I just started up my own photography business and I was wondering what I should with how pricing works. I thought of doing pets, families, babies, and senior pictures. I have some experience with a camera when I took my aunt's camera which was a Canon 70D and took pictures of my cousin's wedding.

I'll be getting the Canon Rebel T6 with 18-55mm and 75-300mm. I am based in Champaign, Illinois which is a little over 2 hours south of Chicago, just under 2 hours west of Indianapolis, and 2 hours and 45 minutes east of St. Louis.

These are the pictures I took of my cousin's wedding if it'll help with the pricing.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Similar: How do you determine how much to ask for when someone wants you to photograph a wedding? \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Nov 16, 2016 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ See also: How much should an amateur charge for a portrait session? \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Nov 16, 2016 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ photo.stackexchange.com/questions/82709/… I feel this question, answer and comments may be useful to the OP. \$\endgroup\$
    – Crazy Dino
    Nov 16, 2016 at 21:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Very sorry to be harsh, i looked at every pics, i liked the sport digital art, but for photography, sorry, as of now they don't even rate as beginner's amateur photos;;;you would be exposing yourself to punitive damages if you portray yourself as a professional...my advice to improve would be to concentrate first on what you have experence with, sports... namely sports photography \$\endgroup\$ Nov 20, 2016 at 0:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm only saying this because you talk about doing photography professionally. Don't, not yet at least. You are not ready. Sorry, but those picture you're proud of are a long way from professional standards. There are many blown highlights, framing leaving one wondering what the point was, and no apparent consideration where the light was coming from. My favorite is the guitarists in the grass, but even that could benefit from some cropping. You can learn all these things, and being enthusiastic will help with that. But, you're a long way from pro level - at this point. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 21, 2016 at 12:58

6 Answers 6


This was supposed to be a comment, but it got wild, anyone is free to edit, delete and write.

As I read the comments you have your aunt's Canon 70D, nothing more, and you want to be a professional photographer. This gonna be long, unless you are Faust and you have a Mefisto's contract on the desk.

If you can borrow the 70D for a longer time, do so and shoot anything interesting. Look for the today's pro results in the field(s) of your interest and try to find out how they did it. Experiment with the camera modes, push it to the limits. (Shallow focus, deep focus, long time, short time...).

Choose your brand. There is no equation how to determine The Perfect Brand ™. Every brand has top products line, reasonable quality line and low-cost line; and the quality is close enough among the top brands. Set the budget and try cameras from different brands. Try how they fit to your hands, how are the controls friendly to you, etc. Do not stick to recommendation that states "[Brand] is the best you can get..." I wanted a Nikon for years. I tried several bodies (my friends had bought). Then I tried a Canon. I have bought a Canon 700D because it fits to my hands and my way of handling. You may be Nikon guy, who knows?

The choice of lenses goes with the aim of your work. Probably, you will learn this during your practice. You can start with the set 15-55 and 75-300 lenses; they are not crap but they are not the best either. For you, they are cheap and I suppose you are not about to actually need the pro lenses yet. Buy camera set that suits you the most and UV filters to every lens you have*, then look for flash units, filters, better lenses,...

Regrading the prices. It is too fast right now I think. I would take "the job" when I am confident I will do it without regret. Especially for weddings and other it-happens-only-once jobs, two cameras are minimum gear to have - when one breaks, you have spare one.

Once you are confident and want to shoot for a living the pricing is quite easy. You must be in profit in total. Set your hourly wage - count shooting and postprocessing (For start you can align it with minimum wage). Add the software license (count the license hour cost and multiply it by the postprocessing time). Your gear wont pay itself, so set the date you want to get your investment back. Add the appropriate part of the cost to the final price. And finally, add the additional costs, like the fuel, car insurance, food, etc.

Now, make these calculations for your cousin's wedding like they were regular customers. Start the business when you would pay that money for your wedding album. You can start with shooting for several good friends of yours for free; but be super cautious not to screw it up and use this to advertise yourself. Add the best learning photos (probably from the last year only) to your webpage and add new ones regularly - you have to show that you are worth the money you demand, right?

Stay focused. And good luck.

