Photographer’s Pricing Guide: Pricing for Profit

by Jamie M Swanson

This post is Part 2 of The Modern Tog’s Photographer’s Pricing Guide series. Here’s the link to Part 1 of the Pricing Guide in case you missed it.

Today it’s time to think about one of the main goals of your business: your profit.

The first step in determining your prices is to figure out how much you want to take home in the form of a paycheck. This amount is what is left over after all your expenses and taxes have been taken out.

There’s two ways to go about this process. I highly suggest doing both methods and comparing the results.

Defining Success

The first method is to think about how much you’d ultimately like to be making in the future and use those numbers. The benefit of doing this is that you get a realistic picture of what you’ll need to be charging to get there and how much work you’ll need to do in order to make it happen. Looking to go full-time? This is a great way to help discern when your dream can become a reality.

Short-term Planning

The second method is to determine your profit goal for the next year. If you’re just starting out, you might be happy with making enough to cover your car payment or student loans. This may not be your ultimate goal, but it’s your next step along the path and will tell you exactly what you need to be charging now to make that a reality.

Things to Consider

It’s helpful to remember that your annual salary, if you are an employee for another company, most likely has deductions taken from it for things like taxes, social security, health insurance, etc. So if your salary is $48,000 per year, your take-home pay is probably $36,000 or less. It’s this take home pay that we’re looking at, so grab a copy of your latest pay stub to figure out what the correct amount should be if you’re trying to match it.

I like to separate our monthly expenses (such as our mortgage, savings, and the grocery bill) from our yearly expenses (such as Christmas expenses, insurance, and vacation plans) when filling out this section of the guide. I multiply the monthly expenses by 12 and then add in the yearly expenses to come up with a total amount of desired profit for the year.

If you’re using the Photographer’s Pricing Guide Workbook, click on the “Personal Profit” tab of the worksheet (it’s at the bottom of the screen). Then simply list the items and their costs out and they’ll add up all on their own, saving you time and possible mathematical mistakes. Here’s what it looks like:

The Modern Tog's Pricing Guide for Photographers

Once you’ve got your desired profit for the year, you’re ready to look at your business expenses in Part 3 of the Photographer’s Pricing Guide.

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Jamie M Swanson is a Madison Wedding Photographer with her husband Brandon. She enjoys photography, loves the business side of things, but truly comes alive by helping others grow their own businesses. Connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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Jeff Cleveland March 6, 2011 at 8:37 am

It’s surprising how many discussions about pricing leave the paycheck until last. Most people wouldn’t have that as the last consideration in other situations.

Thanks for taking time to share this information.

Jamie M Swanson April 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm

You’re welcome. :) Starting with the paycheck made sense to me, too. :)

Sarah October 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I am slightly confused. Could you clarify what you mean by “Other Business Income?”

Jamie M Swanson October 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Things like second shooting or other income that you may receive that is part of your business. Read through these FAQ and if you still have questions then let me know.

Here is a link to the FAQ: http://www.themoderntog.com/photographers-pricing-guide-workbook-faq

Barry Perhamsky September 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm

How to price: First you need to price for your time. That’s to come out and actualy take the pictures. Suppose the client wanted you to shoot in film. The client would supply the film, and even have the film developed. So why can’t the client have a friend take the pictures? First, they may not have a camera. But most of all, you,the photographer. have the skills and talent. So let’s say that’s all you did. Well you have to get paid for this. A resonable fee would be $100 per hour. A nice family portrait would only take an hour. Of course you may have them poised on an around a picnic table, on a blanket, perhaps a large boulder, near a tree, etc.

After they look at the proofs, they can decide on the style (canvas, paper mounted,etc.) and the size.

So for a nice canvas somewhat bigger then 11 x 14, but smaller then 16 x 20 would sell for $250. Of course you have to know what the prossier charges. So let’s say they charge $35. You made $215 prophet. The total price For the client would be $ 350…and that’s not really bad.

Now you have to take into account your expenses. That is how much it cost to run your business; rent, gas and electric,etc. Then divide this into the amount of hours you work per week, and that’s how much you must make before you make a prophet. After you make the so called prophet, it really goes for your expensives. After that you make a prophet.

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