The business of photography

As a photographer I like to think of myself as an artist but the reality is being a professional photographer is more about being a business person. This year has been eye opening for me in so many ways and learning more about business, has been the most important thing (I have to give members of 4networking Kent huge credit for their help and support this year, as well as SWPP and The Master Photographers Association (The MPA) with the talks they have done.

About this post
I have just been doing my calculations as to what I need to be earning each year to survive as a photographic/video business and the calculations come out at around £30,000+ (and this is without a photographic studio).

So any aspiring photographer should be looking to earn at least £30k per year if not more. Not every day is going to be a shooting day. Most photographers I know spend 70% of their time working on other areas of their photography, from editing, to marketing to accounting. plus there are those other unforseen things that happen, which can fill a day up.

I was at a talk earlier this year given by a very good photographer and his suggested earnings for a shoot is around £1000 per day to be able to cover all the other stuff a photographer does when not shooting and any other stuff, with the amount of shooting days being between 70-100 (of course there will be days when you don't earn that £1000).

Currently my pricing

£175 3 Professional level headshots (2 setups)

£200* 1 hour shoot (small business shoot, not available on location shoots)

£375* 2 hour shoot (small business shoot)

£475* 3 hour shoot (small business shoot)

£550* Half days shoots (4 hours)

£1000* for a full day

Editing: I charge a flat rate of £50 and hour on all except the headshots
* Plus fuel costs and toll, London congestion charge (when need)

With a corporate shoot, I will always either charge half or full days price, plus editing time.

With a smaller businesses shoot, it isn’t practical to charge half or full day but a lot is dependant on the type of job. What should be noted is, whilst a client may want a 1 hours shoot, that really isn’t practical for most jobs and completely impractical for any shoot on location. So I generally don’t recommend a 1 hour shoot (the second reason I don’t recommend a 1 hour shoot, is because the client will want to rush to get the photos done, which will lead to a lower quality product.

The final part to note about charging by set hours or for shooting headshots is, unless you have several clients set up one after another (this is not practical on locations jobs) then you are losing either half or a full day (editing may take up some of that time) per job.

For other kinds of photography I charge differently depending on what the shoot is and for. Currently my pricing veries for certain shoots (Dog photography, themed shoots) and I am looking to move more over to selling prints (with the individual jpeg supplied (there are good reasons for this but I will cover that in another post)). This gives the client various options for what they want. I am hoping to have pricings done by the end of November for this)

So far I have covered mainly costs but there is a lot more to the photographic industry. The client doesn’t care about the reasons why you charge a certain amount, more what you can offer as a service.

The most important thing for most photographers is the quality of image but other areas are just as important, the quality of service, the interaction between the photographer and client, viewing and selection of images, timely delivery of the images, good quality packaging and prints. Standing out offering more and better will more likely lead to more satisfied customers who are more likely to return and also recommend you as a photographer to their friends and or clients.

The other area I have been considering recently is the future (that sounds rather grand). What are my goals and what do I want to be photographing in the future. Just saying I want to make a certain amount of money shouldn’t be enough.

For me my 2-3 year goal is to have my own studio. This is expensive, but will give me more options around the kinds of photography I want to offer and the service I want to give, it would also give me a certain amount of legitimacy to the public.

I am sure there is a lot more that I could write but it is 5.35am and I still need to proof read this post and publish. I am going to be doing some more posts around this post soon and will be working on a vlog post which I hope to post soon.

Thank you
I also have some people who I really need to thank, who have really made a massive difference in the way I think about myself and the way I work and how I need to think about business

Mike Dyson
Mark Brown
Reg Goslin

Whilst. there have been numerous people who have been very supportive (Alexander Low, Karen Chambers stand out) MIke, Mark and Reg you have been exceptionally helpful in giving positive advise and support, which has made me think differently about myself and business.

I would also like to thank Jamie Morgan for introducing me to The MPA and the support you have given.