An Important Principle for Understanding How Much to Charge for Your Photo and Video Work

When you're starting a photo or video business, one of the toughest things to learn is how to price your services and products. This great video gives a simple, easy-to-follow principle that makes it a very straightforward process.

Coming to you from Scott McKenna, this helpful video talks about how to set prices for your work. It can be hard trying to just assign a price to something like a headshot, so McKenna takes a different approach, advocating that you figure out how much you'd like to be making in a typical day of work, then setting your price for any specific product or service based on that rate and how long it'll take you to complete. I personally think it's a good method, as it's easy to forget that there's often a lot more time involvement with any one project than just being behind the camera and at the computer, and you need to factor that time into your take-home pay.

Of course, you need to be reasonable in how much you want to make and what your local market can support, but if you set a practical number, it can be a great system for pricing your work.

And if you really want to dive into building a successful photography business, check out "Making Real Money: The Business of Commercial Photography." 

Lead image by Agung Pandit Wiguna, used under Creative Commons.

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Mark James's picture

I've used the same basic principle for quotes, just with an hourly rate. The quotes are fairly accurate unless the client changes the scope of the shoot.

gabe s's picture

I see we switched from daily McKinnon videos to this guy.

Maximilian Sulzer's picture

Charging based on the time it needs to do something is fairly obvious so the value of this video isn't particularly high.

The much bigger question is to figure out your hourly/daily rate based on all of your total expenditure to break even (assuming this is your main job) and then add your profit on top. And that is of course connected to what is appropriate for your work and what people are willing to spend on that.

I guess for most people that ask what to charge for their work that second one is much more of a question mark than the first one.

I'm currently in the situation that i might be able to sell/licence some of my images for the first time. I'm not a professional so that hourly rate does not really apply to me and i have absolutely no idea what is appropriate to charge for an exclusive licence.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

"i have absolutely no idea what is appropriate to charge for an exclusive licence."

It depends. Are you licensing it to Toyota, Pepsico, Brenda's Beauty Barn or a individual person?
Charging for the time required to create an image is, for lack of a better word, flawed

Maximilian Sulzer's picture

To a small marketing company of my city

Dan Marchant's picture

"I'm currently in the situation that i might be able to sell/licence some of my images for the first time..."

This is why a day rate is only a part of how to price. It is fine for a simple job but no only part of the answer when it comes to more complex jobs. When licensing you need to charge a usage fee. An image used for one advert in a local paper is going to generate a small financial return for your client. The same image used in a nationwide advertising campaign will generate a much greater return. In this situation you need to be charging for usage in the same way that Getty and others do.