A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Branding Photography Pricing

Deciding how—and how much—to reinvest back into your small business is no small feat. After drowning in hundreds of different platform subscriptions and fruitlessly experimenting with paid advertising, investing in yet another marketing tactic can easily slip lower on the “nice to haves” list.

Over the last decade (and hundreds of photoshoots later), I’ve realized many small business owners see investing in personal branding photography as a catch-22.

Small Business Milestone celebration photoshoot for Beauty Co. in North Carolina | Sara Coffin Photograpy
Small Business Milestone celebration photoshoot for Beauty Co. in North Carolina | Sara Coffin Photograpy

They know they need to invest time and money into visual storytelling for their brand. At the same time, they’ve convinced themselves that it’s a luxury they can’t attain without a certain number of clients or income. 

The truth is, budgeting for professional photography for your brand or small business is an investment that truly pays dividends in the long run.

Business owners and brands that have successfully invested in a personal branding photography strategy see clear returns through increased brand awareness, engagement, and credibility building.

In this post, I’ll demystify branding photography pricing by exploring the various pricing structures commonly used in the industry and how to make an informed decision based on your unique business goals.

What is branding photography?

Branding photography helps you establish a strong and consistent visual identity that resonates with your ideal clients. It allows you to showcase your products or services in a way that captures attention, evokes emotions, and builds trust. 

Personal branding photography focuses primarily on people and portraits. A branding photographer will collaborate with you to understand your brand’s personality, target audience, and key messages. This collaborative process ensures that the final imagery effectively communicates your brand’s unique story.

Close up image of kids clothing at Dalhouse

Galleries may include product photos, headshots, team photos, individual and group lifestyle portraits, custom stock images, and interior photos for social media and web.

Read: When Should You Hire a Luxury Branding Photographer?

Investing in branding photography can effectively set you apart from your competitors. By creating a unique and recognizable visual style, you can make a lasting impression on potential customers and increase brand recognition.

The Importance of Visual Storytelling Through Branding Photography 

I’ve seen people run highly successful businesses without a website to speak of or even a logo design. Not that I recommend skipping either of these important steps when forming your visual brand identity. But in this day and age, photography and video are two of the quickest and most effective methods of reaching your target audience and converting them into loyal followers and buyers.

Woman in purple golf dress and tortoise sunglasses lays on golf course

The bottom line: If customers can’t easily see and relate to WHO they’re buying from, they’re going to be less likely to bite, even when you have a really well-crafted offer.

Think about anyone you know, like, and trust on social media. They might be a celebrity, influencer, or fellow small business owner. If they have a highly consistent visual identity, a cohesive brand voice, and a compelling story to tell, you probably give more time and attention to what they share via email marketing or on their social media.

Imagine how your business would transform if you built luxe, high-end imagery that consistently and seamlessly communicated your brand story into your marketing strategy. More on that in a minute.

Planning and Budgeting for A Branding Photoshoot

The US Small Business Administration recommends spending around 8% of your total revenue on marketing if your business names under $5 million (source: Databox). It’s important to look at your marketing spend as a percentage of your gross revenue so you’re not overspending or leaving money on the table.

Photographer reviewing photos with client during personal branding photoshoot in luxury photography studio

I can’t stress enough how important it is to work with a photographer who gets it. They understand your vision, the type of clientele you want to attract, and how you want to be perceived in the market. To get the most out of your investment, spend time researching photographers who fit your style and plan an honest conversation about their working style and process.

Read: 5 Step Branding Photoshoot Checklist By A Luxury Photographer

“Not only is Sara’s work stunning, but she invests deeply in her clients – in their vision, business goals, and emotional well-being. She balances the creative direction that a business needs with the emotional work of making you feel comfortable so well. You can tell that she wants to get to know you as a person – and through that, she makes you feel seen both during your session and in the final product.”

Carly Rae

Factors That Affect Branding Photography Pricing

When it comes to pricing, branding photographers take various factors into account. Understanding these factors will help you assess the value and determine the right budget for your branding photography project.

Photographer taking photos of client for personal branding photoshoot

1. Photographer’s Experience: The experience and expertise of the photographer play a significant role in pricing. Seasoned photographers with a proven track record may charge higher rates due to their expertise and reputation.

Living room design and decor by Sweet Southern Home & Design Photographed by Interior Photographer Sara Coffin Photo

2. Location: The location of the shoot can also impact the pricing. Your photographer should help you decide whether an on-location or in-studio photoshoot makes more sense for your session. If the shoot requires venue or studio rentals, travel, or shooting in multiple locations, additional charges may apply.

Woman holding camera standing in front of inspiration photos taped to wall inside luxury photography studio

3. Scope of the Project: The complexity and scale of your branding photography project will influence the pricing. Factors such as the number of images required, the duration of the shoot, and the level of post-production work involved can impact the overall cost.

Wooden bench holding velvet pillow sitting on a wooden floor against a slate gray backdrop | Small Business Product Photography by Sara Coffin Photography

4. Rights and Usage: Consider how you plan to use the photographs. If you require exclusive rights or plan to use the images for commercial purposes, additional licensing fees may apply. Understanding the usage rights upfront will help avoid any unexpected costs.

Photographer reviewing inspiration photos for branding photoshoot with client

5. Additional Services: Some photographers offer additional services such as styling, art direction, content creation, or location scouting. These services can add value to your project but may also increase the overall cost.

It’s important to discuss these factors before starting your project to ensure transparency and a clear understanding of the pricing structure.

Branding Photography Pricing Models

Pricing models vary widely among photographers in this niche. Understanding these models will help you choose the one that aligns with your budget and goals.

1. Hourly Rate: Some photographers charge an hourly rate for their services. This model is suitable for smaller projects or when you don’t require a large number of images. It provides flexibility in terms of time and budget.

