How much is a photo session worth?

In this article I detail what a photo shoot is worth. Of course, I will talk mainly about what I know, that is, concert photography. Hopefully it will be useful to both photographers and consumers.



equipment & TRAINING

Photo equipment, although much more popular and accessible than a few years ago, remains expensive. When you want to practice photography professionally, a minimum of quality is required.

So, for a semi-professional SLR camera (~ 2800$), an f/1.8 aperture lens (~ $200), two batteries (~$70) and two 32GB memory cards (~$150), plus a sufficiently powerful and reliable computer with a good screen resolution (~$2800) and two external 1TB hard drives (~$240), a minimum semi-professional initial investment is about $6,300.

After that, it is necessary to add annually the maintenance of the camera (~ 80$), the subscription to photo development software (~ 900$), an insurance against loss, breakage and theft (~ 1200$), the possible costs of internet and electricity subscription or rental of a workspace (~ 1020$), training in school, internships, online, by buying books, in the field by volunteering (~ $1,000), hosting a website (~ $500), taxes and possibly accountant fees (~ $1,500), business cards (~ $200), advertising (~ $100)… about 6500$ per year.


BEFORE THE PHOTOSHOOT

A session, regardless of the field, is being prepared. Whether it is a question of identifying, solicitation, multiple exchanges with the customer, possibly appointments, writing the estimate, then the invoice and the contract, it takes several hours of preparation, sometimes spread over several days. Based on an hourly wage of $41.28, this can represent, for an average of 4 hours of preparation, 165$.


THE PHOTOSHOOT

Finally, the photoshoot itself. Here, we count the shooting time, possibly the travel, the rental of rooms and equipment. Still for an hourly salary of 41.28$, for a shooting of 1 hour, we count 41.28$ + the possible costs of long travel and rental.


AFTER THE PHOTOSHOOT

After the photoshoot, we upload our photos to our development software. The first visualization of the photos allows us to make a first selection of the failed photos. A second sorting allows to eliminate photos that do not have any real interest. A third, or even several additional sortings, allows us to choose the final photos. After that, or during this third sorting, the retouching of the photos begins. On average, it takes 2 hours of photo development for 1 hour of shooting. Let be 82.56$ for a 1h shooting.

Once finished, the photos are exported from the software, then sent to the client. Depending on the speed of our processor and our internet connection, we can count 1 hour, i.e. 41.28$.


HOW TO DIVIDE THE ADDITIONAL COSTS BY SESSIONS?

Let’s say that per year, the costs related to our activity amount to 6500$, we must estimate the number of hours worked globally over the year (taking into account public holidays, holidays, sick leave, etc.).

In one year, there are 52 weeks, less 10 public holidays, or 2 weeks. We have 50 weeks left to go, and we’re taking three weeks off. We have 47 weeks left and we plan 1 week of sick leave. We have 46 weeks left, from which we take away the non-billable preparation time such as searching and prospecting contracts, building and updating a website, creating business cards, etc. This is based on 41 weeks of work in the year.

That is 41 weeks x 5 days x 7 hours = 1,435 hours of annual work.

The desired annual salary and the annual cost of our activity are then added together, which is divided by the estimated number of hours worked:

$45,000 + $6,500 / 1,435 hours = $35.89 / hour.

$35.89 / hour is the minimum rate under which you can’t go down at all. To this rate, we add a 15% safety cushion: it corresponds to a margin for periods of inactivity (equivalent to technical unemployment), or a profit margin for periods of high activity.

Thus, the regular hourly rate will be 41.28$


FOR A 1H PHOTO SESSION (EVENT),
THE STRICTLY MINIMUM GROSS COST IS $330.

FOLLOWING HOURS AT $165.


AS A PHOTOGRAPHER, THE ERROR TO AVOID

Wanting to start with a low rate to make sure you have customers is the worst mistake you can make. In addition to breaking the market, know that a customer who does not pay you up to your work, will never pay you up to your work. If you give him a quality job at $80, why would he pay you $330 tomorrow for the same thing? If tomorrow his budget allows him to pay 330$, know that it is not you he will choose, but the photographer who immediately announces his price at 330$.


AS A CLIENT, WHAT DO YOU PAY, WHAT DON’T YOU PAY?

As a customer, this is what you pay for precisely: the service, and the product, in addition to the priceless value of immortalizing a moment.

On the other hand, you do buy a service and a product, but you do not buy the rights to exploit, reproduce and distribute the images. For more information on this subject, I invite you to read the article ” PHOTOGRAPHY | COPYRIGHTS AND RIGHTS TO THE PICT “.


Hoping that this article may have helped more than one, feel free to send me your comments, questions and suggestions.

Cover photo : © 2016 Jessica VALOISE

Jessica VALOISE
ARTISTE VISUELLE - Peinture. Photographie. Réalisation Vidéo (écriture et conception) | Voyageuse basée à Montréal.

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