Beginner Photographer Rates in 3 Stages
If you’ve been a beginner photographer for some time now and feel like you aren’t getting anywhere, I have good news: there’s a reason! And it has nothing to do with your talent as an artist. The fact is, most beginner photographers are stuck in one of three different categories that prevent them from progressing to the next level. This is often due to misconceptions about what makes a successful photographer. So today, let’s clear up those misconceptions and see how we can move forward!
There are 3 types of beginner photographers
There are 3 stages that determine your beginner photographer rates:
- Type 1 is too scared to charge. They’ll do anything not to charge, even if it means losing money. They don’t feel worthy of payment and make excuses that hold them back. This beginner photographer might say others in the market are working for free and they’ll do the same.For example: “I know I should be making more money from my photography, but I just don’t want anyone else getting paid before me! What if nobody hires me after seeing all those free photos online? Then no one would hire me ever again and I’ll never get ahead… maybe we could just offer free prints at first until we get some business going.”They may keep saying the work isn’t there yet and once the work is good, they’ll charge. It’s all B.s. and we’re calling it out today.
- Type 2 is almost ready to charge, but still needs a little push in the right direction. They have convinced themselves of charging but they don’t know how to do it or even where to start. They aren’t sure how to charge. This is a very common stage and in this blog post/video I’m going to help you reach stage 3 of beginner photography. Beginner photographer rates can seem complicated but have faith that you’ll doing great!
- Type 3: This photographer knows how to charge but are uncertain if it’s enough. Are they billing for everything? Is there anything they could be forgetting and how should they start increasing their rates? I will help you also, if that’s you! Let’s get started because I’m tired of photographers not getting what they deserve.
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Type 1: The “too scared to charge” photographer
There’s no hard and fast rule for when to start charging, but if you’re still making excuses for not charging, then it’s time. Beginner photographer rates start anywhere, and we’re starting with cost. The fact is: If you don’t charge now, it will never happen.
The “too scared to charge” photographer makes up a lot of reasons why they can’t or shouldn’t charge. They’re afraid of getting rejected by clients—or worse yet—they make up excuses like “I’m not good enough yet” or “I don’t deserve to make money from my art if I haven’t paid my dues yet.”
This fear causes them to stay stuck in Stage 1 (making excuses) and never move forward into the next stage where they build their confidence. By asking for cost of goods at first – it’s opening the door to revenue and it’s your first step of setting your beginning photographer rates.
We all have fears about being rejected and disappointing people; but you won’t and if you do, so what. It’s called being human and it happens to all of us. Here is how we get out of the “I’m too scared to charge” beginner photographer stage:
- Start all of your hard costs. These are rentals, gas, coffee or any prop sales. These are costs that won’t change and you will have them regardless of shooting for one hour or 10 hours.
- Tell your potential clients that you are happy to photograph them but since you’re a beginner you’ll only charge for COST. That is whatever you paid out of pocket, minus your time.
- This lets the market, your psyche, and the universe know that things are changing. You’re not long the freebie photographer! You’re on your way of making money.
- Do this for 30-60 days maximum and it’s a powerful way of building your photography portfolio. You’re getting people in for cheap, adding photographs to your photography portfolio and teaching everyone that you’re an up & coming talent!
- Do NOT stay in this stage for more than 60 days or you’ll become the COST photographer. Nope, it’s a temporary home and then we’re packing up for stage 2!
Type 2: The “Almost Ready to Charge” Photographer
This is the phase where you are almost ready to charge, but you’re not sure how much. Told you, beginner photographer rates are easy if someone mentors you through it. Consider me your photo mentor! You might be looking at your photos and thinking “Man, these aren’t worth anything.” Or maybe you’ve put them on Facebook or Instagram and gotten no response at all.
You may have even sent a few inquiries out into the world, only to receive an emphatic NO back in return. But you know what? That’s okay! It’s natural to feel that way when starting out as a photographer—especially if this is your first time asking for money for your work.
It’s also normal for people to think about their prices all wrong when they start out in business because there are so many factors that influence pricing. Here’s the thing: You just left stage 1, which is a pathetic stage to live in. We were in “temporary housing” there until we were able to mentally shift our thinking. Now that we realized the earth does not stop spinning because we asked for money, it’s time to double down on this concept.
That means I want you to start figuring out what your value is. If you photograph for 5 hours, what does that mean to you? As a beginner photographer are wanting to get paid $500 for that? Are you willing to get paid $2500 for that? Once you figure that number out, you might be thinking “gosh, that’s a lot of money to ask for, I mean I was just asking for cost a couple of weeks ago” – and that’s a typical thought.
Here’s how I want you to deal with and get through this stage: I want you to barter and trade services with people who will help your business. Here are some great bartering partners:
- Accounting/booking keeping for your photography business
- Legal services for your photo business
- Web SEO or design for your photography business
- Restaurants or cafes to meet your future photography clients at!
- Or any business that will help you grow cause to barter just for the sake of bartering is useless. You should be connecting with people who would help you elevate while you work on your beginning photographer rates.
How exactly should you maneuver this stage? Let’s discuss the beginner photographer rates for stage 2:
- Find your ideal rate for what a photoshoot may cost
- Assuming it’s $750, then tell the other business you are open to a full barter. You will need $750 of their goods for an even exchange. This could be profitable for both sides and it should be a win/win.
- Do this barter dance for about 2 months. You’re getting accustomed to negotiating a higher rate without having to ask for that rate in dollars (or your currency). This practice is essential because it prepares us for the next home, stage 3!
- You don’t have to do 100% barter btw. Maybe you want 30% money and 70% barter. That $225 cash and $525 in barter value. You can opt for any ratio that works for your business.
- Once you feel comfortable with this stage, get the hell outta there! It’s not our permanent home!
Let me not forget to say this: The second stage of beginner photography will prep the market for the new YOU. You have a new rate, not charging cost anymore. You told the universe that the clients of the future will pay a bigger rate, your full rate. And you convinced yourself that you are worth every dollar!
Type 3: The “I’m Charging but I’m Uncertain” Photographer
It’s a good thing to be charging, even if you’re not sure what to charge. This stage will have you doing even better! You have your beginner photographer rates and want to increase profits. You deserve that in your life and I’m dedicated to helping you get there! keep reading…
Side note: This is a perfect time to mention my STEP Photo Pricing Course? I’ll just say this: It’s the best photography pricing course you’ll ever find, I designed it for photographers like yourself AND your first client will easily cover the investment of the course. Check it out here.
This is the stage that many photographers stay in for years. It gives us time to learn our business better and build our reputation as creative photographers who can produce high-quality images! How do we know if you’re charging appropriately? Lets see the list:
- Did you count all of the hours for your pre-production?
- Did you bill for everything and every hard cost?
- Did you count every post production hour and bill accordingly?
- Did you add a production fee to your invoice? If you didn’t, you need to fix this NOW.
- Did you suggest additional products that you offer?
- Did you set your shoot up that leaves them no option but to order additional photographs, edits, or deliverables because you are so damn good?
- If you like how I teach, have you signed up for your free photographer’s survival package? You can do that here OR the form below!
- If you realized that you are in stage 1, 2 or 3 of beginning photographer rates and want to read more. I think this blog post will help you push away ridiculous photography myths. Click here.