You want to hire a professional photographer to create a visual content and you have questions about the pricing? That is normal! Photographers’ rates take into account many aspects related to their profession that we do not always see. However, being informed about the practices of this industry will enable you to make wise decisions! In this article, we will cover the various factors taken into account by photographers to establish their pricing rates.
The price of the services of a professional photographer depends on a multitude of costs related to the exercise of the profession. Some of them are incompressible, but are necessary for the operation of the activity, for example, depreciation of equipment, professional insurances, premises and marketing investments necessary to acquire new customers.
CRITERIA WHICH INFLUENCE THE CALCULATION OF A PHOTOGRAPHERS’ RATES
When it comes to the price variations of a professional photographer, three criteria in particular emerge: working time, type of service and experience.
Working time is calculated on an hourly or daily basis and includes introduction costs, preparation time and location costs. Depending on the type of service requested, it is quite possible for the photographer to apply an “image” fee covering the working time required for each shot taken. It is also possible that the photographer offer a package for the day with an agreed number of images to be retouched, and an extra charge for each additional image. This is a good compromise for the photographer but also for the client. With this option there is no need to worry about timing or feel under pressure during the last moments of shooting.
To give you a more concrete idea, here is the breakdown of hours worked for a two-hour portrait photo shoot with five retouched images provided
- Exchanges and customer appointments: 2hrs
- Preparation of equipment and set up: 1hr
- Shooting: 2hrs
- Dismantling of shot: 30 min
- Selection and post-production: 4hrs
- Delivery of files, storage and back-up: 1hr
A total of 11 hours worked for this type of service.
Each professional is free to apply a different rate depending on the service requested, especially when dealing with a photographer specialized in a certain field. Many specialties are available such as studio photography, culinary images, events, reportage, portraits, press, shows, architecture or even aerial photography, to name a few examples. When a photographer has a specialist area, his skills become more specific, thus increasing the quality of his work and his rates.
As far as press photography is concerned, the rates differ according to the number of prints and the location of the publication. It is obvious that a rate gap will appear between a cover-page photograph and a simple magazine insert.
Experience has a considerable impact on the applied rate. An experienced photographer will understand your expectations more easily, will put you at ease and carry out the best shots. This assurance of quality of work and meeting your needs justifies the application of a higher rate. A photographer may also decide to adapt his rates because of his reputation. Paying a premium for the services of a recognized photographer is therefore a strategic decision that depends on the needs of the client.
According to the level of difficulty of the project, you can also ask yourself if it would be better to pay more for an experienced photographer, who will take less time to make the photos, or a less-experienced photographer who will certainly cost you less, but will take more time to capture the right image.
FEES WHICH INFLUENCE A PHOTOGRAPHER’S RATES
A photographer sets his prices according to the equipment and the technical means used. Photographic and computer equipment is very expensive and generates significant maintenance and replacement costs. The fees therefore vary according to the cost of the equipment and the installation time thereof.
To give you an idea of the cost mentioned above, here is a non-exhaustive list of the equipment used by a professional working in the studio:
The price of the material of a professional photo studio:
The total price of the studio equipment is 28,500 CHF. Depreciation of equipment over three years for 240 days worked is 39.58 CHF/day. Added to this is the rent of the premises, which depending on the area and location, varies between 1,000 and 1,800 CHF/month.
The package offered by a photographer may also vary according to travel expenses, calculated per kilometre or included in a daily package with unlimited mileage. Generally, fees are between CHF 0.80 and CHF 1.40/km.
Postproduction work is necessary to achieve quality content. This includes sorting through photographs, digital processing – retouching, colour matching, calibration, trimming, conversion, composition, integration, etc. – and the creation of a digital or printed support. The rate applied therefore depends on the work to be performed, the quality of the editing and the type of production. It also takes into account the price of software used for post-production, such as Adobe’s Creative Cloud, which costs about 60 CHF/month.
For photographs intended for an advertising campaign, several feedback sessions are generally necessary before arriving at the final image. The post-production process can therefore extend over several days, even weeks.
Range of post-production rates:
To give you an idea of the time spent on top-line retouching, here is the working time that was necessary for Charles-Elie, a professional photographer, to retouch the following photos:
USE AND REPRODUCTION RIGHTS
A limited and defined reproduction right is also included in the photographers’ fees. The price of the copyright assignment is calculated according to the type of use, the format of the reproduction medium (commercial brochures, flyers, advertising poster, calendar, objects, website, etc.), the volume of the edition, dissemination (regional, national, international, even global) and duration. The image then has a variable economic value depending on the operation you want. The longer the reproduction rights are extended over time, the higher the fee will be.
AND FROM AN ADMINISTRATIVE POINT OF VIEW?
A photographer is subject to many taxes and social security contributions such as VAT, professional liability and property insurance. In Switzerland, photographers are subject to 7.7% VAT from an annual turnover of 100,000 CHF. Be careful when you ask for a quote, to check whether it includes VAT or not.
As you have seen, a photographer’s rates depend on many factors. The services include more than just taking a photograph and sending it to the client, which makes pricing sometimes difficult to grasp. The geographical location, the rates applied by the competition and demand also influence the rates and the applied margin varies from one photographer to another.