How much does a pho­tog­ra­ph­er charge for a shoot? This ques­tion creeps up doubt­ful­ly even on long-term prac­ti­tion­ers in the indus­try, not to men­tion novice pho­tog­ra­phers who con­stant­ly ask it.

What price to put? Recent­ly I saw an ad on Insta­gram, the text of which was some­thing like this: “Last month of film­ing at the old price, from Sep­tem­ber the price will be XXX — make sure to sign up.” This already opens up the next lev­el of ques­tions: when to raise the price, how to raise it, on what basis? Pho­tog­ra­phy is work. The pho­tog­ra­phy itself is just the tip of the ice­berg. There is also logis­tics, time to work with pho­tographs, the cost of equip­ment and much, much more.

So how much do you charge for film­ing? We under­stand the com­po­nents of this com­plex finan­cial cal­cu­la­tion.

Pho­to: magnumphotos.com

There are no divisions here

There are no ranks, as in chess. That is why there are no exact fig­ures: I can­not say that a per­son who shoots for one year should take exact­ly X rubles, and who shoots for more than five years XX rubles, the own­er of a full-frame cam­era one amount, and the crop user anoth­er. No. So it does­n’t work.

The final cost that you will spec­i­fy is made up of many fac­tors. It must be made up of many fac­tors. Just point­ing your fin­ger at the sky, nam­ing any price, it is unrea­son­able. Rip off the price from pho­tog­ra­ph­er N from Insta­gram — too. Let’s try to take a cre­ative pro­fes­sion and, as the clas­sic called, “to believe har­mo­ny with alge­bra.”

Adding but not subtracting

What, in the bot­tom line, should make up the final cost of the pho­tog­ra­pher’s work? You expect­ed to see here some spe­cif­ic amounts or terms with a pledged val­ue, but they will not be. There will be log­ic that can be adopt­ed.

Pho­to: digital-photography-school.com

I took approx­i­mate and very gen­er­al cat­e­gories that every­one can try on for them­selves. Based on them, as well as a num­ber of sub­jec­tive para­me­ters, you will be able to esti­mate the cost of your work. When form­ing the price list for your ser­vices, it is worth lay­ing:

  • the cost of the cam­era, lens­es and oth­er equip­ment that you spent mon­ey on. You bought this tech­nique, which costs some mon­ey, and it would be nice to recoup it. The more expen­sive the arse­nal, the high­er the qual­i­ty and the more it should affect your val­ue as a cre­ative unit;
  • devel­op­ment spend­ing. An expen­sive cam­era is one thing, but you can buy one and shoot for years doing the same thing. That is why senior­i­ty is not always an indi­ca­tor. Aunt Lyu­ba in the next entrance works as a hair­dress­er and has been doing this for decades. But where is she and where are the top hair­cut mas­ters? There­fore, expe­ri­ence is good, but it is nec­es­sary to upgrade your skills. All kinds of cours­es, work­shops, mas­ter class­es, paid lec­tures, and even spe­cial­ized lit­er­a­ture and pho­to books that are not cheap should be includ­ed in this col­umn. All this increas­es your skill and makes you stronger. And again: high­er qual­i­ty — high­er your price as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er;
  • logis­tics. The point, it would seem, is not so impor­tant, but some­times it shows itself. One thing is street shoot­ing or shoot­ing in a stu­dio in the city cen­ter, quite anoth­er — albeit rare, but shoot­ing out­side the city or in a hard-to-reach loca­tion. Basic trans­port costs with­in the city are also worth con­sid­er­ing;
  • final­ly, the most impor­tant and exten­sive: the time of your shoot­ing, the num­ber of pho­tos and the time of work­ing with them. Some­one shoots exact­ly an hour on a timer, and some­one takes sev­er­al hours. Some­one throws pre­sets, and some­one man­u­al­ly works on each pho­to. Every­thing has the right to exist, but only you know how much effort you spend on all this. There­fore, it is impor­tant to take this into account, with­out adjust­ing to any­one. And this can be dis­cussed with the client on the shore: by spec­i­fy­ing the num­ber of pho­tos at the exit and the shoot­ing tim­ing.

* Sep­a­rate­ly, I would indi­cate addi­tion­al costs that, with an ade­quate approach, should be paid by the client. Name­ly: stu­dio rental feeif it’s a stu­dio shoot, and pay­ment for con­sum­ablesif it’s on film. Such moments are impor­tant to stip­u­late in advance.

