How much does portrait photography cost?
Portrait photography, also known as portraiture, is one of the most popular forms of photography! It captures the essence of a person, allowing their personality and emotion to shine through. Good portrait requires a skilled portrait photographer who knows just how to convey the right amount of emotion and personality in a portrait while combining the right amount of lighting and angles to allow the portrait to tell a story. In the UK, the average starting cost for a portrait photographer is £150. There are a range of factors that can affect the price that you will pay. This guide will take a look at portrait photographers’ approaches to help you determine exactly what you require so you can make the best decision in regards to a portrait photographer.
|Minimum You Should Pay||£115|
|Maximum You Should Pay||Project Dependent|
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What is Portrait Photography?
The main purpose of portrait photography is to capture the facial expressions of the person being photographed. While most emphasis will be placed on the face, it does not mean that portrait photography cannot include any other scenery or background, instead scenery, backgrounds and the rest of the body can be used to complement the face, but the face should remain the focal feature. Many people incorrectly assume that portrait photography is a head-on photograph of a person; headshots do capture that, for the most part, but portrait photography includes the person being positioned a certain way and a still photograph is taken from a specific angle to capture that.
Previously, portrait photography included the person looking directly into the lens of the camera, however, some photographers have got a bit more creative and take a portrait photo from an angle so that the person is not looking directly at the camera, making it a bit more of a candid shot. It is a good idea to consider which you would prefer and discuss that with your photographer; you may even want a combination of the two. A key characteristic of portrait photography is that it is rehearsed and planned, so candid photography is not actually classed as portrait photography.
Uses of Portrait Photography
Portrait photography is typically used for personal reasons or to help provoke emotion within an audience, whether to help promote a product or introduce a brand. For the latter, you will want to know who your audience are to help set the scene for the portrait photos you plan to take. Some uses of portrait photography are much more simple, whereas others can be quite complex and may be used in a part of a campaign or editorial; here are some common uses:
- Business cards
- Employee identification cards
- Newborn shoots
- Family portraits
- Graduation shots
- Engagement portraits
- Wedding portraits (find out more about wedding photography prices)
- Passport photos
- Commemorate a milestone
- Boudoir shots
In addition to photographing, your photographer will also edit your photos to a certain extent to make sure they are high-quality and impressive. With portrait shoots it generally takes a photographer about a week or so to turn your images around. Some photographers will offer a sneak peek of a few images to tide you over until all of the images are ready.
Approaches to Portraiture
Portrait photography is a very broad sector of photography and there are so many approaches that can be found. Not all approaches will be suitable, but it is a good idea to consider each approach to decide which will accurately allow you to be the main focus and connect with your personality. Let’s take a look and what’s available:
The traditional approach seeks to display the subject as they are, so you will notice these shots normally always include them looking directly into the camera and are usually just of their head and shoulders, but sometimes two-thirds of the body. The traditional approach does tend to be a headshot and the camera remains level with the person being photographed; strong eye-contact is key in this approach, whereas poses are not typical of this approach.
This approach seeks to create an ambience and develop emotion. This ambience can be set with certain lighting and backdrops while expressing emotion with certain facial expressions and the way in which a person is posed. For example, a soon-to-be mother may have a portraiture of her cradling her stomach while looking down at it to display love and a feeling of waiting and excitement; light and airy backdrops may be used to help create the ambience required. On the other hand, for a more serious shot, the photographer may use darker backdrops, or even those that are more minimal, and will direct the person to stare directly into the lens of the camera.
While we did mention that candid shots are not classed as portrait photography, that, of course, does not mean portrait photography cannot capture candid shots. Depending on the purpose of the portrait shots, you may require more of a candid approach. The purpose of candid shots is to capture a person who believes the photographer is not at work; while these shots may appear as though they are not posed or rehearsed, they actually are, the majority of the time. The photographer will run through certain poses, actions and facial expressions, so the subject can act a range of these out, but the only thing the subject will not know is when the shot will actually be taken, which is what makes them candid.
