do you tip a photographer-karolina-grabowska

Do You Tip Photographers (How Much Do You tip for Pictures & Videos?)

Should you tip a photographer? When, why, and how much? Our guide covers tipping photographers for weddings, headshots, family photos and more.

Tipping photographers is a complex matter because conventions around it vary widely based on factors like geography, culture, and industry. 

So, if you’re confused about if you should tip your photographer (and if so, how much you should tip them), don’t worry.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know to avoid any awkwardness!

Why Should You Tip Your Photographer?

Credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich

Tipping photographers is becoming increasingly popular. Still, there isn’t a clear tipping etiquette to follow. 

So, should you tip a photographer, or shouldn’t you?

Well, it really is up to you. So far, I haven’t found a place or a type of photography where tipping is mandatory. 

To help you make up your mind, here is a list of reasons why you should choose to tip a photographer:

  • Because a good photographer goes the extra mile to capture your special moments.
  • Because you asked for something out of the ordinary (i.e., extra hours, fast delivery, etc.).
  • Because you were satisfied with the job and felt like showing your appreciation.
  • Because you gave them short notice.
  • Because you feel they deserve it, but they’ll never ask.
  • Because photography is a skilled trade – not everyone has the required skills.
  • Because you hired a large company and the photographer will only get a small cut of what you paid.
  • Because, as a business owner, the average photographer needs to multitask. They are also marketeers, accountants, managers, copyright experts, etc. 
  • Because photography equipment is expensive and requires regular maintenance and upgrades. 
  • Because professional photographers do much more than take pictures. A big part of the work happens behind the scenes, and you want to acknowledge that.
  • Because you live in a country with a strong tipping culture and some extra money is generally expected for a job well done.
  • Because your group (family members or otherwise) is very high maintenance. 
  • Because you acknowledge how hard it can be to make a living as a self-employed photographer. 

As you can see, there are many reasons why you should consider tipping photographers. Of course, there are other ways to express gratitude if you like the services and all the photos. 

You can give positive online reviews if you don’t like to tip people. You can also recommend your photographer to a friend and come back the next time you need a photographer. For a personal touch, you can always send a thank you note.

Keep in mind that tipping photographers is only traditional for private clients. People who deal with photographers for their own businesses don’t usually tip. 

For example, you can tip the photographer who is taking photos of your house if you’re selling it.

However, if you’re an agent and hire real estate photographers regularly for your listings, a gratuity is not customary.

How Much Should You Tip a Photographer?

Credit: Leah Kelley

Hopefully, you are so happy with your photo session that you feel like giving a tip to the photographer. 

The next logical question is, how much? Should it be a generous tip or just enough to be a kind gesture?

There are different factors that can weigh in on your decision. Here are some things to consider:

A percentage or a fixed amount?

Some professions have a clear standard regarding tip expectations. For example, restaurant servers usually get a percentage of the final bill. The bell person, instead, receives a certain amount per piece of luggage. 

In this case, things aren’t that clear. While one photographer expects a percentage from their own prices, another one is happy with a fixed amount. 

For example, you might consider giving the photographer a 10% or 15% of the total fee as a tip on your wedding day. 

However, if the wedding photos were pricey, you may skip the percentage tip. Instead, give a small tip to the crew—for example, $50 to the assistant in the photo booth or the second photographer. 

Make sure you plan ahead and include this on your wedding budget!

Is the photographer an employee or self-employed?

When a bigger organization employs your photographer, they’ll likely get a small cut of the price you paid.   

This may be because they are outsourced or subcontracted. In this case, they also lose rights to their work and don’t have benefits. 

Another possibility is that they are freelancers, but they give a commission for every gig landed via this company.

Either way, tips are a good part of the photographer’s income.

The exception to this rule is the photographers from a department store. They are usually full-time employees, and it’s not customary to give them a tip. Although, you’re always welcome to do it if you feel they did a good job.

On the other hand, self-employed photographers usually work out their fees so that they cover all their expenses. However, keeping up a business is not easy. 

You need to consider insurance, equipment, constant training, etc. Plus, there may be unexpected costs, and they all come out of their income. 

The amount you paid for your photos

You always tip a server regardless of whether you eat at the dinner or a five-star restaurant. 

It doesn’t work like that in photography. I hardly see the late Queen Elizabeth tipping Annie Leibovitz after she took her portrait.

If you hire a high-end photographer, you can assume that they have priced their services appropriately. If you want to show your appreciation, you can do so with a thank you note or gift. 

