Why it is Simple to make Money as a Photographer

This is a question that I am sure many of you ask, is it worth pursuing photography as a career. The short answer is yes, but, like everything in life, this will depend on how much you persevere. The second question you need to ask yourself is if you are passionate about photography.  The secret to any success story is to follow your bliss and enter into a career that you love, going to a job that you want to do every day. Soon as you get bored, the faith you had in being successful dies.

Once you are on top of this and clear as believing that photography has your name on it, you are almost there to determine your salary. Photographers generally specialize is a specific genre, like weddings or lifestyle, to mention only two, but there are many different areas to discover. There is nothing wrong with being more open and commercial, where you specialize in a variety of photography services.

There are advantages to both options. The more specialized, the bigger the impact you can make on a particular market, and inevitably become the best in this field. This will mean charging professional and competitive rates for your services in this class.

There are different rates that photographers charge for different types of photography. And again, the rates a professional charge, will be different to someone starting out. For someone starting out, one requires a network of people in your field from service providers, such as make-up artists and stylists, to a database of clients and a handful of positive reviews. Besides you being your own “brand ambassador” to sell yourself, you will need to build and impressive portfolio of your work. No stress, when you are doing something you love, this happens fast and in no time, you are in the fast lane competing for work with other professional photographers in your field.


So, what do Professional Photographers charge in South Africa?

Firstly, never undersell your worth, or, you won’t feel worthy… so clear and simple. It is not about what other photographers are charging, but rather what you believe that you are worth to the client and what you are able to deliver at the end of the day. Many jobs will require a set fee for the job, while other briefs are charged out at an hourly rate due to their nature and client requirements. A general hourly rate for a professional photographer ranges from R1 000.00, and this is just for the photography, excluding all travel costs, editing and the hiring of specialized gear, if necessary. Editing will depend on the hours and the brief, and normally is charged out at an hourly rate of R500.00. This again, will vary according to the brief and the photographer.

For those assignments that require a set fee, be sure to read the small print as clients often attempt to reduce the hourly rate due to volume of hours they are requesting you work. Make sure the brief and the requirements are clear and transparent, it will be in your interest at the end of the day. Yes, be negotiable, but not silly, and make sure that you hold your worth. There will always be someone who is charging less just to get the job, and again, someone charging more, so believe in yourself and make that good and confident impression when you are presenting the pitch. This is the only recipe to build ongoing and new client relationships. In this country, as we are all aware, service is rare, so start by being professional and deliver on time, this is something clients remember and respect.


Finally, remember always, what you put in, is what you will get out. Love what you do and the money will follow.