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Thread: How much should i charge!?!

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    Member RuthAdele's Avatar
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    How much should i charge!?!

    Hi All!

    I'm about to move to a new position as a web developer, but currently i work exclusively as a photographer/editor/sales assistant for a jewellery company (but at shop assistant wages...)
    When i put in my notice to move to my new job, i'm going to ask for casual work as their photographer. But the big question is: What should i charge!?!

    I figure it should be an hourly rate. Because the shoots and editing and magazine layouts that i do vary dramatically depending on the piece of jewellery, or magazine that i'm working on.

    I've been doing it for 3 years (if that makes any difference)
    So does anyone have any ideas on a starting point?

    Thanks,
    Ruth.

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    Ruth, hopefully you intend to become a regular contributor to AP ?

    I think youve already set the benchmark on price
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    Ruth, hopefully you intend to become a regular contributor to AP ?

    I think youve already set the benchmark on price
    I'm not sure what you mean...? How have i set the benchmark?
    And to answer your first question - yes! This does seems like a very interesting forum with people with a great interest in Photography (as i have)


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    what I mean is that they are expecting now (probably) you to do photography at "shop assistant wages" since this is their current experience

    as to the question on how much you should charge there's simply no exact answer for that. It depends on your skills, the end use if the images, the costs you have, the competition and so on, whether you retain copyright etc

    I generally work out a cost on an hourly rate basis, and I dont want to get out of bed so to speak for less than $100 an hour - but this will vary considerable up or down for others - even charging on an hourly rate is only one way.

    So, what are you worth ? How much profit do you need to make to cover costs and time ?

    Only you can answer these questions

    Lastly, they expect $20 an hour and if you now want to charge them $100 an hour you're going to have a lot of value selling to do I suspect
    Last edited by kiwi; 11-03-2011 at 4:41pm.

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    I think Kiwi is right here, I also try to do work that will return to me around $100/hr. That said it's not my main income and any income that has to be declared, means I pay 30% tax, and possibly more, so I try to make it a little cream for me and still get the experience.
    Given you have been doing the job for 3 years and almost certainly getting much less than $100/hr, you have indeed set the benchmark. I see them perhaps paying you about what they pay you now, or even a fraction more as they will use you as a casual/contractor so sick leave, annual leave etc is unlikely to be part of the ongoing deal.

    Only you can decide what your time is worth, but be aware that there are probably plenty of other people out there who would do it for free or very little just to see their work published in adverts.....

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    I looked at getting some product shooting work didn't go ahead with it, it was competitive and to break into the market I would of had to undercut other photographers by a considerable margin to get clients to take the gamble on me . I also found it labour intensive boring work.
    All that aside I discovered for wine bottle shots, the rate was about $80 a shot not an hour but a frame, sounds a lot but when you take out all the expenses it would be hard work for a good living wage. As I said I gave it a miss because I could see I would be used to force prises down I suspect the price would be considerably less now.
    I know thats not what you asked but it might give you some idea at the price you should be thinking of.
    PS that was giving them complete ownership of the images.
    Last edited by atky; 11-03-2011 at 5:19pm.
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    Work out what price you need to make it worthwhile (without being greedy) and then stand in front of the buyer and ask them what they will pay. If it's close, negotiate otherwise walk away. Just keep in mind that you can take a photo for the local newspaper and use the same frame for a glossy magazine and it will attract substantially different prices. One off or casual photographic work is always subject to negotiation and there are no rules governing worth to the buyer. It's all about supply and demand.
    Last edited by Redgum; 12-03-2011 at 11:09am.
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    Unless I don't have a really good idea how long the job will take, I often charge per product and include a set number or images. If you're faster than other photographers, why should you get paid less just because you do the job quicker.

    You may have set the benchmark, but even though it may have only been a small hourly rate they were paying you, like $20-$25, they have have enough work to justify paying your full years wages including super and holidays. So their yearly cost to keep you is at least $39K + super.

    Even if you charge a lot more than that, chances are they will still be paying less in the long run. Unless they have enough work to justify a full time photographer.

    Hope my rambling makes sense

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    Working as a contractor immediately allows you to charge more. In my current job I'm being paid say $40 an hour as an employee. If I were to contract back to them in exactly the same role I would be paid somewhere around $85 an hour.

    If something can be written off as a simple expense (rather than forming part of an overhead) or passed on to the customer and marked up then they are more likely to pay more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bb45pz View Post
    Working as a contractor immediately allows you to charge more. In my current job I'm being paid say $40 an hour as an employee. If I were to contract back to them in exactly the same role I would be paid somewhere around $85 an hour.

    If something can be written off as a simple expense (rather than forming part of an overhead) or passed on to the customer and marked up then they are more likely to pay more.
    There's a little bit of logic fail here, take your example of your 40 per hour job. You are more than likely costing them as much as an 85 per hr contractor when you consider HR time and resources, fleet, fuel, phone, Internet, utilities, superannuation etc etc etc. Hiring a contractor only transfers the responsibility of managing those things... Doesn't necessarily make it any cheaper for them.

