Increasing Prices for Event Photography


TPF Noob!
Aug 13, 2021
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Hi all,

I'm what they call a busy fool.

About seven years ago I started photographing the running races that my wife ran; it was a way of supporting and killing time. I'd upload the images to facebook and I got fairly good at it.

Eventually a running events company asked me if I'd photograph their series of races for payment. I was seriously flattered to be asked and said 'Yes'. They offered a fairly low payment (£120) per race. I'm actually okay with that, still, because all their races are short and local, often in the evening. So a few hours work including travelling, and about three-or-four hours editing.

But then another running event business asked me to photograph their series of races, then another, and another, and I've ended up with four running event businesses to photograph their series of races. There's that many they often clash and my wife has told me not to take any more photography work, other than the jobs I've already got on. Quite a few of these jobs are 100 mile ultra marathons, so I'm away all weekend. After lockdown I had three 100 milers in a four week period to photograph, one in extreme heat, the other two in the mountains and they're physically challenging.

I'm a self employed window cleaner so it's easy to arrange to take time off during the week to edit and recover.

But here's the thing, I'm embarrassingly cheap. I'm charging £250 quid per job. Yesterday's was 'okay', it was just a 32 mile ultra marathon, but for the bigger jobs that go all weekend, plus a day's editing, I still charge the same (£250).

So what should I be charging? And what/how should I do to increase what I charge?

Advice and kickings happily accepted.

First, you need to get a handle on your costs to do the various jobs. That means, transportation to and from, meals, editing time, prep time (scoping the venue), wear and tear on equipment, vehicle costs, equipment replacement costs, your hourly wage, etc. In other words, take into account all the elements of your costs. If you can use something like Excel, all the better. After entering all the cost elements, you can get a good idea of the price for your work, and don't forget a decent profit margin. Too many photographers (plumbers, etc.) never consider the bottom line for their labor.

I was a cost accountant for a number of years, so I understand the elements of cost going into an endeavor. I also found, that the number one reason for business failures at all levels, was the failure to consider your costs.

Above all, don't sell yourself short, and do not overextend yourself, paying for work elements out of your own pocket. Once an endeavor of love becomes a job, the rules change.
If I am using the right conversion, 250 pounds is about $350 American. If you are shooting 2 days and 1 day editing (how many photos, why editing them? capture in jpeg and just deliver only adjusting for missed exposure or wb) or 24 hrs or $10/hr. Here in America, a new hire at McDonalds makes that. But you must also factor in your expenses, fuel, mileage, food, overnight stay since gone for 2 days. And don't forget wear and tear on your gear, or breakage or theft. I'll bet you don't have general liability insurance, you know, like if you pop a flash, it blinds someone and the fall and break an arm or trip over your gear. What about errors and omission insurance if your memory card fails and you lose all the images? In California, 2 turn and burners each got hit for $40, 000 for screwing up a wedding. The judgement holders will be first in line when you sell your home or could prevent you from getting a car loan. Do you have a back up camera at the event? Those cameras are depreciating like a stone and in a few years will require replacement. And do you have a written contract spelling out use of the images? I'm sure they like your prices. Start by determining what you think what hourly rate you desire. In you hours consider travel time, phone calls before and after, delivery time to package and deliver. Multipy that times your hourly rate. Add in your costs and that is what you should be charging. If you are happy to work for near nothing, then go for it. And get a reputation for working for peanuts, no one will want to pay your a fair wage. Also, working for those looking for someone giving it away will eventually find some one cheaper or free. If you are going to run a business, run it as such.
I used to charge by the hour plus expenses....

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