With the environmental approach, a photographer will incorporate backdrops or surroundings that pair with the subject’s personality or profession to help tell a story. For example, if someone is a groomer, they may be photographed as they groom a pet; alternatively, if someone is a therapist, they may be photographed seated in a chair with a pad and pen and an empty sofa opposite them.
With the glamour approach, the subject will be styled in such a way that they are captivating and perhaps even shows off a sensual side of themselves to create an air of romance, or even sex appeal. A form of portrait photography that is related to the glamour approach is boudoir photography, which has become much more popular over recent years; boudoir photography allows a woman to celebrate her body and who she is, many women take these kinds of photos for their partners.
The lifestyle approach combines two approaches into one - both environmental and candid. Unlike most other approaches which focus mainly on the person, the lifestyle approach seeks to show the way a person lives their life. Most lifestyle shots are posed and usually include props to help set the lifestyle one is hoping to convey; lifestyle shoots are highly popular in commercial photography and even wedding and family portraits. Some people argue that the lifestyle approach is not truly portrait photography as it tends to include props to help set the scene. However, portrait photography is evolving and this kind of shoot can be meaningful.
The creative approach allows a photographer to get super creative, and does not always include the subject’s face! This approach Includes surreal, conceptual, close-up and abstract shots. This kind of approach is typically used more in fine art photography or even high-end campaigns where ambiguity is key. This approach is quite a deviation from the main purpose of portrait photography, but nonetheless, can be popular with some people depending on the purpose of the shoot.
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Factors That Affect The Price of Portrait Photography
Number of Shots
The number of shots you require will dictate the amount of time your photographer is shooting. On average, most portrait photography shoots last anywhere between 90-120 minutes and you can expect to receive anywhere between 20-40 images. Of course, these are just general guidelines, so if you require more images than the average it is a good idea to speak to your photographer to get an accurate idea of how much it will cost and how many photos they typically offer with a standard shoot.
Some photographers who specialise in headshots do understand that you perhaps do not need as many as 20-40 images, so you will find some photographers that offer set packages for a lower number of images and less shooting time.
Format of Photos
The format you require the photos will be based on how you intend to use them. If you have done a family portrait shoot, you may prefer printed copies so that you can create an album; printed copies do cost more. Alternatively, it may be easier for you to receive digital copies so that you can upload them online or move them onto a CD or USB.
Depending on the approach to portrait photography that you take, some shoots may take a little longer, especially if styling and setting the scene is required. 90-120 minutes is just the average guideline for the time a shoot will take, but wedding portrait photos and large family gatherings could take longer. Photographers generally price their portrait shoots in one of two ways - either a set number of images or per hour.
If you have a particular approach in mind, it is best to search for a skilled photographer who does specialise in that approach. The more experience a photographer has, the more you can expect to pay. As with most things in life, you do get what you pay for on most occasions; so, limiting your budget when it comes to portrait photography can result in sub-par photos that won’t help your brand, if being used for commercial purposes, or leave you and your family feeling disappointed if you had a generational family shoot done.
Before settling for any photographer you should always browse their portfolio to see the styles they generally put forward to ensure that is what you are wanting. Reading reviews and testimonials is a great way to learn a bit more about the photographer and their demeanor as they work and how communicative they are during the shoot.
There are so many locations that can be used for portrait photography, whether you go to a photographer’s studio, or choose a indoor or outdoor location of your choice. Of course, if you choose a location other than their studio, you may have to cover travel expenses. It is a good idea to speak to your photographer if you do wish to meet at your location to find out how much they charge for travelling. If you are stuck for ideas of outdoor locations, your photographer will normally be able to advise some great ideas.
London photographers will always charge more than those in smaller, more remote locations; if you do live outside of London it is always advised that you look for a local photographer first as you can find highly experienced photographers at a fraction of the price.
Portrait photography is much more flexible than other types of photography as there are so many different approaches that will allow you to capture exactly who you are, so you can express your personality. Portrait photography can be used in so many ways, from corporate shots to family gatherings to something more sensual for your partner. The key to capturing excellent portrait photos is with a skilled photographer who will have an understanding of the approach you want to take and how to incorporate lighting and props as necessary to help set the scene.