Free Pricing Guides Help Budding Photogs Navigate the Business Side of the Industry


One of the challenges if you’re just now carving out your niche in this crazy world of professional photography is figuring out how to price your work. How exactly do you determine how much your photos are worth, what expenses can you expect to run into, what contracts are you likely to run into and what exactly do they mean?

All of this and more is explained in a series of free guides that PhotoShelter has released over the course of the last year. Starting with Magazine Photography, then Corporate & Industrial Photography and finally finishing off the series with a guide for Photojournalists.

Magazine Photography


The first and most popular of the three guides takes you through the potentially lucrative but very confusing world of magazine photography. In it you’ll find tips from Wonderful Machine CEO Bill Cramer about what you should expect, in addition to:

  • Six tips to help you profit from working for magazines.
  • The most common magazine shoot expenses
  • FAQs, including if/how to charge clients for a rental fee, rush fee, or a cancellation
  • An overview of the three basic types of magazine contracts, including the biggest win-win for photographers
  • Online resources for pricing and negotiating with clients
  • And more
Credit: Photograph by Jonathan Gayman

Credit: Photograph by Jonathan Gayman

Credit: Photograph by Jonathan Gayman

Credit: Photograph by Jonathan Gayman

You can get your own copy of the free guide by clicking here.

Corporate & Industrial Photography


Next up is the guide for budding Corporate & Industrial photographers. There’s a lot of corporate and industrial work to be had for photographers, but this is where a good understanding of contracts can really help you maximize your potential.

This guide covers:

  • Breaking down contract language
  • Types of assignments and their relative value
  • How to find new clients
  • And more
Credit: Photograph by Jason Grow

Credit: Photograph by Jason Grow

You can check this guide out for yourself by clicking here.


Pricing Your Work - Photojournalism

Last on the list, and perhaps most important given the changing landscape of this specialty where more and more news photographers struggle to get paid at all, is a guide for photojournalists. The guide is packed full of negotiation pointers and resources that every budding photojournalist should check out. Additionally, you’ll also find:

  • What are the four types of clients photojournalists typically work for?
  • How do you turn news media prospects into paying clients?
  • What are examples of fees, terms, and contracts you’ll likely encounter?
  • To what extent are rates and terms negotiable?
  • What type of insurance do you need?
  • And more
Credit: Photograph by Michelle McLoughlin

Credit: Photograph by Michelle McLoughlin

Credit: Photograph by Michelle McLoughlin

Credit: Photograph by Michelle McLoughlin

Credit: Photograph by Michelle McLoughlin

Credit: Photograph by Michelle McLoughlin

Credit: Photograph by Michelle McLoughlin

Credit: Photograph by Michelle McLoughlin

The world of photojournalism might not be the easiest to break into successfully right now, but if you want help navigating the treacherous world of news photography without going broke, you can get the free guide for yourself here.

That’s all three guides that PhotoShelter put together. Obviously they didn’t cover all of the different types of photography, but then again, many of the tips found in these three guides will apply to most if not all types of photography.

Every photographer needs to know how to deal with clients, understand contracts and properly negotiate a reasonable fee for their work. Otherwise you’ll be just another of those people who get taken for a ride or, worse yet, give away your services for free and devalue the entire industry.

P.S. Successful professional photographers in our readership: If you have additional tips that aren’t found in these guides and you’d like to help your fellow photographers out, drop some wisdom in the comments. We know it’ll be appreciated!

Image credits: Photographs by Michelle McLoughlin, Jonathan Gayman and Jason Grow, courtesy of PhotoShelter

  • OtterMatt

    While I’m not a pro by any reckoning, the best advice I know of is “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” And don’t claim that you’re earning experience, if you’re trying to go pro as an artist then you already have plenty of experience being broke. If your work is worth cash, don’t underestimate yourself.

  • city

    Best advice: know your legal rights, know what kind of usage is permitted, get a good lawyer BEFORE things go south. And as OtterMatt said: don’t shoot for “exposure”

  • guest

    Any suggestions on pricing fine art photography?

  • chris steel

    Start with small editions, no more than 10. Price around $25 to begin with (for smaller prints). when you sell out, make another edition of another image and raise prices. Never reprint an edition, buyers like exclusivity and limited editions (reprinting can damage that trust). Get a dealer, get representation, try and get into galleries, hold your own exhibitions.

  • Alan Klughammer

    $25? Maybe for a 5×7 if your images work that small, and you are at craft fairs, etc where that is a viable price. If you are in art shows, look at what other artists are doing, both in terms of size and price. I tend to print 20×30 inches, or thereabout and charge between $350 and $400, depending on the show.
    I agree with the limited edition though.

  • Pete

    I don’t want to be “that guy”, but next time you post an article like this, can you please state that you wont be providing the info mentioned in the title in the article, and that I’ll be redirected to another site to sign up for their newsletter? This article comes off exactly like an promotion for photoshelter, and I wouldn’t want people confusing it with a paid advertisement.

  • A.B Photography

    However, working for free can lead to other work – my very first gig was something I offered for free – ended up getting paid at the end because they valued my work so much (not a relative or friend – stranger I was put in contact with)

    Do’t be so closed off so as say you will NEVER work for free – at the end of the day if you just want to shoot something, you’re not struggling to make ends meet and you want the exposure (harhar) go for it, just use good judgement. Working for free isn’t the devil.

  • RonT

    My approach is be very very selective about work you consider doing for free. It should either offer a definite inroad to other paid work (not the “this could lead to other things” spiel but supporting a start-up in an allied field to yours with actual cross-promotional options, for example); or be something that you believe or have a personal interest/investment in (that tends to be supporting causes that you have an affiliation or belief in, more often than not).

    I believe that there is a time and a place to consider unpaid work but that it needs to be on your terms, not theirs.

    Some advice – When you do do unpaid work then send them an invoice with the actual billable amount and add a rebate than nulls the value. Helps people understand that you are in business, that you are doing them a significant favour and helps ease the transition to actually billing them next time (plus your accountant tends to like it!). I found that this approach helped me when I was getting established and I still use it today