How to start pricing your work. A guide for graduate creatives. by Dianne Purnell

This post is a part of series for new and early career creative artists, with special emphasis on the education and support for graduates entering the creative market place. 

The project was made possible by the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund, which supports sustainable cultural development in regional, rural, and remote Australia to give artists and communities’ better access to opportunities to practice and experience the arts.

There is a lot of information online about how to price your work as a photographer. And whilst the formula is almost always the same, rarely are they geared towards graduates and early career creatives. Understanding your actual costs of doing business can be tricky for graduates just starting out, in this quick guide we will break down some of the most immediate costs you will encounter and how that translate into how much you need to charge.

So how much does it actually cost to take a photograph.

The domestic photography marketplace is pretty crowded, there are lot of ‘professional’ photographers who have been to JB HiFi, bought a thousand dollar camera and started a facebook page for their photography business, and you know what that is totally ok. We all start somewhere, but the impact on the industry is that consumers often can’t tell the difference between someone you a cheap DSLR and one with an actual professional camera, insurance and formal training. Creating the expectation by consumers that photography should be free or almost free, when in reality this isn’t sustainable for most working photographers. And here's why:

What are (some) Of your expenses.


I’ve put this at the top, because it’s something that can be easily overlooked but in my opinion is the most important expense you will have. Why? Because if you’re a working photographer and you don’t have insurance, you break your camera or it gets stolen, then you can’t work anymore. And even more importantly if you are on a job, you or your client gets hurt, maybe bitten by a snake (does happen) or falls of a cliff (also totally a thing) then you need insurance, you will have hospital expenses, transport, you might even get sued. So if you don’t have insurance you probably shouldn't be be taking on clients, in my opinion.


  This could be you, sans insurance.

This could be you, sans insurance.

Options for insurance: Duck for cover (cheap as chips, not sure if DFC cover pro photographers and I believe you need to apply at a certain time of year for the best value), NAVA (again not sure if pro photogs apply, artists do, some of my friends have this and are pretty happy with it), Professional Photographers Insurance (more comprehensive insurance, more expensive insurance, but covers most things like equipment, public liability etc etc). Just a note: I am not affiliated with any of insurance company or broker. These are just one's I am aware of and this list is not at all comprehensive of what is available, so please do your own research to find what is right for you.

Insurance costs me about $1000 a year, and that’s just my photog insurance for when I am in Australia, not home insurance where I work or my car insurance, or for my travel insurance.


Pro Photog Equipment IS NOT CHEAP. You will already know this because you have invested the last 3 or so years learning the craft, borrowing, begging and hopefully not stealing your really expensive equipment. Yes you can get cheap-ish DSLR and they are ok, but they don’t really compare. Not if you want to make scalable, high quality work to sell. Maybe you don’t, maybe your thing is low-fi and that's totally fine.

The problem, most consumers don’t know the difference.

Have you ever told someone you are buying a new camera body and they almost have a heart attack when you tell them it will cost about $4000! That's what I told my dad and he was totally like...

 You're spending how much money?

You're spending how much money?


‘But, but, you can get a camera for like a thousand dollars, with two lenses and a bag and memory stick and and and…’

yep, this is what most consumers think, which is understandable with all the marketing associated with cheap electronic equipment. But you know that you should expect pay between $2000 and $4000 for a excellent camera body at least. It will be totes worth it.

So here is a list of (some) of the basics you will need (and eventually probably own.

Camera Body: A good quality camera body will set you back between $2000 and $4000 (you might if you're really lucky be able to borrow one?)

Lenses: You really need at least two, my fave go to lenses are a 24-70mm and a 70-200mm, genuine brands. Again $1500-$3500 each. (ditto, maybe you can borrow or share with a trusted friend until you can buy your own. I.e. do jobs, save up, buy!

Tripod: $250 and up (not that expensive in the scheme of things, just buy one).

Misc: Filters, UV protectors, bag, camera cards, spare battery probably $500 and up, you will need these asap.


This is easy to forget, but it costs you money to get places, some of the best location aren’t in your backyard. You might forgo this fee if it’s a job you really want to do, but keep it in mind because it does impact on how much it costs you to do a job.

So how much does it cost you to travel. This will vary for everyone, depending on how they get places and if they have a car what type of car it is. Most places will pay you 60c a km to travel.

 Unless this is your transport you probs need to factor travel in. 

Unless this is your transport you probs need to factor travel in. 


Professional development 

This is up to you really, and if you want to keep going to courses or to join professional organisations like the Australian Institute of Professional Photography, or even your local photo club. You can spend as much or as little as you like. But factor it in because it’s for your practice, and your business and makes you a better creative in the long term.

 This could be you, again and again and again...

This could be you, again and again and again...


Subscriptions for editing software

Yeah, Adobe makes you pay by the month now. So no more downloading the software off a friend and using for free (not that anyone ever did that, right?) You pay by the month, and while you are still technically a student NOW is the time to sign up, it gets more expensive. Do you really need to? Well kind of, if you are making work for professional organisations or you’re a graphic designer and you need to send files to other people who are using Creative Cloud then YES you need it. If you are just making work for yourself in your room, with no output then maybe you don’t but that’s up to you but you probably need to get it eventually at some point.

