As a photographer, you may often wonder how much to charge for product photography services?
There is no correct answer to this question, simply because it depends on many different factors, such as the level of expertise, the type of product you are photographing, the complexity of the shot, the location of the shoot, and the amount of post-processing work that is required.
However, if you want to see some figures to give you a perspective on the product photography rates, here are some:
The commercial day rate of a professional product photographer can go up to $4000 a day. High-end product photographers, such as Nori Inoguchi, Jonathan Knowles, and Lucas Zarebinski, typically demand even more. Whereas the commercial day rate of an amateur photographer is around $300.
In this blog post, we will break down what goes into deciding how much to charge for product photography services and also provide useful tips on how to price your services so that you can increase your income from the product photography services.
7 Steps to Decide How Much to Charge for Product Photography
#1. Calculate Your Costs
The first step in deciding how much to charge for product photography services is to calculate your operating costs. This includes:
- Professional studio rent
- Utility bills (electricity, heating)
- Internet & phone expenses
- Service subscriptions (Adobe Creative Could, Capture One, Business Gmail account, Website hosting, etc)
- Advertisement (Google Ads, Facebook Ads)
- Travel/Car expenses
- Specialized equipment (computers, lenses, cameras, sd cards, etc)
- Other production expenses
Remember, you need to treat your product photography services as a real business, and the primary objective of any business is to make a profit!
To calculate your operating costs, create a simple Excel or Google Sheets document, open your bank statement for the previous month and write down all the expenses which are associated with your product photography services.
This should give you a good overview of your estimated monthly operating costs, which is essential in deciding how much to charge your clients for product photography services.
#2. Decide How Much You Would Like to Earn per Month
Now that you have calculated your monthly operating costs, it’s time to decide how much money you would like to make from your product photography services each month.
This number will be different for everyone, and it really depends on where you live, your financial situation, and your lifestyle.
Some photographers may want to earn $5000 per month from their professional product photography services, while others may only need $1500 per month to live a fulfilling life.
It’s important to be realistic when setting your monthly income goals, as this will play a big role in how much you charge for product photography services.
If you are just starting out, we recommend setting a modest goal of $1000 per month, which should be achievable if you are willing to put in the work.
Once you have reached your goal, you can reassess and set a new goal for the following month.
Keep in mind that your monthly income goal should also include money for taxes, as this is something that you will need to pay at the end of the year.
In the United States, the average tax rate for photographers is around 15%, so be sure to factor this in when setting your monthly income goal.
For example, if you want to earn $5000 per month from your product photography services, you will need to make $5750 per month before taxes.
$5000 * 0.15 = $750 (Taxes, 15%)
This may seem like a lot of money, but it is important to remember that you will have slow months and busy months.
In slow months, you may only make $2000 from your product photography services, while in busy months you could make $8000.
It all evens out in the end, which is why it’s important to have a monthly income goal.
This way, you can ensure that you are making enough money to cover your costs and reach your financial goals.
Once you have decided how much money you would like to make each month from your professional product photography services, you can move on to the next step.
#3. Decide How Many Days or Hours per Month You Are Willing to Work
The next step in deciding how much to charge for product photography services is to decide how many days or hours per month you are willing to work.
This number will be different for everyone, as some photographers may only want to work part-time, while others may want to make product photography their full-time job.
If you only want to work part-time, we recommend setting a goal of 20 hours per week.
Of course, you can always work more than 20 hours per week if you have the time and the energy, but this should be your minimum goal.
On the other hand, if you want to make product photography your full-time job, we recommend setting a goal of 40 hours per week, which is the equivalent of working five days per week.
Again, you can always work more than 40 hours per week if you have the time and the energy, but this should be your goal if you want to make product photography your full-time job.
Once you have decided how many days or hours per month you are willing to work, you can move on to the next step.
#4. Find Out What Are Product Photography Taxes in Your Country
As we have already mentioned in step number #2, you need to find out what are the taxes for product photography service providers in your country.
This is important because you will need to factor taxes into your prices, and you don’t want to be caught off guard when it comes time to pay them.
As mentioned previously, in the United States, the average tax rate for product photography service providers is around 15%.
However, this number will be different in other countries, so it’s important that you do your research and find out what the tax rate is in your country.
Once you have found out the tax rate for product photography services in your country, you can move on to the next step and apply the formula to calculate your product photography pricing.
#5. Apply the Formula to Calculate Your Product Photography Pricing
Your Monthly Business Operating Costs + Your Monthly Earnings + Taxes = Total Monthly Revenue Needed.
Consider this scenario (the figures shown are for illustration only):
- Your Monthly Business Operating Costs: $1850
- Your Monthly Earnings: $3500
- Taxes: $525 (15% of $3500)
- Total Monthly Revenue Needed: $5875
To calculate your product photography hourly rate, divide the total monthly revenue needed ($5875 in this case) by the number of working hours per month that you are willing to work. Let’s assume that you are willing to work 40 hours per week, which will total to approximately 160 hours per month. Thus, $5875 / 160 hours = $36.7 per hour.
