Trying to figure out the cost of a typical boudoir photo shoot can be a bit like trying to crack a secret code. Most boudoir photographers will not display their full pricing on their website for all to see, but they’ll usually give you some kind of starting price because they want you to contact them.
There are pros and cons to doing this but we’re not here to talk about that just yet. What we’re here to talk about is what will the final cost of a boudoir photo session be for you with image products walking out the door, like an album, wall art, or digital files.
In this article I’m going to break all this down for you and give you the inside scoop on how to figure out how much you’ll end up paying for your boudoir session and everything else you’ll end up paying for. (Because that’s what you really want to know, right? Yeah, let’s be real here.)
How do I know all this? Well, I’ve been a professional boudoir photographer for a number of years now and the subject of pricing, what to charge, how to charge, and all that is a HUGE sometimes ever-changing element among boudoir photographers and their businesses.
But first, before we get into all that I’m going to answer your question.
What Is The Average Cost Of A Boudoir Photo Shoot?
The average cost of a boudoir photo shoot is typically in the vicinity of $200 to $500, but that’s just for the photo session, the part where they take the pictures. It usually does not include any images such as albums, wall art, or digital files. This is where things can get confusing trying to figure out if you can afford one or not. So, stay with me on this because I’m going to break everything down for you so you can crack the pricing code of boudoir photographers.
The Session Fee
On average, most boudoir photographers will charge what is called a “session fee” or “sitting fee” and all that refers to is the photo shoot itself. This typically lasts between an hour to two hours. It’s the time when your photographer is actively taking pictures of you. It does not include the time it took for you to get ready with hair and makeup, if that was included.
So, the session fee is really just what you’ll be charged to have pictures taken of yourself in a boudoir style.
The Bait and Lure
The cost of the session fee (let’s say it’s $300) is what you will typically see on a boudoir photographer’s website or Facebook ad as being advertised as the cost of a photo shoot.
And usually that price range of $200 to $500 will be the same for both lower priced boudoir photographers as well as higher priced boudoir photographers.
A higher priced boudoir photographer could charge you a low session fee of $200 or one around $500. A lower priced boudoir photographer will typically only charge you something like $99 to $199 for their session fee.
So, one way to determine if your boudoir photographer is at the higher end of the scale is by what they charge for their session fee… and they may be worth the extra cost or not. Sometimes they are, but sometimes they aren’t.
The reason I call advertising just your session fee a “bait and lure” is because a lot of women get the impression that will be the total price for everything, images included… but that’s not how it works folks.
Packages Verses A La Carte
Boudoir photographers are going to fall into one of two camps, they’ll either offer clients packages or everything will be a la carte.
Typically you’ll be offered three packages, sometimes four (anymore and you’ll want to pop a Xanax from information overload).
Within each package will be the image products you’ll get if you buy that particular package. Package one may come with a small album and one small print.
In package two the album may be bigger with more images, and so on and so forth. You get how this works.
Of course, the bigger the package — the bigger the price but usually it’s also a better value overall for you. You’ll pay more, sure, but you’ll also get more for your money compared to their least expensive package.
If the photographer does not have their packages displayed on their website then you’re going to have to contact them and request it.
They’ll send you a PDF, give you the web address to their “private” pricing page, or maybe even a secret decoder ring that will reveal their pricing in a hologram — regardless, you’ll finally get some hard numbers to see what the real cost to you will be.
So, you’ll have to add the price of the package on top of the session fee for the total cost of your boudoir experience.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing it this way, it’s just that you have no way of knowing if you can even afford a certain photographer or not without first communicating with them… and that’s what the photographer wants because they want to make contact with you to persuade or convince you to hire them.
And that’s all fine and good. It’s the way most boudoir photographers operate.
Making The Packages Public
A small minority of boudoir photographers will actually display the cost of their packages on their websites publicly and do so as a way to weed out the people who can’t afford them from the get-go.
I can understand this approach as well because it doesn’t waste your’s or the photographer’s time. If the prices are just beyond what the woman is capable of paying, then she can just move on to another photographer.
A La Carte
The other pricing model that some boudoir photographers use is the a la carte system. With this system there are no packages, nothing is bundled together. When you’re ready to purchase you get to hand-pick whatever you want.
The problem with this is that most women are not familiar with the large variety of albums, prints, metal prints, all their sizes and what they will actually look like unless the photographer has physical samples for you to look at and feel in your own two hands.
With packages, the variety of products is fairly limited to usually one type of album in maybe two or three different sizes along with a fine art print or metal print. Much easier to get samples of than the vast list of items you may be presented with when it comes time to choose how you want your images preserved.
I’m not saying one method is better than the other, they both work for photographers and clients alike, but in general you’re going to run into more of the package-based boudoir photographer than the a la carte kind.
And like I said, there are advantages and disadvantages to using both pricing models for both the client and the photographer.
Just something to be aware of when looking for what works for you.
Is There A Session Fee With the A La Carte System?
With the a la carte system there will usually be a minimum amount you have to spend that you may have to pay up front. The photographer may offer three different buy-in levels, say $500, $1000, and $1500 that you pay up front that acts as credit towards the purchase of whatever a la carte items you purchase later.
In essence, you get to go on a shopping spree with the money you paid up front.
With this kind of system there may or may not be a session fee, so make sure you find out before booking.
If not, then the amount you spend will be at least the minimum the photographer requires you to spend. After all, no photographer wants to take the time and energy photographing you if you’re only going to spend $5 on a 4×6 print… yikes!
Total Amount You Can Expect To Spend From Lower Priced to Higher Priced
There are basically three price ranges boudoir photographers operate in. There’s the low-end, mid-level, and high-end as far as pricing is concerned. We’re not talking quality here, just pricing.
At the low end you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1500, mid-level from $1500 to $2500, and high-end from $2000 to $3500. It can go up from there but in general those are the price ranges you can expect.
The Boudoir Photographer Under $500
There are some boudoir photographers who are even less expensive than what is listed as the low-end, but they’re usually newer photographers or those transitioning over to shooting boudoir who are still learning the genre… and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all start somewhere.
Do Your Research
If you’re dead set on getting a boudoir shoot and working with limited funds there are two ways to go about getting a photographer that will work for you.
First, do your research and find out who’s in your area whose work you like and would like to shoot with.
Next, find out how much it would cost to do a shoot with them and also to get the album, print, or other image products you would want.
If their price is too high but you’re dead set on working with them because you love their work, then wait and save up the money until you can afford it. The wait will be worth it.
If you can’t wait, or don’t want to wait, then keep researching photographers perhaps a bit further out from where you live and find one whose work and price will work for you.
How To Save Some Money
If you want to save money then wait for special holidays like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s day, or International Women’s Day because a lot of photographers will run specials. They’ll usually cut their session fees in half or sometimes waive them all together.
So, keep an eye out for that!
If you found this article helpful, please forward it to someone it may also benefit.
Thanks for your time!
“Forever is composed of nows.” — Emily Dickinson