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How to Determine Photography Operating Costs

Remember that setting your prices to match your competitors isn’t enough. You should also consider your operating costs, both fixed and variable. These should include everything you can think of:

  • Cameras, lenses, and other equipment costs
  • Salaries (including your own!)
  • Monthly rent for your photography studio (or home office if applicable)
  • Utilities
  • Internet
  • Subscriptions for editing software, your website, email hosting, etc.
  • Travel expenses
  • Advertising costs
  • Insurance
  • Debt repayments

Besides your operating costs, look at how many hours you invest in each job. Include time communicating with clients before the shoot.

You should also consider location scouting and commuting to and from the location. Furthermore, you need to factor in your photo editing time after the shoot.

Finally, don’t forget to account for taxes when setting your photography pricing. The percentage will vary based on where you live. Be sure to check your local and federal tax rates. For example, there’s a self-employment tax besides the standard income taxes in the US. We recommend putting aside 25-30% of your income for tax purposes.

Your tax will also vary depending on your type of business. Sole proprietors typically pay the highest percentage. To make sure you’re clear on your area’s requirements, you can always speak to a tax specialist for guidance.

Karl Taylor provides the following example*. It’s how much you need to earn every week to cover the typical costs of running a successful photography business. You can adjust the numbers to suit your particular business


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