Friday, July 3, 2009

Why photographers charge "so much"

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.

Cheers, Josh
Copyright © 2009 Josh McCulloch.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is right Josh! They do not give camera's away! People don't want to pay for our
education and equipment. People think they can pay $75.00 to Uncle Bill to do a wedding.
Most of these end up in court cases. Or the Bride hates him forever! One chance - he
blow it. You get what you pay for.
Ask customers if they want a Lincoln or Chevy. $25,000.00 is just a small investment.

July 3, 2009 at 10:47 PM  
Anonymous Cathie Archbould said...

Great points Josh for us all to remember when we have clients come you charge?

Although digital has made it cheaper for amateurs to get into selling photography professionals are spending between 10-20% annually to upgrade computers, cameras, lenses, taking courses all to provide better products for our clients and to be offering a little bit more.

I believe competition is good for clients and the industry.
It keeps me working harder and lets clients see what their dollars buy or don't buy.
I welcome it.

Good shooting,

July 6, 2009 at 7:10 PM  
Blogger Josh McCulloch said...

Cathie - Very true about making it easier and cheaper for part-time shooters to begin selling. I certainly hear all sides from fellow pro shooters; Some are very bitter and reminisce about the "Good old days" when pro's could make a living by just knowing how to expose slide film properly, and some are excited about the changes and the challenges today's pro faces, including competition from amateurs or semi-pros. I'm certainly in the latter group... I focus my time and energy on working to improve my skills, knowledge and equipment to serve my clients better (and to get better clients!) instead of focusing on what others are doing that may be negative. Glad to see this positive energy out there in other pros!

Cheers, Josh

July 6, 2009 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger JohnEMarriott said...

Good stuff, Josh. Don't know how I missed this back when you posted it, but it's so true in all regards.

November 6, 2009 at 8:19 AM  

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