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You're good at what you do and would probably do it for free if given a chance, but alas, you must be compensated. Getting compensated means you can keep feeding your family and shooting pictures for people in your community. What we have here is what we may refer to as the photographic circle of life.

Establishing payment processes and systems that allow you to service your consumers while maintaining financial performance is essential when running your photography business. Client billing and collection may not be your favourite part of the job, but it is necessary.

Thankfully, in this day and age, you can accept payments in a variety of ways. Whether you're a freelance photographer or a client arranging a picture session, figuring out how to get paid may be a stressful and frustrating experience. This article will discuss the standards the photography industry follows so that consumers and professionals know what to expect when dealing with freelance photographers about payment.

We will focus on the following key issues:

  • What standard payment methods are there? How about wire transfers, cash, or credit cards?
  • There must be a reason for requiring money in advance, right?
  • If there are payments to be made (often a retainer and the remainder of the bill), when will they be due?
  • How can photographers guarantee prompt payment?
  • What should photographers do if a customer refuses to pay?

Photographers typically want a 50% retainer paid before the shoot via cash or bank transfer. The photographer usually gets to decide when the retainer and the rest of the payment are due. Payment in advance is required to reserve a specific advertising time slot and pay for any necessary rental equipment.

The Best Payment Methods For Photographers

Before we get into how you're paid, let's first talk about when you are paid when a client has committed to scheduling you as their service provider.


Initial Retainer 

A retainer fee should be charged to secure a client's scheduled appointment time. Some photographers even forbid you to get your money back if you cancel. This will cut down on last-minute cancellations and keep less severe customers from stealing a day from your packed calendar.

The retainer payment date is flexible and will be determined by the photographer. Usually, We schedule a deadline about a week before they want to begin work on the project, presuming that everything would go off without a hitch on the scheduled filming day.

Nonetheless, as was seen above, the retainer serves the interests of both the photographer and the customer. There will be no closure of the advertising window until the retainer is paid in full. If a customer has opted to work with a photographer, they have a powerful incentive to pay the retainer.

Clients serious about working with you won't hesitate to pay the retainer, and if a client is dragging his feet on the payment, it's probably because he's still on the fence about working with you. Setting a deadline would be pointless if this were the case.

Recurring Payments

Offering a payment plan is a thoughtful gift, especially if you're a wedding photographer or your clients are purchasing a baby milestone package or anything similarly expensive. This way, you can avoid having to come up with a large sum of money all at once. Give some thought to providing flexible payment options for your customers.

Some people might find it more convenient to pay $X weekly for ten weeks, while others would find it more convenient to pay $X monthly, and still, others could find it more convenient to pay $X in four equal instalments spread out over a year. The optimal course of action is the one that benefits both you and the client. You should be well-organised and keep meticulous notes.

There's no need to stress over accommodating customers' requests for a wide variety of subscription lengths and frequency levels. Ultimately, it's best for your photography business if you do what makes you the happiest.

Final Payment

It is a thoughtful gesture to give a payment plan to consumers purchasing an expensive service, such as a wedding photographer's coverage or a newborn's milestone package. As a result, you won't have to come up with hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars all at once. Provide clients with flexible payment options.

You can split your yearly payment into four equal instalments or pay $X per week for ten weeks. Finding a solution that pleases both you and the client is ideal. Just remember the importance of organisation and meticulous record-keeping. If it's too much trouble to support many recurring payment options, that's fine. To succeed in the photography profession, you need to do what is best for you.

What Are Forms Of Payments Usually Accepted?

Bank Transfer

In the world of photography, this is undoubtedly the most common form of payment. Everyone carries a bank card and has access to their bank account. Given the widespread use of digital transfers today, problems with transferring funds between banks are unlikely to arise.

The majority of popular banks now offer convenient ways to make wire transfers using mobile apps and online banking services. However, if that is not an option, you may visit a physical bank branch, which will always be open (old school, but hey, it works).

More and more people are using online banking services like Revolut and Monzo as an alternative to traditional bank wire transfers. To that end, it's lovely if the photographer and the customer use different financial institutions.


