Should your Tip your Photographer? Photographer Tipping Alternatives

I’m not going to lie, even after 17 years in the US, the tipping culture still trips me up sometimes. Some say every service should be tipped. Some say only certain services should be tipped. There’s the old age tradition that says you should only tip employees and not owners of a business. So the question remains, should you tip your photographer? Or are there other photographer tipping alternatives to consider? The quick answer is that tipping your photographer is always appreciated, but never expected or required.

With that said, let’s dive in a little deeper and see why tipping your photographer might be appreciated, but why other alternatives might be even better.

Why tipping your photographer isn’t necessary

Imagine this; you’ve just had the most amazing experience with your San Diego Maternity Photographer, selected your favorite images, paid for your products, and are about to walk out the door and head back home. On the way out the door you stop yourself and wonder “Should I be tipping my maternity photographer?”.

If you’ve read anything about tipping etiquette, you’ve probably heard that tipping only applies to the employees of a business and that the owner of the business shouldn’t be tipped.

Now here’s the tricky part about tipping your photographer. Most photographers own their own business. As many small business owners, this means you wear the hat of every role in your company. As a maternity photographer, I am not only the photographer, I am also the marketing manager, financial officer, customer service representative, editor, and website designer, to just name a few roles I am responsible for. Most photographers ARE their own employees. So back to the original question, does that mean I need to tip my photographer? Well, it’s one of those situations where tipping is at your discretion.

Elegant blonde woman in orange leather skirt and black sweater exudes sophistication and style during headshot session with San Diego Photographer. She's laughing while leaning up against a white wall.

How much should I tip my photographer?

Now, maybe you’ve decided that you really would like to show your photographer appreciation for the great job they did and you want to tip them. The question now becomes, how much should you tip your photographer?

If you consider that professional services in the United States generally are tipped between 15%-20%, things can add up quickly. A 20% tip on a $2500 professional maternity session and professional prints adds up. If you want to tip your photographer that amount I can almost guarantee that your photographer will not only do a happy dance in their office, but they may even attempt a backflip out of excitement.

But again, as a maternity photographer, I never expect tips, and I am always grateful for anything I receive as a tip. I’ve done happy dances for a $10 tip as I truly appreciate the thought behind it. You should never feel pressured to tip any set amount.

Female Photographer posting against a wall holding our her camera for her branding pictures wondering if she should be tipping her photographer

What are some photographer tipping alternatives to cash?

Did you know that there are other ways to tip your photographer than with cash? These alternatives are a wonderful and much-appreciated way to show your appreciation to your maternity photographer. Here are some alternatives that you can use next time you’ve hired a photographer for your maternity pictures or other portraits.


As a small business owner, 5-star reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook or other online portals, can make a massive difference. Not only does it help us to ensure our business stays relevant on these platforms, but it also helps fellow expectant/new parents know what photographer they can trust for their session. A thoughtful review/testimonial shared with your photographer is sure to bring tears to their eyes.

And if you only have a few minutes, just clicking those 5 stars and writing a sentence or two is equally as appreciated.

Share with friends and family

Another amazing way to show appreciation for your photographer is to shout from the rooftops about your session experience. And if you don’t feel safe on a roof, sharing your images with friends and family, and tagging your photographer on social media is just as good. Word of mouth is the best form of marketing for any small business. Nothing beats a warm referral from a client.

Other sweet ideas

Want to take it one step further. Some other sweet ideas for what to gift your photographer may include freshly baked cookies, a handwritten Thank You card, a bottle of wine or a Starbucks gift card (trust me, photographers go through a lot of coffee while running their business!).


So, should you tip your photographer? Well, it ultimately comes down to your experience and your personal preferences. Just remember, your maternity photographer will never expect you to tip after your session, but a tip, whichever way you do it, is always appreciated!