Today, I spent a few hours installing and learning some new software, and got to thinking about how long it was taking. I felt as though I was wasting away a good part of my day doing something that a) should have taken a lot less time, and b) I wasn't getting paid for. Part b) got me thinking about how a photographer makes their living and what we charge.
I was installing some new plugins from Nik Software (review and details to come in a future post once I'm more familiar with it - so far it ROCKS), and as I mentioned I got to thinking about rates, time management, etc, and came to realize that though most of us aren't shooting 40 hours a week, we are constantly working to upgrade our equipment, software, techniques, etc, which enables us to serve our clients better. For example, these plugins I was installing are going to enable me to deliver cleaner, sharper, and more stunning files to my clients than I have in the past, and save me tons of time in the process. Yet, in order to realize those gains in the future, I have to invest in both time and money at the present.
On occasion I have clients asking why my rates are what they are, and I often go into a spiel about rights, usage, copyright, etc, along with the unique creative aspect that only I can bring to the job. All of these are valid points, and I have no qualms in justifying them. The other side of this though, that I rarely explain to the client, is that I spend a large portion of my "working" time (and personal time - I do still shoot for fun!) refining aspects of my workflow in order to serve them better. I am investing financially in the hardware and software to deliver better files to them faster, and, like today, investing my time learning how to do it.
Employees of large & small companies alike get paid their wage or salary for their training, and all of their training materials, software and hardware are provided for them (along with medical benefits, RRSP's holiday time, etc). When you are hired by these companies to shoot, you are providing all of this, and much more for them. Keep this in mind when you're estimating your next assignment.
Copyright © 2009 Josh McCulloch.
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