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Thread: How should an amateur photographer charge?

  1. #21
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    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    I agree with most that you need to match your service with the pricing but not too low until you spoil the market.

    Personally, i think if you are starting out S$50/hr is quite reasonable as you probably dont have top notch gear and your photo hit rate is probably low as well.

    Perhaps like what is suggested, you can sell them the CD/prints separately so you can mark up on those.

  2. #22
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    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by sjackal View Post
    To a person outside the industry, $80 per hour may sounds like a lot, but it really is a very modest pay, something like what a person in his early 20s would earn for the first few years.

    (No offense intended but) I am quite tired of reading the 'no one can tell you what to charge' type of 'standard reply' on clubsnap because people ask really because they are interested in going pro or semi-pro and wants to do it right. Otherwise all sorts of nonsense prices are surfacing everywhere probably also because of non-education or information, the ending up affecting the market in a bad way.

    I will explain why $80 an hour is really a honest, low rate.

    For a newbie pro (yes, there are newbie pros, nobody starts out as experienced pros) wanting to do it right and probably experimenting, learning along the way, 1 hour of shoot equates to about another 4 to 5 hours of post production. By post production I mean from uploading to culling bad pics, to color/tonal correction to creative edits, to final checks/edits to burning CD, to addon services like slideshows, CD designs, to printing invoices to packaging. If you do album or print sales, you spend more time on album design and trips to the labs. Heck, even sorting and slotting in 300 4R prints into an album can take you 2 hours.

    Or think of it like on Saturday you shoot a wedding, you then spend Mon to Thu on post production. As you grow in experience and hammer down your post production workflow, the ratio goes down to 1:3, Saturday wedding shoot, Mon to Wed post production.

    Leaves you Sun for rest (or Sat if you book a Sunday wedding), and Thu and Fri for marketing, client meetings, deliveries, fulfillment, and take MC if sick, because you cannot afford to be sick on weekends.

    Lets take 1:3 ratio, 10 hours wedding, plus 30 hours post production, equals to 40 hours work week. That is the same as a full time job in a company.

    $80 times 10 hours equals to $800 pay per week or $2400 a month, without CPF, benefits and without bonus. Most pros aim for 40 weddings a year, because the month of Qing Ming Festival and the month of Hungry Ghost Festival no weddings, dry season, also you need to rest and recharge your creative juice, and catch up on post production you lagged behind if you cannot hit 1:3 ratio. If you do book, most likely its to make up for the weddings you did not manage to book in some weekends, and also probably someone will ask you to discount because its ghost month (remember that exciting thread?). That is only $24000 gross income per year. Most young people in the early twenties can earn $30K or more.

    We have not factor in cost of equipment and software licenses if you put in money upfront to buy, or if you had not put in money upfront, you rent.

    We have not factor in the cost of equipment (and software) depreciation and upgrade after a few years, (if you are still in business.)

    We have not factor in cost of transportation and stationary. You probably take a lot of taxi trips, eg early hours, late hours, rushing for receptions, etc. Car ownership is impossible at this current income level, motorcycle too dangerous and hard to carry gear, too much at risk.

    We have not factor in one very important thing, cost of marketing/advertising. We are looking at double to triple digits for google or facebook ads, or 4 to 5 digits for magazine or print ads or roadshows.

    We are now at the assumption that you are very successful as a budget $800 per wedding shooter booking a full 40 weddings a year. But most likely you will not book 40 weddings a year easily with all the undercutting going around.

    Weddings are not going to come knocking on the door fully booked for the year the moment a person declare his a wedding photog. Even if you DIY the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) yourself, you will be spending even more time working behind the computer trying to outsmart google.

    This similar figure can translate to a events photographer, except its probably even harder, coz you can book a wedding for a weekend and covered your $800 a week, but an events photographer need to book three 3-hours gig over the Fri-Sat-Sun to land 9 hours. Most events dont last as long as weddings, even so, companies try to save money and hire you for only 3 hours. Also you probably attend more meetings and chase more invoices. With weddings you can collect 50% or full payment in advance and live on retainers/deposits, but with commercial work, you are lucky if you are paid 30 days after invoicing, sometimes 90 days, sometimes chasing 120 day late invoices. PLUS, weddings are easier to get in cause its lifestyle work, anyone can get in (just like that Derrick guy who recently started a huge thread) but for events and commercial work, someone had to open a door for you to get it. Otherwise its hard and jobs are going to be few.

