Pricing Photography

This page may disappoint you

If you're looking for a list of prices for Toronto photographers then stop here. This page is about pricing not prices. But if you'd like an understanding of how professional photography is priced then please continue.

Call a restaurant and ask, "What's the price of a meal?" Without any more information, the restaurant can't give an exact price. At best, the restaurant might give you a wide range of prices which will be of little value to you.

Corporate and editorial photography prices are not listed here because each photo job is different. It's impossible to list specific prices without knowing all the details of your photography requirements.

Some photographers do list prices. But they will either force each customer into a one-size-fits-all box in order to match their one-size-fits-all price or they will change the price the moment a customer can't fit into a box. I don't work that way.

I figure out exactly what each customer wants and then determine a price based on their needs. These prices are not pulled out of thin air. They are based on decades of working for hundreds of other customers.

Pricing photography is like pricing a restaurant meal

The cost of a restaurant meal or the cost of photography depends on:

  • Location of restaurant (downtown hotel or suburban shopping plaza) = Location of photographer (big city or small town).
  • Quality and service (high-end restaurant or fast-food joint) = Production value of photography.
  • Talent, creativity and experience of the chef = Talent, creativity and experience of the photographer.
  • Food ingredients required = Photo equipment required.
  • Amount of food = Number of pictures.
  • What meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) = What pictures (portraits, conference, products).
  • Purpose of meal (reception, formal dinner, company party) = Purpose of pictures (press release, annual report, magazine ad).

It's about the value of photography not time spent

Price is based on the value of the photos and not so much on the time it took to make those images. After all, a photographer is selling their skill and talent, not their time.

Higher value means a higher price, lower value means a lower price. Simple, right?

With all intellectual property, including photography, value is usually defined by use. The more a photo is to be used, the higher its value and the higher its price.

Note that value is not the same as quality. A professional photographer will deliver the same high quality work no matter what the value of the photography.

Here's an example:

Photo 1: A real estate agent's business portrait is used on her web site, her business cards, in newspaper ads, on local billboards and transit ads, on lawn signs and her brochures for about 10 years.

Photo 2: A lawyer's business headshot is used only on his "About Us" page for five years.

Even though these two headshots took the same time to produce and have the same production value, do they have the same value?

It’s cheaper to buy a house than rent a hotel room

A mid-range Toronto hotel room might be $190/night. That works out to $5,700 per month which is much higher than the average monthly mortgage payment on an average Toronto house. But since a customer needs a hotel room for only a short time, that $190/night rental is 3,400 times cheaper than buying the average $650,000 house.

Need to drive somewhere? Renting a car for $50/day is about 400 times cheaper than purchasing the same car.

Do you like to play golf occasionally? Renting a $40 set of golf clubs is about 20 times cheaper than buying a similar set of clubs. Renting an electric golf car for $30 per round of golf is 100 times cheaper than purchasing the same cart.

Similarly, if a company needs photos for a limited time or limited usage, then licensing pictures from a professional photographer is always much less expensive than purchasing all rights to those pictures.

Licensing photography

When you book a resort vacation, the travel agent will ask:

1) How many people? (Same as a photographer asking, “How many photos?”)

2) What type of room? (Same as a photographer asking, “What is the usage?”)

3) How many nights? (Same as a photographer asking, “How long will the pictures be used?”)

4) Which resort location? (Same as a photographer asking, “Where will the pictures be used?”)

Licensing is the worldwide standard for all intellectual property. Photography is no different.

For most editorial and corporate assignments that I do, the usual included licensing rights are for editorial use only, unless otherwise agreed. This means the pictures may be used for press releases and media handouts, on the company's web site and social media, and in any marketing materials that the company produces on its own. It also means the photos may not be used for paid placements. Commercial rights will increase the licensing fee.

For all editorial publications and for many companies much of the time, this type of editorial licence works just fine. If you need to use the pictures commercially, just let us know and a licence will be created to suit your needs.

Inquiring minds want to know

When you request a quote, I will ask you lots of questions. I need to know as much as possible about your ideas and plans for the pictures, your budget and maybe more.

Since there are many different ways to photograph something, I have to make sure that both of us are on the same page with regard to the photography.

After all information is gathered, it takes time to figure out and plan the photography. This is why it takes time to produce an estimate or quote. This is also why I can't give a quick quote over the phone.

If a photographer asks you only about the where and when of your photo project and then gives you a price, run away from them. They are not thinking about you.

Contact us

If you would like a photo estimate, please contact us with more information about your upcoming photography needs.