Caitlin & Patria
Photography and retouch by me (www.cadmusstudio.com)
Makeup, hair & styling by Jacqueline Cramer (www.facebook.com/LoveLoveMakeup)
Just got the following email:
I’m curious to know what your average rates are, and if you bill by the project or by the hour.”
How much a photographer charges – and why – is worthy of a blog entry. Not that it’s not been discussed elsewhere, but hopefully if enough professionals repeat the same basic principles, then it’ll become common knowledge.
So, how much do I charge?
The short answer is that I calculate my rates at R500 per hour (of shooting) (that’s approximately US$60), in order to realistically cover all of my overheads as well as the additional hours spent on research, admin, correspondence, image processing and file-handling. That is also what my market can realistically sustain. Of course if there is excessive pre- or post-production I will bill R500 per hour for that additional work. This is what applies here in Cape Town, South Africa – things are going to be slightly different in New York City or Base Station 10, Antarctica.
Certain clients prefer to be billed per time and others per project, but internally I calculate based on what I know my hourly rate should be… it’s the only consistent and responsible way to run a photography business.
Of course I’m flexible, so will happily negotiate fees with clients in a way that satisfies both parties (sometimes that means that I refer them to another photographer whose work in that particular field is of a good standard and who may be willing to offer a reduced rate).
Final usage of the images has a major impact on rates. Clients who intend to use images commercially have higher demands and bigger budgets, whilst private individuals seeking images for personal use are generally working on a more limited budget. It is only reasonable that if a client intends to spend hundreds of thousands, or even millions on the printing, publishing, distribution and promotion of something featuring a photographer’s work, that the photographer be paid a fair percentage.
That’s the basic rate – things get a little more complicated when travel, special equipment, studio or special location, effects and makeup need to be added. If I need to arrange that, then I will have to bill in order to pay the people I subcontract, which would include compensation for myself for the time spent making these arrangements. The use of lighting and camera equipment is included in my basic rate, but I know that many photographers bill clients a separate rate/s for that.
And that’s it, without getting too complicated.
Please contact me if you’d like to discuss your project and my rates (my email and phone details are provided under ‘Contact’ at http://www.cadmusstudio.com).
I do a very limited number of wedding shoots – one or two a year. Tonight was one of those and what a beautiful and entertaining event it turned out to be. It’s a powerful experience to witness people declare their love in front of their friends and family.
It’s 2am and I’m wide awake… I don’t want to go to bed and let go of the magic of an evening like this.
But I have photos! And my 2nd shooter (Ashleigh-Marie) got excellent shots as well. And looking at them takes me right back into those enchanted moments… so here I sit, soaking up the magic while I listen to old school rock tunes.
Of course there’s a secret! Otherwise everyone would succeed, right?
OK, so you might sense a hint of irony in my words. That’s because I can only shake my head at the fever-pitched search for ‘the secret’ that I witness online and in the real world.
Am I qualified to have an opinion? Well, I do this full-time and clients actually pay me for photography. My images get published. I’m not famous or rich, but I do this for a living. So yes, to that extent I guess I can have an opinion about my industry and the people in it, or the people who want to be in it.
So here goes… the SECRET to being a great photographer is [drumroll]: take great photos.
I’m not being ironic or sarcastic. Seriously, great photographers take great photos. You cannot become a great photographer if you’re not taking photos. Let’s be clear: talking about photos, blogging about photos, and looking at photos are not the same as taking photos. It’s so blindingly obvious (to me, at least) but it seems that many many people are so busy looking for ‘the secret’ that they’re not busy taking photos. If you’re not taking photos, you’re not a photographer… you’re a camera owner.
Mastering photography – like all skills – is an evolutionary process: You have to take a lot of average photos before you start taking good photos. And then you take a lot of good photos before you consistently produce excellent photos. If you take enough photos, and give yourself enough opportunities to grow and never shirk away from the hard work of improving yourself, then you’ll take great photos. Take enough great photos and you’ll be a great photographer.
Every hour you spend looking for ‘the secret’ is an hour you could have been taking photos.
I get the sense that many people are so busy chasing that elusive tutorial/ book/ DVD/workshop that will somehow make them successful that they have no time left to take photos, never mind enjoy the wonder of creating an image.
Now, go take some damn pictures!