Cash is still king when paying a photographer, so that's what most people do. There are, however, a few obstacles to overcome: first, retainers are typically necessary (discussed further below), and second, it is not always possible to meet up in person before the actual shoot.

Most communication for smaller productions takes place online. The procedure kicks off with the customer making contact with the photographer. The consumer agrees to buy a photographic service, and the sales are finalised in a short time, typically over a few emails or DMs.

Even for more significant-scale productions, the photographer may want to meet with the customer in person to discuss his services. However, the client may decide to purchase after giving the matter more attention following the meeting. It is consequently not always possible to pay in person, especially if there is a prepayment requirement. Second, it's inconvenient for the customer to carry around a significant sum of money in cash.

Last but not least, cash transactions provide no documentation. Cash payments can't be followed back to their source the way electronic bank transfers or credit card payments may be, and statements can't be used to prove the cash payment's authenticity.

We don't recommend accepting cash, but we think there are better ways to get paid. The first problem with tracing cash transactions is that they don't leave a paper trace. It's not likely, but a client could falsely assert that they've paid you when they haven't. Second, whether you're a wedding photographer or if you offer more extensive packages, think about how much cash your customer — and you — will be carrying at any one time. Few people can afford hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash today.

The final instalment can be paid in cash without any problems. When money changes hands, it's assumed by both sides that the deal is done and disputes are off the table. However, we do not recommend that photographers take financial retainers.

Credit Cards

When a client's bank currency is different from the photographer's, accepting credit cards is a convenient option.

Tourists staying for a short time may wish to employ a local photographer, while engaged couples may want to hire a photographer from a different nation.

Or, photographers could offer their services to students all over the world through the mail.They set up a print shop here on Squarespace, and you can pay with your credit card or PayPal.

The most excellent choice in these circumstances is the use of a credit card. Online payment gateways typically incorporate PayPal to facilitate a streamlined transaction. This is a great way to save your clients money by avoiding the high costs associated with wire transfers and currency conversions when dealing with foreign banks.

Because of the associated per-transaction fees, credit cards are not typically used for purchases made entirely within a single country. The commission is typically lower than what would otherwise be charged when making an international transfer.

Online Payment

You probably know a lot about the online payment system PayPal. One of the most popular online payment methods has dramatically facilitated the growth of the e-commerce industry. It's wise to accept PayPal as a payment option because many of your customers probably already have an account set up and linked to their bank account. With PayPal, invoicing clients and setting up regular payments is a breeze. Having to pay fees is the main drawback. Payment processing fees for individual accounts are 4.9% plus—30 cents per transaction. If you're paying $500, that's already $25 in fees. Let's pretend PayPal as your principal method of accepting payments. If so, you can reduce your processing fees by upgrading to a Premier or Business Account to 2.9 per cent—thirty cents each transaction. You may instantly accomplish this by logging into your PayPal account or giving PayPal a call.


Customers will likely want to pay you via check or money order rather than electronically. You can avoid fees associated with other online payment options by paying with a check instead. A statement is a convenient payment method since it is easy to use and creates a paper trail for you and the client.

In addition, you might be able to deposit the check remotely using your smartphone and your bank's app. However, an appraisal may bounce if your client does not have enough money in their bank account.

Therefore, a phrase in the contract outlining the procedure to follow in the event of a bad check is essential. If a check bounces, you should add a fee to cover your time and the bank fees you'll incur. If a customer has previously written you a bad review, you may wish to add that they must begin using an alternative form of payment going forwards.

Money Orders

Unlike checks, money orders can't be bounced, although customers may find them inconvenient. The only drawback is that losing a money order is the same as losing cash; you're out of luck.

FAQs About Wedding Photographer

If you are a wedding photographer or booking a baby milestone package or something equally pricey, it is a sweet gesture to provide a payment plan to your clients. This is especially true if the service you provide is expensive.

When this is done, the strain of paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars is alleviated financially. You might want to think about equipping your customers with individualised payment options.

