updating – February 2017
Running a photographic business is not easy.
Numerous skills are required to run a business. Once you start taking photographs for a living, the hobby dies and photography becomes a business.
‘What should I charge for photography?’
One of the most difficult things to get right, especially in the time of recession is the answer to ‘What should I charge?’ Fees and budgets across photographic practices dropped during the economic downturn. The economy is still in a mess. People and businesses still require images but many are prepared to go down the DIY route to save money. Many people have lost their jobs and turned to photography to earn money. There are more photographers than ever before, amateurs and professionals.
Buyers of photography have a large choice of suppliers and price levels. You will have to find out what the price levels are in the different areas of photographic services on offer, this will help to determine the fees you will charge. I have to speak in general terms here because the answer to the big question is dependant on many variables depending on what type of photographic service you are offering.
New technology at a consumer level can seem cheap but once you set up in business its one thing after another to sustain yourself and to keep up. Professional level equipment and quality is expensive. It is possible to use compact digital cameras, and pro-consumer camera bodies with good quality lenses and good lighting to produce good quality photography, along with Photoshop and other forms of post-production software. It is possible to hire expensive professional camera and lighting equipment. These costs have to be covered though. Some photographers hire specialist or non-specialist types of equipment. There are ways to lease equipment, paying on a monthly basis to spread out the costs and avoid spending large amounts of money.
Professional photographic services have, to some extent, been devalued by the superfast development of digital technology. Some pro photographers have had to reinvent themselves via the type and scope of services they provide. The moving images has become part of the services offered by many photographers as the usage has become more prevalent. It’s certainly an option to develop.
Photography requires constant investment: buy new lenses, camera bodies, computer hardware and software, software updates, car maintenance, insurances, accountants fee, tax bill, assistants fees, accessories, magazines, website, marketing material, FTP, etc…. Not everyday will be a day that you earn money. Will there be enough money to cover the business bills and living expenses?
There are many questions to ask yourself: What are photographers charging in the marketplace? Is my experience in line with that kind of fee? Can I deliver a quality job at that price? Will I be losing money if I work at this rate? Do the images have a re-sale value? Can I put them in a stock library to make extra money? What kind of licence/rights am I selling?
What are the photographs going to be used for?
Web, print, advertising, editorial… what about copyright issues, geographical rights, exclusivity… Each of the answers to these questions can help determine the value of the photography.
Some businesses will have fixed rates that they offer. Editorial commissions for magazines are difficult to come by as budgets are slashed. Book publishers may present budgets within which they want the work to be completed.
It is difficult to say what photographers are charging as a job rate or a daily rate. It varies greatly between the different genres of photography. Advertising photography probably has the highest earners. High end fashion, car and jewellery photography is difficult to do. It requires skills built up over time and through assisting top commercial photographers. Of course there are types of fashion photography that is done in a low-tech style.
The National Union of Journalists publishes rates achieved by their members on their website.
[IN THE PROCESS OF EDITING THIS ARTICLE]
Some photographers are studio based and so if the job requires a studio it’s part of the fee. Most photographers work from home or an office.
Time and rates
If it’s £350.00 per day, an 8 hour day.
350 divided by 8 equals £43 per hour.
If you produce 10 photographs , that’s £35 per photograph.
How much do you charge for post-production, let’s say a flat fee of £150.
That makes it £45 per photograph to the client.
Some photographers charge the normal day rate for post-production.
There may be other expenses like travel costs, batteries, assistant’s fee…
£350.00 per day divided by 8 equals £43 per hour.
Photographers may charge £75 and upwards to do a one hour job.
How many photographs are required?
How quickly are they required?
Does that fee include post-production?
What is the value of the photographs to the client? They will want the photography to promote/sell a product or a service. That’s where the value is in the photograph.
Using social media as a promotional tool is a time consuming process and who know how effective it is; blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…