Pricing for Photographers

By February 11, 2017Photography


So let’s talk about it. That big elephant in the room that makes people so uncomfortable they would rather just watch the weather channel  on repeat instead.
(Pictures added to provide stimulation for artists who hate numbers)


Truth is – life really is all about the money. Sad to admit, but without a steady inflow in the bank people struggle to keep their spirits up.  Money issues are one of the main causes of depression and divorce in today’s society and with the rising inflation and influx of expenses, it is hard to keep head above water.  When you are self-employed and lack basic understanding of business and self-discipline, these stresses become even more intense.

What Do You Need To Survive??

So let’s look at today’s basic living costs per month in Cape Town in order to live fairly responsibly:



Budget LivingAverage Living
Rent (1 – 2 bedroom)R5000R10 000
Car FinanceR3000R4000
Medical Aid:R1500 (hospital plan)R3000 (Comprehensive)
Camera InsuranceR1500R2000
Car InsuranceR400R700
Life & DisabilityR300R500
Living Costs:
Food (3 meals a day)R1500R2000
Household productsR300R500
Retirement PlanningR500R1500
Total Costs:R15 800R27 300


Sure, these amounts are variables and some are not applicable to everyone.  Perhaps your car is already paid off. Or you inherited a house and don’t need to pay rent.  Or you don’t plan to ever retire and want to work until the very last day you take your last breath at age 92 (good grief).

So what does this have to do with Photography?
I mean, Photography is Art.
It is a gift of Beauty.
It pays in “Exposure” and “Likes” on social media, right???



People in the Workplace vs. “Artists”.

Now let’s compare with people with “real” jobs (Since Photography is “art” and not a “job”).
People with real jobs work from Monday to Friday from 9:00 – 17:00 (160 hours a month) and get paid a fixed monthly salary plus a few benefits like pension and UIF and sick leave and weekends!
Every month on the same day a fixed salary gets deposited in to their accounts. Nice, isn’t it?

Now here you are.  Artist. Photographer. Storyteller.  You get paid per assignment.  Some months mean glory to all as it rains with weddings and other bookings. Other months it’s like crickets and you try to see how many cups of tea you can drag out of the last tea bag.

Does it really need to be like this?
No. Not if you price yourself correct and according to your worth and time.



How Many Hours Do You REALLY Work?

How much work really goes in to one wedding?  Some of these things are generally not considered as “work” by clients.  At least, not until their employers ask similar tasks of them in their off time.  So Let’s see:

Initial Marketing1 hour
Responding to client inquiries and questions1 hour
In person consultation1 hour
Charging camera gear and preparing cards1 hour
Driving to Engagement session1 hour
Engagement session1 hour
Driving home from Engagement Session1 hour
Downloading cards & importing into software1 hour
Culling of images1 hour
Editing images3 hours
Delivery of images1 hour
Pre Wedding Venue Visit1 hour (optional but recommended)
Timeline coordination for Wedding Day1 hour
Charging camera gear and preparing cards1 hour
Driving to Wedding Venue1 hour (minimum – usually more)
Pre Wedding Prep and location check1 hour
Wedding Day Photography12 hours
Post Wedding Prep and camera breakdown1 hour
Drive home in the dark with tired eyes1 hour
Downloading card and Importing into Software1 hour
Culling of extra images2 hours
Editing Images10 hours
Blog Post Image Selection, Writing and Blogging1 hour
Album Design2 hours
Drive to Printers to deliver Design1 hour
Responding to constant inquiries from brides wanting to know when images are done1 hour
Drive to printers to pick up album1 hour
Drive to client to deliver album and images1 hour
Total amount of work you’ve done52 hours

52 hours = That is 7 hours a week more than the average “normal” person who works an 8:00 – 17:00 workday.

Great.  So now we’ve established that you don’t “only” work when you are holding a camera. Those hours add up quickly, don’t they?  But now, let’s look at some more numbers (I know, we are artist, numbers break our heads and they are not fun to look at or think of, but really if you want to do this as a business you need to continue paying attention)



Your Direct Expenses Per Wedding

Travel Costs:
Your car has a running cost and maintenance cost.  Tires need to be replaced, oil needs to be filled up, car needs to be serviced.  Visit the AA website to calculate your car’s running cost

100km = R350 / R500

Camera Insurance Per Wedding:
Divide your annual insurance premium by your annual number of weddings.
(R2000 x 12 ÷24)


Assistant (not to be confused with a second photographer)R1000
Album Printing Costs. 
This will vary on the amount of pages and quality of printers you use and get as expensive as R6000+ for a decent 20 spread leather cover album.
Packaging MaterialR300
Branded USBR200
Courier costsR200
Total Expenses per WeddingR5 200

So that is the direct expenses per wedding, but what are the costs to run  your business and market yourself successfully in the Wedding Industry – set up at Wedding Expos, advertise on Wedding Blogs and Directories and have a strong Online Persona?

Running Costs Of Your Business Per Annum:

Online Marketing:
(Roughly R500 per month minimum)
Print Based Marketing (Magazines/Pamphlets)
(Roughly R1000 – R2000 per add)
R20 000
Wedding Expos
(Roughly R10 000 per expo)
R20 000
Website Initial build (once off)R13 000
Website DomainR 2 500
Website HostingR2 400
Software Subscriptions
Adobe Photoshop and LightroomR 1 650
Blogstomping SoftwareR   700
Album Design SoftwareR   700
Cellphone contractR6000
Total Annual Business ExpensesR72 950


If you dIvide that annual business expense in to monthly payments, it costs you about R6080 per month.
That essentially brings your monthly requirement as an individual and a business to:
R15800 (basic living expense) + R6080 (monthly business costs)  = R21880 (total monthly expense)


How Many Weddings Should You Do?

Alright, so now we have established how many hours you work and how much those hours cost you, so how many weddings do you need to do per year to support a basic, responsible lifestyle and a basic overhead business expenses?

We do it like this:
Yearly cost of basic living and business:  R21880 x 12 = R262560
R262560 ÷ (profit per wedding) = Weddings Required to run your business and support yourself

R8000 Wedding:

How much you chargeR8 000
Your Expenses for the wedding-R 5 200
Profit R 2 800
Weddings needed to support yourself94 per annum
Weddings per month8 per month (is this even possible?)


R10 000 Wedding

How much you chargeR10 000
Your Expenses for the wedding-R 5 200


Profit R 4 800


Weddings needed to support yourself54 per annum
Weddings per month4.5 per month


R15 000 Wedding

How much you chargeR15 000
Your Expenses for the wedding-R 5 200
Profit R 9 800
Weddings needed to support yourself26 per annum
Weddings per month2 per month


R20 000 Wedding

How much you chargeR20 000
Your Expenses for the wedding-R 5 200
Profit R 14 800
Weddings needed to support yourself18 per annum
Weddings per month1.5 per month


Looking more realistic when you work it out like that, right? And to think that I didn’t even calculate TAX in yet.  That decreases your actual income even further.



So now  you have to ask yourself the question – how many hours are you prepared to work in a year and what level of income do you need to support yourself?  As the saying goes:

Work Smarter, not Harder.



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