Pho­to: abmcollege.com

Converting to specific numbers

The ini­tial data is clear, but how to take them into account is not very. You know the cost of equip­ment, imag­ine how much you spend on trans­port and the rare pur­chase of advanced cours­es, you even cal­cu­lat­ed the time for work­ing on pho­tographs … And what to do with all this? There­fore, I made a reser­va­tion about dry cal­cu­la­tion, which can­not replace the com­po­nent of cre­ativ­i­ty.

Let’s say you once spent mon­ey on a top-end cam­era with a fleet of fast lens­es. You want to recoup these costs and set a high price. This is fun­da­men­tal­ly wrong! After all, you do not take into account the most impor­tant thing — pho­tos. This is the most impor­tant cri­te­ri­on.

The cri­te­ri­on is sub­jec­tive, but there is a good exer­cise that will help you under­stand how much you cost as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er:

See what oth­ers are doing. The very time where you can not only focus on them, but even need to. Open Insta­gram, VK, ser­vices on free ad ser­vices. Look for pho­tog­ra­phers in your city and see what they have to offer.

There is such a thing as the aver­age mar­ket val­ue, and you need to find it. Now try this data on your­self: how many hours of work do these pho­tog­ra­phers offer? How fast do they ship pho­tos? How much are they giv­ing? What exam­ples of their work do they show? How do you like it, are you sub­jec­tive­ly stronger or not so much?

Yes, every­one shoots in their own style, in dif­fer­ent and dif­fer­ent ways. Find pho­tos that are most sim­i­lar to you and close in artis­tic val­ue. Here, take them into account.

Now it’s up to the small, to take into account the costs. Let’s imag­ine a hypo­thet­i­cal exam­ple that will clear­ly show how to do this: you found sim­i­lar pho­tog­ra­phers, you saw the price. But, let’s say the pho­tog­ra­ph­er works for exact­ly one and a half hours, and you are ready to shoot two or three. So it should already cost more. The pho­tog­ra­ph­er writes that he has a FF cam­era? And you! We skip. Does he/she give pic­tures in a week? you with­in ten days. Rough­ly the same. But in the text of a per­son, 40 pho­tos are indi­cat­ed at the out­put, while you some­times give away even under 100, tak­ing into account the shoot­ing time. This is anoth­er call. But with col­or cor­rec­tion you are bad. When a per­son writes that he does it skill­ful­ly, and the attached pic­tures speak about it. A rea­son to take a step back.

Thus, you will under­stand in what you are stronger and in what you are infe­ri­or to oth­er pho­tog­ra­phers in the mar­ket of your city. And you can also sub­jec­tive­ly esti­mate how much your work would cost.

The most impor­tant thing, as when tai­lor­ing a suit, is to do the final fit­ting: do you feel com­fort­able with this price? Enough? Jus­ti­fies the invest­ment of you, skills, tech­nol­o­gy, time?

The amount you receive should moti­vate you to devel­op fur­ther. And if you fall into the “have time to exhale before the next shoot­ing” state, then some­thing is going wrong.

Pho­to: wikimedia.com

Bonus: How to Raise Your Price When You Already…

When you have already grown out of the old, like a teenag­er out of clothes. It’s not enough already, because you gained expe­ri­ence, there was enough film­ing, the results are pleas­ing, and you recent­ly bought a new cam­era.

It was not by chance that I remem­bered the adver­tise­ment I saw recent­ly: such an action should not be sud­den and cause rejec­tion among cus­tomers or, even worse, among reg­u­lar cus­tomers and acquain­tances. This should be done grad­u­al­ly, open­ly and, impor­tant­ly, explain­ing to peo­ple why you are doing it. The same expe­ri­ence, backed up by qual­i­ty, growth, per­haps even cours­es and new equip­ment, is some­thing that the hair­dress­er Aunt Lyu­ba can­not boast of, but you can. You can even write a sep­a­rate text about it in your social net­works. Ade­quate peo­ple will not only under­stand, but also sup­port.

At this stage, you do not need to look at what oth­ers are doing and how much they are ask­ing for it. You are an estab­lished unit with a stat­ed mar­ket val­ue. Look at your­self in the past and eval­u­ate how much you have grown com­pared to your pre­vi­ous self and how much high­er the price of you as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er should be now. Ask your­self the same ques­tion: all things con­sid­ered, what price would I be com­fort­able with?


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