Using the per-image pricing model

How to charge accordingly for the creative services you provide

I’ve been at this freelance photography game for over three years now, but I can assure you there’s much still to learn. And as usual, pricing sits right up there with the best of ‘em.

If you’ve come directly to this blog post from Twitter or LinkedIn then chances are you’re also a freelance photographer (or creative person at the very least) with an interest in getting your head around pricing your work. So I hope today’s blog post can be of some use to you and help you take a step closer towards getting paid what you deserve.

Up until recently, I’ve always been the type of photographer who charges by the hour, day, or occasionally project. Most of the time this has worked out quite nicely (some clients I charge my usual rates, and an additional fee based on any extra work that needs doing to the pictures). But then I came across one of Rosh Sillar’s popular blog posts, entitled 197 Business Support Ideas for Photographers. And sitting at No.4 on the list was Consider using the per-image pricing model. 

Now I confess, I knew the pricing model Rosh was talking about, but I hadn’t really considered using it, so I decided to give it a try with my next few private clients who were requesting portraits. 

How’s it working out for me?

So far the outcome has been positive: for example, the most recent scenario has provided me with almost 100 percent extra revenue from my original quote (three black and white images were agreed upon, and the client went on to choose an additional three from the photoshoot) and the one prior to that came down to a little bit of haggling, but still a better outcome for me. The client had a budget to stick to, but was expecting up to 20 edited images for their money. I proposed that the budget would cover just five fully edited images, but they were welcome to purchase extras if they wanted. In the end we tweaked the price a little higher, and I agreed to include an additional three images to edit and send to them. 

The truth is, I don’t mind bartering a bit here and there. I think it shows empathy and understanding (and the ability to listen to your clients’ needs), but it’s important to make fair adjustments for both parties involved. 

So far I haven’t tried this model with any other jobs (weddings, sporting events, etc), but in a way they’re already in place. I tell these clients that they can expect a batch of edited images in high resolution (the kind of job dictates the number I give them) so in a way this is still a per-image system, it’s just that the price per image works out much much lower.

So why not give it a try? It makes sense, because the end result is Quality, not Quantity. It creates an opportunity to spend your time doing a great job working on a handful of images, compared to rushing your way through all of the good ones just to please your client. 

If you do a great job, your client should be pleased anyway.

Sending proofs to clients

Don’t forget, however, that I mentioned selling extras, too. I did this by uploading all of the decent images from the shoot (the ones that weren’t blurry, or where the flash hadn’t fired) to my website and sending the link to my client. 

“Suicide” some of you might be thinking. I know I was the first time I heard of a photographer doing that. But even that has now become a firm part of my workflow. Why spend hours pouring over which pictures to edit, when it’s the client who really knows what they want. Sure, they might take one look and think, these suck, but on the other hand, imagine how impressed (hopefully) they’ll be when they do get to see the final edits. They’ll be amazed at how skilled you are and realise that their money has paid for a great service. 

So there you have it; two brand new models to add to your workflow to make your working life that much easier. Let me know how it goes if you decide to implement either of them. You can connect with me via email at or via Twitter @photomattjames

This blog post originally appeared over at