I tend not to idolize people, or deities, or, anything other than fighter pilots, and perhaps, Richard Branson. If you’ve ever got a few moments to spare (holidays), reading his biography would be a way to spend them well. Richard is compelling, not simply due to his ultimate success, but how he arrived there, how he stays, and all the cool things he does. Alas, he’s someone who probably has a lot of good to say on the topic of businesses large and small, and on theory. He’s been quoted as saying, ‘Successful people start before they’re ready,’ and I think this has broad applications for anyone, and certainly for photographers.
If you’ve come to that hurdle of self-doubt and realization that you’re not exactly the best, or even very good at photography, then crossed it by having faith and determination to get better, you’ll want to start making some money at it. Even if your plan was to just pay for the gear you’ve bought. That will ultimately lead to one very specific question: “What do I charge?”
This is something I have and continue to wrestle with in all aspects of my life, photography being one of them. But really, what do you charge? Do you come up with some arbitrary figure based on what you’ve seen in the market? Pull a number out of a hat? Maybe there’y some algorithm for it? Not quite. Joel Grimes has some good thoughts on the subject to help you figure it out.
Joel’s been shooting for the better part 30 years, and has had much success in the ever competitive and daunting, commercial work. What’s interesting about his approach to pricing though, is his humility, and practicality – his experience just adds credence. Drawing from that experience, and that of his children who also shoot, Grimes gives you, at the very least, a list of things to consider before naming a price; Insurance, value of gear, what your overhead is, if you have studio space, your opportunity, cost, etc. Not all of what he suggests will apply to you, especially if you’re really just starting, and may not even have insurance yet, but, it should help you anyway, and certainly as you grow. He touches on the scenarios you may have not thought of, like loss of gear, lawsuits etcetera, and also what it’s like bartering for a job.
It’s not easy to add to all Joel has said, but if you’ll allow me to be devil’s advocate for a moment, I would say that in photography, like other work, sometimes taking less pay, or working for free in order to secure experience, or a connection etc, can be worth it – just know when you’re being taken for a ride. Also, I know many of you are full time pros, who’ve been making their living from this profession of ours for quite some time, and if you have any words of advice for those looking for a hand in this department, please leave a comment below, especially words of advice and encouragement for those beginning, who will most benefit from this video, and topic.
Source: YouTube Joel Grimes
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