Photo Income Estimator

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Photo Business Income Estimator

Fill in or change the figures in the pink boxes to see how much income you will earn as a professional photographer. More advanced readers can also change the yellow boxes to refine the estimate. And if you're keen, there are more notes below the Estimator if you're interested!

Instructions Start Here

You can view the YouTube video here, or scroll down a little further for the written instructions...


Most photographers do a bit of everything, so use this section to enter how many jobs you will do per week and how much you will charge, using the different categories. Some may have zeroes as you don't do this type of work.

These figures will be averages. Some weeks you mightn't work at all, other weeks you could be run off your feet. Similarly, some jobs may be good payers, while others barely cover costs. What we're interested in for the Calculator are rough averages to give you an idea of what you need to aim for.

Change the figures as often as you like to see what happens. Print out a copy if you like!

Your Estimated Annual Income

After entering the number of jobs and your average price for each category, the Calculator will show you your Estimated Annual Income. It's important to realise there are a lot of assumptions behind this figure. These assumptions are based on Peter Eastway's experience as an accountant and photography business adviser. However, even if some of the assumptions are not quite correct, the Calculator will give you a good understanding of what's required to be successful.

How much should your annual income be? That's not for us to say. However, the median wage in Australia is approximately $80,000. Given you're in business for yourself and taking a lot of risk, this would seem to be a minimum aim point. It might not be achievable immediately, of course. This is why you should prepare a business plan so that in, say, three or five years, your photography business is indeed earning you a 'salary' of $80,000 a year or more.

Variable Costs As A % Of Sales

Every job you do has costs. If you charge $1000 for a job, you don't get to keep all of it. You have to pay out the costs of doing the job - such as prints, albums, frames, USB drives, assistants, hire equipment, travel and so on. These are called 'variable costs'. (They are also called Cost of Goods or Cost of Goods Sold.)

This section makes some assumptions about how much you might spend on variable costs. If you only provide digital files to your clients, then your % might be lower than what is used in the Calculator. If you spend a lot on albums, prints and frames, then your % may be higher.

If you're already in business, you can work out your variable costs by looking at last year's figures or tax return. Add up all the variable costs and divide it by your sales - this is your variable cost percentage. However, this is likely to be an average percentage across all your job types, and not correct for, say, weddings. You may need to do some more sums to work our more accurate figures for the different type of work you do.

Adjust The Assumptions

Depending on where you live in the world, these assumptions may need to be changed. Here you can add in or remove costs such as GST or sales tax, how many weeks you won't be working (holidays), new equipment, studio or office rent (if any - some photographers work at home), and staffing costs.

As your business grows and you add in more jobs per week to earn a better income, you may find you also need to hire people to help you or move out of home into business premises. This can have a big impact on your net income.

Overhead or Fixed Costs

As businesses grow, you end up with more and more overheads. We've included some simple percentages to calculate these figures and we accept they may not be exactly right. We are planning to produce a second version of this calculator where you can enter in all your overheads separately, but in the meantime, please accept these figures for what they are.

The purpose of this spreadsheet is to show people that you can't charge $200 or $500 per job and make a good living out of it. 

If you're interested in more information on running a successful photography business, Peter has written a Photo Business Handbook which includes a series of interactive Business Planning Templates. You can find out about the Handbook by clicking here.


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