The Complete Guide to Food Photography Pricing (Part 3)

Hooray! You’ve made it to Part 3 of pricing your food photography. You now have some hard figures in your food photography pricing and you’re ready to shoot them over to your next (or even first) client! In this post, I want to chat to you about how to get the most out of your pricing.

Over the years of selling my food photography services I’ve had it all; yeses, nos, pricing myself too low, pricing too high, successful and failed negotiations, being paid in product and services, overseas exchange currencies to even being taken to a meeting to tell me my services were too expensive.

Haven’t read Part 1 or Part 2 yet? Get on it, I’ll wait.


6 Tips For Confidently Pricing Your Food Photography Services

How to Deal With Lowering Your Price

How I Price

Here are my takeaways so that you can get the most out of pricing your food photography services.



I know, I know. There’s so much to think about isn’t there? Yet more tips? Yes. You will need these at some point, so better to scan over them now and when you need them you can come back to this post and nut out a plan of action.

These are the most useful tips that I have learned over the years of selling my food photography services.



It’s that age old saying, you’re one in a million. No one can be like you. You’d better believe it.

We’ve all seen those photographers who are making a living out of their services and just between you and me, they’re not very good. I’d even say you’re better, and they’re making a living out of this. A real living! Want to know why? Because they’re one of a kind. They are great to work with, fun, reliable, they know their market, they respect their clients, they keep their clients coming back for more.

No matter how many other photographers there are out there, the difference between them is you. You are one of a kind too. You are the only one who can produce the style you do, coupled with your passion, personality and outlook on your craft.

This is a real advantage for your pricing and a point of difference. So don’t be intimidated when potential clients tell you so and so is charging this much and so should you. Well, you’re not so and so are you? You are you.



You’ve got to start somewhere right? Waiting until you have all the skills and the perfect food photography pricing structure will see you never actually putting it into action, because it can never be perfect. You will learn things along the way that will forever adjust it.

So where do you start? Well, I would suggest to err on the side of caution.

Increasing your pricing six months down the track looks like your business is flourishing and your gaining more skills, than reducing your pricing because your current skill set didn’t match up with perceived value.



It’s as simple as that. Prices that are in writing are more believable. Everywhere you go, anytime you buy something there is a written price, on a menu board, a price tag, a price list. Service based businesses are no different.

When I was looking for a wedding photographer, I was sent pdf’s, links to beautifully designed price lists with the packages they offered. I worked. Those written prices commanded authority and that these photographers had successful businesses and knew what they were doing.

Food photography is a little different to wedding photography. Weddings are generally the same in terms of aspects to be captured throughout the day. Editorial or advertising food photography will be unique to each job. So it can be hard to have a written price list.

In lieu of a written price list, when you’ve got the full brief details, send the client a written estimate, branded with your logo, contact details and business number.

This looks much more professional than just typing it into an email. The client also sees this figure with some authority and that you didn’t just make it up on the spot.



When ‘quoting‘ a client it is important to call your initial pricing an ‘estimate‘. Estimates are not legally binding, (at least not in Australia), and is an effective way to indicate the likely cost of a job without committing to prices and terms.

You can’t guarantee all the production costs 100% of the time. Things change. What happens if you are required to work overtime on the shoot due to an unforeseen circumstance? Estimates will still give the client a good indication of the scope of the costing, then send a final invoice once the job is completed.



Always. Make it clear to the client that in order to book their food shoot in, they will need to pay a non-refundable deposit. The deposit will depend on the value of the overall job and associated production costs. If the client pulls out or doesn’t end up paying you the final invoice for whatever reason, the deposit will help cover your initial time and any pre-paid production costs.

It also shows the client that you are serious and have other work that you’ll potentially be missing out on if they pull out last minute. Deposits are also part of daily life. There are a lot of services you have to prepay fully or put down a deposit on.

Act like a true business and you will be viewed as a true business.



The way to sell clients on your services is to present the price with what benefits they will receive for the price, or to put it better, the value they will get.

Value includes things like;

  • The number of images they will receive
  • Method of receiving the images
  • Image turn around time
  • Hours of shooting and styling included
  • Post production and retouching
  • Image use
  • Number of edits that can be request etc

Including these things in the estimate will help the client to see what their paying for and what they’ll receive in return.

