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Rates of Pay for Freelance Photographer

You may also enjoy our pages on Becoming a freelance photographer and Finding work as a freelance photographer.

When starting out as a freelance photographer, one of the most important questions asked, is ‘How much do I charge for my services?’ and with so many factors to consider it can be quite a challenge to decide what the correct rate should be.

The best approach is to firstly find out what other freelancers charge, which means carrying out a bit of a ‘mystery shopper’ exercise. Call various freelancers, or ask friends to help you if you feel the need to remain anonymous – and then maybe ask for a typical price for a specific project. For example - photographing a wedding, or a three hour studio session to photograph a family with two children. Or if you tend to work on more commercial project, maybe ask for a standard rate for a half day studio shoot or a one day location shoot. 

The key thing with any pricing structure is that you must be able to live on your income. So work backwards. Decide how much you need to make per month (after putting at least 30% of all income aside for your tax) and then work out what your hourly rate for billable work must ideally be. Remember of course that not all your hours in a week will be chargeable, as you will need time for admin, marketing, attending meetings and so on.

Once you have all of this information you can then make sure that you pitch your pricing correctly, but remember to take into consideration the following:

Charging based on experience

A junior photographer with a limited portfolio, or one that has just left college, is of course not going to be able to command the same rates as a highly experienced one that has been working for 30 years and has an impressive portfolio of work. It is really just a case of being sensible and knowing what you are worth. It’s also true that some customers will pay more than others. As soon as you start talking to a prospect, you’ll instantly get a feel for whether they are expecting a full day shoot and 500 10” x 8” prints for a fiver, or have far more money to throw around! 

Charge more for higher value services

The next thing to consider is that you might not want to charge the same rate for all your services. For example, many photographers charge one hourly rate for studio work but a different rate for location work. Likewise, children and pets are always going to take longer to shoot than adults and you will need to take this into account as well – either by charging more, or allowing more time. With commercial work, again rates may need to vary depending on how complex you believe the project is going to be.

As a guide, anything between £20 and £50 per hour seems to be around the right figure depending on the type of work, but this is of course just rough ideas based on our own information. It is definitely worth doing your own research – as rates may also vary depending on where you are in the country. For example, a freelance photographer in London will undoubtedly charge more than one in rural Wiltshire.

Consider different rates for consumer vs commercial work

Another thing to consider is whether you charge different rates depending on the type of client. For example, a consumer who just wants some nice pictures of their child might not have too much money to play with, whereas a commercial marketing department will probably not flinch at £50 per hour. With consumers especially though, there is always the option to ‘up sell’ once the images have been taken – and charge for each print supplied. In fact, some photographers will carry out the sitting for free on the basis that the customer will buy multiple images afterwards, for rates which are well over the physical cost of production.

Another thing to bear in mind is that, if you carry out commercial work for design agencies, you may need to charge slightly less than if you were working for a company’s marketing department directly - as the agency will be marking up your rates and selling your services on. The payback of this of course is that, with an agency client, you are not just getting one customer – you are in effect getting potential business from all of their customers – with no marketing effort or ‘cost of sale’ to you once the relationship is established. So it’s only reasonable that you might need to charge a lower rate.

Formal quotations

It’s easy to agree a price verbally and then never get round to formalising that. But it’s essential that you do – as you need to avoid misunderstandings later. With commercial work especially, be clear about the price you're quoting and how many hours of work that actually allows for. And also make sure that your Terms and Conditions include details of whether you charge for meeting time, travelling time, expenses and so on. Just so there are no issues when you send in your invoice!

Charging for stock images

As a photographer you are bound to take many images over the years, for example landscape shots or abstract studio shots which can be used for many purposes. These can then be sold to image libraries on a ‘royalty free’ basis, providing you own the copyright 100%. Charging for these is generally more about what figure the image library in question is willing to sell them to customers at. With so many of them on the Internet now, chances of making millions from a single image are sadly somewhat reduced. It can be worth a try though – especially as a good image can sell many hundreds of times.

Photo journalism

Rather than taking pictures of weddings and children, or images for marketing materials – some photographers prefer to opt for a different approach. This is usually down to personal preference and which type of photography you are best at.