#6. Compare Your Hourly Rate Results to Other Independent Photographers in Your City
Now that you have calculated your product photography hourly rate, it’s time to compare your results to other product photographers and local independent photography studios in your city.
You can do this by searching for “product photographer + [your city]” on Google and looking at the prices that other product photographers in your city are charging.
Pro tip: If the price is not shown on the product photographer’s website, you can create a temporary email account and use it to contact the photographer and ask for their rates. Additionally, carrying out this activity can show you other important factors, such as:
- How long did it take for the photographer to respond to your inquiry?
- Was the response personalized or standardized?
- Were there any email attachments (such as an electronic brochure with a product portfolio, a project brief form, etc)?
- Were there any unique selling propositions in the response, such as a limited-time offer?
Additional places where you can check product photography pricing
- Fiverr.com – Look for product photographers who offer services in your city.
- Upwork.com – Create a new project using your temporary email and invite product photographers to apply and make their offers.
- Craiglist.com – Look for product photography services offered in your city.
- PeoplePerHour.com – Create a project and invite product photographers to apply.
#7. Use Your Hourly Rate to Calculate How Much to Charge Your Clients
Now that you calculated and compared your hourly rate, you can use it to calculate how much to charge your clients for product photography projects.
For example, if you are asked to shoot a project that will take approximately eight hours to complete, you would charge your client $36.7 * 8 = ~ $294 for your work (excluding additional expenses such as photography props and outside services, such as photo retouching, models, stylists, etc).
Pro tip: we highly recommend adding an additional 10-15% on top of your calculated hourly rate to factor in unexpected expenses which you may incur.
This will help you avoid any financial losses in case there are some unexpected product photography costs associated with the project.
Now that we discussed how to calculate your product photography hourly rate and how to use it to calculate how much to charge for individual projects, let’s move on and discuss the different types of product photography pricing plans.
4 Different Product Photography Pricing Strategies Explained
Once you determine how much you would like to charge your clients, the next step is to decide on the type of pricing – in other words how you are going to present your prices to your clients.
#1. Daily Rate
The most common type of pricing structure among professional product photographers is a daily rate. This is when a product photographer charges clients a certain amount for a day of work.
The daily rate normally doesn’t account for the expenses related to model hiring, post-production costs, assistant costs, etc. Thus, depending on the project, professional product photographers tend to charge clients their daily costs + additional expenses which are required for the project.
#2. Quoting Per Job
Quoting per job is a method of estimating the amount of time and money it will take to complete a task. It considers how many hours or days it will take to finish the work, as well as any additional fees that may be incurred. This allows you to offer one single price for the overall project.
#3. Hourly Fee
The hourly fee is more typical among beginning or amateur photographers. In addition to hourly fees, product photographers also add expenses that were incurred for the photoshoot, such as hiring a model, purchase of specific props, post-production costs, etc.
#4. Per Image
This pricing plan is commonly used when shooting a large number of very similar products for a client. For example, a client is launching a new food delivery marketplace with over 5,000 different products that need to be photographed. In this scenario, the product photographer or the client will most likely utilize per image pricing plan, which normally has some sort of variation of the price per image either depending on the product category (products in soft packages are harder to photograph than say a bottle of lemonade) or the number of images that need to be taken.
3 Ideas on How to Charge More for Your Product Photography Services
Once you determine how much to charge your clients for product photography services, it’s time to start thinking about ways how you can increase your fees and earn more money from each project. Here are five ideas on how to do just that:
#1. Invest in Your Branding and Marketing
Investing in your branding and marketing is one of the best ways to charge more for your product photography services. By having a strong brand identity, you will be able to differentiate yourself from other professional product photographers and full-service studios and command a higher price for your photography service.
What goes into the product photography branding?
- Professional Logo – You need to make sure that your logo looks professional and matches the overall style of your branding. Don’t try to make a complicated logo design, try to stick to a more modern and minimal-looking logo, which will be easier to create and utilize in different scenarios. To create a professional-looking logo for your commercial product photography services you don’t really need to hire a professional graphic designer. You can create a simple and good-looking logo by finding a suitable free font on the Behance platform. Behance is the world’s largest creative network for showcasing and discovering creative work. To find a suitable font, simply go to www.behance.com type in “free font” in the search bar, and hit enter. You will be presented with hundreds of beautiful fonts some of which are completely free, and others may cost around $20 – $100 for a font that you will be able to use to create your logo. Simply download a preferred font and use it in Adobe Illustrator, Figma, or any other graphic design software to create a logo.