  • \$\begingroup\$ When shooting in a normal environment (no sand blowing around, salt water spray, flying metal particles, etc.) one of the easiest ways to tell the pros from the wannabees with a mere glance is to see who is shooting with bare lenses and who is reducing their images by placing unneeded filters that don't protect anything near as much as the wannabees think they do. Pro's have been around long enough to know that when you drop a lens, the filter makes very little difference to whether the lens is damaged or not. Just because a thin, brittle filter shatters doesn't mean the front element would. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Aug 7, 2017 at 21:52

Please don't take this the wrong way, but... I suggest you do a lot more learning and practising before you try doing this as a business. I don't see anything in your wedding photos which convinces me you have the skill to take photos people will be happy to have paid for.

Other than that, you're buying almost entirely the wrong gear for portrait photography. Photography is much less about the gear than a lot of the Internet would have you believe, but there are some basics. You need a fast lens (for shallow depth of field) and some lighting kit, but you're buying the standard, relatively slow kit lens, Canon's worst lens (the 75-300), and apparently no lighting kit at all. That doesn't fill me with confidence that you've done the right amount of research before spending your money.


Take a basic photography course that covers lighting, exposure, and composition. What little you spend on the course for the knowledge you gain will be worth far more in the long run than any gear in your hands when you have no clue how to use it to get the most from that gear. I'm sure there is a community college or something similar nearby that offers such a course at very modest rates for someone who wants to take it without getting college credit (i.e. community adult education outreach or you can just audit the course at a local college that offers basic photography courses). Borrow your aunt's 70D for the course if she will let you. After you've finished the course you will have a much better idea of what gear you need!

Everyone telling you to buy "L" lenses at this point are, in my opinion, a little misguided. "L" lenses are expensive. I own a few of them. But an "L" lens won't allow you to take a better picture until you're good enough that a lesser lens limits what you have the ability to do. And sometimes those more advanced, specialized lenses are harder tools to master.

The EF 85mm f/1.2 L II, for example, is a very specialized lens designed with uncorrected field curvature made for a specific purpose. It is totally unsuitable as a general purpose 85mm lens to do landscape photography. A $350 85mm f/1.8 lens will do a better flat field shot than the $1900 85mm f/1.2 L. But it shines like no other lens when you use it to take the kinds of portraits for which it was designed.

If you're serious about doing weddings for profit you will eventually need some very good "L" glass and a couple of full frame cameras as well as some good lighting gear. For weddings you will also need to have a backup for every vital piece of equipment in your bag!

I would advise you to stay away from any form of the 75-300mm lens. It's the worst lens Canon sells and isn't very good, even for a beginner. But most of the other current kit lenses are good enough to learn with and take some very good photos. You'll just bump up against their limits sooner than with much more expensive gear. With a crop body camera you're much better off with an EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II or the newer STM version of the 55-250. For your first prime lens the $125 EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is pretty much a no brainer. The recently introduced STM version corrects most of the shortcomings of its predecessor, the EF 50mm f/1.8 II that has been around for decades.

I would also say if you're serious about making money with photography the T6s/760D or, to a lesser extent, the T6i/750D would be a much better starter camera than the more limited T6/1300D. The T6s is more like a 70D or other x0D in many ways than it is like the other Rebel/xx0D/xx00D models. Depending on where and when you buy you can get the body with an 18-55 kit lens for not much more than the body alone, so I would recommend the kit for a beginner. The 18-55 will allow you to explore a lot of different types of shots. If you can pick up a kit with the 18-135mm kit lens for not much more that is also an option (and a better lens), but it's usually a considerable jump in expense.



I was a bit harsh in comments, though not the only one. Your Q almost read as a joke, but was not recieved with humor or taken gently because of the myriad of new photographers who can now take “good” pictures by letting their digital cameras take the picture for them.

Photography is not about taking pictures, but about creating pictures. At least you are to be commended for knowing you need a DSLR and not an i-phone.

Also, I feel a bit for you, you didn’t ask for art criticism, but for pricing advice. Next time you will know that when you link to a gallery, you expose yourself to unsolicited critics.

Also, people jumped all over you because while you specified doing various types of portraits, you used wedding as an example. So people assumed you also wanted to do weddings and that is one of the hardest professional photo areas and is a unique irreplaceable day. If you bungle a pet portrait you can always reimburse the owner or do another shoot, not so with events.

We gave you a hard welcome because in your bushy tailed enthusiasm, you may have jumped a few ladders in wanting to go strait from camera fist time use to professional.

Yet, critics is the best way to improve, especially self-critiquing, but you are not at that stage yet, I can feel you enthusiasm, you are in the honey moon phase, and enamored with your pictures, and rightly so.