    After minusing all the variable expenses we have not factored in, a salaried security guard probably earns more.

    People see $80 per hour on the shoot, but never see the many many hours behind.

    Everytime an amateur undercut a pro, someone starved. That someone could very well be your friend-in-photography.
    to me, all those reasons above is why no one but yourself can decide how much to price.

    it's precisely because it's how much effort & dedication each individual puts into their work that makes it hard to advise a specific amount.

    Your $80 and my $80 and their $80 does not translate to the same amount of work. Nor does it guarantee the same standard of work. Photographers don't need certification to work, not like an electrician or plumber. $80 for plumber A is probably going to provide at least the same min standard as plumber B, if they're not trying to pull a fast one, you can ensure at least the pipe stops leaking. Not the same as a newbie photographer, or not even a "pro" photographer sometimes. There is no rulebook of minimum standards to go by. $80 can mean crap work to standard to super to beyond-call-of-duty, it all depends on the photographer.

    For anyone who asks "how much to charge?", do I know what their standard of work is? do I know their work ethic? do I know if they're having an extreme financial burden? No, I don't know anything.

    Even pros undercut pros when times are hard, just to get the account, just to get some money for overheads, just to eek out the month, so what, it's a basis of business. You don't always know who you're taking business from, nor precisely why the client chose you over the other. The only winner is the one who got the job and losers who didn't. Sometimes the winner choses to share the job partly amongst his friends but that's it, someone is always starving, but not always due to amateur, because amateurs can only be priced within a certain (low) market and because some clients are too dumb to pay more for quality, or that they can't tell the difference.

    Telling a newbie to price himself at $80 or any specific price we percieve to be a min amount is just harming him. If he puts in effort and produces quality work in no time will he be able to charge clients more even if he started at $30. But if his work is awful and sub-standard then are people going to recommend him to others? I can understand what you're trying to do, raise amatuer rates so the pros can as well. But unless there's some national ruling of photographer prices it's not happening. 5 newbies pricing at $80 and a low-baller who charges $40 everytime, who will get most jobs? Then it's the same again what, this time newbie undercut newbie (as if it's not happening already), can you stop it? Clients compare too, if they find a beyond-the-call-of-duty photographer at $80, you think they won't try to lowball another photographer to get the same service but lower rate? Can you stop it too?

    I just advise those starting out to price reasonably within their limits, they can price higher as they grow or price lower if they sink, it's out of my hands. But I don't want to feel like I'm sabo-ing them by tellling them a specific amount. Not that I'm implying anyone else is, but that's my personal stand.

    I'm already happy if a freelancer is not shooting for free. That's only my minimum limit. Sometimes I'm amazed how some portfolios can be called professional photography but so what, I'm not the photography police. There are some fair and honest operators, but everyone can't be fair and honest all the time. Everyone should be entitled to be a ******* sometimes to survive.

  3. #23

    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtwo View Post
    to me, all those reasons above is why no one but yourself can decide how much to price.

    it's precisely because it's how much effort & dedication each individual puts into their work that makes it hard to advise a specific amount.

    Your $80 and my $80 and their $80 does not translate to the same amount of work. Nor does it guarantee the same standard of work. Photographers don't need certification to work, not like an electrician or plumber. $80 for plumber A is probably going to provide at least the same min standard as plumber B, if they're not trying to pull a fast one, you can ensure at least the pipe stops leaking. Not the same as a newbie photographer, or not even a "pro" photographer sometimes. There is no rulebook of minimum standards to go by. $80 can mean crap work to standard to super to beyond-call-of-duty, it all depends on the photographer.

    For anyone who asks "how much to charge?", do I know what their standard of work is? do I know their work ethic? do I know if they're having an extreme financial burden? No, I don't know anything.

    Even pros undercut pros when times are hard, just to get the account, just to get some money for overheads, just to eek out the month, so what, it's a basis of business. You don't always know who you're taking business from, nor precisely why the client chose you over the other. The only winner is the one who got the job and losers who didn't. Sometimes the winner choses to share the job partly amongst his friends but that's it, someone is always starving, but not always due to amateur, because amateurs can only be priced within a certain (low) market and because some clients are too dumb to pay more for quality, or that they can't tell the difference.

