How should an amateur photographer charge?


Exhaust

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Dec 11, 2010
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#1
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!
 

sjackal

Senior Member
Jul 9, 2008
4,490
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#3
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!
Sounds like a good client.

Amateurs should charge as much as pros or at least close to, so as to be fair to themselves, to the pros and to the market.
 

foxtwo

Senior Member
Mar 11, 2004
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#4
Sounds like a good client.

Amateurs should charge as much as pros or at least close to, so as to be fair to themselves, to the pros and to the market.
hah. that's the question really. What's the hrly price range of event professional photographers?
 

Oct 19, 2009
1,669
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#5
What is her budget ?

That's the question which I always ask to my clients. I prefer to do it this way, so I will know that this is my client's budget and he or she is able to pay me after completing this assignment other than chasing him or her for payment if he or she can't afford your service at the first moment.
 

kei1309

Senior Member
Apr 12, 2010
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#6
What is her budget ?

That's the question which I always ask to my clients. I prefer to do it this way, so I will know that this is my client's budget and he or she is able to pay me after completing this assignment other than chasing him or her for payment if he or she can't afford your service at the first moment.
you do know that there's something called "lying" right?
 

surrephoto

Senior Member
Jan 14, 2009
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#7
Sounds like a good client.

Amateurs should charge as much as pros or at least close to, so as to be fair to themselves, to the pros and to the market.
For me I'd say charge low if you have no confidence. If not comfortable with charging with no confidence, don't do the job.

Reason being; there'll always be budget clients willing to risk to get a decent photographer for low, vice versa.
 

Last edited:

JasonB

Deregistered
Jun 2, 2009
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#8
hah. that's the question really. What's the hrly price range of event professional photographers?
Definitely higher than $50 per hour.

To TS, I suggest you charge $80 per hour, which is a basic rate for a pro starting out/wedding second shooter.

Whether your photo worth that much should not bother you coz it's also about your work altitude and pleasant personality that builds your worth around.

If you are not comfortable charging that, then follow your heart and don't do it. Shoot flowers and nice landscapes. :)
 

catchlights

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 27, 2004
21,903
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Punggol, Singapore
www.foto-u.com
#9
we charge a rate that cover all our cost of operation plus a profit to keep us in business for providing photography services, asking what is a market rate and apply it to your own is you are not doing your homework for working out your cost and expenses plus profit, it is not realistic and healthy for your own business, regardless whatever size is that.

so what is a market rate? how to answer this kind of question? there are people charging $50 per hour, some are charging $300 or more for an hour, do you know what is their business models and it is the same as yours? can you just apply their rate without working out your own figures?


from a customers POV, things are not complicated, whether you are armature or professional, you charge a rate after you provided them a service, they will take it as a going rate for that kind of services.
and most of the time, customers shop from bottoms upward, until they reach a level of the service and product that they think it is justifiable and still fit into their budget. So customers tend to stay in same price level.

if you anyhow apply the so call "market rate", soon or later you will find it is not workable on you, you will lose all your customers and need to start anew when you adjust your rate, why don't work out a realistic figure and serve the pool of customers in your price range from the beginning?
 

sony90290

New Member
Mar 7, 2011
39
0
0
#10
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!
Just ask her to pack a hong bao after she seen the pictures taken.
The amount would reflect how she feel about your skills.
 

Apr 30, 2010
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Seagull
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#11
Just ask her to pack a hong bao after she seen the pictures taken.
The amount would reflect how she feel about your skills.

for someone starting out on a first "job", that is usually a good idea if the client is a friend/relative. i recently offered to play as second photog at a friend's wedding and i got bigger angpao than the sisters/brothers *snigger*


advice aside to TS, past this occasion you should mingle around the friendly (and honestly, the not-so-friendly) CSers and get to know them, and apart from that observe the professionals on how they make their living. im not telling you to snatch their ricebowl (yes photography, like all other businesses, is NEVER a cake walk), but by wallflower-ing abit you can actually learn alot of answers you wont get by simply posting a thread in singapore's largest photography forum :bsmilie:
 

JasonB

Deregistered
Jun 2, 2009
871
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#12
The video guys over the video forums are talking about the same issue, can go low, but there must be still some kind of baseline, and I agreed with them.

Asking what the clients budget is a sure way to decimate our market and thus our livelihood, and that's why we are seeing more and more threads where people want dirt cheap rates for a lot of work, think of the recent threads of car company want 6 photos for $2.50 plus data entry and driving, or the recent couple who want free shoot but yet got the cheek to demand for portfolio screening on the photogs who wanna help them.
 

Jun 11, 2011
3
0
0
29
East
#13
this is a good topic i guess for me also. as of current im starting on commercial photography through recommendations from a friend and im clueless as to how i should charge being an amateur photographer.

I was thinking of doing a free trial for the first session and let the client view my pictures and then if they are satisfied with my work then ill start charging.
 

catchlights

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 27, 2004
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Punggol, Singapore
www.foto-u.com
#14
this is a good topic i guess for me also. as of current im starting on commercial photography through recommendations from a friend and im clueless as to how i should charge being an amateur photographer.

I was thinking of doing a free trial for the first session and let the client view my pictures and then if they are satisfied with my work then ill start charging.
if you want to go that route, it is fine,
if any client not happy about the outcome, remind them they are not allow to use any images or keeping any images.
keeping any images are consider buying them from you, you should be paid.
 