Freelance photographers who take pictures of newsworthy events will then sell these afterwards to any publication that is interested, and can command higher rates for some images or something which is exclusive. Again though, this is more about having the right shot (thanks to being in the right place at the right time) than it is about charging an hourly rate. For more information on daily rates the NUJ have a comprehensive guide at, Freelance Fee Guide

We hope the above information has been useful and lastly, if you would like any advice on tax, setting yourself up in a business or working as a freelancer please don't hesitate to give us a call us on 0500 234111 or 01442 275767, or email nikki.hanlon@easyaccountancy.co.uk.

You may also find the following pages useful:

You may also enjoy our pages on Becoming a freelance photographer and Finding work as a freelance photographer.

Easy Accountancy


Easy Accountancy is the UK’s only national specialist accountancy firm for freelancers, sole traders and small businesses

If you’ve just started out as a freelancer or run a small business, you’ll definitely need a small accountant and there are plenty of options out there! However, most accountants will charge you every time you get in touch with them; for every phone call, email or meeting.

We don’t want our clients to be scared to contact us and potentially lose out on valuable tax saving advice. It's even more important when you first start out as you really need to set your business up in the best way possible. As a start up you’ll probably have loads of questions and will really appreciate the fact you can call your accountant as many times as you like without the fear of racking up large bills.

Our low cost, all-inclusive fixed-fee accountancy service includes unlimited access to your own accountant throughout the year, so you never need to worry about picking up the phone and then receiving a bill afterwards for the privilege, and covers all your business and personal tax affairs needs. All clients additionally receive: 

  • Help to run your business in the most tax efficient way possible
  • Help so you can understand the taxes you need to pay
  • Advice on the best ways to manage your business
  • Updates and reminders so you'll never miss a deadline
  • Help to ensure you maximise your tax allowances
  • Provide proactive tax advice throughout the year

We’ve saved our clients up to half on their accountancy bills – if you’d like a quote click on the quote me button to the right of this page. Alternatively, call us on 0500 234111 / 01442 275767 or email jessica@easyaccountancy.co.uk

We also have a money-back service guarantee - all of your telephone calls and emails will be answered on the same day, or we will refund your monthly fee (another first within the accountancy world).

To appoint us as your accountants, please fill in our Client Agreement Form online.

If you are a contractor working through a limited company then visit SJD Accountancy (our sister company) who specialise in providing tax advice and accountancy services for Limited Company contractors. You can also keep up to date by following the SJD Accountancy Twitter

You may also find the following pages helpful:

Why Clients Choose Easy Accountancy

Easy Accountancy offers a low cost, fixed fee accountancy package with all clients receiving their own dedicated, friendly, approachable accountant.

All of our accountants specialise in providing accountancy services to the self-employed, freelancers, sole traders, small to medium sized limited companies and private individuals. All accountants are employees of Easy Accountancy and we never outsource or offshore work.

Our low cost, all-inclusive fixed-fee accountancy service includes unlimited access to your own dedicated accountant throughout the year and covers all your business and personal tax affairs needs.

All our accountancy services include:
  - Unlimited access to your accountant
  - Ongoing advice on how to manage your business
  - Proactive tax advice throughout the year
  - Updates and reminders so you'll never miss a deadline
  - Free bookkeeping software

As a sole trader our fees start at just £60 + VAT a month, for this you receive the above plus:
  - Completion of your Self-Assessment tax return
  - Advice on how much Income Tax to pay
  - Guidance on National Insurance contributions

As a limited company our fixed fee packages are bespoke to your needs, however typically you’ll receive the above, plus:
  - Completion of your year end accounts*
  - Completion and submission of your annual return Companies House
  - The director/s Self Assessment tax return
  - Payroll bureau
  - Dividends and corporation tax computations

We’ve saved our clients up to half on their accountancy bills – if you’d like a quote, click on the quote me button to the right of this page. Alternatively, call us on 01442 275767 or email heather@easyaccountancy.co.uk.

*If you would like us to complete your company year end accounts we simply ask that you have been a client of Easy Accountancy for one year or have made 12 monthly payments.