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Thread: When to Charge?

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    When to Charge?

    Hi APers,

    I'll start this by saying - I do NOT consider myself a professional photographer and I refuse to be one of those people who have a DSLR, takes kind of nice snapshots and calls themselves professional. This being said however, I am often asked to do shoots for people. They offer to pay, but I turn down that part of the offer and do it for free, chalking it up to experience for me. I ensure they realise that I am only a beginner (well, intermediate according to this site now! WOW!), that I will try my best, but my results will in no way compare to that of a professional. For some reason, they still want me to do it, which I happily do for them.

    In the last week there was a family shoot for a friend last Saturday (which was great fun), another two family shoots requested off that, one for a friend and one for my cousin, and now the request for a WEDDING for another friend!! I love doing these shoots, but I am also very time poor, working full time, being a mother to a 2 year old, a musician and running after my daughter with her every day commitments. This, I suppose, it not the fault of my friends and family, but time away from them and then the time editing the photos, is a lot of work for a favour. Is it time for me to start charging a nominal amount? Not much, but a little something for my time? How much would that be?

    I am not planning on actively seeking people to pay for my services, but if people are coming to me and are offering to pay - maybe it's time to let them? What are your thoughts on this? Is it too soon? Or appropriate?

    Please give your honest thoughts.

    Thanks,

    Erin.
    Better known as Erin.


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    Member KeeFy's Avatar
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    IMO if you start charging... the requests will slow down a little. You'll no longer be labeled "the free photographer". Then you will not be as time poor and earn a little on the side.

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    I would say if you are already time poor, why are you saying yes?

    Consider the wedding, between the hours of taking photos for it, you will have 10-30 hours of processing afterwards. Where are you going to find the time to do this?

    As for when to charge, NOW. Cause as soon as you are known as the free photographer, you will find that when you do charge, you will have to deal with "well you did Mrs Smith's for free, why are you charging me". if you are time poor, why not at least be monetary 'rich' for providing your photography services. Cause otherwise you will stay poor on both fronts, which is not really all that logical.
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    Just be aware of the probably business, tax, and liability considerations if ad when you start charging,


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    'No' is a very liberating word.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maezyra View Post
    For some reason, they still want me to do it...
    The reason is simple... You are free.

    How much you charge should reflect how much you think your time is worth. At the moment your time is worth zero according to your charge out rate. A lot of threads cover the costs of the photography itself (camera hire, insurance, time etc). So if you are going to start charging you need to at least ask for a return on these fees.

    Basically the least amount I would look at is... What would I be doing if I wasn't forced to be at this wedding (work, picking up kids etc). How much would I earn in those hours/how much will it cost to pay someone else to do those tasks? Then that is getting close to the actual cost to you.
    I know nothing about anything, only what I like.


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    Quote Originally Posted by KeeFy View Post
    IMO if you start charging... the requests will slow down a little. You'll no longer be labeled "the free photographer". Then you will not be as time poor and earn a little on the side.
    That's a very good point, KeeFy.

    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    I would say if you are already time poor, why are you saying yes?

    Consider the wedding, between the hours of taking photos for it, you will have 10-30 hours of processing afterwards. Where are you going to find the time to do this?

    As for when to charge, NOW. Cause as soon as you are known as the free photographer, you will find that when you do charge, you will have to deal with "well you did Mrs Smith's for free, why are you charging me". if you are time poor, why not at least be monetary 'rich' for providing your photography services. Cause otherwise you will stay poor on both fronts, which is not really all that logical.
    Thank you, Ricktas - I have to admit, I have always had trouble saying no, whether it be photography, work or music. I have a habit of loading up my plate and really pushing myself to the limit to do it all to the best of my ability. I admit, I initially said no to the wedding, but she is an old friend, she begged me and said that she really wanted someone that knew her and her history to be the one to take the photos of her wedding. I haven't made any promises there yet, I have told her I would think about it and that I probably won't be able to get the time off work, so I probably couldn't do it. I have to agree with your points.

