8 hour day. They typically have a selection of wedding photography packages to offer. 12 hour shoot days are pretty common.
Typical wedding packages include;
- Photography hours and photo processing only
- Photography and print packages in various configurations
- Packages including, photography, second shooter, prints and couple shoots
- Occasional they may event add photo booths as options
*As Brides and Grooms know, wedding photography can attract some of the highest fees in photography. And wedding photographers know for the $3600+ fee it will require at least a couple of years full time honing their skills and 20+ hours of a very detailed workflow.
Product Photography Prices
Product photographers charge per photo from $35-170 for typical e-commerce web product photos. At the high end, lifestyle product photography can be up around $1000 plus.
Magazine/ National Newspaper and print can attract a considerably higher price and or license usage fees. This will be on top of the actual photo session. We’ve left this off the chart as it’s not based on a per hour basis.
Prices on Other Types of Product Photography
Product photos vary such as; Hero images for web banner and printed flyers, Lifestyle products, Mannequin photography, product demonstration with hand modelling, Transparencies or deep etched, E-commerce style product photo packages, Info graphics and product perspectives.
Pre and post production will have an impacted on prices depending on the image final use. Bulk packages will have a lower cost per unit.
Usage license fees are typically included in this types of photography which may contain some limitations on length of time, number of times and on what product types they can be used.
- Standard product photos
- Hero and banner shots
- Lifestyle products
- Mannequin photography
- With hand modelling
- Online shopping packages
- Product perspectives
Photography Pricing List
What You Pay For in Brief
Like most professional services providers, there will be considerable time spent pre and post-event. Booking preliminaries (aka preparation) also includes things like doing research on your business, your past events, your existing/new collateral, and understanding your target market and demographics. If it’s a new Conference and event venue, a little research on it also helps. Doing research on your major corporate sponsors is also on our preliminary procedures.
To do this properly it can take a fair amount of time and it gets allowed for in the prices or rates quoted. Will an entry-level photographer listed on aggregate websites or gumtree do this for a few dollars an hour. Maybe or probably not.
Photographers will average out their total costs of doing business when creating their fee structure. One factor that is often overlooked is the processing of the photos.
All our event photos are processed in house using professional software such as Capture One Pro on Eizo monitors that are hardware calibrated. Back of house costs add to the rates charged. They also add a significant amount of value in the quality of the delivered photos.
We understand the cost of doing business. If your budget is tight we don’t always recommend the hour by hour price method. It may cost you more as the hourly fees or rates may be higher. We suggest hiring for either half or a full day. When hired on full day rates basis, usually the photographer stays on location much longer than just the standard 8 hours. For half day rate, they may need to get to their next booking, not always but…
Sustainable Photography Pricing?
With anything much under $180 per (on location) hour pricing, we doubt you’ll get very useful image content that captures the essence of the occasion and your business.
For example, if you require a photographer to relate to your executives or be comfortable in the boardroom. Or in front of a very large audience who would you select as the photographer?
Someone who is starting out that you found in an aggregation website, or with no experience in the business world? Nope, you’d want someone who has spent a fair amount of time in similar situations. All professional photographers in Sydney we see have invested in their own branded website and has shown commitment to their craft for a long time.
If they are running a business and spend considerable time in; the prelim preparation phase, on location hours and then post assignment work they certainly won’t be charging only $100 an hour.
That would mean for all their experience, the effort of on location time and $20 000+ in tools and equipment, they’d only pay themselves less than $20 an hour as a professional. And that’s before tax. Wouldn’t cover insurance or transport, not in Sydney at least. Once you factor in the 20%-30% tax they’d have to pay as an independent contractor, that time may have as well have been volunteer work. We’re not dissing volunteering, we think it’s incredibly important and do so ourselves. Check out our about page.
Happy to hear your point of view on this, send us an email if you agree or otherwise.
Tax on Photography Fees
While on the subject of Tax. If you are in Australia you will need to select Code 69910 ↗ for your tax return or BAS quarterly submissions. And don’t forget to pay your GST. The tax office is very diligent in collecting every dollar owed.
Tax Code 69910 applies to most “Professional Photographic Services”
Generally described as “providing still, video or computer photography services, including the video taping of special events such as weddings.