    And if a contractor is charging 85 per hour, take out your costs and then consider the things you lose like paid sick and annual leave.... then see if being a contractor is so luxurious in comparison to being employed!
    Last edited by jasevk; 12-03-2011 at 8:44pm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasevk View Post
    There's a little bit of logic fail here, take your example of your 40 per hour job. You are more than likely costing them as much as an 85 per hr contractor when you consider HR time and resources, fleet, fuel, phone, Internet, utilities, superannuation etc etc etc. Hiring a contractor only transfers the responsibility of managing those things... Doesn't necessarily make it any cheaper for them.

    And if a contractor is charging 85 per hour, take out your costs and then consider the things you lose like paid sick and annual leave.... then see if being a contractor is so luxurious in comparison to being employed!
    That's exactly my point. The overhead costs etc for an employer means that if you are a contractor you can (and should expect to) charge much more than than the hourly rate you are on as an employee.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bb45pz View Post
    That's exactly my point. The overhead costs etc for an employer means that if you are a contractor you can (and should expect to) charge much more than than the hourly rate you are on as an employee.
    Yes, but, you then YOU wear those overheads. And the 85 per hr suddenly becomes more like 40 when you take out tax, super, insurance, workcover, vehicle costs, phone etc etc, and no entitlements like paid leave.
    Last edited by jasevk; 12-03-2011 at 9:52pm.

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    But the question was how much should I charge? Rather than how much should I expect to take home.

    Some of the other posters had made reference to a link between the OPs current hourly rate and what they may be able to charge. I was just making the point that you can charge much more than your previous hourly rate.

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    You can charge whatever you want. They can accept or decline.

    With any negotiation like this I always start with two figures in mind. The absolute minimum I am prepared to do the work for and then my preference figure. You can't really negotiate successfully without those two figures. If at the end of the day the payment falls anywhere on the scale you have set, you should be satisfied.

    Also, I have a minimum base rate for ANY project which is currently $500. I would rather shoot for free than be contracted for a job under that amount. That figure will be different for everyone, but for me it's based on my experiences and history.

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    And what you charge depends totally on what you want to earn. Base rates are fine but that implies you're going to reject work and very few businesses succeed by turning away opportunities. I work for glossy magazines and local newspapers and their pay rates are vastly different. I shoot for the Southside News (circ 50k) and get paid $400 for a 200 word story plus two photos. I do three stories in half a day, twice a week. When I'm away on a doco shoot or with Nat Geo someone else takes over but the work is always there. Okay, it's only $400 per shoot and I've got local travel and time to consider it adds up to over $2k per week in the good times (which is fairly regular) and I only have to work about two days a week.
    All I'm saying is that small jobs add up over time so even if they reduced my pay to $300 per shoot I'd still do it.
    Ruth, it's up to you what you want to charge but just make sure you earn more than it costs you and don't worry about benchmarks that don't exist.

    Of course, if you can't do the job, don't but invest in learning so you develop the skills.
    Last edited by Redgum; 14-03-2011 at 11:21am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
    Also, I have a minimum base rate for ANY project which is currently $500. I would rather shoot for free than be contracted for a job under that amount. That figure will be different for everyone, but for me it's based on my experiences and history.
    I'd have to agree with this one. There comes a point at which you either have to knock back the job or do it for nothing. The in between is a bad place to be as it really devalues what you are doing.

    If it's for free then people assume that it won't be free every time and that you are getting something out of it that they may not be aware of. If you let them bargain you down to super low rates then they assume that's what they can get it for on a regular basis.

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    If you need a benchmark make it $10k per year (or something better than the dole) because there is little sense in doing commercial photography for less and spending all that money on gear without benefit.
    If you have full time work or a primary income it doesn't really matter what you make because what you make under $10k will either be sucked up by taxation or simply cover part of your expenditure, unless of course the income is hidden.

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    Member adrian078's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
    You can charge whatever you want. They can accept or decline.

    Also, I have a minimum base rate for ANY project which is currently $500. I would rather shoot for free than be contracted for a job under that amount.
    I also agree with a minimum. I don't leave my house for less than about $500. For studio jobs, my minimum is less since everything is on hand and there is no travel or setting up or packing up gear.

    For jobs below your minimum, you could be spending your time better by potentially generating higher paying clients by focusing on your marketing or contacting potentials.
    Last edited by adrian078; 15-03-2011 at 11:09am.

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    The price will also depend on who's equipment you use.
    If it's theirs, then the price should be lower than if you provide all the required equipment.
    I agree with lots of the others on here, in that you need to charge a base fee, of say $500, which includes the use of your equipment (which may be many thousands of $$$ worth) and this base fee includes finished shots of say, 5 items + $50-100 for each additional item.
    Don't forget, it's not just the photography they are paying for, but the Photoshop work too, and I've found that you tend to spend as much time on the processing, as you do on the picture taking, if not more.
    If you charge them an hourly rate only, you will find that they will call you in to do just one item, see that you only take say, 20 minutes to photograph it and only want to pay you for the 20 minutes you were there, forgeting about all the other work you have to do to make the photo ready for publication.

    Just my opinion.

    However, if they are paying you for it on a contract basis, make sure your work is good!
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