Let’s break down lifestyle photography packages — specifically, my rates. As a lifestyle photographer occasionally I meet with clients that have either (a) never booked a lifestyle photoshoot before, or (b) are unfamiliar with the rates lifestyle photographers charge. So in this post I’m revealing a variety of factors that photographers take into consideration when pricing their rates. This way if you’re a potential client you’ll have a clear understanding of the value of photography, and if you’re a photographer yourself, hopefully you’ll find some inspiration on how to better articulate your value to your clientele.
How Much do Professional Photographers Charge
Years of Experience
First things first, a photographer’s years of experience behind the camera is probably one of the first things to be considered, especially when pricing their creative fee. I personally booked my first paid (brand) photoshoot in 2014, which means I’ve been a lifestyle brand photographer for just shy of a decade now. At that time I was paid $1800 for the photoshoot, so when potential brand photography clients approach me with anything less, it’s typically an automatic “No”.
From that time on I’ve worked with clients in the lifestyle photography niche — primarily in the personal branding photography space and small business branding photography space, while also accepting personal clients whom, while not representing a brand or small business, need (personal) lifestyle images for example, for gallery walls, photo gifts, photo albums etc.
Lifestyle Photography Packages
And every single photoshoot I’ve booked in the last ten years has given me priceless experience. As a professional photographer I understand what it takes to get the images my clients need, and that experience allows me to provide my clients with an exceptional experience, because I understand what they both want and need.
Let’s be honest, not every photographer is a creative director, and that’s to be expected. I am a creative director, though, so let’s break that down, because I know the term ‘creative director’ might seem a bit ambiguous.
A creative director conceptualizes creative visions, collaborates with a team to see a project through, and oversees production from conception to final delivery. In a sense this means that an agency with an in house creative director is sitting down with their client and team and explaining goals — and they are aligning a creative vision with those goals. And clients pay a hefty fee to work with a creative agency with a team of in-house creatives.
With that said, I personally take on this role myself when clients hire me. From day one I put together all the pieces to make the project possible: taking your consultation call, preparing your photoshoot prep guide, writing your custom shot list, developing the mood boards, visualizing and sourcing all the props, scouting the locations, etc. Essentially I retain creative direction, pulling the photoshoot together so it’s a success.
Being a creative director is a NOT a small undertaking and requires tact, skill, and strategic thinking. Many creative directors have teams of people that do many of the things above (yes, people have full time jobs dedicated to things just like sourcing props), but at the moment, I oversee and execute everything myself.
Now, I think that styling photoshoots is something that many people dont really think about when approaching photographers for photoshoots, however let it be known that a good stylist is key to the final images that cause people to do a double take. And so naturally I include that within creative direction when chatting with clients, but I want to specifically call it out here too because styling (food, props, wardrobe, etc.) is a significant part of the pre-planning of a photoshoot, that again, usually requires an additional person a creative team to manage.
Many photoshoots I’ve booked over the years have required me to style the products, props, the food, or even the model’s wardrobes, and it’s something I honestly look forward to and have a lot of fun with. Styling photoshoots requires a level of tact, skill, and strategic thinking, which doesn’t come naturally to everyone, which is why many photographers hire a freelance stylist to style their photoshoots, and then charge clients a fee for “styling”. I personally enjoy this role and factor that into my rates.
Image Editing & Retouching
Did you know that many photographers hire professional, freelance editors to edit their final images — and charge the client for the service? Many photographers prefer to only shoot the images, and take no part in editing them. Others, myself included, take the images and perform all the final image editing in-house. Depending on the photoshoot, image editing can take days (or weeks) depending on the length of the shoot. With that said, fees are calculated into photography rates for editing a client’s images (whether by a separate, freelance editor or the photographer themselves).
As the photographer, creative director, stylist and editor for my clients, I cleary retain creative control and that allows me to eliminate hiring freelancers (along with the fee’s they charge me) from my client’s invoices.
Meaning, I met with my clients, once on the phone during an introductory (consultation) call and again before the photoshoot to really get into the client’s head myself, to discover their unique needs so I can deliver exactly what they ask for, before, during and after the photoshoot. And my rates reflect this, as I always factor these (behind-the-scenes) services into my photoshoot rates.
