Do Photographers Charge a Deposit? A Comprehensive Guide

Most photographers require deposits when booking sessions or weddings - learn more about deposits and how they work here!

Do Photographers Charge a Deposit? A Comprehensive Guide

Most photographers require a deposit to secure bookings and protect their profit margins. This is usually non-refundable and helps protect the photographer's profit margins from a client who doesn't show up for the session. Alternatives to a term deposit are not recommended. No matter the type of session, you must charge a fee in advance to celebrate the date.

For a portrait session, you should have a “session fee” that you must pay in full when booking. If you're going to give the customer all the digital images, you should charge a significantly higher session fee than that of a photographer who sells copies. You can divide it into a booking fee and a final payment that must be made before delivery, or you can have them pay for everything in advance. As a photographer who earns revenue from sales of printed material, you can afford to be more creative with the session fee.

You can make it cheaper or even give away free sessions, knowing that once people see your incredible work, you'll sell in the back. The way I currently have my fee structured is a session fee that includes a credit for impressions. I require the client to pay the full session fee in advance. First, I want clients to feel like they can get everything they need with the session fee.

The print credit included in the session fee is slightly more than what I charge for two 8×10 prints. So, if someone just paid the session fee and used the credit, they would feel as if they had received a complete product. I don't want people who leave a session with me to feel that they were tricked into spending more than the session fee to get something. The term “advance” has legal connotations that may not apply to contracts for photography services.

The advance is an initial payment that is made to a photographer to guarantee their services for a future date. The photographer undertakes not to hire any other client that could cause a conflict with the hired client. A deposit is a payment that is made to a photographer to guarantee their services on a specific date and time. In case of cancellation by the customer, the photographer will retain the advance payment.

This is why “deposit” may be the best word for photo service contracts. I myself think that's a pretty reasonable amount to set in most situations; it's a safe amount if you're new to the photography business and have limited experience with advance payments. Counting backwards, the photographer can set the deadline for the deposit two weeks before the session. Photographers often deduct cancellation fees from deposits if they cannot find a new customer to assume the termination of contracts.

Photographers generally accept bank and cash transfers, and are left with a 50% advance payment before the session. However, in the case of local transactions, there is no need for photographers or customers to bear this additional cost. The stories listed above could have been avoided or mitigated if photographers had demanded a “payment fee” per booking. If you want to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

One simple way that some photographers choose to hire is to demand payment on the day of the session, immediately after the session. This will be the case for most wedding and portrait photographers, as it is necessary to cover the initial expenses related to the photographer's work, such as finding locations and hiring assistants. We'll talk about industry regulations so you know how to manage payments as a freelance photographer and what to expect as a consumer. In the absence of a generally accepted standard, it's up to you, the owner of the photo studio, to set your own refund policy.

For example, tourists traveling for a few days may want to book a session with a local photographer during their short stay; or prospective married couples may want to hire a photographer who lives in another country. I recommend 50% in advance and 50% before delivery for most sessions (family portraits, sessions of elderly people, etc.), but don't ask so much for a wedding if you're a photographer with a lot of money.