The Complete Guide to Food Photography Pricing (Part 2)

In this post I am going to walk you through the three types of costs you need to know for your food photography pricing. By the end of it you’ll be inputting figures into your food photography pricing structure like it’s nobody’s business!

Now 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 per year, and have married those two up against your confidence, the quality of your work and its perceived value.

If not, do through a quick recap of Part 1 here, including completing your FREE Worksheet 1 – don’t want to skip laying that foundation, go on, I’ll wait.


Have your completed worksheet from Part 1 handy with the figure on how much you want to get paid per year.



With a solid understand of the factors that influence price from Part 1, you’re ready to dive into those nitty gritty figures.

In this edition we’re going to look at the following cost categories in detail to start enabling you to put together a pricing structure:

Your Labour Costs – the cost ‘per minute’

The Production Costs – the production and creative cost for each shoot, (food and props)

COGS Mark-Up – to cover overheads and that profit yo!

At the end of this post you’ll be able to craft some solid figures of your own with my FREE PRICING SPREADSHEET.


A little random tid bit about me if you didn’t know – I have a degree in Business Accounting (and Teaching), so I love my spread sheets! (You should have seen my epic spreadsheet for my wedding! Ekk)


By now you’re starting to realise that there’s a lot of factors that go into pricing your food photography services! Let me tell you that each job is so different, there’s no hard and fast rules unfortunately.

But after you have completed this series you will know where you sit in the ball park and the overwhelming feelings of quoting jobs will slowly slip away. Promise.

Let’s start getting those cost types under our belt. There are three things we need to determine before you can hit up those fancy spreadsheets:

Your Labour Costs – the cost ‘per minute’

COGS Mark-Up – to cover overheads and profit

The Production Costs – the production and creative cost for each shoot, (food and props)



Your time isn’t free! It’s the most valuable aspect of your pricing. It is where you can make profit as it doesn’t technically you’re not out of pocket when you trade time for money, (although there is a limit to your time in service based businesses).

To work out the labour cost for each food photography job, you’ll want to work out the cost ‘per minute’.

Cost per minute is based upon the annual wage you’ve set yourself per year, the amount of weeks in each year you want to work and the hours you’ll work per week.

Cost ‘Per Minute’ =

(annual wage) ÷ (working weeks) ÷ (hours per week) ÷ (minutes per hour)



In order to cover your fixed costs and overheads, like camera gear, website, advertising, your office set up, etc and leave room for profit, you’ll need to charge additional fees to your labour costs.

To work out the mark-up on your pricing product, you’ll want to use a Cost of Good (COGS) model.

I use the 35% cost of goods model.

Put simply, this means that out of our final pricing product (100%), 35% of that pricing product will be the cost of labour and materials (when you choose to put materials in, like for the cost of a print) and 65% of that pricing product will be a mix of fixed costs it takes to your your business and profit.

Mark-Up =

35% cost of good model: (100 ÷ 35) = 2.85

As everyone has a different level of lifestyle and the costs associated with maintaining that, you can use a different markup value or model, the concept is still the same.



Getting into production photography, like food photography, where there are multiple costs to consider in order to execute a job, you’ll want to ensure that you are covering the out of pocket costs.

Costing these into your pricing structure can be hard, and it is debatable as to how transparent you should be with these associated costs.

If you’re just getting started on your pricing, then my advice would be to get the client to cover these at cost plus a small sourcing fee.

Production Costs =

(production and creative costs) x (sourcing fee %)

The sourcing fee will be a percentage around 5%-20% depending on the level of professional you are. This fee essentially covers your time in sourcing food, props, stylist, studio hire etc to execute the job. On larger jobs you will sometimes encounter a producer who will do this for you, however most smaller jobs will require you to source food and props at a minimum. Who covers that time? Here is where the sourcing fee comes in.

Large production houses will be used to being charged a fee for just about everything, but your smaller clients won’t. Itemising the production costs separately from your fees allows for transparency.

This gives the client a sense of how much these additional factors will cost and that you’re not just pocketing this additional cash.

It will also allows both parties to negotiate where savings can be made without your profit taking a direct hit. (We’ll get more into this in Part 3).

