The Ins and Outs of Professional Photography Pricing

The Ins and Outs of Professional Photography Pricing

One of the most frequent questions new clients ask us is, how much do professional photos cost? While the quoted cost for a photoshoot may be more than you initially expected, knowing what factors into the cost of different photo options/packages will help you understand why professional photographers are not charging $30-50 an hour.

So, how much do professional photos cost?

On average, professional photographers charge in the range of $100-300 an hour. However, very well-known or award-winning photographers may charge a lot more.

While some people think a few hundred dollars for an hour of work is a lot, you have to consider all the additional costs that the photographer is taking on. Photography equipment, business insurance, taxes, studio fees, wear and tear on the photographer’s vehicle, and other expenses add up.

In addition, it’s important to remember that the time during the photoshoot is not the only work time a photographer has per job. Before the shoot, a good photographer will take the time to get to know what you want during an initial consultation, and will scope out potential shoot locations to find the right fit. 

After a shoot is finished, a professional photographer needs to devote time to edit and deliver the finished photos. You likely don’t want unedited photos from your shoot, so it’s important to remember that editing time adds up quickly and shouldn’t be rushed.

What’s the difference between by the hour and by the package photography pricing?

For most photoshoots, an hour is sufficient time to get a good selection of photos. For graduations, senior portraits, engagements, birthdays, and other occasions, we typically recommend a one or two hour studio or outdoor photography session. However, certain special occasions, such as weddings and other large events that last for several hours, are generally priced by the package. 

A lot of wedding photography packages include pictures at both the ceremony and the reception, as well as many shots in between. This is a big time commitment, both during the big day and afterwards while editing photos. On average, a 6-hour wedding package that includes one photographer will cost $1,000-$3,000. Package prices of course will vary based on what is included. For example, a package that includes a second photographer will cost more than that average price.

Are there additional fees beyond an hourly or package photography price?

During your initial photography consultation, your wedding or event photographer will go over all of the different package options that they offer. Some may offer add-ons such as videography, drone photography, multiple photographers, or photo booth services.

Before discussing these services with your photographer, think about what your budget is. If these additional services go beyond your budget, you may not want to sign up for any extras. Make sure that your photographer communicates everything, including pricing, via a contract. That way, you can ensure you know exactly how much your photography session will cost, and can start saving for it.

So, why not hire a student or amateur photographer to save money?

In photography, there’s a big difference between amateurs and professionals. When you hire a professional, you can relax knowing that all of the details, both major and minor, will be taken care of. Your professional photographer will come prepared with the appropriate equipment, attitude, and skills to get the job done right. A professional photographer will also stick to what was agreed upon when you signed the contract, so you’ll know what to expect from your photography session. 

An amateur photographer, on the other hand, may not be as reliable. They may change the price, forget certain equipment, or even fail to show up. They may take a long time to get photos back to you or may deliver edited photos that are not appealing. This is not to say that all amateur photographers are unreliable. But hiring a professional is more of a guarantee that you will be getting what you signed up for.

Ultimately, the decision is yours about what amount of money you are comfortable spending for photos. But keep in mind that the quality and experience can vary tremendously between amateur and professional photographers.


At Airavata Studios, we’re ready to help make your next photoshoot a success. From Detroit to Ann Arbor, our team of professional photographers specializes in engagement, wedding, family, and event photography. From the initial consultation to the moment that the final photos are delivered to your inbox, we aim to make your wedding and event photography experience as smooth and stress-free as possible. Although we currently provide our photography services in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas, we are always willing to travel to make your Michigan photography experience memorable.