Business Advice for Photographers: Supply and Demand, Pricing and Marketing

When it comes to business, it all comes down to your skill and marketing ability.

With 25-years of experience working as a professional photographer, Karl knows exactly how to run a successful photography business. He’s experienced first-hand what it’s like to set up a business, survive a recession, and how to successfully market and grow multiple businesses.

Throughout this show, Karl looks at key concepts relating to business, including understanding demand and supply, how to price your work, identifying and targeting potential clients, and marketing strategies.

This jam-packed show covers many common questions relating to business, including what the industry may look like post-COVID.

Topics covered in this show include:

  • Working with agents
  • Useful skills for photographers
  • Where and how to market yourself and your work
  • Pricing photography & usage fees
  • The importance of understanding supply and demand
  • How to build a portfolio
  • The demand for stock imagery

You can find the documents Karl refers to in this show in our Downloads section.

Other related photography classes you may find useful include our ‘Business of photography’ course and our previous ‘Business advice for photographers’ live show.

If you have any questions about this show, please post in the comment section below.


  1. pichadero

    Hello Karl, I’m having issue with pricing when it comes to product photography. Aside from the day/half day rate, would it be proper to add a fee per image of the products taken or would that be included in the day rate?

    1. Hi, yes a per image fee is reasonable if you are expected to include lots and lots of images. I normally have a fixed amount (say 3 images) included in my day rate but retouching is extra. If you are working pack shots then you usually agree a price per shot retouched.

      1. pichadero

        Thank you so much, I really appreciate that, really helped a lot, was really the missing piece that I was needing.

    1. Hi, try and check how busy the competition are and how much work they are doing and the type of work. You can always tell how big and afluent a town is by noting how many supermarkets they have and which brand of supermarkets they are and their size.

      1. Thank you! I live in a small but affluent town. We have two supermarkets with less than 2,000 people. The majority of photographers specialize in weddings. I imagine this market is supersaturated, but I’m more interested in food and product photography. In this case it appears no one is offering this service but many businesses are shooting in house. How can I become their photographer instead of them relying on a staff member with an IPhone?

        1. Hi Inprnt, well the good news is the expenditure required for good food photography is minimal in terms of equipment and backgrounds etc is minimal so your risk is less. First you’ll have to be sure that these companies are relying on in-house photographers and if they are analyse the quality of the work and ensure you can do much better. Then show them how much better by building a portfolio of images that represents the type of things they like shot. Give them something they can’t do themselves and let them appreciate the value of the work (don’t underprice it if it’s very good) offer them a first shoot free (no more than a first shoot). Make appointments, take your portfolio to them or mail them printed examples with a covering letter and a follow up call. But all of this depends on their being enough of a market and that goes back to supply and demand. If they’re are only 5 companies that need food photography once per month then that’s 5 jobs per month (if you were the supplier), work this stuff out, is that enough revenue for it to be worthwhile etc etc. Best of luck.

          1. Thank you for taking the time to provide such a detailed response! Customer service like this, especially on a Sunday, is not readily found.

  2. Masausuki

    Thank you very much for the great video Karl.
    It cleared up my mind significantly as always.

    Now I have more confidence to start my photography business seriously as my second work.

    When you have mentioned about current Covid quarantine, I found a positive side. A lot of people are now open minded to work remotely includes using live video platform with art directors during the shoot.

    One of the disadvantage of doing as a second work was arranging meetings during weekdays.
    It was still possible depends on clients who are ok to meet after 6pm with some drink. But really few clients who are close enough.
    But the problem might be solved as long as I organise the shooting date only for weekend. I feel confidence enough to convince future clients!
    At least now, I see some lights in my situation.
    I hope I can switch my main job in near future.

    At the end, are you interested in making a video focused on “problem solving”?

    I would like to hear more about your experiences and some difficulties you had in the past. I am sure that there are many members who want to know how you fought bravely in your career.

  3. Hi Karl,

    Amazing advice as always! I am having a hard time deciding on my target (and therefore, my portfolio building). I think your info on supply and demand have a lot of bearing on this decision, but I’m still not sure I have a clear perspective on how to decide on my target audience.

    What I need help with is: As I build out my portfolio (assuming I have supply & demand figured out), would you advise that I approach my portfolio building (targeting) based on the type of clients I want to shoot for, based on the style I want to shoot, based on the type of products I want to shoot, or based on the money I could make within that market segment. Essentially, should there be a priority to building my portfolio for the client type, for my own style, for the product type or for the potential money to be earned?

    I hope my question makes sense. Thank you for all of your time and wisdom!!!

