As one would expect with any business, I sometimes get accused of being too expensive, over priced or even a rip off. So, if I set my own prices why have I set them so high. Is it that I'm just plain greedy, a money grabbing materialistic person!
I can understand why people might think this, £49 for one hours work can seem excessive. Then I have the cheek to charge travel costs for return journeys in excess of 20 miles. No wonder I'm rolling in cash - I wish! I'll try to explain the reality behind the myth.
Before I even get my camera out of its bag I will have driven to the location of the clients choice. This can be up to ten miles away for no extra charge to the client, anything over 10 miles is charged at £0.45/ mile. That means I'm footing the diesel bill which can be up to £9.00. So that's my income down to as little as £40 before I have even pressed the shutter. Still, £40/hour isn't bad, or it wouldn't be if that was the case.
Rarely do I manage to finish a shot in less than 60 minutes, often running over to 90 minutes. However, for the sake of this example lets just suppose I'm on form and finish spot on the hour. I usually take several hundred frames. Back in the office it usually takes me an hour to have a first look at all of them. I then have a second look, deleting these that are below standard, blurred, out of focus etc. On the third view I note the frame numbers of those I want to edit.
The time taken to edit can vary massively depending on the subjects, location, lighting etc. I have spent over 90 minutes editing just one image before, cloning out distractions from the background, leads, grass stalks, stray hairs, collars etc. On average I spent around 3 to 5 hours tweaking the images in Photoshop. Let's say, to be ultra conservative, I only spend 3 hours editing. That's a total of five hours to do the shoot and edit the images. That's an hourly rate of £8/hour. Above the minimum wage but not quite the £49/ hour people seem to think I earn. Then I still have to upload them to the web site, changing the associated price list for every individual image that is not a standard size, such as panoramas or square formats. All images need key wording, one of the most tedious jobs in my remit. Let's say this takes just an hour. That's six hours work at £6.66/hour.
Let's also factor in the time I spend marketing my business. This involves posting on over 20 Facebook 'buy it, sell it, swap' it kind of groups nearly every day. Designing, producing and paying for the printing of pull-up banners, posters, leaflets, brochures, business cards etc. These need distributing, and there are the dog shows and craft fairs attended to publicise the business. Then I have to design and pay for my website, just the hosting of which costs over £100/ year.
The client then swoons over the beautiful photographs of their beloved pet on their own web site gallery. They place an order for some prints, not forgetting to use their free £10 off photographs bought from the burntmoon web site. That is £10 less profit for me, bringing my income down to £30 for six hours work. Now I'm down to £5.00 /hour; now we are below the minimum wage. Out of this I have to pay National Insurance contributions, tax and in theory into a pension scheme.
Not quite as lucrative as it first seemed. Yet it doesn't stop there. The service the client gets also involves a lot of unseen extras. £400 a year for insurances, including equipment insurance, public liability and professional indemnity. The equipment I use cost over £7000, including cameras, lenses, iMacs, flashes, pocket wizards, studio lights, backgrounds. Then I need a car to get to the locations; mine cost me £6000 about five years ago. What value do I put on the 35+ years that I've spent developing my skills?
Consider the fact that I have a home studio and use a spare bedroom as an office in order to try to keep the costs down. If I had to rent a studio and rent some commercial office space I would be bankrupt before I had even launched the business! I'd be better off if I paid clients NOT to hire me!
I'll be sending a link to this blog to the next potential customer that baulks at the prices I charge accusing me of being too expensive!
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