The Complete Guide To Food Photography Pricing (Part 2) | Ready to start getting paid for your food photography? Work out your costs and mark ups with a FREE SPREADSHEET. Perfect for freelance food photographers
The Complete Guide To Food Photography Pricing (Part 2) | Ready to start getting paid for your food photography? Work out your costs and mark ups with a FREE SPREADSHEET. Perfect for freelance food photographers


Now we’ve talked the talk, let’s walk the walk and put this into action.

Your pricing package is going to be quite simply:

Your pricing package =

(total minutes for a job) x (cost ‘per minute’ ) x (the COGS mark-up) + (material costs, food and props) x (souring fee %)

Let’s do this for real, and go through an example.

Just say, I want to work 48 weeks per year, at a regular working week of 40 hours per week, and I think that $45,000 (pre-tax) annually is reasonable to ask for my skill set. (This is just an example).

My cost ‘per minute’ = $0.39

($45,000) ÷ (48 weeks per year) ÷ (40 hours per week) ÷ (60 minutes per hour)


And I’ve been asked to cook and shoot a recipe for a blog. The recipe is an easy recipe and has been tested and supplied to me.

I will need to get the ingredients, cook the food, style the dish, source the props, shoot and edit the digital files. I have estimated the entire job will take 6 hours to complete.

Total Time Cost = 6 hours (360 minutes)

(Creative, 2.5 hrs) + (Shoot time, 1 hr) + (Post Production, 1 hr) + (Cooking, 0.5 hrs) + (Admin, 1 hr)



Now if my cost ‘per minute’ is $0.39 and it takes me 6 hrs (360 minutes) to complete this job, my labour cost will be $146.63 for the job.

Labour Cost = $146.63

($0.39 per minute cost) x (360 minutes)


To get the total ‘creative fee’ for this job, we need to mark-up our labour cost figure by our 35% COGS model. Remembering that our mark-up is 2.85.

Total Creative Fee = $ 400.78

(labour cost, $146.63) x (mark-up for fixed costs and profit, 2.85)


Let’s assume that I had advised the client that they would be responsible to cover the shoot’s product costs and I estimated they would come in around $200. (You will get better at estimating over time)

Production Costs = $147.35

(food, $67.40) + (props, $34.95) + (production costs, $45)

To get the total ‘production costs’ for this job, we need to multiple our production cost figure by our sourcing fee of say 15% (for example).

Total Production Cost = $ 169.45

(production cost, $147.35) x (sourcing fee, 15%) + (production cost, $147.35)




Now you have your total creative fee for a simple shoot, it’s time again to think about to the influences of pricing from Part 1.


Does the Quality of your work match this price? Should the price be higher, should it be lower?

Perceived Value?

Does the Perceived Value of your work match this price? Will the client feel that $400.78 is worth getting you to shoot this dish? Is it going to bring them more views on their blog, get the recipe shared more? Do they have affiliate links they can tap into if the post goes viral? Should this price be higher due to those factors? Are they a small blog without traffic, should the price be lower?


Does your Confidence as a photographer match this price? Is spending 6 hours on this small job too much? If not, should your price be lower as your still starting out? Can you knock it over in less time? Should your price be higher as your a more efficient and confident photographer?

I know these can be daunting questions at first, but trust yourself – you can totally work them out!

Have a good hard think about that price and go with your gut. Higher or lower. What will it be? Remember you can reassess your pricing. It’s not set in stone.



Congratulations on making it this far! You’re totally ready to start putting together your own pricing structure.

Have you still got Worksheet 1 with you? Ok good. Remember when you did your last shoot and you wrote down how long each little bit took you to do? Great. We’ll you’ll need that to fill in the FREE pricing spreadsheet.


Download the Pricing Worksheet and fill in the coloured cells with
Your annual wage

Weeks per year you want to work

Hours per week you want to work

The sourcing fee percentage you want to charge (5%-20%)

Production and creative costs if known (you can take a recent job or personal project you did as an example)

Time (in hrs) it took to complete your last job from start to finish



So what did you come up with? Still feeling like you don’t know if you are on track or not?

PetaPixel talks here about price ranges for different levels of photographers from hobbyist to student to semi-pro and pro.

So how do you measure up? Did you find this helpful? Still need some direction? Leave a comment below!