You can, however, tip their staff. These types of studio photographers usually have assistants that could welcome a gratuity. Usually, $20 or $50 is a good tip, depending on the duration of the session and the amount of work.

What Type of Photographers Should You Tip?

Credit: Luis Quintero

It may seem arbitrary to consider the type of photos you’re hiring to determine the tip. 

However, it has a reasonable basis, and it has to do with intangible value and behind-the-scenes work.

For example, a wedding photographer spends the entire day on their feet carrying heavy equipment. They often have to deal with drunk guests or a highly demanding wedding planner. 

That’s why a wedding photographer usually receives a tip at the end of the wedding day.

Another typical example is senior photographers. This type of photo session isn’t always the senior’s idea – instead, it’s the parents who want a memory of this important moment of their child’s life. 

This means that the model isn’t always happy and in the mood for their senior photos. The photographer needs to balance the parents’ and the seniors’ wishes. 

This type of photographer often receives a higher tip than, say, the one who does professional headshots. You should consider the amount of gratuity in relation to the photographer’s efforts to go above and beyond.

Mini sessions are another special case. A photographer usually organizes them as a way to promote themselves. 

This means they are charging less than their usual fee. A small tip is always welcome to compensate for this. Since the price of mini-sessions is often low, you can tip a percentage of the fee.  

Do you tip wedding photographers?

Tipping wedding photographers is not mandatory, but they are usually happy if you do.

As I’ve mentioned before, this may change depending on the place you live. The amount is also different from place to place.

During this research, I found that a photographer in the Netherlands considers a tip from 5% to 15% of their fee. Instead, a photographer from NY expects a 15% to 20% tip. 

Also, a photo booth attendant usually receives a tip that ranges from $20 to 50$. 

This is because they usually work for a photography company and depend largely on tips to complement their salary.

Do you tip photographers for family photos?

Family photos often require the photographer to go the extra mile. Especially when there are large groups or there are children involved. 

That’s why it’s common to tip family portrait photographers.

Do you tip photographers for maternity pictures?

It is not as common to tip maternity photographers.

However, as self-employed photographers, they are likely to appreciate a tip if you are satisfied with their work.

Many photographers are happy to receive a good online review that helps them to grow their business. 

If you want to have a more personal approach, you can always send them a thank you note. 

Do you tip photographers for boudoir photography?

Tipping photographers on a boudoir session is a welcomed appreciation of their work. Of course, it’s not an obligation.

Some professionals will even prompt you and make it easy for you to offer a tip. 

For example, boudoir photographer Amy Paine offers the option to leave a gratuity at the checkout when you pre-pay for your session.

Of course, you can also wait until after the shoot and decide if the service was worth a tip. In her experience, 3 out of 10 clients leave a tip.

Do you tip a newborn photographer?

Newborn professional photographer Sophie from Sophie Crew writes that a tip is never expected but always appreciated. 

She suggests that clients tip any amount they feel comfortable with, not a fixed percentage. 

This is because photo sessions can be pretty expensive. “Even a $10 tip is a kind gesture to show your appreciation” – she says. 

It’s worth noticing that Sophie Crew Photography is based in the US.

Instead, Daniela from Bella Newborn Photography in the UK says that most professional photographer don’t expect a tip.

Usually, they do it for passion, and they have a thought-out business plan. So they are more likely to appreciate positive reviews. 

Do you tip engagement photographers?

Even if it’s always appreciated, it’s not customary to give tips for engagement sessions

Unlike wedding photographers, the professionals that make your engagement photos work shorter sessions and face fewer obstacles and surprises. 

As such, the fee usually includes all the services. Of course, a small tip is welcomed if they go above and beyond to capture this special moment.  

For example, if you chose an extremely difficult location.

Do you tip headshot photographers?

Most photographers aren’t expecting a tip for a headshot photography session. 

Of course, if there was any extra effort, tipping etiquette dictates that you give them a gratuity for their photography service.

Final Words

I hope this guide clears out your doubts about tipping your photographer. 

In broad terms, a tip is never mandatory but always welcomed.

This is, of course, in countries where tipping is common. You don’t want to risk being offensive.

When you’re in doubt, it’s always helpful to ask in a forum about your specific situation.

For example, if you’re doing a destination wedding and don’t know the local customs.

If you are a photographer, help us make this guide more informative. Please share in the comments whether or not you expect a tip. Also, include your type of photography and location.

For non-photographers, let us know about your experiences. Have you tipped your photographer, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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Shotkit Writer & Camera Gear Reviewer

Ana Mireles is a Mexican researcher that specializes in photography and communications for the arts and culture sector.

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