What You Need to Know About Photography Business Models

© Nicole Bradshaw Photography 2018; What You Need to Know About PHotography Business Models; Albuquerque, New Mexico Wedding Photographer, Photography Business Models, Hiring a Photographer, Types of Photographers, Southwest Wedding Photographer

I was recently watching a masterclass for photographers, and the speaker- another photographer by the name of Matt Kennedy- was teaching about pricing and business models for photographers. I realized right off that there is A LOT of confusion about business models for photographers, not only among photographers, but for our clients as well! If we can't event figure out what business model we follow, how can we explain it to y'all?! Well, I'm going to try to clear up some of the confusion for you.

There are essentially 3 business models that photographers use: 1.) Shoot-n-Burn; 2.) Shoot-n-Share; 3.) Shoot-n-Sell. I'll outline the differences and similarities shortly, but the reason that you need to know is because this affects the pricing model the photographer uses, and therefore, the prices that you pay as well as the quality of photos and service that you'll receive.


This photographer does nothing except show up, take photos, burn them onto a CD, and give it to you. S/He does not edit your photos, and may not even know how to do so. Often, they won't know how to pose you, what moments need to be captured, or even how to actually do their job. Their pricing is usually extremely low- mainly because they're looking to make a quick few dollars and think that photography is an easy way to do it.

Shoot-n-Share (This is my model!)

This photographer is much more professional- S/he shows up, knows how to do their job accurately, quickly, and with grace and compassion. S/he will edit all of the best photos and send you all of them through an online gallery system so that you can download them and use them for yourself, as well as share them with friends and family. Their pricing is usually the highest of the three, upfront, because you pay for everything in one customized collection. There are no surprises at the end, with these guys.


This photographer uses terms like 'sitting fee', or 'creation fee'. What that means is that they are going to charge you a fee to show up, and usually it's a pretty low fee. But, that's all they're going to do: show up and capture images for you. After your portrait session or wedding, you'll meet with them again to select the images that you'd like to have and the products (i.e. prints, canvases, and albums) you want. Often, this is where clients experience a shock, because these photographers make up for their low fees with the prices of their products. Their products are priced in such a way that they sometimes seem unrealistic, and often you are required to spend a certain amount of money. Many talented photographers use this model, but it can be deceiving for clients. 

So, how can you figure out which model the photographer you're considering uses? Simple! Ask a few basic questions:

  • Do you charge a sitting or creation fee? If no, you can eliminate the Shoot-n-Sell model.

  • Do you edit my photos? If yes, you can eliminate the Shoot-n-Burn model.

  • Are the digital image files included in my collection? If yes, they're probably a Shoot-n-Share photographer.

Always be sure you clearly understand what your collection includes, as well as what it doesn't. Understand what you're paying for, and if you get a bad feeling about someone, don't sign with them.