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Thread: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

  1. #1

    Default How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    First of all, this is long, but necessary.

    My own cousin, told me that on his wedding day he hired two students to do the photography. He bragged to me about how good them are and how cheap they are and what a good deal he had gotten out of them. He exploited their skills in photography, exploited their inexperience in society, exploited their young kindness of the heart and eagerness to get jobs so as to pay for their school fees. He exploited them and bragged about it to me. He works as a chief finance officer for a multi-national company earning more than $100,000 a year, owns 2 condos and drives a sports mercedes, AND a Mazda 6, two cars. He does this because he thinks like a shrewd accountant which he is, all in dollars and cents, profits and gains. Those two students, have no idea.

    Please read on and think:

    Students should charge as much as full time professionals or at least near to full time pro rates, and must always strive to achieve the same levels of service and quality as full time professionals.

    Students, mainly those of you in art, film, media, design and related creative fields, and my questions doesn't just address photography but also people doing videos, production, design and artistic and creative work in general, consider and ask yourselves:

    1)
    How much are you (or your parents) paying for your 2 to 3 year course? I reckon easily $20000 to $30000 or more? Some of you might had took student/study loans for it? And thus indebted even before you even start earning a living from this career.

    So, doesn't that give you good reason to justify the need to charge the real rates you deserved compared to any hobbyist or guy-who-bought-a-camera? After all you are studying a diploma or a degree to do this career? Do you agree that by this you are already more invested, more dedicated and more qualified both in training and in moral reason than the average amateur photographer?

    2)
    How much are you going paying upfront for your camera and equipments?

    You are not going to be like an executive who just need to buys office clothes and a laptop and thats the equipment he needs. You need these and a lot more, and you know camera equipment are darn expensive, plus you also need faster computers and software license, probably another $20000 to $30000?

    Remember a hobbyist can treat his camera spendings as a hobby or as leisure spendings, no problem. But for you, its your tools of the trade. It becomes a work/business expense. Don't you think this qualifies you to charge properly to cover your cost of operations?

    3)
    I hope you are studying this field because you have dreams and aspirations. What are those aspirations? Award winning wedding photographer that travels round the world shooting weddings? A studio owner or a Principal photographer shooting big commercials with team of assistants following your instructions? Or Creative Director heading an advertising firm?

    If you have dreams and aspirations, should you have pride, beliefs and ethics and aiming UP, or should you be aiming DOWN and behaving like another one of those cheapo photographers undercutting each other.

    If you are doing good work but charging peanuts and undercutting the pros just to get jobs, are you aware that you are decimating your own market even before you step into it? Are you killing your own future?

    What that of industry do you hope to walk into when you graduate? Companies eager to hire you and pay you good money for your good work, OR companies preferring to hire anyone who owns a camera and paying peanuts.

    Take care of your future rice field.

    Don't be bullied or taken advantage of. I do not know if schools teaches students business and career skills other than just technical and academic skills. How to grow a career or a creative business, etc. But if you are a student and already doing part time, then you should consider treating it as the real thing and start off in the right path.
    Last edited by JasonB; 1st September 2011 at 11:31 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    I was chatting with a famous local photographer the other day, and he told me the same thing. His assistants are being asked to provide free photography, and he keep teaching them how not to get cheated. So the assistant said no, and the cheapo still dare to argue with him, telling him how much he will earn in terns of portfolio. I told him that arts school should teach students the art of eating grass in the first lesson!

    There are lot of cheapo around.. as for your cousin, i don't know what to say. Is shameless a good word?

  3. #3

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    Good explanation !

    As a student photographer, many people do often misunderstood that I am a student, so as a student, I will be paid lesser, but same high expectations.

    I would suggest, that students are doing freelance work, not to easily be deceived by some types of clients. Personally, I have encountered a few and would like to share my experiences here.

    (1) DRAGGING PAYMENTS
    I usually have the habit to collect 50% of the entire money first, usually clients would pay, shoot, and PPed the photos and arrange with them for collection. Bottom-line: usually would replied by saying how busy they are.. Whether they can pay by installment. -- so, no choice, but to threatened them if money is a huge sum.

    (2) LATE
    They feel that students photographer, being student, they can make us wait for them for hours. Having said that, I've encountered a client who's late for 2 hours before the shoot, but lastly agreed to compensate me for the time. Look, heres their mindset about student photographers

    (3) THINKING THAT WE ARE STILL "NOOB"
    Still, some feel that we are still new to
    Photography. Okay yes, I admit. But that does not mean that we do try our best. Having said that I am using JB studio lights in my studio and clients complained that my stuffs are way 'Basic' compared to Full time PG(s)

    Bottom line, I feel that student photographers, should not have this mindset of money first, cos things do not always flow in your way. There are many setbacks. So, I feel that they should do it with regards to their passion instead of the mindset of money comes first. By changing mindset, by putting Passion first., Money second, this would allow student photographers including me to enjoy both worlds.

    Nonetheless, since low end DSLR(s) are getting more and more affordable now, more students especially in arts and design courses are acquiring these cameras right now. By doing so, they are killing themselves in the market by offering free photography assignments or even charging extremely low.

    The only way for student photographer is to stay firm with their rates and do not engage in any negotiation. Charge at a rate which he or she is comfortable of.

