What to charge for a school function?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by cherylynne1, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. cherylynne1

    cherylynne1 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    One of my clients is part of the PTA and they're looking for a photographer for a school function. (Keep in mind that there are no official photography studios in this town, so it's guaranteed to go to a Facebook warrior or MWAC.)

    She asked me what I would charge for taking photos of families in front of a backdrop as they come in. They're hoping for up to 100 families, and they say they would need me for about an hour.

    So first of all, 100 families in an hour is almost a picture every 30 seconds, so that definitely won't happen. You can't even get a family seated in 30 seconds. But how long would it take to get a family seated and at least a quick shot or two? 2 minutes? 5 minutes? They're providing one print for each family for free, so they definitely aren't expecting more than the JCPenny kind of photo.

    However, if I can print up some business cards to give to each family, this could sort of be a make it/break it moment for me. So I am willing to do it for fairly cheap just because it will be a ton of exposure.

    So with all that in mind...

    1) What would you charge? And should I make it an hourly rate, since it seems guaranteed to go over an hour if 100 families actually do show up?

    2) What equipment would you use? They're providing the backdrop, I have a 47" octagonal softbox with flash that usually works fine for my family shots, but I also usually plan those around the golden hour and in locations where I know the ambient light is good. This will likely be horrific cafeteria lighting. So will I need two stands/flashes/softboxes? More? Or stick to what I know?

    3) How would you handle prints? She offered to print them out herself, but I should print them out to make sure they come out right, shouldn't I?

    4) Are there any other potential problems I should be aware of?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts, everyone!!!


     
  2. cherylynne1

    cherylynne1 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Any thoughts at all about this? I told her I'd give her an answer by today.

    My non-photographer friends and family say that it's not worth the stress and cost of extra equipment, even if I break even on the cost and have the exposure from passing out business cards. I'm still somewhat undecided.
     
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  3. JonA_CT

    JonA_CT TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Meh. I don't know that I'd do it.

    You are taking at least an hour take the photos, plus whatever editing you do, even if it's just picking keepers and batch processing in LR. Then, she'd like you to give her printing rights.

    I'm not sure what the going mark-up is on portraits prints (the only things I've ever sold were more landscape/cityscape type stuff), but you figure minimally your cost to them should be at least $10 per print plus your time. I think by the time you add that up (1-2 hours there, then at least 4 or 5 hours after, plus dealing with a printer), they probably can't afford it.

    If you're in a place to donate your time to a good cause (if it is?), then charge whatever you think the equipment you'd like to add to your arsenal will cost you, and write your time up to marketing costs, I guess.


    I've never done these types of things as a photographer, but I've done them as a musician. At the end, a lot of the small charity/non-profits that asked my band to play benefits or whatever offered to pay us what they could. If it wasn't close to our normal rate, we only played if we were willing to donate our time. We were never upset when we did that, and it did get us additional work at times.
     
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  4. cherylynne1

    cherylynne1 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yeah, that's exactly the problem. I would be basically donating my time, and it's for a school fundraiser for a school that my children don't attend (they're not in school at all yet.)

    On the other hand, if I hand out a business card to every family that comes through and they're happy with the photo they receive, that could lead to a ton of business where I could charge more reasonable rates.

    Right now I'm thinking that I'd feel a lot more confident with a second flash/stand/modifier, which I could do for about $200. And I think I want to insist on taking care of prints myself, (probably charging about 5x what it costs me) which would depend on how many people show up. So depending on what size prints they want and how many people show up, they'd probably end up paying $250-$400. Which sounds reasonable to me, even if it means I'm donating my time.

    I do fully expect them to balk at the number, though, and decide to go with someone who has a point and shoot, which I am okay with.
     
  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    1. Stuff like this I usually cover through print sales rather than charging the vendor, but in this case I would ask for a set price per group; probably $10. No way in Hades you're doing 100 familys in a hour. MINIMUM would three minutes/family.

    2. Minimum three lights: Key, fill, hair, and a fourth on standby for large groups (5+). Key would be a 48"x50 SB, fill a 60" reflecting umbrella, secondary fill (when needed) a 42" reflecting umbrella, and hair either a gridded strip box or small umbrella.

    3. I would have each person/group fill out a pre-printed order form with all their contact information and the number of prints they want.

    4. Lots I'm sure. Uncooperative children, faulty equipment, global thermonuclear war... the list goes on.
     
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  6. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If I didn't already have the necessary equipment I think that for me would be the decision maker/deal breaker - I can't see buying something just for this, and this won't be the time to practice/learn. If it's equipment you're planning to buy anyway then maybe, but you'd have to have be good at using it in a situation where you'll need to be quick and efficient.

    This seems like school pictures and makes me think of when I was classroom teaching - it was pretty much assembly line. I wonder if you'd need an assistant to help with making sure you have the right name for the right family and keeping things moving along, etc.

    This seems like a good bit of cost and work and time including the editing and printing, etc. I don't know if you'd get enough future business to make back the money you put into this and then some. If you haven't already you probably need to work on a business plan and figure out how to market yourself and if this is the best way to do that or not.

    And then there's John's #4! lol
     
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  7. OGsPhotography

    OGsPhotography No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Never assume someone cant afford to pay you. Thats a sure fire way to not get paid!

    We really cant tell you the answers to this problem your having. Your either going to want to do it or not.

    Of course you could take a pic every minute why the heck not lol. Stand there, click, next!

    Ever been to Disney? They are slow as molasses and still do one a minute. Well maybe not but they could.

    Doesnt meant they get a good photo. But thats not what they are there for, they are there for some function and this is an added benefit.

    Everyone's situation is different.

    I know a photog who does a great business at these mass moms with kids events ( easter is a big one!)/ reunions/ charity etc and she is at about 700$ to start. Everyone gets one print ( on the spot!) and theres a set time involved. She sells extra through email. Smart.

    Mediocre photos. Fast, simple.
    Its called a pboto booth really.

    People are usually happy these days to take their own photo if its a hurried photo booth style. Last wedding I catered they had a self serve photo booth with a dslr on a tripod l, self serve! The thing was at the top of a stairway for a while pretty sketchy I forgot about that until now.
     
  8. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Looks like the organiser is used to herding cattle, that might work with little kids but you're not going to get families with brats all done n dusted in under a minute, the organiser needs to understand that, secondly they'd not be churning out anything I did on the school printer to sell on my behalf, in fact I've never gave anyone the option of a finished print there and then and neither should you, I dealt with a pro-lab and only then after I'd done the editing. I once took on a school photography job back in the film days, it was all about how fast you could rattle through them all and it still took more than a minute each and the kids were lined up, they just want to mess around though lol.
     
  9. Jamesaz

    Jamesaz TPF Noob!

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    One broad light, high over camera position to eliminate shadows on those in the 2 nd row. See if you can rent a Sony snap lab or some such instant print device. Have an assistant print while you shoot. If there's time, get some folders, maybe with event name or school name printed on it. One free per family and, if they want additional prints, you'd need to figure out a per unit cost. Also some backup drive and numbering system to be able to find the frames when the can't decides do decide. With proper exposure no post will be needed. It can be done, 100 families in an hour, but you'd need more than 1 set. I think the prints take 2-3 minutes each. Good luck.
     

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