By the hour or by the piece?


TPF Noob!
May 19, 2007
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I'm shooting more and more product lately and am trying to figure out my rates; which currently end up being all over the place. I'm trying to standardize my rates (mostly for my own sanity). My question is, which serves me best: Charging by piece or by the hour? What does everyone else do? I'm not asking how much you charge, just by which method?

For portraits, not the same thing, but close. I charge per 30min.
I used to do some product stuff, am trying to get back into it, along with pet photography.
What you might consider is figure out what you need or want to make per hour, and base your quotes on if you estimate a job will take 6 hours, quote that total price, regardless of number of shots. That way if you have one complicated shot to do, or 20 simple ones, it will make sense as to what you are quoting and taking in.

Over the years, I've gravitated from charging for "time and materials used" to a "per view" approach to pricing. This is mostly to satisfy the client. Digital too added to my reasoning, since I no longer have film and processing costs.

There are two major considerations for me.
First: If I gonna be shooting a full day, I want $1200.
Second: If I making a single image, I feel ANY photo is worth at least $225, even if I finish in less than an hour.

So, with this in mind, I quote $225 for the first shot in studio or $350 if on location. Then I explain additional views at the same time will be around $75 – $100 if there are no major lighting or set changes.

This allows a client to budget for the number of shots wanted, and puts me at my $1200/day goal. For example: a smaller job (half day) of 5 table top views on white seamless in the studio would bill out at $625. For a location shoot, I bill from my door to my door for time. So the harder I work (packing, hauling and setting up lighting), the higher the per shot cost. I spend a bit of time discussing this with the client to estimate the number of shots possible during the day. So if I'm working in a plant with larger products, I might get just four shots a day finished, making the cost about $300/view.

In the end, my invoicing will read something like: Produce 4 color views on location, prepare files, deliver all on DVD with index print – $1200 –or– Produce 5 views in studio, prepare files, deliver all on DVD wtih index print – $625. On larger jobs, I'll add charges for seamless paper, assistant, etc.


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