In this age of social media where everyone can publish their photos, becoming a professional photographer is harder than ever.
Though it is not required to tip photographers for their services, it is quickly becoming customary, especially if they go above and beyond.
It can be a bit confusing to figure out how much to tip a photographer, whether it should be by percentage, time, or type of photoshoot.
Keep reading for ten reasons you should tip your photographer, some things to consider when contemplating gratuity, and then how much to tip him/her depending on the quality and duration of your picture-taking session.
Do You Tip Photographers? (10 Reasons You Should)
Usually, tips for photographers range from $50 to $100.
However, you do not need to tip more than 10% of your total bill.
You can choose to tip more if you receive your photos in a timely manner and like how they turned out.
You should always give the tip directly to the photographer, not the company, so that the photographer can keep the whole tip for his/her hard work.
Though tips are seldom required, they are becoming more commonplace for all types of photographers.
1. Tips Show Your Appreciation For A Job Well Done
The practice of tipping is, in general, a way to show your appreciation and gratitude for another’s hard work.
If you do not tip at all, it might be a signal to the photographer that you did not like the way they did their work.
If you were happy with the way they caught your special day on camera, though, you should consider giving a tip.
The amount you tip can also signify how impressed you are with their work.
For example, a $50 tip shows a great deal more appreciation than a $5 tip.
However, the amount you tip should also be proportionate to the photographer’s flat rate, in addition to the size and duration of the event they were photographing.
More importantly, the tip must be in line with what you can afford.
Tipping culture is very common in the United States.
If you are hiring a photography service, there is probably less expectation to tip your photographer, but if you are in America, where an expectation of a gratuity is often factored into an employee’s wage, it is important to reward them.
Since it is becoming more common for photographers to be tipped at the end of their job, companies will begin to pay them less, with the knowledge that the photographer will be compensated individually in cash at the end of the photoshoot.
2. Many Photographers Work For A Company And Do Not Keep The Majority Of What You Paid
A lot of photographers work for large companies.
Even if you pay a generous sum as your flat rate, there is a good chance that the company pockets the majority of that to pay overhead fees, in addition to other employees like accountants, salespeople, and administrative assistants.
The photographer probably only receives a small fraction of what you pay.
If you feel like your photographer really went above and beyond in taking pictures at your event, a generous tip is a great way to compensate them and show your understanding for individuals whose creativity surpasses company expectations.
This is a way to ensure that your money goes straight into the photographer’s pocket, the person who actually did the work, and not toward overhead fees and supervisors.
If you hired a self-employed photographer, there is less pressure to tip because he/she will be able to take home whatever you pay them.
They set their own rates and can budget accordingly.
If you feel like they still went above and beyond in providing their services, tips are still always welcome.
3. Photography Is A Skilled Trade And An Art
Photography is a true art form.
Not everyone can do it as it requires great skill.
Lots of elements go into capturing the perfect photo such as symmetry, lighting, foreground, background, focus, and so much more.
Many people go to art school to study photography while others need to prove themselves with an extensive portfolio.
Most commercial photographers did not start out photographing people’s headshots and engagement parties.
They likely came from landscape photography, still life, or other forms of the art.
They have spent time mastering their craft and then transitioned into photographing people to earn income.
Even if it may look easy, photography is a skilled trade and should be treated as such.
Tips show an added appreciation for your photographer’s artistic abilities.
4. It Is Not Customary To Ask For Tips, And Photographers Rarely Receive Them
Tipping is generally expected in the hospitality industry, especially for waitstaff and bellhops.
However, the tipping culture in the United States also extends beyond the hospitality industry and is always accepted by employees for going above and beyond in their work.
It is seen as tacky or even offensive to ask someone for a tip, though, so photographers never do.
Some customers even report being so offended by their photographer suggesting a gratuity at the end of their service that they decided not to move forward with that photographer.
Instead, tips must be of the client’s volition, but since photographers should not suggest tips, they often do not receive them.
Additionally, photographers do not work in hospitality, so people often do not think to tip them.
Photographers work very hard at what they do, and everyone should consider tipping them for a job well done, just like customers would for any other service.
5. It Is Extremely Difficult To Be Successful In The Art World
It is harder than ever to become successful and make a decent living in the arts.
This is especially true in the digital age when anyone can show off their photography skills via Instagram, Facebook, VSCO, or a multitude of other photo-sharing platforms.
Professional photographers are skilled workers who are constantly improving their craft.
By tipping photographers, you are encouraging them to continue working in the arts, and you are perhaps even subsidizing their ability to pursue their craft outside of family or headshot photography.
There is not a ton of money in the arts, as very few people can make it artistically and have their art showcased in museums and art galleries.
If you tip your photographers, it is another way to encourage them to keep pursuing their passion and give them the disposable income to pursue photography outside of the commercial side of the craft.
6. Photography Requires Much More Time And Effort Beyond Camera Work
Taking pictures is a very small portion of the photographer’s job.
In fact, most of the time is spent at the computer, editing photos.
Pictures require a great deal of editing to achieve the perfect image.
Sometimes, red-eye needs to be edited out, or the background comes out too dark.
Photographers take thousands of pictures at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other celebrations.
They only send you the ones that are suitable for approval.
