Should You Tip Your Event Photographer?

Tipping culture has grown far beyond tipping a server at the end of the dinner. It seems that you are supposed to tip any individual in customer service. But does that also apply to event photographers? Or will a tip only come off as an insult to them?

Should you tip your event photographer? Tipping an event photographer is not mandatory, but tips are generally accepted as an appropriate gesture unless a contract discourages it. Ultimately, tipping is up to the customer’s discretion based on how well they believe a photographer provided their services.

Many different events may require hiring a photographer, but it is not always necessary to tip for every occasion. There are some events where tipping is more appropriate than others. There is also the question of how much is enough to tip a photographer. In this article, we will be covering when it is appropriate to tip a photographer, why you would want to tip, and what is the acceptable amount for tipping if you do.

Do You Tip a Photographer?

Tipping is a controversial topic. Many people feel that the prices of event photography services are previously agreed upon, therefore why is there a need to pay more? The other train of thought is that offering additional compensation creates an opportunity for better photography services.

There is no clear way of knowing whether or not you should tip your photographer. It’s not like going out to a restaurant where it has become the social norm to tip the server and valet. The photographers for an event are usually paid a portion of the commission for the services. Most photographers do not expect tips, but there are some events where tipping is more common.

When is it More Appropriate to Tip?

So, when is it more common to tip an event photographer? Generally speaking, at larger events, tips are more warranted than for less time-consuming projects.

Why? Big events may last for the majority of the day; photographers have to spend extra time setting up their equipment, testing light levels, pre-shooting to determine proper exposures, and survey the location for optimal framing. And this all happens before your guests even start to arrive.

During the event, photographers spend their time looking for candid shots of people and asking your guests to take pictures with one another. They also shoot coverage photographs of the event’s decor, food, and any behind the scenes moments that will make for good memories.

Small events, on the other hand, will not require as much prep work and activity from the photographer, meaning it is okay if you feel that your photographer doesn’t need additional compensation.

In other words, events that involve taking a lot of pictures of your guests and editing an extensive collection of photographs is a general indicator of if the photographer should receive a tip. Occasions that often require these types of services, and therefore warrants tipping, include:

  • Weddings
  • Bar or Bat Mitzvahs
  • Corporate Events

There are also specific events where tipping an event photographer is not really necessary. Those occasions include:

  • Sporting events
  • Studio photographers
  • Headshots
  • Concerts

With all that said, ultimately, tipping is at the customer’s discretion. If you feel that your hired photographer went above and beyond with their services, then it is entirely appropriate to tip. The only issue with tipping a photographer is that you don’t necessarily see the final product until they are done editing the photographs.

Why Should You Tip an Event Photographer?

When you hire an event photographer, you will have a contract for the provided services and compensation. The price includes payment for the services and any employed/contracted photographers (either hourly or flat rate). The general expectation is that the cost of the photographer is based on the shots taken during the occasion. However, a photographer will spend hours reviewing and editing your photos after the event is over.

Because of this, one of the biggest reasons why people may decide to tip an event photographer is to show gratitude for the amount of work they have to do to produce beautiful pictures before or during the event or to demonstrate approval for an excellent job. Tipping can also be used as an incentive for the photographer to continue good work through the end of the editing process.

Who Should You Tip?

Typically, the owners of an event photography operation do not accept tips, unless there was a substantial effort put forth directly by the owner. Tips are more common for the hired help, which are the employees who receive a portion of the commission fee.

Most photography companies hire independent contractors or freelancers to fill out their teams when extra help is needed for an event. These individuals may have an ongoing relationship with the owners of the photography company, but they are not direct employees.

Offer monetary incentives before or after the event to the photographers who are immediately working the event. If the business owner is not present at the site, there is no need to offer them extra compensation.

How Much Should You Tip?

There is no set standard for tipping a photographer. It’s not like a restaurant where the average tip is 15-20% of the bill.

If you are working with an independent photographer, 20% of the commission is considered a generous tip. You can split that up by tipping 10% after the event and 10% when the photos are finished, and you receive the collection.

If there is a staff of photographers that are hired contractors, tipping each of them $50-100 is considered standard practice.

How to Tip an Event Photographer

There are several ways to make the tipping interaction easy and comfortable. The first thing to realize is that money is what you’re offering, and money is personal to everyone. You don’t want to make a scene or intentionally hurt people’s feelings.

First off, if you are going to tip, tip all the photographers or give the tip to the supervisor and let them know it is for the staff. It can make for an awkward interaction when someone sees you tipping one person, but not the rest.

If this is your intention—to reward a single photographer you felt went beyond your expectations and deserves a bit extra, do so with some professional courtesy. Don’t make it a public gesture, because then the act seems selfish. It is more polite to offer the tip to the photographer privately, and then explain why you believe they deserve it.

Final Thoughts

Today, it is a common practice for employees who work within service industries to receive tips for a job well done. In fact, in some sectors, tips make up the majority of an individual’s total wage, such as waiters and waitresses at a restaurant.

In addition to that, tipping is usually seen as a sign of gratitude or a gift of good faith for future interactions, so it is no surprise that people are more likely to tip event photographers for their work as well. However, there is no social expectation that says you must tip a photographer.

At the end of the day, whether or not you tip an event photographer is up to you. If you feel the photographer exceeded your expectations and simply want to thank them or wish to offer an incentive for continuing good work, then tipping is entirely okay. Just make sure that the event is the appropriate setting for tipping.

Check out this article on why is event photography important, and this other one to know if you need a model release on event photography.


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