Next up, Part 3. Tips to get the most out of your pricing!


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  • Reply Complete Guide to Food Photography Pricing (Part 1) May 31, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    […] 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. […]

  • Reply Cali June 1, 2016 at 7:45 am

    This is so awesome you are amaaaaaazing! Is there a # of how many pictures you give them or is it just however many good ones you produced? Or just a couple shots?

    • Reply Rachel June 2, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Hey Cali, so pleased to hear! This is such a great question. A great photographer will never give all their photos. It is part of their job to select the very best and a representation of different angles. I usually have a set number that comes with a small business package, a set number for my half/full day rates and this can also depend on if I am licensing the images for additional chargers (another whole topic one could talk for hours on!). It does depend on price too.

  • Reply Shibani June 4, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Thank you so much for detailing the complex pricing factor. I am a newbie and you can understand my dilemma. This is so helpfull.

    • Reply Rachel June 6, 2016 at 8:40 am

      Hey Shibani! It sure is a complex topic, so many factors to think about. I totally understand how daunting it can feel at first. Hopefully there was takeaways here you can start implementing!

  • Reply davin rodriguez June 10, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Rachel this is an invaluable spreadsheet for someone just starting out! Thank you so much for taking the time to share and explain in detail!

    • Reply Rachel June 10, 2016 at 8:50 pm

      Hey Davin! It’s not to shabby is it? It will definitely get some solid figures for you to start thinking about. Better to be prepared for when client comes knocking, otherwise it is a little more stressful than a pleasurable experience. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply sabrina June 22, 2016 at 3:37 am


    Thank you so much for taking the time in educating others about good business practices. You work is remarkable and it’s great to be taught by such an incredible and talented individual like yourself.

    Sending big hugs and gratitude your way!!


    • Reply Rachel June 23, 2016 at 9:10 am

      Oh thanks Sabrina! That is so kind of you to say. Very grateful that you found this helpful. We all need a helping hand from time to time for sure.

  • Reply Joe November 28, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Hi Rachel

    I have really been struggling with giving a package, or is it better to let them do a al carte.

    What do most restauranteur/bar owners prefer.

    I believe packages are more acceptable to weeding and grad photographers and the like.

    • Reply Rachel November 30, 2016 at 9:08 am

      It can be tricky to know what each client is going to want and from experience I think it is best to work out what sort of pricing is best for your brand and will ensure you get paid for the time you put in AND make sure clients know what the cost of the job will be so there are no nasty surprises at the end.

      Based on my experience it is a bit of both.

      Small business clients want to know what it will cost them and what they will get. They have little experience with photographers and so I find an all inclusive package works best for them. If they want a lower price, then you remove value from that package.

      For advertising clients or large magazines, they like things a little more al la carte. They expect there is a price tag to each service and will pick and choose what they need. Having said that, these are the guys that have a real strict budget (even though that budget is usually larger) they operate on more of a take it or leave it basis. So even if you have an al la carte type pricing for them, they will still come back with a budget you have to work in (mostly).

      Pricing is always a journey and as you get more and more variety of clients you will learn so much and adjust your packages that it will start to get really easy for you. Every job I do has some learning curve attached.

  • Reply Emma Steendam October 17, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    Hi Rachel, thanks so much for this great resource! So helpful, and then I find out you’re in Melbourne – brilliant! I have been asked to do some food photography and styling for a recipe developer launching a new app/website. The work will be ongoing, needing a shoot every fortnight producing about 20 images per month for the app/website, working with the recipe developer on an ongoing basis. What are your thoughts on charging a per hourly rate but also a per image charge? They want all copyright on the images. Any advice much appreciated! Thanks, Emma

    • Reply Rachel October 18, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      Hey Emma! So cool to hear from you and congrats on this job. Sounds epic. You can definitely charge per the hour and per image. A lot of clients may not want a per hour rate, as they are unsure how many hours will be involved in the project. You can also quote a project fee, and say that the fee includes x amount of hours and an hourly rate will apply after that. Sort of like overtime. You can also charge per image, just be sure to really know how much time it will take you to complete the entire project. Concepting, shooting, editing, admin, travel etc. Sometimes it is of value to quote a project fee, then to break that down into a per image rate so the client can see the value in each image. The transferal of copyright is a tricky one. I personally ALWAYS strive to keep copyright. the thing you need to remember is that if you give copyright away, the client can then onsell/license your images and make money from what you shot. Leaving you with nothing. A copyright buyout is there usually very expensive and only within multi-million dollar businesses. The choice is yours however and where your values fall. Hope this helps.