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    Just be aware of the probably business, tax, and liability considerations if ad when you start charging
    I have to admit, Kiwi, this is a BIG reason why I don't want to charge. I hate looking after the taxation side of things and controlling the books. I had this for many years with music and to be honest, I often do gigs for free, just because I can't be bothered fussing about with the taxation / liability side of things. I'm a bit lazy like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
    'No' is a very liberating word.
    I need to feel liberated more often!

    Quote Originally Posted by mini696 View Post
    The reason is simple... You are free.

    How much you charge should reflect how much you think your time is worth. At the moment your time is worth zero according to your charge out rate. A lot of threads cover the costs of the photography itself (camera hire, insurance, time etc). So if you are going to start charging you need to at least ask for a return on these fees.

    Basically the least amount I would look at is... What would I be doing if I wasn't forced to be at this wedding (work, picking up kids etc). How much would I earn in those hours/how much will it cost to pay someone else to do those tasks? Then that is getting close to the actual cost to you.
    Again - More good points. Hmm... lots to consider here.

    I did just finish up the (free) family shoot mentioned in this thread. I handed over the photos just the other day. It was a very special shoot - This friend is very close to his family and he has had to say goodbye to his son for a period of two years, while he embarks on something that is against all of my friend's beliefs, but in the name of "He needs to make his own choices, he is my son and I will support him, no matter he chooses" he has let him go and let me photo document one of their last weekends together for a number of years. I put my heart and soul into making these as good as I possibly could. They were very happy and thankful. Worth every minute. That being said, however, I think I will request a small fee in the future. Thank you for your input!

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    Quote Originally Posted by KeeFy View Post
    IMO if you start charging... the requests will slow down a little. You'll no longer be labeled "the free photographer". Then you will not be as time poor and earn a little on the side.
    That's a very good point, KeeFy.

    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    I would say if you are already time poor, why are you saying yes?

    Consider the wedding, between the hours of taking photos for it, you will have 10-30 hours of processing afterwards. Where are you going to find the time to do this?

    As for when to charge, NOW. Cause as soon as you are known as the free photographer, you will find that when you do charge, you will have to deal with "well you did Mrs Smith's for free, why are you charging me". if you are time poor, why not at least be monetary 'rich' for providing your photography services. Cause otherwise you will stay poor on both fronts, which is not really all that logical.
    Thank you, Ricktas - I have to admit, I have always had trouble saying no, whether it be photography, work or music. I have a habit of loading up my plate and really pushing myself to the limit to do it all to the best of my ability. I admit, I initially said no to the wedding, but she is an old friend, she begged me and said that she really wanted someone that knew her and her history to be the one to take the photos of her wedding. I haven't made any promises there yet, I have told her I would think about it and that I probably won't be able to get the time off work, so I probably couldn't do it. I have to agree with your points.

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    Just be aware of the probably business, tax, and liability considerations if ad when you start charging
    I have to admit, Kiwi, this is a BIG reason why I don't want to charge. I hate looking after the taxation side of things and controlling the books. I had this for many years with music and to be honest, I often do gigs for free, just because I can't be bothered fussing about with the taxation / liability side of things. I'm a bit lazy like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
    'No' is a very liberating word.
    I need to feel liberated more often!

    Quote Originally Posted by mini696 View Post
    The reason is simple... You are free.

    How much you charge should reflect how much you think your time is worth. At the moment your time is worth zero according to your charge out rate. A lot of threads cover the costs of the photography itself (camera hire, insurance, time etc). So if you are going to start charging you need to at least ask for a return on these fees.

    Basically the least amount I would look at is... What would I be doing if I wasn't forced to be at this wedding (work, picking up kids etc). How much would I earn in those hours/how much will it cost to pay someone else to do those tasks? Then that is getting close to the actual cost to you.
    Thank you - more great points. It appears I have a lot to consider.

    Incidentally, I completed the family shoot mentioned in this thread. Since doing the shoot, I found out just how important that this was to them - One very close family with one of the sons going away for two years with practically no contact to embark on something that is against the grain of their personal beliefs, however in the name of "I will support my son, no matter what he chooses" they have let him go and will have these photos to look on. I put my heart and soul into making these as good as I could. They were very, very thankful and happy. Worth every single minute spent on them. However, I think I will ask a small fee for my time in the future. Thank you for all of your input.

