Pricing for sports photos varies a lot. You could make between $100 and $300 per game while shooting local events if you’re lucky. You could make even more if you get a high-end job in the field. On the other hand, many sports photographers make nothing!
I’m Caleb, and I’ve been a sports photographer for more than four years. I’ve shot games at both the semi-pro and college levels, including everything from soccer to boxing.
In this article, I’ll discuss pricing for sports photography and what to consider when setting your own prices. If you’re stuck on setting your prices for the first time, or if you’re thinking of changing your current ones, read ahead for some key info.
How Much Should I Charge for Sports Photography?
Simply put, how much you can charge for your sports photography will depend on several factors that aren’t all in your control.
As you’ll find out below, many of them have to do with location and which clients are available to you. We’ll go through some of these things to consider one by one.
Consider Your Client
The unfortunate truth is that most sports teams in the world don’t actually have extra money to spend on photographers.
While budget isn’t a problem for larger college and pro teams, the same can’t be said for the legions of high schools, small colleges, and semi-pro teams that make up much of the lower-level sports landscape.
If you’re shooting pictures for a low-budget team like this, don’t expect to charge them anything for it. Even if the team is in love with your work, photographers are probably too pricey for them.
Some lower-level sports teams, like small colleges and certain semi-pro teams, do have official photographers. However, this is more of an exception to the rule. Also, at the college level, those jobs tend to go to student paper photographers rather than freelancers.
Supply and demand have an impact on photography, just like it does in other fields. When setting your pricing, you should consider your location and how much demand there is for pictures.
For example, if you’re in a small town of a few thousand people and a single high school, you might have a more challenging time finding work. There are probably not enough sporting events to create a high demand for pictures.
Of course, that’s not to say you’re doomed if you aren’t in a big city. A more sparse location could work in your favor. If you’re the only person in town who knows how to shoot sports photos, charging $150 per game is much easier.
On the other hand, though, it only takes one or two other good sports photographers to saturate the market in some smaller locales. If you’re in a big city where there are a lot more sporting events than good photographers, you’ll have an easier time charging more.
Working for Media Outlets
Sports media jobs are hard to come by but are one way to do sports photography full-time. If you take one of these jobs, you’re no longer charging per game or per image and are instead working for a company like ESPN or SI as a salaried employee.
Of course, these jobs are anything but easy to get. Some of these companies, like SI, are very exclusive and have a strong reputation behind them.
If you have a background in journalism, however, you might be able to get a job with a local news outlet and cover sports stories. This often involves photography, since many news outlets take their own photos.
You can make a living wage working as a journalist like this, but the outlet will expect you to do more than just photograph sports. It’s also possible to work as a photographer for small independent news outlets, but many of these can’t afford to pay at all.
Working for a Wire Service
Working for a sports wire service is another way to make a career out of sports photography. These services get up photos quickly during and after games, and the photos are then licensed and used by news outlets.
If you’re working for one of these companies, though, you usually don’t set your own prices. Instead, the company sells them for a standardized price, and you make a certain amount of money from royalties.
Like larger media outlets, these services are somewhat exclusive in their hiring and also require that you have your own high-end equipment.
Here are some other frequently asked questions about charging as a sports photographer.
How Much Should You Charge For Sports Team Photography?
If you’re taking team portraits, your main options for pricing are by the photo or by the hour. Sometimes, you can charge both of these fees if you have an hourly cost to take the pictures and then a per image fee when selling prints.
How Much Do Sports Photographers Charge Per Photo?
As mentioned earlier, how much you can charge per photo depends on many things, like how much demand there is for sports photos. Per-image pricing varies just like per-hour pricing, though around $75 is usually considered fair.
While professional sports photographers tend to make between $100 and $300 per shoot, the numbers can vary wildly depending on things like who the clients are and how in demand photographers are locally.
Are you a sports photographer? What would you consider a fair rate? Let us know in the comments.