    Telling a newbie to price himself at $80 or any specific price we percieve to be a min amount is just harming him. If he puts in effort and produces quality work in no time will he be able to charge clients more even if he started at $30. But if his work is awful and sub-standard then are people going to recommend him to others? I can understand what you're trying to do, raise amatuer rates so the pros can as well. But unless there's some national ruling of photographer prices it's not happening. 5 newbies pricing at $80 and a low-baller who charges $40 everytime, who will get most jobs? Then it's the same again what, this time newbie undercut newbie (as if it's not happening already), can you stop it? Clients compare too, if they find a beyond-the-call-of-duty photographer at $80, you think they won't try to lowball another photographer to get the same service but lower rate? Can you stop it too?

    I just advise those starting out to price reasonably within their limits, they can price higher as they grow or price lower if they sink, it's out of my hands. But I don't want to feel like I'm sabo-ing them by tellling them a specific amount. Not that I'm implying anyone else is, but that's my personal stand.

    I'm already happy if a freelancer is not shooting for free. That's only my minimum limit. Sometimes I'm amazed how some portfolios can be called professional photography but so what, I'm not the photography police. There are some fair and honest operators, but everyone can't be fair and honest all the time. Everyone should be entitled to be a ******* sometimes to survive.
    The reason behind my post is just a reasonable illustration of what could be involved behind the scenes and not saying what you advised is wrong, please do not mistaken that its directed at your advice, which is good too

    IMHO, portfolio is not the main measure of price, but rather, how much a photographer earns and keep for his efforts does. There must be a baseline to survive and sustain the business, thereafter any higher rates than the baseline are then determined largely by business skills, ie contacts and clientele base, personality and popularity, then by portfolio. Not saying that portfolio or standard of work is not important, it is darn important as a basic requisite just not the main determining factors.

    Also IMHO, it is important for people in the creative field to have a strong start. People who started low knew how hard it is to work up the rates. I prefer to think in a way that, if my photography is no good, I should not reduce my price, but rather I should find ways to make my photography good.

    The budget shooter may have many many bookings, but the good gigs he missed because his too busy shooting and fulfilling the budget gigs. After a while, he becomes mentally tired, or mentally used to the low prices, or his budget client base locks him there.

    We should also be aware that there are more discerning clients than the budget seekers. Hiring photographers is a business expense, and in business there are good expenses and bad expenses. Hiring bad photographers is bad expense, waste time and money, and might hurt their brand or the whole marketing effort. The discerning clients knew that very well and thus will look for good photographers and would be avoiding the budget ones. The budget shooters might also be good and have great portfolio, but their lower rates does not appeal to the more discerning clients, because it makes the budget shooter look amateurish and had no idea what makes economical sense, thus discerning clients don't really want to take risk and work with them, rather paying more, or alot more for a expensive photographer, after all, if the grand result is the client's company making big money from their marketing or advertising efforts, the few hundred or even few thousands of dollars difference between hiring a cheap photog and a expensive photog will appear miniscule.

    What I trying to say is that, if part timers can have a better idea of whats going on, they can price more logically, for themselves and for everyone else.
    Last edited by sjackal; 8th August 2011 at 05:28 PM.
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  4. #24

    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Pay attention to what this big time guy said, especially from the 7:30 minute segment of the video onwards, every single word. Watch the video on the whole, then scroll back to 7:30 onwards.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PY0uvEbaoFI
    Last edited by sjackal; 9th August 2011 at 01:04 PM.
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  5. #25
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    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Just recently, there is a market spoilter charge my client 25 bucks for a 3 hrs birthday party when i was doing it for 100 bucks .. cursed that cheapo ..
    If the photo i took is 1% unclear, I will rather delete .. www.flickr.com/photos/59837685@N03/

  6. #26

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    Thanks for your info! Really an insight into what a photographer's work is.

  7. #27

    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by canonmono View Post
    Just recently, there is a market spoilter charge my client 25 bucks for a 3 hrs birthday party when i was doing it for 100 bucks .. cursed that cheapo ..
    Alamak, $100 for 3 hour coverage and include CD?

    You can stop cursing....

    There will be people doing it for free.... It is really something you should thing about.

    Regards,

    Hart

  8. #28

    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by Agetan View Post
    Alamak, $100 for 3 hour coverage and include CD?

    You can stop cursing....

    There will be people doing it for free.... It is really something you should thing about.

    Regards,

    Hart
    Pots and Kettles.

    Indeed something to think about.

    If a buying point for a photographer is of him being cheap, then, anyone cheaper than him will beat him to his act.

    In a 'i am cheaper than you' price war, all who participate losses.

