Ashley Morrison's Blog

April 1, 2013

Who pays photographers?

Shakodo website

By Juergen Specht, on the Shakodo Blog a few days ago – where yours truly got a wee mention, for trying to answer this question about How best to charge for high end commercial architectural photography? 🙂

Juergen Specht wrote on the 29th March 2013:

Who pays photographers?

I just got tipped to a new site named “Who pays photographers?“, which collects anonymous contributions from photographers and how much they earned for a specific job from different outlets. Needless to say, it’s depressing to see these low rates collected together in one spot.
However, the more I look through it, the more I agree with some comments about the site, that “only dissatisfied [photographers] … working for niche websites or newspapers” report their income there. The main problems I see, based on what I read on Shakodo every single day, is that most photographers still don’t know how to charge properly and what they actually sell. And this is one of the core reasons why so many photographers have such a frustrating low income.

Let’s take for example the concept of “work by the hour”. I really, really don’t understand why photographers do this to themselves. Imagine there are 2 photographers, a very experienced professional and a not that experienced semi-professional. They both get hired to take the portrait of a busy, high-end subject. The experienced photographer comes out of the session with a great portrait in 5 minutes, because of his experience to grasp the situation, the available light and the attention of his subject. The not so experienced semi-professional needs 20 minutes for the image. Now, who should earn more? The professional who didn’t waste much time on his subject? Or the semi-professional, who needed 4 times the time for a picture? And what happens if the semi-professional become more experienced? Shall he suddenly earn less, because he can get the results faster?

This is just one example why “work by the hour” is not such a great idea. To quote Jim Greipp again “You get paid for your talent and not your time”.
And in the end, it all boils down to one thing: The value of your images to the client.

Nobody can explain this concept better than Shakodo Member Ashley Morrison in his answer to this question.

So instead of complaining about low fees, educate yourself and learn from the people who are busy making money with photography. You probably will not find them on “Who pays photographers?“, because they actually have work to do.

Where I tried to explain to Steve, a London based photographer, the difference between giving a price to take some pictures that a client could use if they wanted to, and give a price to produce some images that a client would actually want to use, to meet their usage requirements.

Where I included some images of the same buildings, to help illustrate my point …
The Carlton Atlantic Coast Hotel in Westport.
.. that all images are not the same……
The Carlton Atlantic Coast Hotel in Westport.
.. and so this is why it’s often very hard to put a price on what we are being asked to provide our clients with – especially beforehand.

Anyway, just thought I’d post this on my own Blog here, as it’s nice to be mentioned – and to know that someone else out there in the world, thinks I’m not way of the mark on my thinking here, on how to go about putting a price on an assignment like this… before the actual images exist.


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