How to price a photograph so you can live the dream

If you’re like many of us, you want to live the dream.

price a photograph

We’re all trying to make a living as a professional photographer. The easy and fun part is creating the photographs. The tough part is figuring out how the heck to make a living!

Today, I thought I would break down how to figure out your minimum price for selling a photographic print.

Step one:

Add up all the time it takes to create a finished product. Here’s an example:

Retouching: 30 minutes

Ordering: 5 minutes

Un-packaging: 5 minutes

Gift Wrapping: 15 minutes

Total: 55 minutes

Step two:

Take the number of minutes you added up and then divide by 60.

Then multiply that number by your hourly billing rate. If you don’t know what that is – this post will help you figure it out. I’ll use the rate from that post for this example:

55 min/60 = .91

.91 x $97.65= $88.86

This number is a great number to know, because regardless of the size or type of product, you need to be charging this for every product you offer. Now you can see why you can’t be selling anything for $20! (Your numbers will be different of course!)

Step three:

Add up all of your hard costs associated with the product. Be sure to add in all of your finishing costs, like mounting, laminating, framing etc. For this example let’s pretend it is a 30 inch canvas on 1.5 inch stretcher bars.


So far, we have our hard costs of $225 + our time which was $88.86. Total so far: $313.86

Step four:

Use the pixel cents formula* to calculate the value of your intellectual property. If you haven’t seen the formula before, it looks like this:

$ = CPP x PX 


$ is the price

CPP is the cents per pixel you assign to the image

PX is the length of the image in pixels (30 inches x 300 dpi = 9000px)

I’m going to use a CPP value of ten cents per pixel. But of course, you can experiment with your own CPP value until you find one that is right for your experience.

So here is what is calculates out to:

$ = .10 x 9000

= $900

Step five:

Add it all up!

Time: $88.86

Hard Costs: $225

Intellectual Property: $900

My minimum fee for a 30″ canvas = $1213.86

And there you go! All figured out!


Now – If this part of your business is super overwhelming for you – don’t worry, you’re not alone! We are just putting the finishing touches on an on-line course for you! You’ll be learning:

how to figure out your cost of doing business,

how to figure out your spending budget for the year,

how to figure out your personal hourly rate

how to price and develop your product line

how to apply all of this in the sales room

This class is perfect for anyone needing a refresher on their numbers or for those who are switching from shootn’burnin’ (SNB) to in-person sales (IPS)





* Before the Pixel Cents formula was invented, it was recommended that you multiply your hard costs by 4 to get your retail price. The challenge of this formula was that when digital files came to be a product, there was no hard cost to mark up. Not to mention, that we were assigning value to our work based on our vendor prices – as opposed to the quality of imagery created. The pixel cents formula allows the photographer to choose a CPP rate based on their experience in the industry, the quality of their work and their local market.


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