“Ah-ha! So, we’ve established my proposal as sound in principle. Now, we’re just haggling over price.”

Captain Jack Sparrow 

The question of all questions. “How much should I charge?” The answer is quite simple. Anything you want to. South Africa is a free market system based on willing buyer/willing seller. You can ask any price you want to and if your client is prepared to pay it, you have a deal. There are no prescribed rates for photography.

The true value of photography is not in how much you charge per day, it’s in owning the intellectual property to your work empowering you to sell license for use thereof. Your day rate must make financial sense, in that it must be financially viable, but the danger with day rates is that you are selling time. When you’re not shooting you’re not earning. Selling the license for use of your work means that your images are working for you, even if you’re not shooting.

So the big question should actually be, “How much should I charge in order to have a financially viable and sustainable career as a professional photographer?”


The calculation of your overheads is a basic business costing. It is essential to do this in order to determine how much you should charge, in order to have a financially viable and sustainable career.

A financially viable and sustainable career means a career in which you earn enough money in order to:

  • draw a salary every month
  • afford medical insurance and retirement provision
  • pay your bills when they are due
  • take paid annual and sick leave
  • purchase and maintain the required equipment
  • make a profit (return on your investment)


  1. First, calculate your total business overheads.
  2. Then determine what salary, with benefits, you would like to earn (gross, before tax).
  3. Add your profit margin to this and divide by the REALISTIC average number of shoot days per month you anticipate.
  4. This figure is the MINIMUM you should charge per day in order to run a financially viable business.


For further information you can purchase ‘EXPOSED – The Business of Photography’ by Deryck van Steenderen, published by Verse Creative.

Exposed was written specifically for the South African professional photography market. To order your copy please e mail or purchase it from one of our stockists:


CAPE TOWN :  Cameraland 68 Long street, Cape Town

JOHANNESBURG :  Home of Photo Shop G46, Brightwater Commons, Republic Road, Randburg, Johannesburg

PRETORIA :  Outdoor Photo (ODP) c/o January Masilela & Garsfontein road, Menlyn, Pretoria, GP 0181

STELLENBOSCH :  Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography, 41 Tegno Road, Techno Park, Stellenbosch

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