I just wanted to clarify a few things. Thank you to everyone who understood what I was saying in my post below!
Say you do a session for $100 with a cd of all the images. AWESOME right??? You just made $100 bucks right??!! Score!!!!
Lets break down that $100. Say you shoot 4 of these sessions in one month.
$100 received for session
$30 off the top put aside for taxes
The cost for your website is $16 a month (Through portfoliositez). If you shot 4 sessions that month that is on average $4 a session to pay for it.
You are down to $66.
If you get insurance (to protect yourself and your clients) at an average of $40 a month over 4 sessions That is $10 a session.
You are down to $56
The cost for the CD and case $1.00
You are down to $55
10% towards new gear savings and replacements like batteries and such $10.00
You are down to $45
$4 for gas to and from your session
You are down to $41.00
Ok so there are more expenses, (say if you have to hire a babysitter to watch your kids or if your spouse has to leave work so you can shoot, and other things.. the cost to get a business license, Photoshop.. those kind of goodies.) but let us leave it here for simplicity. You have now made $41.00 from that session. Great!!
Lets break this down by the time you invested into the session
1.5 hours in emails and session prep. Contract signing and emailing back and forth with the client in regards to pricing and location and answering questions. Prepping your gear and getting everything ready.
1 hour in travel round trip. (30 minutes each way) (my sessions are on an average 25 to 30 minutes from my house)
2 hours shooting your session.
.5 hours downloading your images and organizing them and putting your gear away.
3 hours editing your session.
.5 hours prepping your cd and packaging it and mailing it.
1 hour sharing and posting your session on facebook and marketing the session in hopes to get new clients
You have now spent at least 9.5 hours into your session.
If you take $41 and divide it by 9.5 hours you are making $4.31 an hour for the session. If you count the cost for a babysitter for your kids or if your session is farther or if you take longer to edit or if you shoot longer, or if your insurance costs more (mine is nearly $75 a month), or if you only shoot 1 or 2 sessions that month, you are making even less money.
Is that $4.31 worth being away from your kids? Worth the time and trouble?!! Now…. I am not saying you can start a business and charge hundreds and thousands of dollars. Everyone has to “pay their dues”. That is why the government allows you to claim a loss for the first 3 years! But please be a business woman/man. Know that it is a real business, and that you are not actually making $100 from that shoot.
Please understand that photography is a real job…. and not a quick way to make a quick buck. Please please please value your time, and your families time!!! If you don’t, who will?!!!
I think that there is some confusion about the point I was trying to make.
I am NOT wanting nor trying to belittle anyone at all. I am not trying to say that you shouldn’t do photography for $4 an hour or $5 or for $100 and hour or whatever the amount is. Only you know how much you need to be taking home to make creating a business worth it to you.
My purpose of the status was to break down some of the normal costs of running a legitimate and legal business. We will always champion paying taxes, and having all your legalities–taxes, licenses, and insurance. I know that some expenses may be more or less then others, and some may shoot more or less than others. You may not shoot just 4 sessions a month, or you may only shoot 1 session.
In the end MY numbers don’t matter, it is YOUR numbers that matter. My point is that YOU need to really know what you are bringing in. You need to know your profits and your losses. It is part of running a business.
We’re not making a value judgement on your bottom line. We are simply saying that as responsible business owners, you need to know it.
How do you figure out what you need to charge?
Figure out your expenses.
You need to determine your fixed costs first. What are your expenses that you pay out irregardless of how many shoots you have or don’t have. Everything from insurance, to gas to gear replacement, to marketing and products.
Your fixed costs drop more and more per session you do.
Then determine your variable costs. Things that occur with each session. Gas, wear and tear, CD, albums. etc.
Now determine how many days a month you want to shoot. Is it 1 time, 4 times or 10?? This number is completely personal and you decide how much you want to be gone and out shooting. Everyone has a comfort level.
Now you need to decide how much you want to make a month! What is that “Ahhhhhhhhh, this is so worth it” number for you? Is it taking home $500 profit or $1000 profit? Does it need to be $5000? Do you need to be the income provider for your family?
Now that you know how much you want to make a month PROFIT, and you know how many days you want to shoot
Ok so now you know how much you need to actually make a month in order to TAKE HOME your desired pay.
The next step is to sit down and evaluate how many times you want to actually shoot. Is it 3 times a month? Is it 10 times a month? This number will show you how much you need to charge per session in order to make your desired take home pay.
Now I understand that not everyone can charge $1000 or $500 for a session. My post was not to belittle anyone that charges $100 for a session. My post was meant for you to look at your expenses. Just because a client writes you a check for $100 does NOT mean that you just made $100.
In the end, if we hang out our shingle and charge, then we are business women and business men. It is our responsibility to run our business in a profitable manner. How much profit you make is a personal decision and completely up to you.
But let me reiterate that you need to have a very solid understanding of your gear and how to get great photographs before you start charging clients. You need to have all the legal paperwork in place to run a business. You need to know your craft. It takes time–a lot of time and a LOT of hard work–to get your business off the ground. It is NOT easy. You don’t just pick up a camera start a Facebook page and become a professional photographer. There is so much work, time and money that goes into it. We just worry sometimes people forget the time and money that is invested in starting and running a legitimate business.
But remember: Your time and your art has worth.