I had another look at your pictures, and saw some potential. I did click on every “show more” tab. I will quickly give you some tips

  • Light – avoid the harsh light of midday, shoot around down and dusk

  • Exposure – your camera meter can easily be fooled by light conditions, when you know how, adjust for it.

  • Speed – vary speeds to smooth or freeze action when needed

  • Composition – I see some potential there, cultivate and develop it

  • Subject – find interesting subjects or make the ordinary seem extraordinary

  • Camera hold – a lot of pictures had trouble due to improper hold, think about geting a tripod or monopod

  • Horizon – lean to keep the horizon strait

  • Background – learn to look at the background, not just the subject

  • Foreground – have some, you need a foreground, middle ground and background to add dimensionality to your pictures, this is especially true for land and seascapes but not only. Always try to think in terms on increasing the sense of depth.

  • Framing – be careful that lines, edges or the horizon doesn’t decapitate, maim, cut in half or amputate your subjects

  • Editing – select only the best pictures to show the world, even very famous photographers have very low keeper rate, I recently saw a video by a national geographic photographer, Joel Sartore, who on one assignment had 6 pictures selected out of 30 000 taken, a keeper rate of 0.0002% but more realistically for us common mortals, something like a 10% keeper rate is fine. Your portfolio should not have more than 20 pictures per category, and in your present one, there should have been only two parts, wedding and landscapes, the rest are mostly random snapshots.


Your pictures will look much better if you shoot what you love. From your website I mainly see landscapes, and you could do action

But, you want to do portraiture of pets, families, kids, senior…portraits is a specialized area, it seems to lie outside of your expertise.

  • You are a student of recreation and parks admin, I assume that means you will work in green vast areas have a lot of time outdoors…shoot that, yes it is not very commercial but you will improve and there are a few outlets.

  • Sports, you say you are an avid sports fan, shoot that, be the team photographer. Gain experience in this field and maybe one day go pro. Use any networking contact you had when you managed the basketball team.

  • Fishing with your dad, or the flowage, do landscapes, play with water reflections just remember to add a foreground for perspective, you can use the boat end, or water ripples if in the middle of a lake.

  • Hanging with friends, do casual portraits, street portraits…

  • student life, document student life, parties, concerts...


You have the website, so you are pro. i am reminded of a few humorous YouTube videos about how to be a pro in a day…basically you just need to look the part.

Ask yourself if being pro is something that you really want to do?

Having a professional site, even before buying a camera could indicate that you think this is a good and quick way to make money.

If so, you will have a hard awakening. Even if you are a good photographer the business side is very hard and most photographers who turn pro struggle to make ends meet and go bankrupt.

My advice would be not to buy a DSLR for those reasons.

I understand the temptation to make the gear pay for itself, and make some side money, but realistically you should take photos for a few years at least before deciding to turn pro.

If you buy yourself a cheap camera, you can train in most photo areas and improve considerably. The best way would be an old film camera or an old DSLR model.

You can also just start with something basic and learn all about composition. That is one of the most important of photo and is often neglected, after learning the basics, even by people who should know better.

Also by waiting to buy a DSLR, you will have more money to buy a decent system. The one that you mentioned is very, very, subpar, anything called rebel is rubish. see, easy rhymes that will earn me some downvotes, Canon Rebels are rubish, Sony is shit, Nikon Dx is for...

Though if you still want to go ahead now with a very low budget look into 10 years old professional DSLRs, it is much better to have an old canon 5D (mark i)or 1D markii or iii than a new basic entry level camera, particularly if you want to be semi-pro. for portraits, you don't realy need anything larger than 8MP, sure you can use more if you have them, but i wouldn't even consider a 4MP or less camera a deal breaker, moreso if you don't print and only see the results on screen... though most people will disagree with me and tell you to buy the latest high MP camera.

Reputation, which is also something to consider, particularly if you are a local boy in a small area, by the description you gave it seems you live in a small rural area. if you start being pro too soon and produce sub-par pictures, you will ruin your reputation, even if you later get much better, once it's gone, it's gone... Maybe you can avoid some of that by shooting only in your student town, if you have no plan of staying there, or use another name as your "pro" name


The simple Q that was generally overlooked.

Well if after all the comments and unsolicited advice you still want to start charging for pictures after Christmas, it is your business and no one else, thank you very much…

There are many different ways of pricing, different approach and philosophies.

I will not go into detail, at the end, what maters is the offer demand and offer equilibrium.