The Value of Images
I think we can all agree that when a potential client (personal, business or brand) approaches any photographer for a photoshoot, the desired outcome for every project is that the photographer creates content that the client can then use, either to sell their product or service or, if it’s a personal client, frame and hang on a gallery wall, bringing them heartfelt memories for years to come.
So in terms of brand photography, it really should go without saying that imagery has the potential to provide clients with an immense increase in profits. Here’s an example: say a beauty brand sells a eyeshadow palette for $29, and they post a photo of that palette on Instagram — and that one image alone results in 500 sales. Well, that brand just made $14,500. Point being, imagery has immense power to convert scrollers into consumers, taking them on from an inactive follower, to an active, paying customer (often for years to come). So it’s no surprise that ONE image alone has the potential to result in thousands of dollars worth of sales, and like I mentioned earlier, ongoing sales down the road.
With that said, if one image has that kind of power, I don’t think it’s a stretch to consider what a beautifully curated gallery of 50+ images could do for your brand or small business!
In fact, over the last decade I have personally seen many of my clients double their revenue since working with me — one client in less than 6 months. The results truly are significant, there’s no denying that.
My Time Investment
Time is money, friends, and there is no way around that. Naturally, every photographer assigns a different monetary value to their time. Personally my time is precious, so I only spend it with clients who value it, and my lifestyle photography packages are priced accordingly.
Studio Time (Pre & Post Shoot)
Another important thing to understand is that while you may only spend (for example) an hour in front of my camera, as a photographer I spend an immense amount of time before and after your photoshoot in the studio working behind the scenes on your project, meaning many of these tasks are factored into my photography rates, including (but not limited to) your:
- Initial consultation call
- Pre-session planning meeting
- Photoshoot Prep Guide
- Styling the photoshoot
- Custom shot checklist
- Wardrobe consulting & coordination
- Brand Questionnaire (Brand Photography)
- Photoshoot travel time
- Photo usage licenses (Brand photography)
- Final (edited) images
For example, if I have a client that wants to book a 2 hour photoshoot, the average time investment from pre-production to finally image delivery is often close to 15 hours! Truly, it all depends on how involved the photoshoot is. Plus, I have a tendency to over-deliver, and my clients can attest to that.
With that said, it’s important to understand that photographers everywhere deserve to be paid for their labor — all their labor.
Costs of Running a Business
Now I realize that this point should be a no-brainer, but for many, it’s not. So let’s dig into some of the expenses I’m responsible for as a small business owner.
First, running any business is EXPENSIVE. A photography business, on the other hand, is VERY EXPENSIVE. I not only pay all my equipment (cameras, lenses, lighting, memory cards, computers, editing software) I also pays for all my website fees, client booking software etc, email services, email marketing software, and online image gallery software. I also pay yearly fees to own a business, legal fees to run a business, business insurance fees, plus personal as well as business taxes.
Another significant part of running a business is investing into the business. I personally studied photography college and continuously invest in ongoing education and courses to upgrade my skills as a photographer. Investing in my business also includes occasionally hiring people to assist me, such as freelancers and assistants — and they need to get paid too! I also pay other professionals, such as business coaches, website and graphic designers, social media experts for my Instagram and TikTok profiles, SEO experts, an attorney and an accountant, all whom provide me with professional services — and invoices for their services.
Naturally, I also pay rent and utilities to run my business.And after all that, I pay myself — and from that income, I pay for all my personal living expenses.
Lifestyle Photography Packages & Rates
If all this feels like a lot to you, it’s because it is. Aside from the time and creativity, running a business requires a significant monetary investment. Meaning, the skills, products, or services that people with business (like myself) provide are also worth a significant investment — on the client’s part.
So if you’ve ever found yourself wondering what lifestyle photography packages cost, or why photographers charge high prices, or found yourself thinking a photographer’s rates are too high, it’s important to take a moment to understand the value we provide, our expertise, experience, how we work for you behind the scenes, the time we spend on your individual project, the costs of running a photography business, and the eye-catching results you get from your photoshoot.
Lifestyle Photography Packages
Hiring a professional lifestyle photographer is not something to take lightly, and can truly be the difference between a mediocre photoshoot and jaw-dropping, eye-catching images. My advice? Make sure you choose your photographer wisely and invest well. Hopefully this post helped you to get a clearer understanding of how photographers price their lifestyle photography packages, because as you can see, it’s a complicated process considering all that we need to calculate into our rates.