The Complete Guide To Food Photography Pricing Part 3 | Here are 6 tips so you can confidently price your food photography and tackle negotiations along the way. Perfect for freelance photographers and food bloggers. Click here to read more.


It is going to happen. You will always get people who want to get more out of you for less monetary return. You’ll also come up against client budgets.

Decide first if you want to work with this client on the particular job. If the answer is yes, then to maintain good client relationships, I think negotiation is always ok. I’ve read articles you’ve put together list of points as to why you shouldn’t negotiate, but as long as you’re in control of your side of the negotiations, I think it’s part of the process.

Firstly, never just lower your price because the client can’t afford to pay you what you’re worth. This just says to them that you are charging too much, or worse don’t understand how to charge. It’s hard to recover from that.

If you need to lower your price, take away value and benefits as well.

Here is what that looks like:

Just say you estimated a client a 2hr food shoot for $500, supplied 10 images and would have the final images ready in a week.

The client only has $350. You could offer instead, 1hr food shoot, 5 images to be supplied in 2 weeks. (If that still makes sense in your food photography pricing product.)

Here you’re removing value, which is why the price can be reduced. Never just lower your price for the same amount of work and  benefits. I don’t like to say never, but never!



Each job is different, so getting all of the information from the client so you can give them an estimate is essential. However in order to ‘quote’ them you will need to base their requests against your base pricing.

I have two different approaches to pricing. The first is a concept based pricing method and the second is a half-day/full-day rate.

For magazines, editorials, advertising, books, digital story telling where there is a defined concept for a food story, I will charge based on the scope of the concept. Meaning I will charge a ‘fee’ to produce the concept (and all the time involved and production costs). I usually include licensing in this fee for small clients, however larger clients will be charged an additional fee for image use in the respective medium.

For shoots like portraits, interiors, events, street photography, in-situ shots etc, I will charged based on either a half-day shoot (up to 4 hours) or a full-day shoot (up to 8 hours). This is usually jobs where I am just responsible for the photography and there is no styling or preproduction costs.

It is beneficial to have a day rate as a lot of commercial places will ask you for one. I am more comfortable quoting this than an hourly rate.

In either case, I supply the client with a predetermined number of shots. Additional shots are attract an additional fee. I have standard turn around times, and I try to produce final images well before the ‘by-when’, but I will charge a premium for images that need to be turned around in less time.


Just landed on Part 3 or need a refresher? Check out Part 1 or Part 2 and start getting paid for your food photography!

If you have any tips that get the most out of pricing your food photography, please share below.


RELATED: The Complete Guide To Food Photography Pricing Part 2

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  • Reply Jo || The Luminous Kitchen June 9, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    I love that you’re putting all out there as pricing in Food Photography seems to be something food photographers don’t really like to discuss with each other. You are so right about the “YOU” part.

    For me I always consider 3 things in regard to negotiating my rates ( which I tend not to do too much of)
    1. The client – Do I actually want to work with this person / brand?
    2. The job – Is the actual job going to be fun or creatively stimulating
    3. The benefits – Is this a job that could potentially lead to other things/ more work?
    Is it an ongoing job? I have 2 clients who I shoot for every month and who have booked me 6 months in advance so for these jobs I have a special rate worked out with them because of the consistency of the work.

    You have to find rates that you feel good charging knowing that your time, talent and effort are properly and fairly exchanged and then feel confident owning those rates.

    I’m not suer there is a food photographer out there that does this as just a “job” – we are the lucky ones who have found a profession we LOVE and that can sometimes be difficult to charge for especially when you’re starting out, but I think you’ll do one job where you undervalue your services and it will feel so yuk you’ll never do it again.

    Thanks Rach for these posts!! You’re a superstar.

    • Reply Rachel June 10, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      Such great points Jo! Consistent and ongoing work is something to consider for sure. That is so great that you have clients booking you that far in advance. Those three points are really great things to keep in mind when approaching a job. Something for all of us to run through when we estimate a job.