Primary Activities includes; Portrait photography service, Professional photography service, Street photography service, Studio photography service, Video filming of special events (e.g. birthdays, weddings) and Wedding photography services. This is very similar to insurance certificates for public liability for photographers.
Photography Prices in Australia Compared
How do Australian photography rates line up to comparable countries? A few examples for comparison below.
Big cities are expensive places to live and work and would have a significant impact on how you set your prices. Get in touch and let us know if your rates are much higher or lower.
USA example, If you want to read the very long version on this subject, read, How Much Should Photographers Charge? And this is in US dollars for 2016 – https://petapixel.com/2016/02/26/much-photographers-charge-2016
US$ converted to Australian Dollars.
- Hobbyist: free or under $110 per hour – AU$157
- Amateur: up to $80 per hour – AU$115
- Student: up to $120 per hour – AU$170
- Semi-pro: up to $170 per hour – AU$240
- Professional: up to $270 per hour – AU$385
- Wedding shooters: $1700-3700 – AU$2,430-$5,286
- Portrait photographers: $150-370 – AU$214-$528
- Product photographers: $35-170 per image – AU$50-$240
The London Event Photography Company has these rates listed and covers the basics. Flat rates for all the different genres of event photography. Current rates advertised in 2019 http://londoneventphotography.org ↗,
Pound Sterling converted to Australian Dollars (Mid May 2019)
- Two hours photography, £350 – AU$644
- Three hours photography, £400 – AU$736
- Four hours photography, £500 – AU$920
- Five hours photography, £600 – AU$1,104
- Six hours photography, £700 – AU$1,287
- Seven hours photography, £800 – AU$1,471
- Full day (eight hours) photography, £900 – AU$1,655
And in Hong Kong by Josh Takes Photos ↗ Currency converted to Australian dollars in October 2019
- Event Photography $4200 HKD for 2 hours / $1800 per additional hour – AU$790 / $340 ph
- Studio Photography Portraits Package 1 for 2 Hours with approx 100 images $4500 – AU$845
- Portrait Studio Package 2 for a 3 hour session, 150 images + basic retouching $5500 – AU$1,036
- Location & Studio shoots 3 + 3 hrs Approx 300 final images + basic retouching $7800 – AU$1,470
- Print and Frame Packages – Canvas, acrylic and metal print starting from $3000 – AU$565
- Image Retouching Packages 2 – 8 images approx $2000 per hour – AU$376 ph
- Photo Booth Package 1 – 3 hours Photography only $4500 – AU$845
- Photo Booth Package 2 with Instant Printing 3 hours up to 500 x glossy 4R prints $9000 – AU$1695
12 Pricing Questions to Ask Your Photographer
- Is there a photography pricing list?
- Photography rates by the hour, half day and full day hire?
- Do you have photo packages?
- Are professional commercial photographers affordable?
- Are the rates fixed?
- Will the rates be in a written contract?
- Is it per-image pricing?
- Will you charge extra if the event runs late?
- What doesn’t the fee include?
- Do I need to pay a deposit?
- How affordable are professional photographers in Sydney?
- Why do photographers cost what they do?
Photographers Salary to Freelancing Rates Compared
For beginner Australian photographers starting their journey, one question they may face is. Do I look for a salary photography job? Or do I start marketing myself and become freelance?
According to the research by Pay Scales, beginner photographers can expect to be paid around 30% above Australia’s minimum wage. Which in October 2019 is $38, 521.60 pre tax. With average photographer salary of AU$54,903.
Below is from data sourced from Pay Scales.
Photographer Salaries from 1 to 20 Years Experience
- 1 year experience or less AU$50,000
- 1-4 years experience AU$51,816
- 5-9 years of experience AU$55,604
- 10-19 years of experience earns AU$60,966
- 20 years or more AU$62,857
Across Australia photography salaries vary;
- Sydney +5%
- Melbourne +3%
- Perth 0%
- Adelaide 0%
- Brisbane -4%
- Gold Coast -9%
- Newcastle -34%
Again according to the data ↗ Of note, the data sample size varies quite a bit, the lower years of experience, the sample sizes are pretty small. 1 year experience sample size is 14. Where as a photographer with between 10 and 19 years experience, the sample size is 88.
