04. Pricing your photography

This class covers the all too common question “What should I charge for my photography?”.

Pricing is a difficult part of running a business for many photographers and the truth is that the answer to the above question varies dramatically. To help you overcome this challenge, Karl provides an overview of the costs you should be looking at that will help you determine your pricing. He discusses day rates, outside services (retouchers and models etc), set building and props, agents, equipment and studio rental as well as looks at charging usage fees and how you can find the right balance in what to charge.

Class objectives:

  • Explore and understand the costs of running a business
  • Day rates – what are they and how do they work
  • Usage fees – explain what they are and when to apply them
  • Agents – explore the advantages and disadvantages of working with agents
  • Provide an overview of what to consider when pricing your photography
Photography pricing

Determining what to charge for your photography can be challenging.

Please find the accompanying documents for this class here or in the Downloads section.

If you have any questions about this class, please post in the comment section below.

NOTE: This class is available with English subtitles.


  1. Dear Karl,

    I’ve subscribed today and literally cannot stop watching the videos.

    I like to dig into this usage fees topic since it is causing such a headache to educate clients about its necessity. Please share your thoughts/practice on the following:

    If you do not apply usage fees for smaller Clients, how do you specify in practice what the Client can use the images for and how can you control it in case the image will be used for additional purposes?

    It is perfectly true that there are such difficulties in understanding for some Clients what usage fees are and they do not get the fact that in a licensing model they won’t own that intellectual property with its all rights. I am curious about your practice: how to avoid that they automatically think, they buy you out of copyright by paying your day rate only? And in case of not applying usage fees, how to control the usage and rights properly?

    What is your procedure of “educating Clients” on this topic?

    Thank you very much for your time and help!


    1. Hi Reka, I’m very happy to hear that you are enjoying the platform. In answer to your question any new client receives our paperwork and in our ‘downloads’ section you will find one titled ‘Usage Fees and Image Licencing.PDF’ and another ‘Copyright tems and conditions.docx’ in the latter one the terms and conditions of commission are made clear and a client would have to sign these for me to agree to work with them. You can obviously modify these forms to suit yourself and your market. Essentially my basic terms are that a client can use the image exclusively for at least 2 years and
      un-exclusively for as long as they like as long as it is used by their company and not transferred to third parties for an alternate use. After the two years is over and assuming I have the other rights (such as model releases etc) then I am able to sell that image as stock to another client that is not in the same market or a competitor to the original client. Obviously there are many occasions when this just isn’t possible anyway such as if you were photographing a bunch of components or products that only that client makes then of course it is highly unlikely you will ever have a use for them and technically they can’t be considered highly creative images. For clients that find it difficult to understand I refer them to the similarities with an Architect, when an architect designs a house for someone the client get’s the house but they don’t own the plans or the design and the architect may use those same designs for another house because the architect owns the copyright to the plans. You can also explain to your client that often, especially on larger campaigns, that a model agency will only license the model usage for a specific period etc. It is however sometimes hard to convince some clients of this procedure and you must appreciate that if you are charging a significant day rate (as I do) that you must respect that they are the client paying for the project and often the concept or idea of the shoot is the art director or maybe even the clients. I also have relationships with many clients where my day rate is simply higher and they keep the images and it’s done.

  2. Hi Karl, My main problem with photography is with marketing is there any agents you can put me in touch with as i think this is the only way i can succeed as a photographrer any help will be really appreciated

      1. Hi Karl, great job!
        I’m a bit curious on what to expect of the industry if a project requires more time than you first thought. (I guess you’ll have a good understanding of how much time a certain project requires, but as I’m starting out I guess I’m likely to be a bit optimistic). Let’s say that a client hires you for a product photo project based on a day fee. What if you in the end need two days, do you charge for two days or is it your responsibility to keep to the agreement? Or isn’t it praxis to agree on the time frame beforehand?
        Thanks a lot!
        Fredrik from Sweden

        1. Hi Frederik, I’m afraid it’s my responsibility to be on point with my quotation with maybe a 10% flexibility. But always keep a check if the client adds more or requests changes from the original quotation as that would all add time and would be chargeable. This is why it’s very important to keep your emails/paper work in good order.

  3. Hi Karl, thank you enlightening me on this. I have always been concerned about bringing up usage fees and your architect analogy clears things up nicely for me. Great content, keep it up!

    1. No worries you are welcome. Keep in mind though some smaller clients won’t grasp the concept of paying more for usage but they should grasp the concept of the images only being licensed for a specific period as the day rate price. Only bigger campaign stuff can you charge additional usage fees to the day rate.

  4. Hi Karl,

    Just moved to LA to pursue my dream after retiring from manufacturing . I like to look at things from all sides if possible and in this case it deals with usage fees. As a client hiring a photographer for my product wouldn’t I be the owner of the image that I get for my campaign? Considering it as a “work for hire” I don’t think I would restricted on how, where or how often I use the image. Please clarify for me. Thanks!


    BTW: Great course content!