  9. #29

    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by canonmono View Post
    Just recently, there is a market spoilter charge my client 25 bucks for a 3 hrs birthday party when i was doing it for 100 bucks .. cursed that cheapo ..
    You are trying to be sarcastic right ? I hope ...

  10. #30
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    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by junliang78 View Post
    You are trying to be sarcastic right ? I hope ...
    ya .. perhaps my limited vocab canot defined that sentence?
    If the photo i took is 1% unclear, I will rather delete .. www.flickr.com/photos/59837685@N03/

  11. #31

    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by canonmono View Post
    ya .. perhaps my limited vocab canot defined that sentence?
    Sorry that I did not catch your sarcasm the first time . Apologies

  12. #32
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    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by junliang78 View Post
    Sorry that I did not catch your sarcasm the first time . Apologies
    No worries, in forum we are keyboard warriors so we say what we want =)
    If the photo i took is 1% unclear, I will rather delete .. www.flickr.com/photos/59837685@N03/

  13. #33
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    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by Exhaust View Post
    Hi guys I am asked by my wife's colleague to help her take photos of her mother's 76th birthday event. I told her I would not be charging her as I felt that I am only an amateur and i love to shoot pictures so I do not mind doing it for free. But she insisted that she pays me cause she felt that I am forking our personnel time for her mother's event and nobody should not be paid for a job. To the extend she say if I do not accept her payment then she would ask someone else haha.

    How should i charge her? It is gonna be a 4hrs event at a ballroom. I would not be doing any prints, all photos taken will be filtered and post processed and burned into a DVD thats all.

    I initially told her $50 as a token will do but she insisted that I charge her properly... How much should an amateur like me charge? Any market rates?

    Thanks!

    Hi ,
    For Professional ,I will charge at 750 to 1700 per hour but since you are a Amateur Pro .It should be between 100 to 150 per hour as this is more your skill and creativity not by the hour that is pay to you as you need time and money to buy your equipment and also spending time at the PC or Mac editing too as its not just the by the hour.

    Remember in Photography there is No Fix rate like a lot in Singapore So Call themselves Professional Photographer after buying Expensive Photgraphic Equipments (to impress their clients ) and setting up Nice big Studio with a few staffs (Plublic Relation Officers ) and assistants .
    But where is their Work of Art and originality of Creativity as I have Only seen less than 5 in Singapore .

    So it all depend of your Art of Creativity and your most precious time that is costing you !!!

    Even my own Assistant ( Amateur Pro ) charges 150 to 200 per hour regardness of what event and with a minimum block of 4 to 6 hours .

    And last I guess this family is quite well to do as your friend already mention if you do not charge accordingly she will ask another Pro to do the job!!Right!!!!

    Hope my answer is clear to you .

    Cheers
    Oldtimer
    Last edited by OLDTIMER; 13th August 2011 at 02:45 PM.

  14. #34

    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Will be quite interesting to know how to grow a brand that have audience that pays $1000 or more for an hour of event shoot.

    At least I am interested to know. Thought $500 an hour is justifiable without any inclusion of products but I guess $1000 per hour would be nice.

    Care to share?

    Regards,

    Hart

  15. #35

    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Read carefully Hart, he said that is what he WILL charge IF it is him. Nothing wrong in fact very reasonable if you look at what he states in his profile, OLDTIMER is high earning person outside photography. If he were to become an event photographer then the rates must be worth his time and also interest. Notice he did not price himself base on what he could or could not do but what is worth his time and efforts. The high quotes grabs the potential client's attention, the potential clients look at his bio and his work. The point is that the client LOOKED, at least I did and saw some great bird photography.

    Sad thing is many amateurs are charging dirt cheap for their photography. If you charge cheap, people treat you cheaply, if you charge dirt cheap, people treat you like dirt. There is always a cheaper piece of dirt around. Clients are tired of all the cheapo offers coming in and deletes them all, don't even LOOK at portfolio because in the mind of a client serious about photography, he/she already killed your work, even if you really had great portfolio and skills.

    And you know what is happening on the services wanted forum? Cheapo photographers 'shopping' cheapo photographers, posing fake queries to receive packages information from competitors and then trying to undercut them. The process repeats and repeats and the low to mid market is wiped out by photogrs themselves.

    The mid-high to high market who differential themselves by factors and niches rather than by prices, are unaffected.

