Skip to content

When Do Photographers Usually Receive Payment?

  • by
cost of wedding photography

The style of photography you do and the business model you employ all influence how you answer this question. However, in general, you should require payment upfront as much as possible.

This is a fantastic start, but in order to run their business successfully, many photographers need to understand why this approach works and how to adapt it based on their own needs. So let’s go through some details, starting with the major blunder that many photographers make…

What Is the Difference Between a Deposit and a Session Fee?

The most common blunder made by photographers is this. You should get a charge upfront to keep the date, regardless of the sort of shoot you’re doing. BUT, because in many states a “deposit” is always refundable, this does not qualify as a deposit.

Instead, you are demanding a fee to keep the date they choose. You will be paid money in exchange for agreeing not to promote the date to others. To allow someone to use your time slot, you must give up alternative business prospects. That has an economic value to you, and you should be compensated for giving it up.

This is a mutually agreed-upon trade of value, as defined in contract law. It isn’t simply a deposit paid for services that haven’t been rendered yet. If you don’t know how to discover this information, consult an attorney or study the laws in your state or country.

You must also note that this agreement is non-refundable when you make a reservation. Most importantly, you should state this in your customer contract. In most (maybe all) cases, no matter what the law says about deposits, you can make it clear in the contract that the first fee is non-refundable. This is a mutually agreed upon suspension of your advertising for a certain day. 

You are certainly free to increase the client-friendly terms if you believe they will assist your company. It’s typical to see provisions that allow for a fee to be refunded (or partially refunded) if the customer cancels early enough (usually specified in the contract as a certain date or a certain amount of time before the shoot date). You merely want to make sure that length of time is sufficient for you to finish filling in another shoot date so you can keep your business functioning.

Wedding/Event Photographers

Wedding and event photographers are hired to photograph an occasion (and frequently some on-site portrait shooting). As a result, your payment plan must take this into account.

You’ll almost certainly require payment in advance for a wedding or celebration. There are several causes for that.

  • Holding The Date

Weddings and other events are generally scheduled far ahead of time.

  • Expenses Covered

You’ll have to cover the costs of an event or wedding, so you’ll need to keep track of them.

  • Client Commitment

This is a mistake that many individuals make when it comes to prepayment. You don’t have a shoot booked until you have money in your hands.

Portrait Photographers

The flexibility of the portrait genre allows you to be extremely inventive with your business model and marketing since a portrait shoot is not usually time or money-intensive (there are concessions).

For a portrait session, you should definitely include a “session charge” that must be paid in full before reservations are made.

Depending on how you operate your firm, the first fee will differ.

Digital Delivery Business Model

Do you just give your client the digital files from the image and expect them to do everything? We’re not talking about that.

If you’re providing the client with all of the digital images, you should charge a much greater session rate than if you were selling prints (more on that below). You may split it up into a booking fee and a final payment that must be paid before delivery, or have them pay it all at once.

The most important question is how much you need per session to be fairly compensated for the time you spent shooting and editing. That should be your session.