Exhaust

New Member
Dec 11, 2010
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#15
The video guys over the video forums are talking about the same issue, can go low, but there must be still some kind of baseline, and I agreed with them.

Asking what the clients budget is a sure way to decimate our market and thus our livelihood, and that's why we are seeing more and more threads where people want dirt cheap rates for a lot of work, think of the recent threads of car company want 6 photos for $2.50 plus data entry and driving, or the recent couple who want free shoot but yet got the cheek to demand for portfolio screening on the photogs who wanna help them.
Hmm I have never thought of that. Thanks JasonB! I have to agree that if amateur photographers like me where to 'spoil market' and accept deals such as the car company .. We would totally be disrupting the value of photography in the market.
 

Exhaust

New Member
Dec 11, 2010
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#16
Definitely higher than $50 per hour.

To TS, I suggest you charge $80 per hour, which is a basic rate for a pro starting out/wedding second shooter.

Whether your photo worth that much should not bother you coz it's also about your work altitude and pleasant personality that builds your worth around.

If you are not comfortable charging that, then follow your heart and don't do it. Shoot flowers and nice landscapes. :)
I guess I will go with $50/hr cause firstly it is my first time shooting an event other than the 2 weddings which j have helped friends to take photos of. And also because my equipments are not exactly up to spec for 'earning money'.. So I guess it would be comfortable for me to start out with $50/hr as a baseline and in future if I have the opportunity again to rise the hourly rates :)
 

Agetan

Senior Member
Dec 31, 2004
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www.tomato.sg
#17
Thought to share my 2c.

Event photography, like birthday party, isn't my thing really, however, I do offer my service for birthday party to my clients only just to keep them happy and keep them close to me and a way to socialize with the guest. I see it as a networking events and generally results in a few booking for my usual portrait session.

I don't charge a lot for my birthday party shoot as I find there is a tangible benefit for being there, so just say I charge at a "mate's rate". So my birthday rates are a lot cheaper than my usual portrait session.

If you run a studio with a solid marketing plan which cost money, your running cost will be higher than someone who has full set of equipments and their time to cover.

The price equation is really simple, it is merely ( Total Cost / no of expected jobs for the depreciated assets) + profit

Some jobs are straight forward and some jobs are a little more complicated...

So you really need to work out your "total cost", by minimum is the cost incur (incl time) from quote to delivery of the work.

Sometimes how much you charge determine what clientele that you are after so long as the deliverables stack up to the promise.

I generally find it quite rude for asking the clients for their budget for your service, it always never fail to put the clients in their defence mode.

What I normally do is, I will find out more about what they want and explain my charges and "Do NOT assume" anything. You will soon know if the person on the other side of the phone or email interested with your service.

After some years, I can pretty much gauge when my potential clients will or will not turn into my actual clients from what they are looking for.

Of course, it is quite different in mentality for different level of consumer. The low end generally more price sensitive, the mid end always looking more value vs price and the high end always looking for ultimate service and unique product regardless of the price. It is a little scary to be on the highest end market unless you are mentally ready. I am not for now, so I prefer to position myself in mid-high end market.

By understanding your cost and your target audience, you can then understand the price tag when you are offering your service.

However, with all these considerations, don't forget being flexible and approachable to your clients and have fun at the same time.

Price is not everything... Well at least for me.

As I always say, Photography is a lifestyle work, so you need to be able to enjoy the "lifestyle" when you are at it and don't get too caught up with money matter. I know it is important but should not be the ultimate priority.

I hope the above make sense.

Regards,

Hart
 

sjackal

Senior Member
Jul 9, 2008
4,490
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#18
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.
 

Last edited:

Agetan

Senior Member
Dec 31, 2004
4,669
15
38
www.tomato.sg
#19
Just to put in cost as perspective....

For my one man show with a studio, it is easily hit about $10k a month to include the depreciation. So my aim for a total of 1-2 hours work, I should be aim about $500 at the very minimum to cover the cost. But generally, I am aiming for $1k for 2-3 hours work so I have some left to ensure saving for rainy days. You will still need volume to ensure this is achievable.

$80 per shoot is indeed very low if it include any deliverables, normally, if you want, you can quote $80/hr for your time to be there on the job then add anything else they want on the top. For example, if they want the images on CD, if you spend 3 hours on it, you can savely quote them, $250 extra, include CD and trip to post to send the CD with the stamp and packaging. If this is the case, you will cover some of the cost. It's ok if you are learning the and growing in the beginning, but once you are more experience, you will need to start to charge more to ensure you have decent income.

When you work for a company as a grad, you can easily paid $2.5-3k and you don't have to pay for the expenses like your personal computer and the gear to do your job.

So as full time working photographer, you should at least aim for $5-8k a month turnover so after minus all the expenses, you are paid similar or slightly better then working for others. Just make sure you keep the cost to the minimum.

I hope that gives you some insight why pro can seems "expensive".

For those who live at home, using the electricity from home for editing, make sure you contribute it to your parents, otherwise, they are indirectly paying for your business cost.

Regards,

Hart
 

sinned79

Senior Member
Jun 18, 2009
10,868
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0
Singapore
www.aboutlove.sg
#20
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.
very insightful! guess i had to review my own pricing as well now :D
 

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