- Personal Website With Portfolio – As a product photographer you must have your own website. You should not rely on Instagram or any other social media platform to showcase your product photography portfolio. It is a much better idea to invest in your own website and fill it in with useful and original content (blog post articles, photos from various product categories including lifestyle photography, videos, infographics, etc), which will help you to differentiate yourself from other freelance photographers. If your competitors have a generic-looking website with examples of high-quality product images, you need to create an even better content-rich website that will stand out from the rest of the websites. For example, you can write up the story of how you became a product photographer and why you love it. This will add a personal touch to your website and differentiate you from many other product photographers who only have product photos, price lists, and contact forms on their website. If you are looking for inspiration, here are a few great examples of the product photographers’ websites:
- Video Presentation – Another great way to differentiate yourself from your product photography competitors is to create a professional video about yourself and your services. This will show your potential clients that you are a serious and professional product photographer who is willing to go the extra mile to get the job done right. You can post the video on your website, as well as on social media platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo. To create a professional-looking video presentation, you don’t need to hire a professional video production company, you can simply use your iPhone or any other smartphone to record a high-quality video. You can also try to find a university student or a freelancer who will be willing to shoot a video for you to use in their portfolio. The video presentation is a really great way to stand out from your competition. Below is a great example of a video presentation from a Latvia based product photographer Alina Kareva:
- Client Testimonials in Video Format – If you have worked with many clients in the past, it is a good idea to get some testimonials from them. We highly recommend you ask your clients for a simple video testimonial that can be recorded using an iPhone. Video testimonials work a lot better to build trust and authority in the eyes of your potential clients. Here is a great article that we recommend you to read which goes in-depth on how to get powerful testimonials for your photography business.
- Digital Brochure With Your Portfolio – Another great way to differentiate yourself from competitors is through the digital brochure with your high-quality images and additional information about your services. This can be easily done using Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, or the free graphic design software Figma. Simply select some of your best product photos and create a simple PDF document that you can then send to your potential clients via email.
#2. Make Sure You Respond Quickly to All Incoming Client Inquiries
The second most important thing you can do to increase your chances of getting hired by a client is to make sure you respond quickly to all incoming client inquiries. We live in a fast-paced world where everyone is always in a hurry, and no one has the time or patience to wait around for days or even weeks for a photographer to get back to them. That is why it is crucial to respond to all client inquiries as soon as possible. We recommend responding to all client inquiries within one hour.
A quick and personalized email response to client inquiries can significantly increase your chances of being hired even if your photography pricing is higher than what other photographers charge.
Template of a quick response email that you can use:
Subject Line: Quick Response to Your Inquiry
Hi [First Name],
Thank you for your inquiry. I would love to help you with your product photography needs. Attached to this email, you will find my price list as well as some of my previous work.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
[Your Phone Number]
Attachments: Price List + Previous Work
Pro tip: Try to personalize your response by mentioning and including photos of similar projects you have worked on before. Let’s say the client is looking for a product photographer to shoot creative photos of their premium candles for social media platforms. If you have previously worked with a candle company and have some photos that you can show the client, make sure to mention them in your email and include those photos as well. This will significantly increase your chances of getting hired by the client because you not only went the extra mile to personalize your reply but also have proven that you can do a great job with product photography for candles.
#3. Create a Standard Contract for New Product Photography Projects
The third thing you need to do to make sure you get hired by clients and avoid any misunderstandings is to create a standard contract for all new product photography projects. This simple document will outline the terms of your agreement with the client and help avoid any legal issues down the road.
You can find free photography proposals and contract templates (for agencies and freelancers) here.
Having a simple product photography contract will help you get hired by clients because it will show that you mean business and are professional.
To Sum Things Up
In this blog post, we discussed how much to charge for product photography services, showed you how to correctly calculate product photography pricing as well as how to differentiate yourself from other photographers and full-service photography studios
Here is a quick reminder of the steps to calculate how much you need to charge your product photography clients:
- Calculate your operating costs
- Decide how much you would like to earn per month
- Decide how many days or hours per month you are willing to work
- Find out what are product photography Taxes in your country
- Apply the following formula to calculate your product photography pricing: Your Monthly Business Operating Costs + Your Monthly Earnings + Taxes = Total Monthly Revenue Needed
- Compare your hourly rate results to other product photographers in your city
- Use your hourly rate to calculate how much to charge your product photography clients
We also discussed 4 different product photography pricing models, namely:
- Daily rate
- Quoting per job done
- Hourly fee
- Per image fee
Finally, we gave you 3 actionable ideas on how to charge more for your product photography services and still get booked:
- Invest in your branding and marketing (logo, website, video presentation, client testimonials in video format, etc)
- Respond quickly to all incoming inquiries (preferably within 30 minutes)
- Create a standard contract for new clients
If you follow the steps and tips in this blog post, you will be well on your way to earning more money from your product photography business. Remember, it is important to charge what you are worth and not undervalue your services. Product photography is a skilled trade that takes years of practice to master. By charging what you are worth, you will not only be able to make a living from your passion but also help raise the standards of the industry as a whole. Thanks for reading and good luck!
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