Would these salaries sway you to work for someone else or yourself? Is the attraction to run your own side hustle and charge as a freelancer instead of working on a fixed salary too much of an attraction for you? On salary you’d also be paying tax with less deductions, so check out the ATO tax calculator ↗ for that. And before you dive in too deep in either salary or freelancing talk to a professional on the subject.
For newer or beginner photographers looking to start charging and growing their paid customer base and need information on how to actually price up their photography. This photography pricing calculator might help https://www.themoderntog.com/photographers-pricing-guide-business-projections-and-calculations/
The above commentary from Pay Scales data expressed below in 2 Charts. One, the Australian photographer salaries From 1 to 20 years experience. And the other a chart on the average Photographer salary in Australia by a few locations.
Chart – Australian Photographer Salaries From 1 to 20 Years Experience
Chart – Average Photographer Salary in Australia by Location
What does the above charts and data tell you?
Another data survey by Seek says pretty much the same thing as far as income is concerned. https://www.seek.com.au/career-guide/role/photographer. The salaries are fairly consistent between Pay Scales and Seek. Seek has a data sample of 83 live jobs at the time of the research.
It can be a little daunting when you’re starting out and trying to work out rates that are both competitive and commensurable with your level of skill. So hopefully this section of the article helps.
Do you have a resource that would help others and would like us to link to it? drop us a note and we just might write about and link to it.
What is your Brand Worth
Entry level or top shelf? perhaps somewhere in the middle?
Typical event photography assignments in Sydney can range quite a bit depending on the brief, how many photographers and assistants and distance from the city. Requesting a quote is always recommended even for budget planning. Advertising and some Commercial photography rates can be considerably more. Wedding prices are different altogether, we photograph some occasionally. This genre like the others mentioned really does depend on so many factors we’d need to write up a full web page just for each niche.
We think your Brand is very important. To illustrate the experience, skill and considerations required to deliver outstanding images, read the Corporate Photography Guide (4000 words+) to give you an overview of just a few sub-genres in photography.
If you’re looking for information on the mechanics of how to price your photography. Andrew Hellmich, the PhotoBizX ↗ podcaster master interviewed Bernie Griffiths who provides consultations to photography businesses. Check em out.
Photography Pricing Influences
Many factors play a part in determining what photography businesses charge, some of which are:
- Style and Consistency – As you look through our work, you’ll see consistency in a style of photography and post-production that is unique to us, you can depend on this consistency for your event.
- Service – At any point in time, before, during, and after the event, you’ll have easy access to your head photographer, we pride ourselves with responsive personal service.
- Post Production – we personally post-process our raw images, we do not farm them off to some overseas mass production house. We use the latest desktop workstations with the latest specialist software to give you dependable and consistent results.
- Photography Equipment – We use professional grade equipment, use only genuine Nikon lenses, no cheap substitutes. Our Eizo monitors are hardware calibrated and very accurate, We have great confidence in our equipment.
- Backups – All images are backed up immediately upon entering our studio, then they are backed up twice, catalogued and logged into our system. We have strict QA processes we always follow before, during starting the post-production work.
- Qualified Second Shooters – We’ve screened countless photographers to find the right people to work with us. Their experience, manner, can do attitude with an eagerness to offer a high level of service is a must. We also look at their equipment list and their years of consistent results
- Years of dedication to their craft and their own unique view.
- Overheads and location can play a huge role in costs of doing business. Big cities and near the CBD adds convenience and overhead.
This list could be very very long, if you would like more information, contact us.
Working with a Professional Photographer
When you choose to work with a professional photographer, you’re paying for years of experience, creativity, event experience, people skills and that they are business savvy.
They will undoubtedly have a registered and insured business, with an excellent reputation. It’s a given they have the technical know-how, camera and processing equipment.
A professional will also have their own photography website, if their business relies on someone else’s website, they don’t have full control and their business could vanish. They should at the least make that investment.
One element a professional will stand out with is their full commitment to the clients success.
Disclaimer: We invest considerable time in researching and writing our articles and strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content. Content that photographers and buyers of photography services will have an interest in. However, our general research is meant to compliment yours. Please consult your own lawyer, accountant, or other licensed professional for relevant information.