FAQ: How much to charge as a freelance photographer

Xav, how much should I charge as a photographer, how do I work it out? I’m ready to put myself out there and start charging for professional work.

This is a question I got from one of my followers some time ago. in fact, it has to be one of the most popular questions I get asked together with what camera you use? and are you single?

Why I didn’t answer that particular question before then? I don’t know; maybe I didn’t have a helpful and meaningful answer or maybe nobody’s asked me how to work it out.

But thinking about it, I answered this to my intern while having coffee waiting for a shoot. I was on the phone discussing some rates with a new client and after the phone call, she asked how do I know how much to charge as a freelance photographer. A few seconds and a zip of coffee later, I figured it out:

It’s something you need to work out, not to make up!  You have to take a few factors into consideration like experience, knowledge, industry niche, type of job and/or client demands,

You’ll also have to work out your expenses, bills and taxes to pay for and figure out what your profit percentage will be like. Once you figure this out, you can plan how much to charge as a freelance photographer.

First and most important, if you’re based in the U.K. you can have a look at this website: Freelance Fee Guides where you can search for your niche or type of assignment and see how much is the industry’s low and max standard rate.

I keep referring to this website every 3 months or so just to keep up to date with current rates.

If you live somewhere else, I’m sure there are websites that can advise you on the standard rates or you can ask a well-seasoned photographer for a bit of help. I know seasoned photographers in the U.S. charge a million times more than here in the U.K and photographers in Spain way, WAY less than freelancers over here so it will most likely depend on social, cultural and economic factors what you need to charge in your country.

In my case, to work out my income, I wrote all my outgoings in a napkin: rent, insurance, transport, coffee, office supplies, ninja training, dates with the current wife, Netflix, her majesty’s tax… everything that I spend money on regularly on a monthly basis. This way I know, for example, that every month I need £1200 to cover the bills.

With that figure sorted, I can now plan my marketing strategy to get to my target of income and profit… Simples!

Now, I didn’t go to business school so perhaps this isn’t the right way to work things out and most likely anyone with a business degree will tell you how to do it better and make much more money but this is the way I figured it out and worked well for me.

Things like tax, savings and all that have been considered but let’s face it, I’m not gonna tell you how to compose a shot either so go figure some things out by yourself!

Hope this helps and please feel free to share it with someone you think might benefit from it.

If you have any questions about photography, freelancing or life, just drop me a line or leave a message in the comments below.


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