cost of my work?
Hello, all, I'm looking for some guidance on rates to charge for my work.
I have been asked by a coworker to take family photos. This person also wants to purchase a wet print from a photo I already took.
I've never been a commercial photographer ... I'm a journalist (actually a writer) but I do have some background in documentary photography. This person has easy access to a half-dozen of the digital Facebook-based "professional photographers" that seem to keep cropping up. I'm friends/aquainted with some of the aforementioned photographers although I rarely if ever opine about their "work."
The point is that this person came to be because she likes the look of my work, and the quality of traditional b&w work.
She wants two 5x7 prints of the one photo.
She also wants me to photograph her family.
I'm excited about doing something different and possibly capturing some return on my investment in gear. But I don't know a fair price to charge. I told her it would likely cost more than going to one of the aforementioned "photographers," because of the time and materials required.
Off the top of my head, I was thinking $200 for the "photoshoot," during which I plan to use no more than two rolls of film / 72 exposures. Then I would process and scan at high res and provide a CD. Prints would be extra ... and I was thinking $20 / 5x7 print.
Does this sound fair? Am I cheating her or selling myself short?
Any guidance is appreciated, even if you don't have definitive answers (who ever does.)
For sure it is not expensive. I would most probably ask similar price. In my life I sold only 3 photos - 20x30 cm silver prints for 30 euros each.
But this is very sensitive subject - you can hear advice's from 10$ up to 1000$ or even more
If the quality is high, I would not hesitate to pay that kind of money for a high-quality family portrait. But my experience with coworkers (friends and family, too) asking for photography is that they really want much more of a bargain.
I do the type of "sessions" you are talking about with friends and co-workers.
I take a very different approach to my sessions and fees. Namely, other than some reasonable token of appreciations, I refuse to accept money for my "services." If someone wants a large number of prints, I do have to charge but that has not happened so far.
The rational behind this is that, personally, I am still learning and this is my hobby. I do not want money involved in it. It takes the fun out of my hobby. Also, when money is involved, there are certain level of expectations. I simply do not want to deal with that.
This comes from someone who turned every one of his hobby into a paying job in the past.... (and lost the hobby)
Your "fee" sounds reasonable but I thought I'd throw in how I deal with my own situation.
By the way, my "clients" will not go to commercial photographers otherwise, so I am not taking a paying job away from any working photographers.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
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First, there's cost of materials or cost of goods sold. Second, there is labor cost. Third, there is a "premium" cost because you are unique.
Materials cost is easy. Add up the cost of everything you use to make a photo and divide by the number of units sold:
Regular B/W photo paper costs between $1 and $2 per sheet.
Regular B/W film costs between $2 and $5 per roll.
Chemistry for film costs around $2 per roll. Chemistry for paper costs from $2 to $5 per batch.
These numbers vary depending on what you buy, the brands you choose, whether you buy in bulk or at a discount. These numbers come off the top of my head. Just crude examples. Your figures will be different.
Don't forget to throw in a few extra bucks for the cost of wear and tear on your equipment. You have to buy cameras, enlargers, film tanks, print developing trays, thermometers, utensils, lab ware and other consumables just to get started in your darkroom. Don't charge too much but don't be afraid to add a buck or two to your cost to account for it. I just round my numbers up to cover this cost.
Let's imagine you shot two rolls of film and made ten 8x10 prints out of the batch:
Film and processing might cost you $10. Printing might cost you $20. Total cost = $30.
(Again, just examples off the top of my head. You'll have to do your own math.)
So, next what's your labor cost?
How much do you get paid for your work? I can easily get paid $15 per hour.
Whether you spend your time working in the darkroom versus going to your regular job makes no difference. That's the minimum amount your time is worth. Maybe your time is worth more.
Add up your time in the field or in the studio. (2 hours?)
Add up your time processing film. (90 minutes?)
Add up your time printing in the darkroom. (4 hours?)
Total = 7.5 hours. (Round up to 8.)
8 hrs. * $15/hr = $120
Right there's the minimum amount you need to charge to break even. If you charge less than $120 you're losing money.
Other things to consider: Automobile: Did you drive to the location? How much does gas cost? Envelopes, folders or postage: Add in for that.
What about other miscellaneous items? Pencils, paperclips, gaff tape? Who knows what? Add them in.
We're probably up to somewhere between $125 and $150, now. Aren't we?
Next, we have to tackle the subject of premium cost. This is tricky.
Just ask yourself, "What am I worth?" and "What is it worth for somebody to hold a handmade, traditional photograph in their hands?"
Are you well known enough or is your art evocative enough to demand a premium?
Ansel Adams could demand a large amount just for the privilege of owning one of his photos. Joe Schmoe, down the street, virtually unknown, probably couldn't demand anything?
You're somewhere in between, I'm guessing.
Then, finally, when you have your price, don't forget to consider the old "Friends and Family Discount."
If you know the person, if you think they are nice, if they are close friends or family, if they might refer you new clients, go ahead and knock a few bucks off the price. (10% or 20%)
If you do give a Friends and Family Discount, tell them about it and tell them how much.
1 to 2 hours photographing. 2 rolls of film. Lab time. Darkroom time. Prints. Finishing time. Delivery or Postage. Extras or incidentals.
$125 to $150. Round up for your premium if you can demand it. Let's say your total price is $150 to $200 for the package.
Friends and family discount, if you decide to apply it, might bring you down to somewhere in the $175 area.
Do your own math. Come up with your own numbers. Your answer will be different than my crude examples.
I'm not trying to be authoritative on the subject. I'm just giving some examples on which to base your price and to give you the confidence to ask the price that you think you are owed.
The bottom line is that you should sit down with a pencil and paper (or a computer spreadsheet) and spend some time thinking about your costs and what your time is worth.
Once you have a fair price in mind, don't be afraid to ask for it. It's okay to let your customer bargain for a lower price if you want but don't go so low that you lose money. Set a bottom line price and don't go below that.
Overall, the price you mention doesn't sound too far off the mark.
That was quite comprehensive. I should start doing this with a excel sheet with these itemized tidbits. I've been doing the freelance thingy for a bit on the side and have not been charging friends nearly enough, depends on if I like em haha. I've only begun to charge prices that were in line with my quality of work as of the last 6 months to companies/organizations. But most of that is d$&@'&l. My film and silver prints are usually gifted to dear friends.
I can't wait to see your formula for the value of friendship.
V(f)= Y x F / (N +D)
Value (friendship) = Y (the number of years) x F (the friendship factor) divided by the sum of Nuisance and Drama.
And for the sport fans:
1 / SOLSTV
("SOLSTV" = Size of Large Screen TV)
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2