    • Reply Ryan April 29, 2017 at 1:58 am

      how do you charge if the client wants to own the copyright to all images. No watermark. Use is for marketing, restaurant electronic boards, menus, advertising


      • Reply Rachel May 1, 2017 at 1:23 pm

        Hey Ryan! Very interesting question, without an easy answer. Normally if a client wants to own the copyright then the price of the images would increase very significantly. In fact, the price for owning copyright would be out of most clients budget. Large companies usually get around this by having an in-house photographer who is an employee, thereby giving the company the copyright over images. Signing over copyright isn’t something that I do with my work, and there is a difference between exclusive ongoing licensing and owning the copyright. The thing I would think about is do you want someone else to own your images? They could then sell your images to a competitor (for example) then make money off your images. That is totally a personal preference. But usually, the fee is significantly higher, like even 10 times higher. There are some percentages that I have seen thrown around in the design world, but I haven’t seen any for food photography. How does that feel for you?

  • Reply Marisa Franca @ All Our Way June 9, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Thank you Rachel for such valuable information. It took time for you to write this all down and here we are getting it for free — again thank you. This is one of those pay it forward type thing. You are great.

    • Reply Rachel June 10, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      Hey Marisa! It sure did take a lot of time, and best that it came in three parts. Can you imagine scrolling through that as one big post? Pricing is a something that you have to develop on your own, but this will definitely get you in the right direction. Good to start thinking of these things before you get approached by a client so you can be ready to rock!

  • Reply Melissa Darr June 11, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Thank you for such a great 3 part series. It’s been very helpful and given me the ability to start thinking more in depth about my pricing. Also your portfolio site!!! Is it wordpress or something else? I love it and have been tossing about how to start a portfolio site up. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Reply Rachel June 14, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Hey Melissa! So glad to hear that this series has equipped you to get where you want to be. Best of luck with it.

      At of now, I use a Squarespace site and the Ishimoto template. Highly recommended.

  • Reply Shibani June 18, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    Thank you so much for the valuable tips.They are so essential for newbies like me.

    • Reply Rachel June 20, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      You’re welcome Shibani! Lovely to have you around here. Please keep commenting!

  • Reply Karene' June 23, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Just had to quote and I get myself into such knots when I do! I’ve printed all three parts to this and am quietly going to sit down and work through it to see whether I’m on track. My new client of lifestyle food has come back asking for pack shots too. I’ve decided that for those less creative (but sometimes technically challenging) shots, I’d charge per image. Because there are many repeats, you are expected to do much more bulk work in your time slot and breaking it down per image shows them the value that they are getting. It also just makes it easier to quote and easier for the client to budget.

    • Reply Rachel June 27, 2016 at 3:31 pm

      Yes, there are many things to consider once you have a price in mind and thanks for sharing this with newbie readers. Price is always a negotiation when there are multiple jobs or an ongoing relationship. But at least people have somewhere and something to start that conversation with.

  • Reply Ale Vega January 11, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Hi Rachel!! Just the topic I’ve been struggling with. Thanks so much for the help and valuable tips! I was wondering how can I download your spreadsheet? I have suscribe but haven’t received anything… Maybe I’m doing something wrong haha

    • Reply Rachel January 11, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      Hey Ale, sorry to hear that! I can see in my email provider that you signed up for the email course and not the resource library. When you sign up for the resource library you’ll get the link and password emailed to you for safe keeping. I have just added you to that list so you should now have access to that email. I use this spreadsheet still to this day. Hope you find it useful!

  • Reply Lovella January 23, 2017 at 6:23 am

    This is probably one of the better sites I’ve seen about food photography advice. I just wanted to take this moment to say thank you.

    • Reply Rachel January 25, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      Hey Lovella! That is so great to hear and really puts a smile on my dial! Welcome to the community. Glad to have you on board.

  • Reply Lavaughn January 28, 2017 at 7:48 am

    OMG!!! Firstly, I love your style of photography. Secondly, thank you, thank you, thank you for ALL of this valuable information. It is very timely for me as I have been approached to shoot a cookbook for someone who saw my images on Instagram. It’ll feature seasonal recipes and as such is expected to be shot over a 7-8 month period with 1-2 shooting days per month in various locations. This will be my very first paid food photography project and I have been second and third-guessing my rate. Any special advise with regards to pricing for a cookbook project? Thanks in advance and thank you again for provide such excellent resources for those of us who love this genre!

