A Photographer’s Guide to Rates and Pricing

Cost of a Photograph

A photographer’s equipment is expensive and subject to wear and tear. In time it would need to be replaced. This needs to be carefully calculated for every piece of equipment that you will use.

As an example, I use a camera with that costs ‘y’. After checking with the manufacturer I know that the shutter is good for a certain number of shots. We will call this number ‘z’. Based the estimated number of shots I plan to take in a year (s) and on inflation of i% over that period I would need to make ‘x’ per photo in order to replace my camera when it wears out. So here we go with the maths:

x= Cost per photo
y= Purchase price of camera
z= Number of shots that the camera is rated for
s= Estimated number of shots per year
i= Estimated inflation

x=(y/z)*((z/s)+((z/s)*(i/100)))

So let’s try an example without being currency specific:

Your camera cost you 10,000 – y (cheap camera)
Your camera is good for 50,000 shots – z
You estimate that you will take 22,000 shots per year (100 shots per day for 220 working days per year) – s
Average inflation = 5% – i

So we plug it into the formula and see what comes out.

x=(10,000/50,000)* ((50,000/22,000)+(50,000/22,000)*(5/100)))
x=(0.2)* ((2.3)+((2.3)*(0.05)))
x=(0.2)* ((2.3)+(0.115))
x=(0.2)*(2.415)
x=0.48

So you need to build in a rate 0.48 per photo you take just for your camera. There is one more variable for this formula, wastage. If you are experienced you may find that over 80% of your shots are final. But if you find that you have to take 100 shots to get 50 that you are prepared to supply the client you would need to double your rate. So an experienced photographer would need to multiply the rate by 1.2 or less and a less experienced photographer would need to multiple the rate by 2 or more.

You need to repeat this calculation for each piece of equipment including lenses, flashes, memory cards and batteries. Don’t underestimate the batteries.

Bear in mind that the number of good shots will also depend on the type of photography. Portraits are fairly easy once you have tested the light positions you should be good to go. On commercial photography you may waste a lot more shots because of having to reposition lights for each product in a shoot. Weddings can result in a high number of shots being wasted because of changing lighting conditions as you move from venue to venue.

3 thoughts on “A Photographer’s Guide to Rates and Pricing

  1. I am a hobbyist and have been approached for a few jobs, and have worked out pricing similar, but had not included school fees, will include going forward, so thank you, and the article as a whole I found very informative.

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