 They always be like...

They always be like...


Website hosting

Free websites are available, but you don’t often get your own domain name. They are often or instead of Free websites also often have restrictions on the number of pages, gallery you can have and if you can have ecommerce. Either way, the choice is up to you but website hosting which can cost anywhere from $88 a year upwards might have to be in your budget. (again do this while you are a student, it's cheaper)

Phone/internet costs

These probably link in with your personal phone and internet if you are a graduate just starting out. After a few months go back through your bill and work out what was personal and what was for work. Work out what percentage this was and how much it cost you.


You may or may not choose conventional methods of advertising, but regardless you will probably have to pay costs along the way weather it is printing, stationary, Facebook ads, business cards, phone book listing, business networks etc. Work out how you are going to advertise and what it is going to cost you.

Photography is not free, your equipment is not free, your education was not free so you should not work for free. Working for free when you feel like you want to is a good thing, if it’s an organization you believe in, an event you are inspired by, people you love then yeah maybe you should if you want to. But doing it ‘get exposure’ or for your ‘portfolio’ isn’t always a good idea, it undercuts other professional, who are actually your friends and allies and gives the wrong impression to consumers about your service.

Don’t be intimidated by pricing, just look at your actual costs, yours are in some ways unique to you, the work you do and where you do it. Once you have done this you will be more confident in knowing what it costs you to take a photograph and start to get a rough idea of what you need to be charging your clients.

This post is a part of series for new and early career creative artists, with special emphasis on the education and support for graduates entering the creative market place. 

The project was made possible by the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund, which supports sustainable cultural development in regional, rural, and remote Australia to give artists and communities’ better access to opportunities to practice and experience the arts.

Hinchinbrook Beautiful Bodies Part 2 by Dianne Purnell

Some of you may remember my last post from the Hinchinbrook Beautiful Bodies Calendar well this massive project has just about come to an end. 12 months worth of photoshoots have done and dusted by a bunch of local talented photographers, countless brave models and one amazing organiser Tracey Adams. This project aims to bring our community together in a defiant stance for positive body image and self confidence, whilst addressing a range of important women's issues.

Here are some images of my lovely models from the last shoots I did with the Hinchinbrook Beautiful Bodies team. Thank you to everyone who came and supported this project or who worked on an aspect of it, especially make up artists and hairstylists and a special huge thanks to Tracey who organised a ridiculous amount of people and events and who is always lovely and takes everything in her stride :D

"Strong women LIFT each other up"  may we all continue to be strong and share our strength with others. x


Infocus Conference, Queenstown, New Zealand by Dianne Purnell

This post is a part of series for new and early career creative artists, with special emphasis on the education and support for graduates entering the creative market place. For the next installment of this series please visit:

The project was made possible by the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund, which supports sustainable cultural development in regional, rural, and remote Australia to give artists and communities’ better access to opportunities to practice and experience the arts.

I am in Queenstown NZ offically launching a new project that I am working on. I have come over from my regional base of Ingham in North Queensland, Australia for a very important photography conference that brings together an amazing group of Australian and international photographers. 

I really wanted to be here to hear from some of the most amazing and established professional photographers working today. And to be able to bring back everything I have learnt to help and support early career and graduate photographers living and working in regional North QLD. 

Huge first day of talks start tomorrow, can't wait!

Queenstown if you have never been here is ridiculously beautiful and super friendly. I literally fell in love with this place before the plane had landed, it is so picturesque. Surrounded by snow capped mountains and turquoise waters everywhere you look is just so pretty. And not even joking it snowed, tiny little snow flakes just after we landed (and it wasn't even that cold, and I'm a cold-o-phobe). Um, squeal, freaking snow flakes. Thanks for turning it on NZ.

Some photos from the plane coming in to land at Queenstown. 

The project was made possible by the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund, which supports sustainable cultural development in regional, rural, and remote Australia to give artists and communities’ better access to opportunities to practice and experience the arts.

Hinchinbrook Beautiful Bodies - Part 1 by Dianne Purnell

This month I photographed some lovely ladies for a community calendar that celebrates women and embraces positive body image ideas.

The Hinchinbrook Beautiful Bodies Calendar was initiated by Ingham shop owner Joanne Gower from Green Jelly. Jo has a teenage daughter and like most young women is becoming more conscious of what society educates us is the ideal body.

From this starting point the Beautiful Bodies Calendar has grown and now incorporates a range of women's health issues and has a local community of more that 250 people involved, including over 30 models and 4 photographers, all local women. 

With this project we hope to change the ideologies and idea of what we think we should look like and embrace each of us just as we are. We look forward to developing a supportive community of women in the local Hinchinbrook area, promote positive body image ideals and encourage a dialogue for issues affecting the health of women in our area. 

Support each other.
Embrace who you are and 
everything that makes you, YOU.