It takes time to sift through those thousands of photos to find the ones that are worthy of the customer’s time and attention.
After you, the customer, choose the photos you like, the photographer needs to spend additional time collating them in a file or photo book for you.
If you tip your photographer, you are showing appreciation for what they have done already, and the work they are about to do going forward.
7. Tips Encourage The Photographer To Do An Extra Good Job With Your Edits
If you tip your photographer, there is an even better chance that they will do an extraordinary job editing your photos.
Everyone likes to feel appreciated.
If you tip your photographer, she will likely feel a level of respect and affinity for you that surpasses whatever preconceived notions she had before.
Though event photography is a business that requires a professional transactional relationship between photographer and client, the tip adds a personal note of appreciation that practically ensures successful photo-taking.
Also, if you tip them before they have finished taking all the photos, the photographer will probably put extra effort into making sure they capture all the special moments.
Since tipping is not generally expected by photographers, your thoughtfulness is bound to strike a chord with the photographer.
It also shows appreciation for all the work that they are going to put into your photos when they work in software programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom when editing your pictures.
As a result, you will probably be even more impressed with their work than you were before.
8. Tipping Is A Great Way To Establish A Professional And Personal Relationship With The Photographer, So She Will Want To Work With You Again In The Future
If you enjoyed collaborating with this photographer, showing your gratitude and respect via gratuity will incentivize the photography to prioritize your patronage in the future.
It is common for photographers to get booked ahead of time, but if you have tipped a photographer in the past, they would likely try extra hard to squeeze you in, even if it is short notice.
The better the rapport you build with a photographer or photography company, the more likely you will be to get the best possible photos on your special day.
This works better for self-employed photographers where you tipped the one and only photographer in the company.
It is easier to establish personal relationships with individual photographers than with companies.
If you tip a photographer who is part of a company, there is a good chance that they will want to work with you in the future but won’t have much of a say in their clients or schedule.
Some customers report that their photographer was so happy to receive a tip, that they scored a discount when they hired the same person again in the future.
9. It Is An Appreciative Gesture When A Photographer Did You A Favor Or Worked With A High-Maintenance Group
You should especially consider tipping your photographer if you booked them with short notice or during a high-maintenance event.
For example, if you are planning to propose to your significant other and decided at the last minute that you want to have someone photograph the event, you should tip the person you hire to take the photos because they cleared their schedule on short notice to make sure your special moment is documented.
Also, if you have a big wedding or another kind of event but only hire one photographer, it can be challenging for this one person to document everyone and everything.
It involves a lot of running around.
Often, the photographers do not even have time to eat even if they are working for the entire day because they need to take photos.
For this reason, you should consider tipping your photographer for working tirelessly to make sure you get the photos you want.
If you have a lot of demanding family members and friends who want their pictures taken often, it can be hard for the photographer to do their job photographing everyone else.
You should consider tipping your photographer for working hard without much warning, and for dealing with big, demanding crowds.
10. Photography Gear Is Very Expensive
Photography is a very expensive career to maintain because it requires the photographer to work with a lot of high-tech cameras, lights, tripods, and other materials to capture the perfect shot.
At the low end, the average photographer has around $4,000 in equipment between their computer, camera gear, and photo editing software.
Professional photographers have even more because they purchase specialized equipment like strobes, additional lenses, hard drives, and more.
Improvements are constantly being made to cameras, and photographers must keep up with those trends to garner more customers.
It is expensive to keep up with all the latest trends in photographic technology, and a tip can go a long way in helping a photographer keep their career afloat.
Does The Type Of Photography Matter For Tips?
For senior photographers, you can tip if you feel like the photos really exceeded expectations.
For family portrait photographers, you are not expected to tip if they are working for a studio or in a department store.
However, if you hire an independent photographer for your family photos, it is customary to offer a small tip.
Somewhere around five to 10% of your bill is perfect.
Tips are generally expected for wedding photographers, as the photographer is spending hours documenting a couple’s special day.
How much you tip your wedding photographer is completely up to you.
Unlike wedding photographers, you are not necessarily expected to tip engagement photographers.
A simple thank you note would be highly appreciated, and an online review or referral would be above and beyond.
Tips are always appreciated as well, but they do not carry the same expectations for engagement photographers as they do for wedding photographers.
Similarly, you are not expected to tip headshot photographers, but it is always appreciated.
For baby photographers, you do not need to leave a tip, but again, good reviews, thank you notes, and referrals are much appreciated.
Similarly, you do not need to tip maternity photographers either.
They often work on an hourly rate, so there’s no need to tip anything beyond the flat rate.
Even though tips are neither required nor expected, they are always much appreciated, especially where tipping is a big part of the culture.
It is important to tip your photographer to show your appreciation for their hard work, especially in the United States, where tipping culture is factored into many employees’ salaries.
If you tip your photographer, you are supporting the arts while also ensuring that they will do a great job with your edits and establish a fruitful professional relationship for the future.
When deciding what to tip your photographer, consider whether they are self-employed or part of a company, and what is included in your contract.
Though tipping is neither required nor expected for every type of photographer, it is a good rule of thumb to tip about 10%.
If you decide not to tip your photographer, or cannot afford to, other methods of appreciation such as thank you notes and referrals are great ways to show your gratitude.