A Guide To Photography Payments

Payment 2

Simplify Your Business Accounting

Business owners need estimated quarterly tax payments to cover their tax obligations (in addition to annual tax filing). However, many business-related expenses, such as studio rent, supplies, and equipment, as well as some mileage, meals, and travel costs, are tax deductible.

However, maintaining tabs on such expenditures manually can be a tedious task.

When you have a formalised payment system, you can easily keep tabs on the goods sold, the customers who made those purchases, the payments received, and the total amount spent on each project. Consider the case where you employ the services of a bookkeeper or an online accounting programme.

If that's the case, many payment processors can sync with your existing software to cut down on data entry and help you spot and correct any accounting mistakes.

Limit Your Liability

A federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) linked to your firm can be applied for and obtained in just a few minutes, enabling you to create a business checking account immediately. Establishing a banking relationship with a financial institution that charges minimal or no fees for services like ATM and online banking use and does not need you to maintain a minimum balance in your account is ideal for a small business.

When comparing different banks, be sure to find out if they provide major credit cards to entrepreneurs (not all do).

More than 65% of all small businesses use credit cards regularly, yet less than 50% of those cards are in the business's name, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Using a personal credit card for company costs is risky since it prevents you from establishing a business credit history, which is a requirement of most conventional lenders for obtaining new lines of credit or loans.

For instance, if your debt-to-credit ratio is too high, as is the case when you use more than 30 per cent of your available credit, you may no longer qualify for the best rates on the credit and mortgage products you rely on.

In the event of an audit by the IRS, your accountant, financial advisor, vendors, or both, having your business money kept separate from your accounts will provide an accurate portrayal of your business income.

Give Customers A Seamless And Secure Purchase Option

You can attract more clients, both in person and online, by letting them pay for your goods and services in whichever way is most convenient for them. Nearly ninety per cent of all online purchases are made with credit cards.

If you run a business online, you need to be able to accept and process customer payments securely and in accordance with PCI standards. While most website providers and even blogs make it simple to include a shopping cart icon on your website, this does not guarantee that you are ready to do so.

It is essential to know whether the processor you are considering acts as a payment gateway, which securely authorises and processes payments for e-commerce websites in tandem with the online shopping cart, or whether you will be responsible for completing the integration between the two systems, which typically entails copying and pasting a bit of provided HTML code into your website. Luckily, many providers of payment processing services also provide consumers with access to technical support to ensure a smooth transaction.

Your chosen payment processor will have requirements and procedures for opening a merchant account. Still, you'll need to give the following information: your business name, address, phone number, EIN, and bank account details.

Waiting a few business days may be necessary if the payment processor needs to verify your company's legitimacy. You may need to conduct a few test transfers to your bank account to ensure that the information you provided is correct before you can begin receiving payment for credit card sales once you have been "approved" as a merchant.

Select Tools That Can Grow Your Business

In addition to equipping you to formalise payments, several payment processors offer small business features that can increase and streamline operations. Consider a point of sale system that may help you implement cost-effective and highly targeted marketing tactics based on a customer's prior purchases and customer loyalty programmes as you investigate various payment processors' products and service plans.

Think about how the various possibilities for taking formal payments could open up new markets to your products or services as you conduct your research. If you sell work or offer your services at events like festivals, trade shows, or concerts, use a payment processor that provides the ability to accept mobile payments by plugging a small “dongle” device (often provided by the payment processor free of charge) into the jack of your smartphone or tablet. It allows you to accept credit cards and process transactions regardless of where you happen to be or whether or not you have access to a printer.

Many processors also allow retailers to download the mobile payment processor capabilities by way of an app so that you and numerous personnel may swiftly and efficiently process consumer payments, eliminating wait periods. If the customer's credit card details are verified at the moment of sale, he or she can "sign" by signing on your smartphone's screen. Sending the customer an electronic or text message receipt serves to finalise the transaction.

Minimise Your Costs

Research the options appropriate for a company of your size based on the number of transactions you expect to make each month, the average value of the transactions, and the location where you wish to make the majority of the transactions (in person or online), as this can significantly impact the best choice of what you pay to use the service.

When comparing payment processors, make sure you know the difference between the quoted rate and the actual rate you'll pay for credit card transactions.

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