Thanks to Jo for getting everyone involved and Tracey Adams for being a super organiser. And a big thanks to the lovely ladies who came out to help on this shoot Kerri, Barbara and Judy and our models Diane, Tracey, Caroline and Leesa. It was freezing! You did an awesome job. 

Some behind the scenes shots and portraits of Diane, Tracey, Caroline and Leesa. I won't share the final image of the ladies just yet, you will have to pick up the calendar for that one :)

Month: January
Concept and Planning: Tracey Adams
Theme: Water (Rainy Season)
Colours: White & Teal
Make Up: Christina Spampinato
Outfits/head pieces: Supplied by the models
Location: Rotary Park, Ingham
Photographer: Dianne Purnell

On the Kelly Brown Photography Workshop and staying grounded as a photographer. by Dianne Purnell

Do you know I have a 'to do' blog list literally as long as my arm! Well here is one I have been 'saving' for over 3 months now, and by 'saving' I mean began writing but was caught up with the absolute chaos of running a business and having a young family.

The following pics are of the amazing Kelly Brown from Little Pieces Photography Brisbane, doing what she does best. Working with babies, creating beautiful images and teaching her craft to a group of North Queensland female photographers. This event hosted by the AIPP NQ Chapter was so good! A sellout event, it was informative, well organised and insightful.

Not only was this workshop insightful in terms of the practicalities of working with tiny beautiful humans, it was also very encouraging to hear about Kelly's journey as a photographer. One little message she had which has stuck with me is:

'Don't compare yourself with other people through social media, their best images, the ones they post on facebook are exactly that, their best images. Everyone is one is on a different path, going a different speed and in their own direction'.

I think this is such an important message for photographers, as visual people we naturally compare our work with others. Living in a connected digital world is amazing for getting our work out their, finding our audience and networking but it's also a tricky place to navigate.

My thoughts for staying connected and grounded are these:
1. Take criticism with a grain of salt, weather it's negative or positive what other people say about your work on social media is important but not as important as what you think about it. Do you like it? Why do you like it? How does this work make you a better photographer? How does this work move your practice forward? What are you saying with this work? Look beyond, does it look good, the aesthetics and think about what your work says and contributes to the photography industry.

2. Give critical feedback. The best way to grow your understanding of what people are talking about and what you are talking about with your work is by opening up a dialogue and space for constructive criticism. This doesn't have to be with a huge group of people just find someone or a few friends you trust and can be open with, they don't have to be photographers they can be writers, thinkers, tinkerers, drawers, whateverers. Just be honest with yourself about your work and don't make it personal. Think critical feedback (what does this work say, can I say it better?) not criticism (this work is shit).

3. Unplug! I love the internet as much as anyone else. But you know what, my best ideas usually come to me in the car or in the shower or when I am cooking or playing with my kids. Not when I am thinking about work or on the internet. Get off the internet, be inspired by the world

And finally, I have to say I love Kelly Brown, she is one of the nicest humans on this planet and such an inspiring person. Thank you for coming up to the North Kelly and thanks for organising such a great event AIPP.

If you want to know more about Kelly, check out her website or facebook page. And if your interested in learning more about the Australian Institute of Photography or their workshops then check them out here. If you want to work with me, then get in touch! I work with families, organisations, events and small businesses, I love making thoughtfully created images and working with people who do good things.

ps. that last image is me with Kelly Brown and the second last my good friend Shae, from Shae Leesa Photography in Mackay.  

Working Together. by Dianne Purnell

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with one of Townsville's most outstanding young writers and academics, Alexandre Christopher. Alex is one of those amazingly energetic people whose kindness is bestowed upon everyone she meets. She is involved in just about every contemporary creative project in our region and is seriously committed to creating a stronger and more dynamic creative industry in North Queensland. 
Alex is currently expanding and evolving her writing business, Monk Script. Monk Script is a writing, editing and proofreading service for artists, small businesses, social enterprises and community organisations. Working from her warm and welcoming home in Townsville, Alex invites her clients in to reflect and get focused on what their business is really about. Here are some images we created together for Alex to use on her website and social media platforms. 
If you are looking for some professional advice regarding the way you write and speak about your business, Alex is the gal, she is amazing and will be able to help you move your business to the next level. She also makes a mean apple cake. 

Dianne Purnell Photography
0449 678 937 /
Lets work together! 

Our custom USB's and keepsake boxes are HERE! by Dianne Purnell

In the world of digital, we have found something special and tangible to hold onto. Our custom USB's are a little something different. Warm, natural and organic. Something to put away with the other family keepsakes and treasure. Something to pick up in years to come and relive the memories, loves, laughs from today. Included in every shoot, these are great way to keep  your digital files safe.  


Dianne Purnell Photography
Family, Baby and Wedding Specialist
0449 678 937 /
Make a booking!

When was the last time you did something for the first time? by Dianne Purnell

Firsts only happen once, and they deserved to be remembered.  This lovely family had their first family photo shoot with me, just before their daughters first birthday. This is their way of capturing this very special time in their lives. Here is a selection of their photos from the shoot. 

Dianne Purnell Photography
0449 678 937 /
Make a booking!