What to charge for event photography?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Shacklebolt, Feb 20, 2008.

  1. Shacklebolt macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

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    #1
    I kind of indicated this in another thread, but I don't want to be one of those folks who jacks threads, so I'll start my own (yes, I know I have thread-itis: I'm sorry. You guys should give less useful advice! :))

    I'm graduating from college this summer, and, while I'm looking for job that takes advantage of my educational background, I'm considering offering my services as an event photographer. No, not weddings of course, but more like, birthday/graduation parties. I live in an area that can afford this kind of stuff pretty well, plus I think I take good enough shots. As someone said before, getting a sort of ROI for my gear would be nice, as my concert photography so far has been pro bono (except for free albums/concerts/get to meet and interview some awesome bands), which I'm fine with, as I have other sources of income.

    That said, my gear is not cheap, and I'm learning how to use it better and better every day. I own a D80, 50mm f/1.4, 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6, 70-200mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, SB-600, and plan on purchasing a D300 before the summer. That and, I honest to god really like photographing events and get along with people/kids well. To any event, I'd plan on taking all my lenses, of course, with my 70-200mm on my D80, and the 24-70mm on my D300 to start. This is all also in effort to recover some of the cost of my gear, plus as another source of income. And no, I haven't run myself into the poor house paying for this stuff by any means (paying for with my own money, btw), but making some money back would be nice.

    For an event, I was thinking 100/hour for the first two hours (w/2 hour minimum), 75/hour for the next 4, and a 500 flat rate for up to 8 hours. That would be the only cost to them, and I would be responsible for photo editing, etc. In the likelyhood that they want them professionally developed, they would have to cover the cost of that, but at no profit to myself.

    A brief google search of wedding photography comes back with rates like 500/hour for the first 2 hours, so I feel like 1/5th of that is reasonable. And if I were a parent (but not a photographer) I would like the idea of being able to concentrate on my child's birthday/graduation party and the 20--->howevermany kids running around without feeling like I have to be glued to my camera to capture all those moments I'd want to remember. You want to be standing next to your kid when they're blowing out their candles, not looking at him/her through a viewfinder.

    I have NO IDEA if this price range/overall idea is good/bad/ludicrous, and am open to any and all suggestions, please. Thanks.
     
  2. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

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    #2
    Unless you are sure you can produce "pro" results, I would think carefully before offering yourself as a pro. It just takes you to mess up one job and that will blemish your reputation for a long time ..
     
  3. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

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    #3
    I'm well, well aware. I mean, isn't that a huge part of a photographer's motivation to produce the best results possible - reputation?

    But right, before I did it for real (starting this summer), I would do a few (such as my little 7 year old cousin's birthday) for nothing, for the main purpose actually of getting shots to put up on a web page. And of course, unless I felt like I could produce some great stuff, I wouldn't do it at all. That's part of the reason I'm confident, though - if I'm shooting an event, I always feel like I get a few really great photos. If you're going to do something, of course, do it well.
     
  4. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #4
    You have to be able to market yourself online first. If people are going to think about investing in you, they want to see your "style" and quality before dropping any money on the hope that it will turn out.

    Start off with an amount that is "worth it" for you to even do the job plus a bit more (10-20%) for profit. You need to see how you fare in a pro environment first so that you have shots (and customers) who can back you up. Then, prices can go up to what your local market will bare.

    Also, think about how you will present the "product" to your customers. Prints? Disc with hi-res images? Photo book?
     
  5. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

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    #5
    Disc/DVD with hi-res images would be standard. You have to consider, I think that's quite good. I remember from my youth my parents having to get copies of the (physical) photos directly from the photographer. Giving you, the consumer, complete control over them is quite a deal, imo.

    And yes, my girl is a web designer, and she volunteered to set me up a website for free. Of course, the main purpose would be to put my stuff up there.
     
  6. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

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  7. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #7
    I say to do it, but let the client know what you state of experience is.... let them know that you are a novice. Charge what you think you are worth, or what the client may be willing to pay.

    I didn't read the original post but if the job is more than 8 hours charge them $200 - $300 or if it's less than 4 hours charge them what you wouldn't mind getting for a four hour day.
     
  8. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #8
    Go for it... You've aleady got most most of the hardware you'll need...

    As you say, weddings separate the men from the boys, photographically speaking. Screw up a wedding and you screw up big time.

    But other events aren't quite so pressured. I know people who specialise in documenting events. One woman goes to gymkanas and (amateur) horse racing events. She photographs the riders, going over the jumps, hopefully looking their best, and then sells prints to the competitors. Doubt she makes much money, but she enjoys it...

    So if you start thinking 'events', you may come up with quite a list of possibilities.

    Good luck...
     
  9. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #9
    Way off. Way way off.