    • Reply Rachel January 31, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      Hey Lavaughn! Cool books can be tricky and pricing and procedure will differ depending on where in the world you are.

      Some tips for cook book pricing:

      Budgets are usually tighter per shoot day, and so price per image or recipe will usually be smaller due to bulk.

      You can set your price then explain the ‘per shoot’ cost. This makes it easier to swallow than a total project cost. Puts it into perspective.

      You can talk to the client about reducing the cost based on shooting the same or similar theme throughout. For example a white background through or a lot of the same angles. Like 45 or overhead. This way there is less set up changes that put pressure on time.

      Budgets can also be reduced by giving the client less photos to select from or use in the book.

      My first book I shot 55 recipes with a budget of $500 plus royalties. It was pennies when I shot it, but I learned a lot and got a whole portfolio out of it.

      At the end of the day look at your figure and ask yourself if you’d be willing to do the work for the price you’ve set. If so, then go with it.

      You’ve got to start somewhere for your first try and you’ll learn from there. This opportunity can be more priceless than money.

      Best of luck and a massive congratulations! This is amazing.

      • Reply Roya February 12, 2018 at 11:39 pm

        Hi Rachel. Your blog has definitely become my go-to resource for all matters related to food photography. Thanking you so much in advance!

        I too have been asked to quote for a branded recipe book for a retailer. not quite a cookbook format as it’s more of a branded binder format that will require additional recipes at later stages… starting with 20. But the project really encompasses 3 parts:

        – Design of recipe cards + book (home studio)
        – Recipe development (home kitchen)
        – Recipe food photography & styling (home studio)

        So basically a one-woman show! Definitely a lot of content, testing etc to factor into it. Any advice on how to go about this?

        • Reply Rachel February 19, 2018 at 11:39 am

          Congratulations Roya! I would start by looking at time that it will take to create this and come up with a figure. Then ask yourself would I be willing to put in work for less money? Sometimes certain opportunities are worth foregoing $$. Make sure to let us know how you go !

  • Reply Eric Ziegler June 17, 2017 at 6:48 am

    Thanks so much for the information. This is such a great resource, especially for those of us that may be looking to start out.

    • Reply Rachel June 20, 2017 at 8:38 am

      Great to hear Eric!

  • Reply Stacey Trottier December 5, 2017 at 4:16 am

    How do you present your “estimate” to clients? Do you have a template you use and input your info per job?

    • Reply Rachel January 5, 2018 at 1:49 pm

      Hey Stacey, we always present an estimate to them so they can see what the fees are and the value they are getting. Helps everything to have it in writing.

  • Reply bonnie March 20, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    Thank you for producing and sharing such helpful information to us all.
    Regarding the questions about cook book quoting, would you suggest using your daily rate to work out the project whole rate, but slightly reduce this? eg if it takes 15 days to shoot x this by your daily rate with a discount?
    Also I’m noticing it is difficult to get all the brief details off the client, is it best to speak directly with the publisher? I’m concerned because I don’t wish to highly under cut myself! Thank you I would really appreciate your help as this is my first cook book.

    • Reply Rachel April 5, 2018 at 4:45 am

      Hey Bonnie, yes it is hard to get all the details as sometimes the client doesn’t know either. I would create a package rate that includes xx amount of days, and any more days would be charged at xx. You can discount for more days, but you still need to make it worth your while.

  • Reply Anjo May 23, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    Hi Rachel, thank you for this valuable information! I am from Melbourne as well by the way!

    Just a question, if you are to charge a full day package for a restaurant for example, do you separate the creative fee, licensing fee and the full day shoot fee?

    • Reply Rachel July 2, 2018 at 2:36 am

      Hi Anjo, there are many ways you can do it. Some clients like a breakdown others don’t like to see they are being charged for different aspects. Unfortunately you’ll have to test and find out what works for your business.

  • Reply Binil Kariat June 30, 2018 at 5:43 am

    Hi Rachel,
    Myself Binil Kariat from India. Thank you for sharing this valuable information for the World.
    This will actually give you the right direction.
    God bless you.

    • Reply Rachel July 2, 2018 at 2:54 am

      Thanks for stopping by.

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