Photographer cost guide

According to the statistics, about 80% of the whole US population uses professional photographer services at least once a year. A great photographer creates positive memories for the rest of your life, while a bad one can destroy not only pictures, but the mood, the photo session, and the whole event in general. To find a photographer who understands what you want and make the right accents during the photo shooting is a treasure, but he or she also needs a solid amount of money for the work done.

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Photographers are professional artists who can capture the most precious moments of your life to prolong them forever. The average cost for photographer services differs depending on the type of photography one needs. The lower average cost is $320 and it’s often related to family and portrait photography, while the higher end of the scale, which is $2,800, is dedicated to the event and wedding photographer services.

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Cost-related questions and photography types

What factors influence photography cost?

The cost of any photography service consists of Cost of business running + Cost of goods + Cost of time and labor + Taxes. This simple formula explains why in New York a photographer can charge $149/hour while in Ohio the cost will be about $89/hour. Cost of time and labor is evaluated by a photographer personally; in most cases, it depends on the experience. So amateurs can charge about $25-$75/hour, a student will cost about $50-$100/hour, semi-pro photographer - $100-$130/hour, and a professional - $100-$250/hour.

What is more expensive: studio vs. outdoor photo session?

As a rule, outdoor photo sessions cost about 20%-25% more than studio proposals. The difference in price is justified by the travel cost for a photographer as well as labor charges (for an outdoor session a photographer needs to bring more props, cameras, and often even an assistant).

How many images do I get from a photo session?

After a photo session, you will usually receive all (sometimes selected "all," meaning that failed shots are deleted) shots without any retouching as well as a fixed number of edited images. Most photographers offer from 10 to 30 retouched photos after the session. Additional edited pictures can be purchased for $25-$100 per image. In the latter case, the price varies for different kinds of photographers: family and portrait photographers charge less while event and wedding experts charge more.

How much does a family photographer cost?

A family photographer offers services of family photo sessions both in plain-air and studio setting. Most family sets last 1.5-3 hours and can include as many people as required (from 2 to infinity), family pets are also welcomed. The cost of a family photographer varies between $325 and $670; the price includes about 30 edited images and an online gallery access. If you’re preparing for a family session, have a look at posing ideas.

How much does a baby photographer cost?

Newborn or baby photographers tend to cost more than family photographers because newborns are unpredictable in their mood and behavior so require more attention and patience on photographer's side. The average cost for a newborn photography session is $480-$680 for 3-4 hours (including breaks for feeding and changing). To prepare for a newborn session, read some tips from experts.

How much do I have to pay to a portrait photographer?

Portrait (headshot) photographers mostly offer short sessions lasting no more than 1.5 hours. They are required for professional (business) photos to add to a CV or for companies’ online pages. 2-3 outfit changes are on average included in the price; sometimes makeup and hairstylist can also be added to a package. Such services cost $225-$450.

What is the price of a boudoir photographer?

Boudoir photography packages in the prevailing majority offer makeup and hairstyle services. After the session, you receive from 5 to 20 edited photos and an online gallery with full-sized images. The cost for 2-3 hours session will be about $175-$580.

How much does an event photographer cost?

Event photographers most often work at private and business parties, in nightclubs, and any other celebrations and big events. They provide 2-4 hours of full coverage for the event and about 50-80 edited images (together with all raw shots) for $190-$830. For events larger than 50 people, two photographers are advised for hire.

How much do I have to pay for the wedding photographer services?

Wedding photographers work not only during the wedding ceremonies or the banquet afterward, but they also offer engagement and rehearsal dinner sessions as well as the next day celebration pictures. As a rule, a wedding photographer is hired for no less than 4 hours and costs about $750/hour. For more detailed information, please see our wedding photography cost guide.

How much does an architecture photographer cost?

Architecture photographers work either on the project-rate or on the day-rate basis. They come to the required building and shoot it both inside and outside, offering exterior and interior photos. Hourly rate starts from $125/hour and goes as high as the experience and fame of a chosen photographer.