    :rolleyes:
     
  10. jtblueberry macrumors regular

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    #10
    Where you live is going be a big factor. It's hard for someone on one coast to tell someone on another coast or somewhere in between what they can charge.
    For example, a house in L.A doesn't cost the same as a house in Timbuktu.
    If you can book the parties, go for it. Great place to start. Sounds like you're on track with your pricing/ideas. Upgrade to weddings and higher paid events after you get some parties under your belt. I think those google numbers would be better for when you start weddings. Again, it depends on the demographics of your area and clientele.
     
  11. jtblueberry macrumors regular

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    #11
    It may be smart to do some research on good options for your clients so that they don't feel left on their own. For example, find a quality, affordable, easy to use online or local lab that you can recommend to them.
    Also, be careful how much photo editing you promise them. Retouching, color correcting, and/or cropping hundreds of images can take you longer than the shoot itself.
     
  12. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

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    #12
    Hmmm - makes sense. I'm curious re: the OP, do you think that for event photography, an extra body is 100% a necessity? I am convinced that it is, but I think that some beg to differ.
     
  13. Eauboy macrumors regular

    Eauboy

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    Jan 28, 2008
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    Washington, DC
    #13
    Hey Shacks,

    Slightly off topic, but you mentioned the 50mm f/1.4, which I understand you use on your D80. Would you consider that lens to be wide enough for event shooting? 75mm SLR equivalent is a bit long for "working a crowd", right?

    The reason I ask is, I'm torn between buying a 35mm or a 50mm for a fast, "people" lens. Everyday use; not portraits, not events. I like the speed available in the 50mm lens, but 35 sounds like a better fit when you can't always back away from your subjects.


    Thanks...
     
  14. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #14
    I say go for the Sigma 30MM 1.4 if you have any luck with Sigma's glass. It's either hit or miss, you will get one that works perfectly, or you will get one that completely sucks.
     
  15. seany916 macrumors 6502

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    Jun 26, 2006
    Location:
    Southern California
    #15
    1. Charge whatever you can get, it's your conscience

    2. Don't screw up someone's photography so you can "gain experience"

    3. don't call yourself a "professional" if you don't have any real experience!!!

    sorry, don't mean to rant. really tired of amateurs passing themselves off as "pros" and showing up with equipment they barely know how to use.

    not to say you fall into this category, but if you do, please just stick to shooting for fun...

    really tired of "uncle bob" getting in the way of our photographers during weddings and events because he bought a shiny new dSLR and wants to show off how great his pictures can be.

    even more tired of working jobs where experienced photographers are mixed in with other photographers who are still gaining experience and basically shoving their lenses into guests' faces and making a spectacle of themselves to get their shot. please note the people that know what they're doing are essentially INVISIBLE and do everything possible to keep from disturbing the ceremony/event.

    (flame away...) I'm done ranting.

    Good luck on your new career as an "event photographer".

    (I apologize for being a grouchy old man.) :mad:
     
  16. Keebler macrumors 68030

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    Canada
    #16
    someone needs a hug ;)

    you raise some valid points, but I credit the OP for having initiative and at least thinking it through. Aside from aligning with a local pro photographer for experience, how else is he going to get experience?

    I understand what you're saying about novices thinking they are 'pros' , but it's a different world out there today in the sense that:
    1. the equipment is out there to be had at lower costs, thus enabling more folks access to it (can be debated whether this is good or bad, but it's a fact)

    2. I think b/c of #1, people are more apt to learn and want to learn.

    I'm not saying you're like this Seany, but what really irritates me is the 'air' of snobbiness from pro photographers towards novices. I've seen it a few times and it really p*sses me off. I think the pros forget that one day in the past, they were greenhorns who knew SFA about their profession and yet they learned. Every photographer starts off at the same place - not knowing anything about photography. Sure, maybe they didn't learn in a market where ppl were willing to pay for novice type results as folks are today, but is that the OP's fault? nope. (btw, OP not saying your results are novice..I haven't seen a thing so who am I to judge).

    Best of luck,
    Keebler
     
  17. termina3 macrumors 65816

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    TX
    #17
    Agreed, but in my (incredibly limited) experience I've found people are more impressed by a obtrusive, rude photographer. Strange.
     
  18. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

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    #18
    Grouchy old man ..... I wouldn't say so. But I would say Words of wisdom indeed .. :)
     
  19. Chrispy88 macrumors member

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    Jan 12, 2008
    #19
    Coming from a professional photographer (I own my own photography company), this is ludicrous.

    When I was entering the photography industry, half of the people I talked to told me to do a load of free shoots for friends to "gain experience," while the other half told me the same thing seany916 is saying.

    Just get out there and take photos. Hell, if your friends are willing to let you photograph their children's birthdays for free, then do it - if you're doing it for free they're not expecting much!