  16. #36
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    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB View Post
    Read carefully Hart, he said that is what he WILL charge IF it is him. Nothing wrong in fact very reasonable if you look at what he states in his profile, OLDTIMER is high earning person outside photography. If he were to become an event photographer then the rates must be worth his time and also interest. Notice he did not price himself base on what he could or could not do but what is worth his time and efforts. The high quotes grabs the potential client's attention, the potential clients look at his bio and his work. The point is that the client LOOKED, at least I did and saw some great bird photography.

    Sad thing is many amateurs are charging dirt cheap for their photography. If you charge cheap, people treat you cheaply, if you charge dirt cheap, people treat you like dirt. There is always a cheaper piece of dirt around. Clients are tired of all the cheapo offers coming in and deletes them all, don't even LOOK at portfolio because in the mind of a client serious about photography, he/she already killed your work, even if you really had great portfolio and skills.

    And you know what is happening on the services wanted forum? Cheapo photographers 'shopping' cheapo photographers, posing fake queries to receive packages information from competitors and then trying to undercut them. The process repeats and repeats and the low to mid market is wiped out by photogrs themselves.

    The mid-high to high market who differential themselves by factors and niches rather than by prices, are unaffected.
    Soon they will price themselves out of the ability to survive.

    I just recently heard of a photographer offering 2 hour product shoot of 40-50 products for $90. Includes PP and delivery. Power...

  17. #37

    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB View Post
    Read carefully Hart, he said that is what he WILL charge IF it is him. Nothing wrong in fact very reasonable if you look at what he states in his profile, OLDTIMER is high earning person outside photography. If he were to become an event photographer then the rates must be worth his time and also interest. Notice he did not price himself base on what he could or could not do but what is worth his time and efforts. The high quotes grabs the potential client's attention, the potential clients look at his bio and his work. The point is that the client LOOKED, at least I did and saw some great bird photography.

    Sad thing is many amateurs are charging dirt cheap for their photography. If you charge cheap, people treat you cheaply, if you charge dirt cheap, people treat you like dirt. There is always a cheaper piece of dirt around. Clients are tired of all the cheapo offers coming in and deletes them all, don't even LOOK at portfolio because in the mind of a client serious about photography, he/she already killed your work, even if you really had great portfolio and skills.

    And you know what is happening on the services wanted forum? Cheapo photographers 'shopping' cheapo photographers, posing fake queries to receive packages information from competitors and then trying to undercut them. The process repeats and repeats and the low to mid market is wiped out by photogrs themselves.

    The mid-high to high market who differential themselves by factors and niches rather than by prices, are unaffected.
    I know that... but I am intrique on how one can be successfully market the service at such a price... that's all I am asking and I love to know so I can too charge at this rate... hahahaha.... I don't underestimate anyone when one has something to say and I am still learning, so why not learn from someone who is able to bring in a good rate? However, make a client curious is one thing, fulfilling the promise is another.

    I know photographers who charge about $1000 just for their time for family portrait and perhaps bring in another $2000-$5000 from one single order... and I know photographer who charge a minimum of $10,000 for a family setting with minimal product inclusion however, unless everything that one do justify the price, it will make one look silly by charging high and lost the clients after 1 session. But well, if I do it for money, I will probably charge at that rate or more... unfortunately, I am too soft as a person... and that is why my dad's business friends say I am an artist, not a business man... hahaha... (that translate to poor artist....)... Perhaps, they will think I am spoiling the market charging less then them??

    To be honest, the topic of charging low has been discuss to death and we know that for fact so I am not interested in knowing nor discuss it any further. I always think that they will kill themselves from starvation or overworked.

    Regards,

    Hart
    Last edited by Agetan; 16th August 2011 at 08:43 PM.

  18. #38
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    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Hope this is not the only type of customer out there:

    http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/threa...M-Photographer
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  19. #39

    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cowseye View Post
    Hope this is not the only type of customer out there:

    http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/threa...M-Photographer
    He should get a school kid with cam or better still ask for "TFCheepoD" instead. Want cheap cheap service even for (hopefully not his own) ROM. Congrats.
    Inferiority Complex Behavior Signature: A900.D3x.M9..I have this and that blah blah...

  20. #40
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    Default Re: How should an amateur photographer charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cowseye View Post
    Hope this is not the only type of customer out there:

    http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/threa...M-Photographer
    this is not worst yet, look at this:
    http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/threa...pher?p=7415260

    Looks like Clubsnap is a hunting ground for cheapo photographers now.

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