Shaun M. Niles | About Photographer's Fees

My personal belief is that an informed client is a good client. So, with that in mind, I’m going share a few things with you about portrait session pricing in the hopes that you’ll walk away from this with a better understanding of what goes into the structure of portrait session fees. I’m doing this because I want you to be comfortable making informed decisions about your portrait session, I want you to know up front what you will and will not get from it, and most importantly, I do not want there to be any unwelcomed surprises for you along the way. Now, I’m not going to tell you how much you should pay for something or if I think another photographer’s prices are too high. That’s for you to decide. But I will say this, like everything else in life, you will get what you pay for and if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.  

The first thing you should know is that every photographer values and prices their work a little differently. But overall, portrait session costs can be broken down into two general categories. There are the session fees, which are sometimes called the creative fee or the booking fee. Here you are essentially paying for the photographer’s time, talent, overhead and gear. The second part is product sales. These are the prints, photo books, canvas wraps, digital files, etc, that you purchase once all the images have been taken, edited and processed. The list of products that you can purchase today is endless. In fact, there are so many options out there that trying to explain them all to you can be overwhelming. This is why many photographers put together groups of different size prints and other products and offer them as “packages”.

From the photographer’s standpoint, there are really two approaches to pricing their work. One is to have low session fees in the hopes that you will purchase enough products on the back end that they make enough money to support themselves and stay in business. But this can be risky for the photographer and some will have a minimum order requirement in place to ensure that they don’t go broke.

In the digital age that we live in today, many people would rather have digital files than things like photo books or prints. It’s Ok if that’s what you want, as long as you understand that you’re going to have to pay for those. So the second approach is for the photographer to have higher session fees with lower product prices.

When you are selecting a photographer it’s important to find one who you are comfortable working with. One who’s style and approach matches what you are looking for in an end product. A good photographer will ask questions, listen to your answers, and interact with you because they want to understand your vision so they can meet or exceed your expectations. Sure, you may have gotten really great deal on that portrait session and ended up with a lot of product at a really inexpensive price. But if you weren’t happy with the experience, it took forever for you to receive them, and you aren’t in love with the images then, was it really a great deal?