You can not charge photographer based on regular hourly rate.

I think many people do not understand the business of photographer. For example, when I charge $200 for 2 hours food photoshoot. My friends say wow that is a lot Kai. $100 per an hour, you are upper class now. Sometimes clients will say something similar. They think that is a lot based on regular hourly rate. But in reality even $100 per an hour is still consider lower end in the business of photography.

First of all, if you think that is $100 per an hour, you are wrong. You totally forget the retouch time. I would say if you are a pro shooting for client, retouch is a must. I can not think someone just deliver photo straight out from camera to clients. That is not responsible and professional. That said I am not saying that is always like half hour per image type of retouch. Even like 2-3 mins per one image is still retouch. Things like adjust exposure, contrast, saturation kind things. Let’s see you shoot 30 photos at end, then 30 multiple 2 mins, that is 60 mins. At least one hour on retouch. If you shoot more photo and spend more time on fine tuning. That will cost even more time. So usually if the actual photoshoot is 2 hours then add at least another 1 hour retouch time. Now it becomes 3 hours for $200. The hourly rate all the sudden declined a lot.

Secondly, photographer do not work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Unless you are a full time photographer working for some company, then that is exception. Most photographers are freelance. On average a busy professional photographer is shooting 3 days a week. That is a very good busy business. And then you spend 2 days on retouch. Remember that the definition of a day does not means 8 hours here. It can be 3 hours, 5 hours depend on your project.  So that means on average you spend 100 days a year on shooting. So how much you should charge? Well let’s calculate it. If you want to make $50,000 a year. Then you need to make $500 a day. If you want to make $100,000 a year, then you need to make $1000 a day.

Third, as photography we spend time preparing for the photoshoot. Photoshoot is like a battle for photographer. We are not going to the battlefield without arms. For example, I shoot food mostly. I need to regularly go out shopping for props. like placemats, napkin, tablecloth, plates, etc. I need to constantly refresh my props. That also add cost to my photoshoot.

Before I become a photographer, I always think those wedding package is so expensive. At least $1000 per a day. That is a lot. But now I totally understand it. I totally understand why $1000 a day for wedding shooting is still a very cheap price.

I hope this article give some people some insight. If you want to make living of doing photography, you need to charge good amount of money per one photoshoot. That is the nature of the business of photography. Otherwise it is just not possible to survive. We certainly can not charge photographer based on regularly hourly rate.


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