The Complete Guide to Food Photography Pricing (Part 1)

Until you have been freelancing for a few years, talking ‘price’ can feel like a daunting task let alone coming up with a pricing structure for your food photography business! A couple of readers have reached out to ask me to give some advice on how set up their food photography pricing, so here is my complete guide to help you talk dollar, dollar bills y’all.

This will be a three part edition, so you can get the most out of the topic and not have to scroll endlessly (and I mean endlessly), to get through all there is to know.



In this edition my aim is to set you up for thinking about your pricing. There is much more to it than plucking a figure out of the air or copying your rivals.

To lay the foundation before we dive into the numbers, I’m going to get you thinking about three important questions:

Who are your ideal clients?

How much do you want to get paid per year?

How do the influences of pricing affect you?

Let’s work as we go. Download and print this FREE WORKSHEET to track your thoughts!



Before we get started, I’d like to talk about frame of mind. If you’ve read any articles on pricing before they preface the topic by announcing how ‘boring’ it is, but let’s shift that. Pricing ‘right’ is a necessity to be a successful freelancer, (and when I say successful I mean that you can pay your bills and not be stressed about knowing where your next meal is coming from).

My advice is to not read this post and subsequent editions with that frame of mind. Be excited that you have the chance to sell your #skills. I mean, that is pretty darn cool! I think most people find it more daunting than boring as pricing is subjective and there are no real answers as to what is the ‘right’ or ‘best’ formulas are.

My aim is to take that pressure off you.



Now that you’re ready to start tackling your food photography pricing, there are two questions that you need to ask yourself,

Who are your ideal clients and how much would you like to make per year?

Haven’t printed that workbook yet, what are you waiting for? Dive in, you know you want to!




Take a moment to think about who your ideal clients are, now and in the immediate future. I know I am a dreamer, and am always pushing for you to set your sights high, but the reality is that your price has to match your present skill set. This doesn’t mean you need to aim low either, just don’t price for a large advertising campaign when you’ve never even been in a studio before let alone shot an ad!

So, right now, who are your ideal clients?

Is it small businesses, mum and pop shops? Is it large clients, well known brands? Clients who have large budgets? Client with interesting projects? Clients who stand for something, a cause? Clients who don’t have much money but have connections? Clients who don’t pay well? Clients who can’t pay?


In your worksheet, write down your ideal clients. This is just for you, so be honest, be generous and kind to yourself!

Don’t let those thoughts creep into your head that you’re not good enough to work with the people you want to.



Now I know this can be an arbitrary question, but how much do you want to make per year? Lots I hear you say! That’s cute, good for you. Now let’s come down from cloud nine for just a sec. Choose a realistic figure of a decent per year salary. Remember we’re just starting out here, I won’t hold you to that wage for the rest of your life.

If you don’t know what a good figure is, then ask yourself this: if you went back to your 9-5 job what salary would you ask for? How much would you need to make to maintain your lifestyle?

Take your time, have a think.


In your worksheet, write down the figure you want to get paid per year.

You’ll need that for the next edition where we tackle the figures.

The Complete Guide To Food Photography Pricing Part 1 | Identify how the influences of pricing Effect those dollar bills.

The Complete Guide To Food Photography Pricing Part 1 | Identify how the influences of pricing Effect those dollar bills.


When deciding upon your food photography pricing for your freelance business, there are a couple of factors that will influence the final amount and help you to decide whether they are ‘realistic’ and ‘right’ for you and your ideal clients.

Some of these factors are intangible and therefore subjective, which can be a pain in the bum I know. You don’t need to have the ‘right’ answer, however thinking about these factors will allow your prices to be more ‘realistic’ than if you don’t.

These factors to consider are:

Quality – the quality of your current work

Perceived Value – the value your ideal client sees in your current work

Confidence – the amount of confidence and experience you have as a photographer

Competition – the quality, value and confidence of your work against others in your field



What is the quality of your work, the gear, props and food that you use to get the shot and the quality of the finished product?