  • Reply Jackelin December 28, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Rachel, this is just what I was looking for. I’ve only skimmed and parts1 and 2 so far, but I can’t wait to dive in and begin filling in the worksheets. Thanks so much for making this information available. What a gift!

    • Reply Rachel January 5, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      You’re so welcome Jackelin, pricing can be so tough at the start. But we’ve all gotta start somewhere.

  • Reply Jessica January 6, 2018 at 6:48 am

    Thank you so much Rachel for this spreadsheet! I am just beginning my business in food photography and had no idea what to do to price anything! I think my one question that I have is in terms of the calculations. If you just want to know an amount you should charge in general (without taking into account the production costs and such), would that be your fees that come out in the end without filling in the production costs field? Or do you feel those are 100% necessary to get a price average for my business?

    • Reply Rachel January 18, 2018 at 11:53 am

      Hey Jessica! You can leave those production costs blank if they don’t apply to what you’re quoting or you just want to come out with a base figure. Sometimes jobs will be really simple and not require these fields, so it’s totally acceptable to not use them first up. Just be sure to keep them in mind so you’re not out of pocket in the long run 🙂

  • Reply JACKELIN SLACK January 10, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Hi, Rachel! I’ve read post #1 and #2 on pricing so far, and they’ve been super helpful. Lot’s of good information here. I really appreciate the thought, time and effort you’ve put into these posts. Thank you for giving so generously of your time and for being so candid about a subject that’s so important and misunderstood.

    On another note, I’m trying to access post #3 and the link seems to be broken. Any idea what might be happening?

    • Reply Rachel January 18, 2018 at 11:55 am

      I will take a look into why the link isn’t working 🙂 Thanks for letting me know Jackelin and glad you found it useful!

  • Reply JACKELIN SLACK January 11, 2018 at 5:06 am

    BTW, Rachel, I was able to access post #3, I think from another link. Thank you!

  • Reply JACKELIN SLACK January 19, 2018 at 6:20 am

    Hi, Rachel! The Pricing Worksheet has been super helpful! Would you be able to clarify one thing for me, please? What is the difference between the preliminary fees and the final fees? I understand that the preliminary fees is what I’m charging the client right? So what is the other?

    • Reply Rachel January 19, 2018 at 9:54 pm

      Great question! So after you come up with your preliminary fees, you’ll want to think about all those factors we talked about in the two prior posts, like confidence level, sense of value the client will have for your style, the time it takes you to shoot. So you can think if you want to adjust up or down to your comfort level. Does that make more sense 🙂

      • Reply JACKELIN SLACK January 20, 2018 at 4:46 am

        I see! Well, I have to tell you this has been so valuable to me over the past several weeks. As a portrait photographer, I didn’t give very careful consideration to my fees – I mostly flew by the seat of my pants. That is not to say it was working for me to price my work the way I did. Your advice and your worksheets have really made me think seriously about the financial value of the work I do. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for so long without real consideration of these factors you outline. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your generosity in making these resources available. Sending you a warm hug across the ocean (and I hope to meet you at the Everything Food Conference if you’ll be there in May).

        • Reply Rachel January 26, 2018 at 3:19 pm

          That really makes my day! We don’t always know these things when we start out right, and we all take different paths. Maybe the time is right for you know and you’ll have more confidence! So cool you be at EFBC! Be sure to stop by to say hi or come to my talk! xx

  • Reply Beth February 5, 2018 at 8:11 am

    Hi Rachel! I tried to click on the download link for the Free Pricing Spreadsheet, and all that pops up is an option to join your e-mail list, which I did. But I didn’t see where I could download the spreadsheet. Can you direct me where to find it? Thank you so much for all your time that went into it – I can’t wait to use it! xox

    • Reply Rachel February 7, 2018 at 8:19 pm

      Awesome Beth! When you sign up you’ll get an email with a link and password where you can access the Resource Hub!

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