When a customer pays a deposit to a photographer, they are essentially guaranteeing that the photographer will be available for their services at a specific time and place. This is an important step for photographers to take, as it prevents them from scheduling any other customers on the same date and time. For portrait sessions, it is recommended that photographers charge a “session fee” in advance. This fee should be higher if the photographer is providing all digital images, as opposed to selling copies.
Photographers who earn revenue from sales of printed material can be more creative with their session fees, offering discounts or even free sessions. A session fee should include a credit for copies, so that customers feel like they are getting everything they need with the session fee. This credit should be slightly more than what the photographer charges for two 8×10 prints. This way, customers don't feel like they have been tricked into spending more than the session costs to get something.
A deposit is also a fee that is charged in advance and can be used to book a session date, but deposits are returned once the service has been completed. This is especially important for photographers during busy seasons, such as graduation season. By requiring deposits or advances, photographers can ensure that they are not taken advantage of and that their services are properly compensated.