    Look, the vast majority of wedding photography out there is pretty damn terrible - in fact, most photography in general is pretty bad. I think that as long as you are confident in your product and that it compares well to the rest of the industry you should go for it :)
     
  20. Chrispy88 macrumors member

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    #20
    This is true in my experience as well - and my experience is not limited whatsoever.

    To be honest, I haven't found many photographers that impress me. The vast majority of them overcharge and under deliver. Wedding photography is the worst case, because it really is tragic to see disappointing wedding photos.

    Don't feel pressured to undercharge for your services. My prices are extremely competent - much lower than the average - but offering digital photos at 1/5 of the price of other photographers might be a bit low (honestly it depends on where you're located, so I'm not positive on this :))

    It's a great day when "Uncle Bob" can capture better photos than the 500-per-hour-paid-"professional"-wedding-photographer. To the OP: if your photo skills are up to snuff, I say go for it :)
     
  21. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #21
    There's a lot of snobbery attached to photography. There's a lot of snobbery attached to weddings. Put the two together and you have a lot of expectations - some possible, some not.

    Some pro photographers like to huff and puff and throw their weight around.. maybe to justify inflated fees. Some clients are impressed by this, some not.

    What clients are generally paying for is not a set of prize-winning pix. They're paying for a level of all-round competence: the full complement of shots with everybody looking their best.
     
  22. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

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    #22
    The pro does all the work setting up a balanced wedding group and "Uncle Bob" sticks his head in the way and grabs a shot. If he manages to get a decent shot this is not down to his skills, but to the pro who set it up. Left to his own devices Uncle Bob's group photograph is more likely to look like a crowd at a football match.

    As well as being able to take great shots every time, the pro must be able to organize large groups of people.

    Non pro's taking photos at weddings generally are a hindrance and a total pain in the ar*e, as any pro will verify.
     
  23. seany916 macrumors 6502

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    Southern California
    #23
    It's not about snobbery. It's about talking with people who hired a novice passing themselves off as professionals (or just "good") for their wedding and getting absolute CRAP for their lifetime memories of such a special day.

    I hate to tell them that no amount of PS will make their pictures THAT much better. There are some things you can do to improve an image, but if the images were really bad to begin with... it's just sad. And completely unfair to those people that were "victimized" by somebody's mouth and ego.

    I'll never tell someone to not further their journey in photography. Just PLEASE don't take on a job you can't handle. YOU suffer very little. THEY will suffer a lifetime of looking at bad pictures/blurry memories.

    That said, I've seen some GREAT work from somewhat novice shooters. A bit inconsistent throughout, but some really great shots. These are usually quieter shooters that are NOT trying to put on a show of "being a photographer". Rather, they just do what they do.

    I have in the past suggested that if someone is on a budget and can't afford much, to hire 3 or more novice shooters at really low prices and get the pictures delivered in JPEG format. They might not get much in the way of consistent quality, but they WILL get a LOT of pics and spotty, but decent coverage. There are bound to be some decent ones in the 9000+ pictures that will probably be taken. I've never been much for the "spray & pray" shooting mentality, but I'll be damned if there aren't some decent shots somewhere in there. Only problem with this is that many important shots and angles WILL be missed. You get what you pay for with most things, but as always, few guarantees.

    My friend had his 15 year old nephew do the videography and editing for his wedding, bragging before the wedding about how talented his nephew is. I've been asking to see the DVD for over a year now. He just keeps changing the subject.
     
  24. Chrispy88 macrumors member

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    Jan 12, 2008
    #24
    Like I said, I am a professional photographer - I have photographed weddings - and you're absolutely right. In all of my wedding contracts, I state that the bride and groom are responsible of notifying all guests that flash photography is prohibited throughout the wedding ceremony. There's nothing worse than capturing what would be a great shot, except for someone's flash getting in the way! :p:eek:

    But, if the OP feels that he's competent - if he feels like his skills match or exceed the average professional photographer - I say go for it. Just because he's interested in shooting the wedding doesn't make him an "Uncle Bob" photographer! Give him the benefit of the doubt - maybe he's rather good!

    BTW - you'll need a contract. And insurance might be a good idea. It doesn't matter that the client is your friend/boss - a contract is a requirement.
     
  25. form macrumors regular

    form

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    #25
    I am a freelance photographer in the Las Vegas NV area, and I have been in business for some time, but I don't offer wedding photographry services except as a secondary/backup, because I have no experience with them. It's not quite a business conscience (worrying about my reputation) that prevents me from saying "sure!", it's simply because I don't want to do a bad job and give the clients get poor quality on a very special event for them.

    I usually charge $75/hr for events, with discounts for 4 hours or more. That's my rate, but I'm sure there are others both more and less expensive than I, and I have no doubt there are numerous other price schemes.

    Events typically pay more than portraits for me, but I have gotten more portrait work this month.
     

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