    But also do a short thinking. Why? Thinking about whether setting your rates, clients could afford your services, to pay in time ? Many of them did not think about this and ended up in lots of problem is retrieving their payments. I have lots of problems on this, especially clients who delay their payment. Honestly speaking, not to lie to anyone or myself, I feel frustrated sometimes, regretting to take on a certain type of assignment. But later reflecting that I should take that as an experience.
    Think fast, aim for the best !

  4. #4

    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    One thing about education, except those commerce related one...

    They will teach you the fundamental and how to be a great designer or engineer or whatever to be... Have they really teach you how to make the ends meet? Well at least spending my 4 years degree in engineering makes me wonder.

    One word about dream is, make sure it is quantifiable....let's face it, being big shot creative director generally means long hours and good pay but it is very difficult to measure.

    When you make something call dream book, you can put something that is really motivates you. That will make you work hard.

    Now, you will soon realize no matter how hard you work, it is not enough, so it pushes you to work smart.

    That is through this process one can really increase their self worth which translate to better pay.

    One question to ask yourself, when you give a quote for a service, do you have second guess for your charge? If you are, then it is perhaps something you need to evaluate and eliminate that mentality. This will push you harder and become more capable.

    If you are having too much job, it's a good sign that you are too cheap... Time to increase your price.

    Student photographer generally have some leeway in charging lower then professional due to it's lower overall operating cost but not by huge amount.


    Regards,

    Hart
    Last edited by Agetan; 1st September 2011 at 03:34 PM.

  5. #5
    Deregistered allenleonhart's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    why should you even be viewing urself as something assumed to be of a lower tier?

    i've been happily rejecting offers for many shoots. its just a hobby. i dun make a loss in not shooting for them. but i make a loss if i shoot for them and get paid less than what i'm due.

  6. #6

    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    You should not be charging professional rates if you are not a professional. On the other hand, whether you are a pro, student or trainee, no one should be exploited.
    I have a near-mint Olympus E-620 Underwater Case for Sale. PM me for a great deal!

  7. #7
    Deregistered allenleonhart's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oly5050 View Post
    You should not be charging professional rates if you are not a professional. On the other hand, whether you are a pro, student or trainee, no one should be exploited.
    if i shoot with quality like a pro, but i dun work full time, does it mean i cant charge full time "pro" prices?

    doesnt make any sense.

    what going professional means u are doing it as a profession, as a full time job. it doesnt mean ur better. i've seen enough to know not all full time professionals are experts at what they do.
    money shld commensurate the quality of work. but again, an idealized situation
    Last edited by allenleonhart; 1st September 2011 at 07:24 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    I find that people coming to this forum to get the cheapest rate in town for photography and people offering that 'Best' rate.

    As much has been said, we can't stop people from doing so . . .

    i only want to tell this people (either clients or the people holding the camera) to RESPECT THE PROFESSION and the CAMERA.

    Don't treat others and yourself so cheap and always using that words - 'Building your portfolio'.

    Especially for those who has the camera and want to build your so-called portfolio - don't degrade yourself.
    Shot more cos digital is FREE !!!

  9. #9

    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    good job bro JasonB!

  10. #10
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    Thanks to Jason for the sharing.
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  11. #11
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    Please note Bro Jason is referring to students who are trained in the medias, preparing themselves to enter the creative industry. Not referring to any GWC (Guys or Girls with Camera)
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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    Default

    Out of curiosity, how much did your cousin pay?
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    Hard to say when you are shooting for the school.

  14. #14

    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by tehzeh View Post
    Hard to say when you are shooting for the school.
    School assignments are different from your own gigs out of school, unless your school exploited you.

  15. #15
    Deregistered allenleonhart's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB View Post
    School assignments are different from your own gigs out of school, unless your school exploited you.
    i'll hazard a guess that a good 90% of the photography clubs in schs exist to provide a service: event photography.

  16. #16

    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenleonhart View Post
    i'll hazard a guess that a good 90% of the photography clubs in schs exist to provide a service: event photography.
    Just like Gardening.

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    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB View Post
    School assignments are different from your own gigs out of school, unless your school exploited you.
    Is there a universal scope of 'exploitation' ? As to what does it include?

    I don't think so.

    How are they different then? Just because there's a payment of CCA points or CIP hours...?

  18. #18

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    A professional photographer is not just someone who can shoot good photos....anyone has the ability to shoot good photos. That does not mean that just because you can shoot good photos you can charge professional rates. A professional photographer is a trained professional. They have to understand more than just digital photography. They need to know about lighting, studio setups, controls, printing, paper, film, dark room, display, marketing, business development, post processing etc etc. A professional photographer may spend only 10% of his time shooting but the other 90% of the time doing the other things.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YI4rcM_9dw

    Just to give you an idea
    Last edited by Oly5050; 3rd September 2011 at 11:42 PM.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: How Should Student Photographers Charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oly5050 View Post
    You should not be charging professional rates if you are not a professional. On the other hand, whether you are a pro, student or trainee, no one should be exploited.
    Then your price and your position might be limited by what you believe sir. Young people like allenleonhart with bigger dreams and larger hearts is going to trump and surpass very fast.
    Last edited by sjackal; 4th September 2011 at 01:22 AM. Reason: Improve courtesy.
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by sjackal

    Then your price and your position might be limited by what you believe sir. Young people like allenleonhart with bigger dreams and larger hearts is going to trump and surpass very fast.
    It is for this reason now that I dun even know who a true professional really is anymore. Photography needs more regulation but there seems to be no entry requirement other than having a dslr and a lens.
    I have a near-mint Olympus E-620 Underwater Case for Sale. PM me for a great deal!

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