    1. Hi Ed, yes some clients expect to own the images in return for your day rate or creative fee and many photographers work this way but in the often crazy world of agents and big campaign images the photographer only licenses use of the image for a specific time period (not all clients will like this though) It’s much the same as when you commission an architect do design a house for you, you don’t own the design or plans, they still do. As such in these cases the photographer can even negotiate a higher fee if the usage of the image is going to be over a larger geographic area.

  5. Hi Karl and thank you for all these great courses, I am just mesmerized. One quick question, when you give an invoice or contract to your client, do you put all the various fees in detail and separately on it or just put a lump sum figure without any details?

  6. Hi, really enjoyed this business course. However, with regards to market research – how do you suggest finding out about rates that other photographers charge for commercial work? Often, as you suggested to do, most photographers do not disclose their rates online, so I was wondering if you had any suggestions for working out where my rate should sit in relation to others?



    1. Hi Lewis, ask a friend who has a business of his own or is in a management role to send a request for pricing 🙂

  7. Hi Karl, Not sure already answered, so apologies if I have missed it. Do you apply 1.5 times or 2 times your normal day rate if you are requested to photo shoot for weekends?

    1. Hi Helen, for the type of work I do and as I operate on quite a high day rate then no I just charge my usual rate however if you are operating on a lower day rate then it would be reasonable to charge 1.5x as long as this is made clear to the client. I very rarely do shoots on the weekend in commercial or advertising photography. For wedding and portrait photographers though they’d be expected to work at weekends and at normal rates.

  8. Hi Karl.

    Very well said, and I am impressed with the structure of your presentation and the method of your presentation.

    I believe that this is not for anyone because I have not heard a photographer that will charge this kind of money… However, it is true that you would need to sell your services professionally and doing the job right in the first place. Well done again. The business section is one of the interesting part of your course that I would definitely spend more time with it and I try to grasp your tip and tricks and I will take them on board with me…

    I am proud of any individual that committing themselves to be on the very positive side looking after their lifestyle and along with that helping others to learn and off course learn the good things that influences others. I hope this would make a sense. Regards Darya

  9. Hi Karl

    Never a truer word said. I once quoted for a national ad campaign. I went in cheap in the hope of getting the work, the account manager wanted me to do the work and called me to re-submit the quote for double, as the agency and client wouldn’t take me seriously. I got the job!

  10. Hi Karl,

    One of the biggest problems I have working with an agency is when it comes to collections.

    How did you manage to deal with such a problem when you started out? Did you collect before or after the shoot and did you have a credit period for the agency?


    1. Hi Ayub, sometimes people can be bad payers but just have a terms and conditions sheet that they must sign before commencing work with them and then you can protect yourself, it also allows you to charge interest on overdue payments.

  11. Hi Karl, I have a potential client where I think Usage Fee may come up. However I don’t fully understand it vs how the calculator is working. What I found on the web talks about a usage per image.

    I’m trying to work out:
    What to Enter in the B.U.R field.
    What would be a reasonable price/IMG or price for set

    Just want to be ready should usage fee be applicable

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Matthew, there is not set rule for the BUR as the usage rate it is often negotiable, however many photographers start with a 10% of their day rate as the BUR which obviously then gets greatly enhanced depending on the amount of usage which is the whole idea. So if your day rate/creative fee was £3000 then a starting point for the BUR might be £300. However I’ve never found a fixed science to this often agents just push for whatever they can get. Some shoots might have been 2 days work for £5K and then £15K usage fees, other shoots might be £4K shoot fees and then £40K usage because of the profile of the shoot. In all honesty in my experience I think the agents make it up half the time. The BUR I guess is just a guide. The other way you can work it out is backwards if you know what the client is going to pay maximum in usage for a certain amount of coverage then you can put the numbers in and that type of usage and see what the BUR works out at and then that will give you a guide for a future BUR too.

  12. Hi Karl,
    Hi Karl,
    My name is Victoria Machin and I am a photographer based in Miami, Florida.
    I have an OPPORTUNITY of a LIFETIME as a client of mines want to hire me to photograph her and her partner in Africa next year. She will pay for all my Travel expenses and my Studio Manager’s expense for 13 days but I will be out 13 days away from my business and I have a studio to keep running. How do you suggest I should charge her for this for my work? Besides her covering travel expenses which would be close to $12,000 per person what do you propose I should charge for my work? Let me know your thoughts. Is there a formula to go by for something like this? Thank you in advanced.

    1. Hi Victoria, some lovely wedding work on your website by the way! Your time is your time if you weren’t travelling then you’d be working on something else so your client has to appreciate that. However when I get commissioned for extended projects of many days then I usually offer some sort of discount, so if a project is going to take 7 days then it would be my day rate less maybe 10%. I guess you will need to consider your day rate and what is expected of you day to day photography wise. Also it is worth noting that I also charge travel time for getting to and from overseas projects because this is also time lost from your business or your personal life. You then need to weigh up how much you want to do the project and what it will provide you in terms of pleasure, kudos, portfolio material etc and then consider if you want to win the project if you are willing to negotiate your rates based on those factors. Sometimes these things sound like an amazing opportunity and sometimes they are but they are always still hard work and not a holiday! If you do take the project then also remember to have your assistant video you working so you can maximise your vlogging and publicity material from it. Good luck, Karl.

