The average cost for a photographer is $150 per hour. Hiring a photographer to capture your moments, you will likely spend between $100 and $400 per hour. The price of photography can vary greatly by region (and even by zip code). View our local photographers or get free estimates from pros near you.
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the right photographer, the main one being the goal of taking the photos to begin with. Will these photos live in an online album, be on a coffee table, or hang on the wall? How important is the quality? Ultimately, the answers to those questions should help you decide what your budget is.
Some photographers charge by the hour, some by the event. Ultimately the price they offer will include the equipment they use, travel time, studio time, length of shoot, number of people, number of outfit changes, years of experience, post production time, and tangible products like albums and photo frames. You’re not just paying for the hours of taking photos. On average:
|Photography type||Average Cost|
|Family / Senior Pictures||$100 - $250 /hour|
|Baby Photography||$100 - $250 /hour|
|Wedding Photography||$2,500 and up|
|Commercial Headshots||$150 - $300 /hour|
|Models / Actors / Dancers||$125 /hour|
Starting at $100-$250/hour
Christina Houser Photography in Bristol, CT, offers all-inclusive, one-hour family sessions at $175, two-hour senior portraits at $225, and 2-3-hour shoots for newborns at $250. Bob Photo Town in Niles, IL, starts at $150/hour for the photoshoot. Nancy-Jo Photography in Wake Forest, NC, charges $100 per hourly session. Sarah J Photography in Weymouth, MA, has family portrait packages that begin at $350.
From $2,500 up for wedding photography
Leah Marie Photography in Raleigh, NC, charges by the wedding, and her prices start at $2,500.
Happy Gatherings in Wayland, MA, has an à la carte fee of $300-400/hour, but she says less demanding events can be priced lower. Her wedding collection pricing begins at $3,500.
Starting at $150-$300/hour
James Corwin Johnson Photography in Sarasota, FL, offers aerial, business, commercial, and event photography, among other types. He charges a flat $100/hour for shot time and post production. The Studio in Stoneham, MA, offers business headshots at $150/hour and commercial photography at $300/hour. MP Studios in Tampa, FL, has a starting price of $250 for a headshot session.
Melody Rummel Photography in Brookfield, WI, works with rock stars, models, acting talent, and special effects artists. Her prices start at $125/hour. Long Walk Productions in Rock Hill, SC, works with “actors, actresses, models, authors, dancers, and dance companies.” Pricing begins at $150/hour.
The higher the headcount, the higher the cost as well, because it’s difficult for one photographer to get everyone meant to be in each photo to cooperate. There is also the communication time with sending each attendee photos and having them want changes or more options.
The photographer also has to take into account what the lighting is like at the event center, and usually has to make a special trip there in advance to know what he or she is dealing with. A plan B also need to be made if events are outdoors and there is a chance of inclement weather, with appropriate lighting prep made for that too.
A few photographers also specialize in videography, such as Long Walk Productions in Rock Hill, SC; and HD Perfect™ Photo & Video in Nashville, TN, which wedding and commercial clients have appreciated. Others, like Brick House Images in Oakland, CA, offer hair and makeup services for an extra charge.
When it comes to photography, there is always more to pay for than just the photoshoot time because the end goal is to have prints or digital copies.
Before you even meet with a photographer, list everything you would like included in the quote and you should find the overall price dropping per item as you go. When a photographer quotes a “from $x up” price, you might only get one photo out of it, like one useable business headshot or one 8x10 of your baby.
Alternatively, the highest price can include plenty of products you don’t care for, like that same baby photo on a mug or t-shirt. Simply put, the more you know what you want up front, the better your package deal will be. Most photographers are happy to work out a custom quote for you.
Many photographers are self-taught, while others, for example the main photographer at Happy Gatherings in Wayland, MA, has studied photography at New England Institute of Professional Photography and taken workshops with many top wedding photographers. He has owned Happy Gatherings for 22 years and photographed 700+ weddings and events. His average price is $300-$400/hour.
Another example is James Corwin in St. Petersburg, FL, who is a graduate of a photography school in California and now an instructor at Ringling College, with a long history of being the chief photographer of various magazines and travel companies. His basic rate is $100/hour for everything he does.
If the photographer has a studio, most of the studio equipment will already be in place and ready to use, depending on the type of shoot.
If the studio space is rented by the hour by the photographer, the equipment has to be brought there and set up and torn down at the end of the shoot—lights, light stands, backdrops, umbrellas, cables, studio packs, etc.
With outdoor photography, a lot less is needed—perhaps a reflector or two, and a light diffuser (to remove harsh light from the sun). Most engagement, senior, and family photos are taken outdoors, and as a result, the cost should reflect the absence of the studio rental, plus the setup and tear down time, which is usually half the photographer’s hourly rate per hour.
An additional photographer (Second Shooters) is often needed at events to take the extra shots a single photographer simply cannot be there for.
Even if another photographer is not needed, a photographer will often hire an assistant for shoots, for instance: to hold reflectors at a family shoot, or to sign people in during a day of taking corporate headshots or soccer team photos.
It is unlikely for any photographer to send photos that haven’t been digitally processed in Photoshop or other software to enhance lighting, skin tone, etc. Once that’s done, the cost per photo will usually reflect the additional time taken to prepare the photo collection.
In order of average cost, photos can be delivered in a number of ways:
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