Looking through the photography forums there are many questions about charging for photography services, and many newbies want some guidance on how much they should charge for a particular photo shoot, and one particular “how much should I charge for my photography services?” query caught my eye.
Basically, this American college teen had been approached by some local group to photograph an up and coming social event they were holding. Apparently, the person organizing the group social found the college student through Google by searching for local photographers (in their particular town in the states) and stumbled across this teen’s website and contacted him.
From what I could tell from the information the teen gave, and reading through the thread this college student had a passion for photography and wanted to pursue it as a career once he had graduated so the social event would be good experience, and also provide a bit of exposure too. The college student went in with a price of $250 for the three hour event and the organizer agreed. The college student basically wanted to know if he was charging too much (and hence got lucky getting the shoot) or wasn’t charging enough (and selling himself out).
To say I was stunned by the answers this college student was getting is an understatement and based on what I was reading it is clear that there are far too many photographers out there who seem to punch above their weight and think their photographs (and photography services) are worth more than what they actually are.
There were several replies of “I wouldn’t do it for less than $1000 plus expenses”, “I would start at $2000 and then come down from there” etc. $1000 for a three hour shoot? Come on! Who can honestly say they are worth $333 per hour. Okay, I appreciate there is travelling time (but not much – this is a local event for this college student) and there will be a bit of time in front of the computer choosing the best shots, doing a bit of editing etc. but you shouldn’t need to spend too much time on this for event shots.
Event photography is a gun and run style where as long as the subject is in focus and the photo tells a story, that’s all that matters. In event photography the background doesn’t matter (because it is something you can’t control, besides you want an accurate account of what’s going on around the subject to get the “feel” of the event), the composition doesn’t matter and the exposure doesn’t have to be spot on (although it needs to be close). The only thing you should have to do in editing event photos is minor tweaks to the exposure, lift the shadows, make sure the highlights aren’t blown, tweak the contrast and clarity and apply a little sharpening – a process that takes no more than a minute in a RAW editor.
No photographer is worth $1000 for a three hour event and few photos, and any photographer who thinks they are worth that sort of money are seriously deluding themselves. There was a time when good photographers were few and far between, however digital photography has given more people the chance to have a go at photography, and there are some awesome amateur photographers out there. In fact, I know of several amateur photographers who I rate more highly than some professional photographers I know, and if I had to appoint a photographer I know which one I’d choose.
The point I am trying to get across is there are several thousand great photographers out there and if you set your prices too high you are not going to get any work as there are several other photographers out there (who are just as good as you and can do the same job as you) who wold take on the assignment for less than you want. Heck, you’ll probably find that some of these amateur photographers will do the job for free just to get their name out there. Paid photography is a dog eat dog world and with so many people to fight off to get the work you have to be sensible about your prices.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.