    1. Hi Lioju, unfortunately it is a multi-tasking process. I always advise to follow your passion, therefore whichever area of photography you are most passionate about is the one that you should start building your portfolio on. However this is in relation to supply and demand and if you can’t see it possible to make a living from that area after doing your research then you should consider another genre. There are always variables, in my own career I was passionate about photojournalism but after 3 years and several high profile publications I was unable to find a way to make it sustainable economically so I switched to advertising and commercial photography as an assistant and then discovered a new found wonder in lighting and soon became drawn to still life / product photography. I then spent 12 years shooting general commercial work and made a decent living but there were many aspects of it I also didn’t enjoy until eventually I became more specialised in product/advertising and then eventually the education business. It’s been a windy road but not one I would change even if I could go back in time.

      1. Thank you for the feedback Karl. Taking what you said above into very careful consideration, I am going to try and take a no compromise approach (any portfolio piece created must check off the right style, client type and content) but before I create any portfolio images, I will look into the industry and make sure they are willing to pay the rates I need in order to sustain a strong business. Wish me luck and thanks again for everything!

  4. Ciao Karl, I am moving in another studio (ca 50 sqm – 5,75 x 8,90 m to give you an idea). My dilemma is: which color would you suggest to paint the walls? I am into product and still life photography (I do also portraits from time to time) and I thought that grey might be a better option to avoid much spill of light and have more control (?). Sometimes I do also need some room light though. Thanks in advance, cheers man.

    1. Hi, I just had it printed at a local printing company. It would be even easier today because even any digital printing company you use means you could have short runs done. Just look up digital printers or printers in your area.

  5. Hello an amazing show!! Learned alot . Can you please upload your rate card that you showed during the show or its template. That would be great. Thank you very much 🙏🏼

  6. Hi, Karl!

    Thank you so much for all of your amazing tutorials. Extremely helpful.

    I live in Dallas, Texas. Very large city, usually a lot going on. Right now, though, as with everywhere, we are moving between various stages of stay at home and a lot is in flux.

    That said, I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly what steps to take to figure out what the demand for commercial food and product photography is in my specific area. Mainly the product photography. Meaning, where does that information live? Or, do I just start Googling product companies? Do I call PR firms?

    I work with lots of local restaurants, but, all of my product photography is with clients who live out of state and who find me online. Mainly in Instagram, actually. They mail me product and I shoot it in my home studio. I really don’t know where to begin to look for product lines that are local, or even in the state. And, if I do, what is the best way to reach out to them right now other than my PR kit by email?

    Any guidance on that would be most appreciated, and thank you.


    1. Hi Allison, glad you enjoyed the show. Yes this is always a tricky one but it requires a few days of solid research. First I’d start with all of the ‘suppliers’ (your competition) see who they are working for and figure out what the top players are charging. Then look at business directories, listings, trade associations, google, and start building a picture of all potential manufacturers ‘demand’ and find out what sort of standard of work they are getting and where from. If it’s easier break it down into industries, tech, engineering, manufacturing, etc etc you can also find a lot (in the UK from telephone directories). Start in your area and work outwards. Ask other business people that you know. Think about where the large industrial parks are (google maps is useful) and find out who is based on them etc. Of course the business you do doesn’t necessarily need to come just from your city but that the best place to start from as it’s the most likely. Also look at all the top advertising and marketing agencies as the firms you want to target will likely use them for their own brochure production etc etc.

      1. Thank you, Karl, I’m on it.

        Other than straight up asking them (which I’m not sure would be effective), how does one find out what the competition is charging?

        Everything else is very helpful and I am going to work on it this week.


        1. Hi, the best way is to find an appropriate business owner that you’re friendly with, create a small fake brief and ask them if they would get prices for you from A. B & C.

  7. Wonderful episode, straight as always to the point, indeed there’s a lot to think about for those who entertain the idea of entering the world of commercial/product photography. I would add, confidence and determination do help a great deal and Karl has them (as well as a passion for what he does which is infectious). Thanks you Karl, you really enlighten us all! (allow me the metaphor).

  8. Thank you Karl for this in-depth video on how to maximize my chances. I have recently moved into the state of Texas and have been struggling with the decision on how to position and market myself amongst already established photography businesses. Just making that leap into starting a business can be frustrating but since I’ve joined KTE. I always end up saying to myself after watching your education lessons and taking part of your weekly and monthly challenges, what am I waiting for… This is what I need to do and everyday that goes by I’m missing the opportunity to get myself and business going. There’s a lot of opportunity here for me and I need to get out and get it. Thank you and your team for the motivation! Cheers

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