      1. Wow Karl! Thank you for your quick reply! I completely understand.
        So we were able to educate our client and proposed her with some great incentives and we closed the deal!
        We have been booked to Africa all expenses paid plus our day rates. I am so EXCITED and looking forward to photographing some AMAZING images!

        Thank you for your great advise. I must say I get very inspired by your ideas and creative projects! Love your courses!
        Warm Regards

  13. Hi Karl,
    I found this video and documents really helpful.
    Although I’m not sure how to apply it on retouching service, that I provide to other photographers. I have some price chart but sometimes I have feeling that I’m underpaid for some jobs.
    Could you help how to price retouching service?

    Thank you,
    Zeljko Dangubic

    1. Hi Zeljko, that’s a tricky one, you will need to look at good retouchers fees and compare to work that out. I think good retouchers work from about £50-£75 per hour upwards.

  14. Hi Karl. This video ends leaving me hanging about the usage fee calculator. Is there a second part that I’m missing?


    1. Hi John, the pricing part is also available as a download sheet with the relevant information. The usage calculator is another download tool that is purely for calculating usage as described in the video which is something different to pricing your actual day rate for photography.

      1. Hi Karl!
        I’m also curious to know more about the usage fee rating. In the video you said you would be talking more about it later on. Also you didn’t go through what includes in the day rate. Do you give a certain amount of images to the client if the client isn’t willing to pay for extra usage fees? I normally charge the day rate and images seperately. Does your rate include a certain amount of retouched images which the client can use in their marketing?

        1. Hi Mikko, usually the day rate only includes the image you were commissioned to take, in my case with product photography that may only be one or two finished final images. If you’re shooting a catalogue with lots of images then you need to work out your post production work as a separate part of your quotation. The day rate is your rate to shoot, if you spend one day shooting and charge X and then you spend two days doing post production and didn’t account for that then you are not going to be in business very long. Usage fees are another kettle of fish and as explained in the video they are very much more reserved for national/international campaigns where there is going to be a lot of exposure for the images and a lot of responsibility in the scale of the project.

  15. Karl,

    Can you provide more info on agents? Basically would like to know how to approach, the intro…

    Kind Regards,

    Rich from Dallas

    1. Hi Rich, agents like to see a great website/collection of images that is not the same or too similar to someone else they already have on their books. So do you research when looking at different agents. There are plenty of listings for agents, most of them are based in the bigger cities, they of course have websites and you can see the standard of the photographers they represent. Remember that an agent is really only interested in one thing: Money. They talk a good game and they make lots of promises but they are only interested in you if they believe they can sell your work and get there 20%. Although as I explained in this course they are good at getting you higher fees and occasionally bigger jobs. I’ve had friends of mine who have had agents and then swapped agents and then got fed up with their agents and left them. I’ve had other friends who love their agents and have been with them for many years. Approach them by letter/email with links to your work and see if you can set up a meeting.

  16. Hi, Karl. Love your materials, they are very helpful. I especially fancy the ESTIMATE calculator.

    Is there any way to make that Excel file editable so I could personalize it? The cells are currently locked, except for the ones where you input your numbers. 🙂

  17. Hi Karl,
    I’m one of your big fans from Saudi Arabia, I have seen most of your YouTube Videos and purchased your product photography course and I can’t wait to attend one of your workshops.

    I have a photography business in Saudi Arabia and our pricing strategy is different, we charge for the number photo for example:
    1- If you are a hotel and you need photos we charge for the number of photos you need.
    2- If you have a product we charge for the number of photos you need for that product.

    We are doing so because when photographers get better they spend less time to produce great work.

    What do you think of that?
    Do you use Day Rate for product photography that you do at your studio?

    Thank You for the great knowledge you shared 🙂

    1. Hi Ibrahim, that is interesting but the problem I see with that pricing in the type of work I shoot (especially in product and advertising photography) is that it might take all day to set up just one shot to get it perfect. So in Europe and the USA we generally charge by time in half day or full day units and then there is an additional fee for the more photos supplied to cover the post processing time.

      1. Hi Karl, I just wondering if you charge your day rate fot post processing time?

        And also… Thank You for the great knowledge you shared ?

        1. Hi Ivo, no I have a lower more competitive hourly rate for post procession that is in line with what other retouchers charge.

  18. Hi Karl
    Great course however it would be greatly appreciated if you could do a course on how to price everyday portrait pricing as maybe an equation i.e. Time + cost – mark up – price.
    The portraiture market is a nightmare at the moment as everyone with an iPhone is a photographer add to that the so called ” lifestyle photography” of some high street studios a few years ago selling pictures where everything was crazy crops and grossly overexposed for high prices that people quickly where able to emulate on there mobile phones of compact cameras and you have the current market. Trying to find a niche is a nightmare. I would greatly appreciate something on pricing headshots for businesses.

    Much obliged Stephen

    1. Hi Stephen, I understand where you are coming from on this but my answer to this would be based on the information I provided in Chapter 7 of this course. If you watch that first and then let me know what you think.

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