Trapped, too much or too little?


The big question that every photographer ask themselves is, “how much should I charge for my work/time/photos?”  I have run into this question numerous times and struggled with a good answer.  If you charge too much the client walks away, if you don’t charge enough you feel like you are being ripped off and maybe the client feels like you are not serious about what you do.  I don’t have a clear answer but with time and experience I have come up with a few solutions.  

What are you selling? An individual photo for a specific use or your time?

 If you are selling photos for a purpose then there are some very good web calculators that will help you out.  Foto Quote is one of them.  It is built into Photo Shelter and I have used it many times to calculate a price for a client based on how they want to use it.  If they are printing it in a local magazine with 1000 copies it is different than if it is in an international newspaper with a million copies.  

Ok, that is easy, but what if you are selling your time?  For example, a client wants you to photograph an event or a story.  Well first off, if it is a story the client usually sets the price.  I am talking about a newspaper of a magazine that hires you.  They normally have a day rate and you either accept it or not.

But if someone ask you to photograph an event you need to have a standard. A good place to start is the NPPA’s price of doing business calculator.  The calculator is a great but it might be a little more than you are ready for.  Maybe you don’t know how many days a year you can bill for or the cost of your office because it is in your home etc….  

So, I recommend creating your own calculator.  It is easy enough to do with excel.  The way I created mine was to start with and equipment list that I normally take on a shoot.  I looked around and found out how much it would cost to rent the same equipement locally.  Then I set my price for renting it accordingly.  Normally I reduced the price significantly because I want to offer my clients a deal when it comes to equipment rental since I already have it.  I also figured how many jobs I do a year and how often I needed to replace my gear and came up with a rough number.  

Once I had a fixed price for gear I created a variable of how much I wanted per hour. If I am working with an NGO that number might be lower than if I am working with a commercial client.    I also figure that if I spend one hour taking photos I spend at least that amount of time with post production, so one hour really equals two.  

The equation is: price per hour x 2 (1 for shoot, 1 for post) + equipment rental 

ie; $25 x 2 = $50 + 25 = $75  

The cool thing about doing this in excel is that I can use few simple formulas and all the calculations are done just by changing what I want per hour.  Then you can really get tricky and set up different fees if more equipment is needed or shooting or editing video and a summing system that allows you to put in hours and it spits our a final price etc… The options are endless and the outcomes are more control over your money and a clear explanation of your rates.  



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About edwintoonephotography

I am a U.S. born professional photographer living in Barcelona, Spain.

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