Why I Charge

I've had a few people recently ask me why my rates have gone up, or say that I charge too much or just not want to work with me because of the fact that I charge for sessions.  So, I wanted to address the whole 'why do you charge?' and 'why photographers should charge' issues in this post. 

Why do I charge and how do I determine my rates?

I charge for shoots not only because I want pursue my passion as a photographer, and unfortunately in order to do what I love I need to make money somehow, but also because the whole process is a ton of work and takes a ton of time.  Coming up with concepts, organizing a team, picking dates and times, setting up, doing the shoot, putting everything away, traveling to and from sets, weeding out the best photos, editing them, and then making sure they get to everyone and everyone is happy with the outcome.  That mouthful of a sentence pretty much sums up the the majority of the process.

Before and after editing one of the images from my "Heartstrings" beauty editorial featured on Scorpio Jin Magazines' website with model Amara.  This edit took me around two hours to fully complete, and that was just one of the 13 images used for this spread.  Thats  over 26 hours in total of just editing , not including the 5 hour shoot time.  

Before and after editing one of the images from my "Heartstrings" beauty editorial featured on Scorpio Jin Magazines' website with model Amara.  This edit took me around two hours to fully complete, and that was just one of the 13 images used for this spread.  Thats over 26 hours in total of just editing, not including the 5 hour shoot time.  

It amazes me how fast all those seemingly minuscule tasks rack up work hours.  Every little thing takes up time, and in the world we live in time=money.  As a photographer you aren't just working the one or three hours you're shooting, you have to take into consideration every minute of preparation and the whole editing process as well.  For example; 

20 minutes to prepare all of your gear for the shoot, 15 minutes commuting to the location, 90 minutes shooting, 15 minutes getting home, 10 minutes to unpack and import images, 45 minutes to short images 90 minutes to edit one image (360 minutes for four images), 10 minutes to export and get the images to the clients.  

Time lapse video of the three hours of work I put into one image from a beauty shoot with model Karen.

In total that's almost 9.5 hours of work just from one short shoot and editing four photos.  That's equivalent to a full work day plus an hour and a half of overtime.  Now this is just using an average editing speed of one image per hour and a half, when editing speeds (for me) can be between 30 minutes - 3 hours depending on the complexity of the edit.  Just to make slightly over minimum wage at $12 an hour this shoot would then cost $114.  You then have to take in account the costs of a makeup artist or stylist, plus gas and wear on you car if you drive, or transit fees.  Which can add up to over another $200 depending on who you are hiring, gas prices, etc.  But who wants to make slightly more than minimum wage for the remainder of their life?  Raising the rate to the average hourly rate (made by full-time employees) of $27.70 that shoot would then cost about $264 before additional services.  

That may seem pricey for a mere four photos, but wouldn't you agree that a full-time photographer should be paid at least the same as the average full-time employee?  There's another key factor at hand here; photography work isn't always consistent.  If you only did a shoot every five days or so you'd only be making around $1,584 a month, which is barely anything these days.  Most decent photographers charge large amounts not only due to how much work getting from start to finish requires, but also because we don't always know when our next client will come along.  (Also the fact that our equipment costs two arms and a leg!  As I hope you read about in my previous post!) 

What I'm trying to get at here is that this job has a lot more going for it that the hour or so we are actually around shooting with the client.  It requires a lot of planning, and a lot of behind the scenes post production work.

A before and after editing from one of my latest publishings in PROMO Magazine "Living Plastics" featuring model Geneva.  As you can tell a lot changed from the raw to the final product, this edit took me around 2 or so hours to complete.  For this series not only was I the photographer and retoucher, I also did the styling and makeup.  All of which took a ton of my time and used up materials.

A before and after editing from one of my latest publishings in PROMO Magazine "Living Plastics" featuring model Geneva.  As you can tell a lot changed from the raw to the final product, this edit took me around 2 or so hours to complete.  For this series not only was I the photographer and retoucher, I also did the styling and makeup.  All of which took a ton of my time and used up materials.

As for how I determine my rates, I like to look at a combination of factors.  Such as what my local competition is charging.  How many hours on average that certain type of shoot will take me to complete.  The cost of my gear to calculate an overhead.  How often I have scheduled paid shoots, and how much I want to be making.  A lot of it is decided on how much I value my time and work as well.  As someone who values what I do I plan to eventually have higher rates once I have a steady client base with more consistent work.  I am working towards the goal of working less and making more, or at least the same. 

Well I hope you guys enjoyed this Tuesdays post, please feel free to leave a like or comment below and if you feel like keeping up with my latest posts just enter you email in on the side to subscribe!  Thanks for reading guys! 

Until next time, 

Tristen