First time professional photographer

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by blackphoenix, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. blackphoenix

    blackphoenix TPF Noob!

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    C&C welcomed.
    how would i go about figuring out to calculate my services because i have no idea.


     
  2. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    You mean price your work?

    $=M+L+O+P

    M = Material
    L = Labor
    O = Overhead
    P = Profit

    Material. Your cost of gear and anything else tangible that you need to produce your product. Labor: What you pay yourself. Overhead: Recurring expenses such as vehicle, gas & maintenance, cell phone, internet etc. Profit: What you project you'll require in the future to improve and expand.
     
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  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The part that most people get wrong is "overhead". This isn't a simple calculation; it includes hard costs such as business licenses and insurance (Yes, you NEED those), deprecation on equipment, the appropriate portions of utilities, 'phone, etc. Software costs, computer costs, partial costs of your vehicle, home and other things. What portion of the various costs constitute your overhead varies by municipality and state. Your best bet will be to sit down with an accountant for an hour and go through it all, learn what the tax laws are in your area, what costs you include and which you don't.
     
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  4. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    This and your other posts seem to point toward a tendency to put the horse before the cart. In any pricing point determination, you need to first figure out if your product has monetary value in the market you seek to enter. There is no easy route here, you do that by researching your market, looking at other photography offerings in your area and doing a realistic comparison of your product offering vs your competitors. Can you offer the same or better quality of product. What services do they offer, identify those you can/can not offer. Is there a niche not being serviced. Is the market oversold. What price point would you have to be at to woo customers away from established businesses. Only once you've narrowed down the market parameters can you start to look at price.

    The advice given already, can establish a range to be at to make a profit, but it's simplicity is also it's limitation in a real world dynamic market. A customer doesn't care if your COGS is $X, especially as a new kid on the block. The customer will go with the one who they perceive to have the better value for dollar spent. I can also guarantee that those who've been in business for awhile have learned efficiencies and vendor selections that allowed them to reduce their COGS. Here's a link to a simple discussion of pricing strategies I used for years in my businesses. Pricing Strategies bear in mind these are simple explanations and would require more study on your part. I could literally write a book on each of them after 40 plus years.

    In any market transaction there has to be a seller willing to sell at a specified price and a buyer willing to buy at that price. The successful entrepreneurs are those which can arrive at that exact point so as to maximize profits, but not exceed such that buyers are unwilling to pay.
     
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  5. blackphoenix

    blackphoenix TPF Noob!

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    you're right about putting the horse before the cart. i'm just so ready to get started but i need to slow down and put more practice into my craft before i start charging. i mainly want exposure for my work first but the money would be nice.
     
  6. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Don't worry about exposure. Exposure and $5 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks; that's it. It's great to start working on the business side of things early, BUT, it's NOT good to start the business too early. You need to be doing two things at this point. Learning photography and learning business. Check your local adult ed campus for courses on small business, entrepreneurship, etc. It's not cheap to start a business, and there are a lot of pitfalls.

    On the business side, you need to find a quality lab that can deliver a wide range of products. You need contracts and agreements, licenses, etc. Those need to be drafted and then reviewed by a lawyer. You need an accountant to get your financials in order. You need insurance, both business liability and equipment loss. You need (probably) license(s) to operate a business. You need to understand billing, basic accounting, and a dozen other things. For every hour behind the camera, you're going to spend 2-3 on business stuff.

    As far as being behind the camera, you need to stop playing and start learning. Yes, i know you think you're learning, but you're not. You need to start with the basics. You need to know exposure (and not the exposure we're talking about in the first paragraph) and I mean KNOW exposure; can 1/3 of a stop difference between two lights really make a difference? You bet your donkey it can! You need to know and understand lighting; ambient and strobe. You need to be able to pose people and a host of other things. If you've started in the last six months, I would expect to keep working at it for another 2 1/2 - 3 years before worrying about hanging up a shingle.
     
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  7. blackphoenix

    blackphoenix TPF Noob!

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    i've just been winging it all my life. what you all said especially you really hit me, in a good and mentor type way. i deeply appreciate this more than anything. i'm not ready for the big times yet. starting from the bottom is what i need to do. thank you!
     
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  8. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Do what you want, there are a ton of soccer moms out there with a camera that will give you 30 "so called edited" images on cd for $30. They come and go, sometimes they go before they get fined for operating without a license, or worse get sued over an injury and don't have insurance to cover it. At that rate, you could spend an afternoon picking up cans for recycling, make more, and not risk all the downside.

    As Tirediron suggested there are adult education business classes offered at just about every campus in the state. Sometimes if money is a problem they'll let you "audit" the class free of charge (you don't get credit or a grade). A quick google search of photography schools turned up lots of opportunity. One in Birmingham that showed promise because of the availability of classes. Birmingham School of Photography
     
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  9. blackphoenix

    blackphoenix TPF Noob!

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    thank you! i looked up. definitely will give them a call. licenses are very important. i'm gonna be working on networking with local photographers and focusing on the basics of photography.
     
  10. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I'm pretty sure we all would like to see you succeed in your goals, and if you keep learning and growing in the craft, you will get there. What I see in you is that you have a good attitude, you're not afraid of work and a little criticism, and you have the advantage of youth.

    If you can consistently produce photographs that "knock people's socks off", then some local professional will likely hire you on as an assistant where you will learn the business from the inside.

    My own idea of what every successful photographer absolutely NEEDS is the ability to see the shot. Shooting it with technical skill comes later. Artistic vision is the hardest thing to learn. I will recommend that you start there, and the technical stuff will come with time and practice.
     
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  11. blackphoenix

    blackphoenix TPF Noob!

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    I really like what you said. trying to find my vision has been the hardest thing. i have the eye i just want that to show up in my photography as well so others can see what i saw before i shot the photo
     

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