I.e. how many customers you will get at that price, and how many at this one?

Some basic suggestions:

  • You can establish a minimum you need to charge, and add a premium

  • you can establish that you need, or want, X amount per month, divide it by 5 days x 40 hours, to have a base for hourly wage

  • you can take the hourly amount you would have made at another job and multiply it by a number to account for editing time and equipment.

  • you can look at the competition prices and align or be slightly lower

  • you can decide you want to make this much.

  • you can determine what your area can sustain

  • you can determine what your type of clients are willing to pay

  • you can decide you are worth X and that’s it

  • you can…………

If you want the no-brainer, quickest answer after this long winded post, multiply minimum wage by 5 and add actual expenses like album or prints. i see that in Illinois it is now $8.25, so that is 41.25, say between $40 or $50 per hour. if your medium cost you less than $10 like with an inexpensive 8x10 or CD, charge $50

But the real answer is : AS MUCH AS YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think your answer was good. No one should be down voting as he inquires how much to charge. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 26, 2016 at 14:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ This meta answer sums up better than I can why this is a bad answer; in particular, it ignores our "Be Nice" policy. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Nov 27, 2016 at 13:14

You could offer a substantial discount until your portfolio is developed. I think in just a few weddings, you'll be shooting great shots all the time.

The scope of wedding photography is relative to the budget. How many folks can not afford a pro shooter? Many. You can get paid to learn and grow your portfolio starting with low budget weddings.

Essentially, you have to develop an outline of what needs to be shot and develop an eye for a great photograph. I recommend an online photography course, picking up a few instructional books and studying professional images.

To shoot weddings, there are shots you have to get. Your coverage of their event should be structured shot to shot to complete a standard wedding album. Verses looking for something to shoot.

  • Bride getting hair done
  • Bridesmaids and bride casual preparing
  • Bride and Family
  • Groom and Family
  • Entire Family
  • Bride and Groom
  • Holding hands and the ring
  • Bride's bouquet
  • The Table centerpieces
  • Capture Laughter

With respect to your first shoot, you have a couple of shots that are quite good, the beer glass and the couple walking.

Better equipment will be a big help. For the brightest best photos for your budget, try a Canon 5D Mark ii with a full size sensor and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. The 75-300 produces dark, not detailed images. And you have to back way up... it's awkward with that lens.

Eventually you'll want to get better quality lenses.

We all start somewhere and there's always someone better and faster coming up. Don't be discouraged by over critical photographers. Learn how to frame up shots (the rule of 3) and get some nice L lenses and you are off an running!

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    \$\begingroup\$ You don't need an 'L' lens - the main problems you have at the moment are composition and exposure/framing, not the underlying image quality. F1.4 lenses are difficult to use well, and the ones quoted are very expensive. Fast lenses like a 50mm F1.8 or 85mm F1.8 are much cheaper and will help with composition by allowing you to use a shallow DOF to isolate a subject. The 75-300 is not inherently dark - an image taken with it at 85mm and at F4 will have a similar appearance to the same shot taken with the 85mm F1.2L at F4, but it won't be much use indoors. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve Ives
    Nov 18, 2016 at 9:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ "You could offer a substantial discount until your portfolio is developed." and that discount better is more than 100% of the rate - i.e. you pay. Particularly for something as critical as a wedding. \$\endgroup\$
    – TomTom
    Nov 21, 2016 at 14:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SteveIves I think he means dark precisely because f/4 is as wide as it can be opened up, and that only at 75mm. In terms of other image qualities (acutance, distortion, bokeh, astigmatism, color, etc.) the Canon 75-300 is one of the very few EF lenses I wouldn't recommend to anyone. It's that bad. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Nov 26, 2016 at 12:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you. The sensor in that particular camera is small and the images are not as bright. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 26, 2016 at 14:47

Well to be fair all you can do is just keep trying your best. There are tons of free Guides that will help you or you could ask people for tips and hints who do photography as a business, and I am sure they would not mind helping you at all. Photography itself is a big market and is not easy to do but then again every person has their own Skill and that's the thing you can only improve. If you look on YouTube there you can find some very helpful videos that can be from 1-2 hours long but they are always there to help you or anyone who needs help on starting photography as a business. Regarding the wedding Photos, I saw My rating on them would have been 6/10 reason is due to a lot of light been so strong but other than that they are very well taken :) but please do take your time to read other people's reply's they have given you as everyone is trying to help you as best they can.


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