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    You need to charge, I find it puts a limit on expectations in what they receive. I found when doing free shoots, people expect so much and a lot of photos. When paying, they realise they have to pay for your time to process. I was able to reduce my workload for each photoshoot as pp takes a lot of time for me.
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    And keep in mind, Erin (I've said this before) simply because you charge doesn't make you a professional in any way. You will still remain a good amateur photographer. Professionalism is all about doing good business and earning a living from your chosen craft. That includes doing the books, marketing, paying the bills and spending all that valuable time you don't have focused on full-time (in this case) photography.
    People with talent who commit to things they haven't got time for have rocks in their head (metaphorically speaking) and in the end serve no one well, least themselves.
    There's more kudos in committing to work for free (being a good person) than there is to charging a fee and screwing up the job for one reason or another. Be happy where you are and forget about titles. Like others have said, charging will only turn your friends into customers and that's very hard to reverse and customers are very hard to hold onto in photography.
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    If the people are real freinds they would be saying no to you doing the job for free, your time is precious and should be charged for.
    Whether your hourly rate be $10 or $40 is something you must work out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blueywa View Post
    If the people are real freinds they would be saying no to you doing the job for free, your time is precious and should be charged for.
    Whether your hourly rate be $10 or $40 is something you must work out.
    I don't really believe that you can pay dollars for friendship. That's like charging for charity.

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    I don't charge my close friends, they don't expect much anyways, but it gives me great pleasure to give them photos they love. Its more the acquaintances etc. I mean

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    I think everyone does free work at times, not just photographers. Fairly much everyone I know, no matter what their career etc, give their time, knowledge and skills for free at some point. So do not get to hung up on offering free services SOMETIMES. But make it clear to those involved that it is your GIFT to the other party(s), not a regular occurrence.

    I recently did a family shoot for free. These people are friends and the husband/father had a work accident and has been living off a 60% of normal wage, insurance payment for about 4 months. They really wanted photos of their two young daughters, but due to circumstances could not really afford to pay. As small children grow so fast, missing out on the children's photos at this age, would mean we couldn't take them again in 6 or 12 months time. So I did a shoot with them for free.

    So do the free stuff, but choose when/where/how yourself, not have others asking you for it to be free.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    I think everyone does free work at times, not just photographers. Fairly much everyone I know, no matter what their career etc, give their time, knowledge and skills for free at some point. So do not get to hung up on offering free services SOMETIMES. But make it clear to those involved that it is your GIFT to the other party(s), not a regular occurrence.

    So do the free stuff, but choose when/where/how yourself, not have others asking you for it to be free.
    I agree. I have in the past month. Serviced/fixed/modified cars, replaced iphone screen, fixed mac and windows computers OS and HW, replaced iphone battery, replaced iphone front camera, jailbroken iphones, setup websites and optimised SEO, programmed a PABX for a small office, done a photoshoot etc.

    All just helping out friends. I can tell them to go get it done somewhere else and pay for it, but i do it as a favour. It's nice to help people out, but i do say NO when i can't or don't feel like it.

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    When to charge.
    As soon as someone wants something you have that they want enough to pay for.
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    Although Atky I think that you need to distinguish the situation of where they THINK you have something that they want enough to pay for...

    My personal criteria on when to charge is when I am confident to know that I will definitely hold up my end of the bargain, i.e. I KNOW that I will give the customer what they want, and not just "maybe". I won't charge if I am not confident on that and I want the experience.

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    Hi Tony unlike some I take shots people order not shots to order, big difference.

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    Pics for friends:

    You are paid with:
    1) money(?)
    2) karma/friendship points/pleasure from doing the shoot

    You lose:
    1) time you coulda spent with your kids
    2) physically getting tired from the shoot

    Balance those out.

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    I started charging as soon as I wanted to start recovering my costs... simple as that
    Living the dream...

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