Does your work look like it belongs on a food blog, a cafe website, a high end restaurant’s website or a renowned food magazine?

None of the places your work belongs are better than one another, they just match right now.


Think about the quality of your current work. Does it match your current ideal client?



Perceived value is the worth of a product or service in the mind of the client. This value will influence the amount the client is willing to pay for your products and services. A lot of the time some clients won’t understand just how much work goes into creating an image or they aren’t able to see the benefit quality photography will provide to their business.

What do you perceive the value of your work to be? Will the client see that value as well? Getting these two to match up is an important factor in effective pricing.


Think about what you perceive the value of your work to be. Does it match the quality of your work and your current ideal client?



We could all use a little more of this right? Confidence in terms of pricing for me comes down to two things, how confident you are as a photographer and how confident you are with your price.

As you get further into your freelancing career, you’ll have a better understanding of your costs, your time investment and what you should be paid. You’ll be able to speak more confidently to why you are worth what you charge.

You’ll start to complete jobs more quickly. This is when your price ‘per hour’ will rise. Starting out, your price per hour will be lower as it may take you longer to figure out a tricky lighting situation, or styling issue. As you get more jobs under your belt, you’ll be able to tackle these issues and get results faster.


On your next shoot (paid or love project), write down every task you did to complete the job and how long each took you.



It is hard to know what your competitors charge, I know, but your clients are most likely comparing your pricing with theirs and matching that to their perceived value.

At the end of the day, your work and style is what stands you apart from your competitors and if the client wants your work they will (hopefully) be open to trying to find ways to make it work where you both win.

I try not to focus on what others are offering. We all have different perceived values and overheads. We have different goals and different styles. If you do find out what others charge, use it as a ‘good to know’ and don’t copy them out of fear.

It is good to know what your market is willing and able to pay.


Can you find out what your competitors charge? If so, write down their prices and what that includes.


Next up, we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of those ‘numbers and figures’, go through an example and I’ll even provide you with the template I use for my pricing.

In the meantime, complete those worksheets so you can confidently come up with some figures in the next edition. Feeling stuck? Ask a question and share your thoughts on today’s post.


RELATED: The Complete Guide to Food Photography 2

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  • Reply Pang May 19, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Oh my goodness!!! I couldn’t bookmark this post (& the next 2 posts) fast enough. Thank you SO MUCH. You are so sweet for sharing the knowledge. Sending xoxo to you from SF.

    • Reply Rachel May 19, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Haha, you’re just the sweetest Pang and you are welcome. It can be such a minefield so I wanted to shed some light on the things I’ve learned!

  • Reply Marisa Franca @ All Our Way May 19, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Thank you so much for a wealth of information. It is difficult to say *ahem* I charge this amount for the job. We need to be confident in our ability and our worth. Love the worksheets! Can’t wait for the following posts — but I always feel that way about your posts, anyway.

    • Reply Rachel May 20, 2016 at 7:37 am

      It is for sure Marisa, and it does get easier over time. Although each job will be different you will get a sense of that ‘ball park’ figure more quickly. With every job you learn something new about pricing that you implement for the next time. Even seasoned professionals tell me they experience the same thing. We’ll get more detailed in the coming posts! I can’t wait either.

  • Reply Cali May 20, 2016 at 4:02 am

    This is so awesome, just getting me thinking about these questions puts me in the realm of possibility! Can you give us like a range of what low-end is and high end pricing to give a reference of what the market is- as you say- willing and able to pay? Also, I am sure as a beginner I would start out locally, but do you have the customer pay travel if they are out of your local area? You’re awesome ?

    • Reply Rachel May 20, 2016 at 7:38 am

      I love the realm of possibility! Those are all great questions and something that I will be coming in the coming posts. Stay tuned.

  • Reply Aysegul May 20, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    One of the biggest mistake that I made when I first started was to undersell myself just to get the job. In some instances it paid off, but in other it made me feel so bad. In the end, biggest lesson for me was that sometimes it is better to not get the job then get underpaid.