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Additional photographer services

Is album included in a photography cost?

No, an album with your photos is never included in the cost of any photography package. This is explained by a simple fact that not all people require an album after their photo sessions. Album cost is calculated based on the design (this price varies depending on the photographer and the quality of the album itself), the number of pages you need (a customized page in a photo album costs $30-$70), and the number of edited images included. If you purchase a photo session package and want an album to be included, then most photographers can give you up to 30% discount for this service.

Will I get professional stylist service?

The availability of this additional service differs in each category of photography. Boudoir, portrait, maternity photographers often have a team of stylists (including makeup and hair stylists) whose services are included into particular packages. Such photographers as family or wedding photographers usually don’t have stylist service included into the price. However, the latter usually know reliable and professional stylists and can recommend someone.

Do I need props for my session?

Props are always required during photo sessions, regardless of their purpose. If you have individual professional objects for a portrait session or toys for the newborn photography session, then they will always come in handy. Of course, most photographers do have props in place and can offer you them for free; yet, it’s highly advised to take your precious items for a session to demonstrate real emotions in the pictures.

Do I need a second photographer?

Second photographers are essential for large events (with more than 50 people), such as business meetings, sports competitions, weddings, birthdays, etc. In most cases, you will be able to hire a second photographer by simply voicing the need to your leading photo expert. In this case, the price will be not twice, but about 1.3-1.7 time higher (for instance, if your lead photographer services cost $350/hour, then an additional will cost $170/hour).

How to find a photographer

Where to look for a photographer?

One of the fastest ways to find a photographer is to ask around your friends and colleagues. Besides that, use directories and websites like HireRush to look for names of photographer services in the area. You can also go to the city forums to read who the locals liked working with.

How to evaluate photographer services?

Visit a photographer’s website and go through several albums provided there. (In case you found no website, cross the name of this photographer from your list and move on). There is no right and wrong in photography because this is a kind of art. If you like what some photographers do, then you can contact them for an interview. If you don’t, then just go on to look for “your” photographer services.

What to look for on a photographer’s website?

The must-haves include the following:

  • Contact info
  • Portfolio
  • References
  • Cost of services is frequently a negotiable deal so many photographers provide feedback forms where you can describe your needs and then receive an estimate for them.
  • Personal page (About) is also optional but can give an insight into the photographer's character

Do I need to meet with the photographer?

The rule of a thumb, in this case, is "yes," you need to meet with a photographer. Such personal interviews help to understand whether you will like working with a person or it’s better to continue your search. This is also a perfect opportunity to ask any questions you may have regarding the photo session, cost of the services, number of pictures you will receive, etc. However, if you’re hiring a photographer who travels a lot, a personal interview might not be possible. In this case, you need to either make a long call with a photographer or discuss the details via a conference call (Skype, for instance).

Other frequently asked questions

Do I need to pay a deposit to my photographer? Is a deposit for a photographer refundable?

Most photographers do require a deposit from the clients in order to secure their services and the booked date. About 30%-45% of the total services cost is a natural sum of a deposit. As a rule, the first third of the total cost is required once the contract is signed; the second, about three months before the photographer is booked; and the third about a month before the photo session.

First deposits are very rarely refundable, yet it usually depends on the personal qualities and your relationship with a photographer.

How many outfit changes do I have?

On average, there are two-three outfit changes for a standard photo session. However, portrait sessions may require additional payment for every outfit change (the cost is about $40-$100 per outfit).

How to choose the right type of photographer?

The type of photographer you need depends on the kind of event you’re having or the type of photos you would like to receive. Consider why you need photos and what the reason for hiring an expert is. This can set your goals straight. Once you have the goals, you can call several photographers in the neighborhood and discuss your ideas. After the initial interview, you will be able to decide which photographer can do the job best.

Bottom line

Photographers are experts whose aim is to immortalize your memories with their photos. The cost of photographer services heavily depends on the kind of photographer you need and the terms of your cooperation. Look for experts whose work you like, and whom you like as people to receive the best images and experience from your sessions.

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