Event photography is a good example of when this pricing model is typically used. I use an hourly pricing model (including time and images) for events to keep things simple and straightforward. Clients often use these images to supplement their more “curated” branding sessions.

2. Package Pricing: Many photographers, including myself, offer pre-defined packages that include specific services and deliverables. These packages often provide a more comprehensive solution, including a set number of images, post-production work, and usage rights. I prefer packaged pricing to give all my clients a clear idea of what they’re getting.

3. Licensing Fees: In some cases, photographers charge a licensing fee for the usage rights of the images. This model is common when the photographs will be used for commercial purposes or require exclusive rights. Licensing fees can vary depending on the intended usage and duration of rights.

Clothing rack holds pastel and black colored athletic golf clothes | Branding photography for Harlow Sport

It’s important to discuss these pricing models with potential photographers and understand what each package includes. This will help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs and budget.

Brand Photography Packages: What’s Included?

If you’re new to branding photography, my base branding photography package includes everything you need to get started.

Base Package (Minimum Investment) 

  • (1) hour photography session 
  • (20) hi-resolution, retouched digital images
  • Print/marketing rights in perpetuity (Copyright retained by studio)
  • Online gallery for image proofing, delivery, archival
  • Travel up to 1/hr from provider’s location

This base session is ideal for: 

  • 1-2 people for personal brand OR team of 10 or less for headshots
  • (1) location
  • 1-2 outfit changes (depending on session goals; will advise during consult)
  • Small business personal branding or headshot sessions

Branding Session Add-ons: 

  • BTS video content creation
  • Additional hours and images (for sessions with larger groups/larger scope)
  • Commercial licensing fee for evergreen content like products/ecomm images
Woman wearing a white blazer and jeans sits on a white tufted couch | Personal branding photoshoot for realtor Marianne Mansour
Woman in a long sleeved pink paisley dress sits on a carpet covered wood staircase | Personal branding photoshoot for realtor Marianne Mansour

Submit an Inquiry To Chat About Your Session!

Okay, this is the part where we talk about the consistent strategy I alluded to earlier. For more established brands with a higher monthly marketing spend, I recommend investing in recurring branding photography sessions to capture special events, multiple team members, and product photography. Using the same photographer will massively improve the quality and consistency of your visual identity online and elevate the overall look and feel of your brand. 

Check out my ongoing partnerships with Clara Dermatology and The Vision Studio for some clear examples of this.

My year-long Partnerships package is for business owners looking to take their brand to the next level. 

Woman in a teal blue dress sits on a couch
Woman in a pink eyelet lace midi dress leans against a wall holding floating shelves of skincare products at Clara Dermatology office in Cary NC

Partnerships Package (Premium investment)

  • Comprehensive initial planning call + thorough follow-up email.
  • Quarterly touch-base emails + detailed shot lists for each session.
  • (2), 1/hour sessions (1 session/quarter between Q2 – Q4).
  • Final image selection via online proofing gallery
  • (30) hi-resolution, retouched digital images per session & priority image delivery – 10-day turnaround (or faster!)
  • Instagram audit with social media strategy guru, Shannon McKinstrie!
  • Dedicated content creator for both sessions.
  • Raw BTS iPhone footage delivered, organized, and archived via Dropbox.
  • Travel up to 1/hr from Sanford, NC. 

Send me an email to get on my Partnership Client Waitlist: saracoffinphoto@gmail.com

Questions to ask when hiring a branding photographer

Finding the right branding photographer is absolutely crucial for the success of your project. Here are some steps to help you find the perfect fit:

  1. Research: Start by researching branding photographers in your immediate area (or even regionally!) who specialize in your industry. Look for portfolios that align with your aesthetic and brand vision. 
  2. Check Reviews and Testimonials: Read reviews and testimonials from past clients to get an idea of the photographer’s professionalism, reliability, and quality of work.
  3. Interview Potential Photographers: Schedule meetings or calls with potential photographers to discuss your project, ask questions, and assess their understanding of your brand.
  4. Review Portfolios: Request to see full galleries or portfolios of past projects to evaluate the photographer’s style, consistency, and ability to capture your vision.
  5. Discuss Pricing and Packages: Have a transparent conversation about pricing, packages, and any additional costs to ensure it aligns with your budget and requirements.
  6. Evaluate Communication and Collaboration: Assess how well you communicate and collaborate with potential photographers. A strong working relationship is essential for a successful project.

Several years ago, I traveled to Charleston to shoot personal branding photos for another photographer. Michelle and I clicked right from the start, and the outcome of her session was pure magic. She recently reached out to me to inquire about new branding images so she could plan ahead and build travel expenses into her budget.

“Literally you are the best photographer, and I wish you were in Charleston!!!! I need new photos, and I love what you did for me last time. I still use them! … Even if you don’t make a trip for other [photoshoots], I may end up just booking you anyways for 2024.

Michelle Fiorello, Visionbalm

The style I’ve honed over the years naturally has an evergreen aspect to it, which keeps photos polished and fresh so they don’t look dated. I shot branding images for an esthetician client who has since used her photos for years to promote her business and get new clients. They’re still working for her after all this time!

At the end of the day, the question is not whether you can afford to invest in branding photography; it’s whether you can afford not to. Branding photography pricing can feel overwhelming, but once you get clear about your business goals and marketing budget, you’ll find it’s a luxury you won’t want to do business without! If we get the chance to work together, I promise to make your time in front of my camera a fun and ultimately rewarding experience.  If your brand could benefit from luxury personal branding photography that resonates with your dream clients, let’s chat here. Check out more work from my brand and commercial portfolios here.

A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Branding Photography Pricing

read more