    Your tips are definitely a good place to start. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. <3

    • Reply Rachel May 24, 2016 at 9:29 am

      That is good advice Aysegul. Sometimes there will be payoffs for taking a job that doesn’t pay well if it will get you connections, experience or it is something you believe in. What isn’t good, like you said, is underselling yourself just to get the work. Ideally you shouldn’t be getting every job that comes your way, as it can mean you are pricing your services too low!

  • Reply Claire @ The Simple, Sweet Life May 21, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    What a great post Rachel! I can’t wait for the next two!! Maybe you’re going to address this in your upcoming posts, but do you have any advice on finding and landing clients? My food photography skills are still pretty beginner level so I don’t know that I’m ready to embark on this sort of journey just yet, but I love the idea of doing this sort of thing on a daily basis (food + photography… What’s not to love?!). That being said, I think the biggest thing that would hold me back would be just having no idea where to start!

    • Reply Rachel May 24, 2016 at 9:32 am

      Hey Claire, that is something that I have been asked a lot lately. It is totally it’s own kettle of fish and I’d love to delve into that more in another series. I am still trying to figure this out also.

  • Reply Shannon Deutrom May 21, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Its great to have a guide to work out exactly what I am worth as a stylist and photographer. After a long time off raising my 4 children and a change of career (I was a graphic designer pre babies ) this is what I need to focus my skills and be paid for them ! xx

    • Reply Rachel May 24, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Hey Shannon, sometimes getting started is all you need! It is totally an amazing thing to get paid for the skills you love doing.

  • Reply Stephanie May 23, 2016 at 2:40 am

    Wow, this is so awesome!!! You’re so awesome for sharing! Thank you so much! xO

    • Reply Rachel May 24, 2016 at 9:33 am

      You’re welcome Stephanie. Hope this was able to start that conversation for you.

  • Reply Des May 26, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    I noticed some other commenters but I am also wondering the same thing! How do we get started. I have a food blog and feel my photography is getting up there- and would prefer to more do food photography than a blog. More profitable. I could even afford more props and such (btw I loved your article on photography tips!)

    Also, what would you consider yourself based on the article linked up above? Professional? Etc? Thanks!!

    • Reply Rachel May 26, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      Hey Des, yes such a common question! In this series I will be focusing on food photography pricing, how to get into the business is a whole other kettle of fish! Something I would like to talk about but need to work out how to make it actionable and intentional. I’m still trying to work that out myself. Relationships and businesses take time to build.

      Good question. Those terms (i.e. amateur or professional) are so subjective. Technically as I make a living from photography I can call myself a professional, but there are levels of professionalism too right. I would say currently I would consider myself a semi-pro/pro. I don’t think it matters what you consider yourself really, (labels can be limiting) but since you asked!

  • Reply Kym Grimshaw June 15, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Only just caught up with this but I think it’s so wonderful you’re putting this out there to help people! I find it a bit of a taboo subject to approach any peers in food photography unless I know them really well, and I don’t know any at all well enough to probe for this kind of stuff. Maybe it’s the curse of being English! It’s hard not to feel like a deer in the headlights when you get an email asking for your ‘rates’, I mean where do you start?? So thank you. This has been such a great help and certainly got me thinking strategically about it rather than plucking figures from thin air!

    • Reply Rachel June 16, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      Hey Kym! Nice to see you round here. I think it’s common not to share, like somehow that will stop you from being successful and taking the work of others? Yet action will always get us where we want to be! You’ve got to start somewhere you’re right and taking a total stab in the dark isn’t super helpful. This will definitely get you on the right track and how far down it you go will be up to you. Hope you find the worksheet in Part 2 super helpful. Make sure to stop by more often. I love seeing you around here.

  • Reply The Complete Guide to Food Photography Pricing (Part 2) January 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    […] that you have read the first edition to this three part series, the Complete Guide to Food Photography Pricing (Part 1), you’ve started to think about who your ideal clients are, how much you’d like to make […]

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