What should I be charging?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by riley_edwards, Nov 10, 2016.

  1. Hey fellow friends and photographers,
    My name is Riley, and I am a 14 year old from the Portland, OR area (yes, I am only 14).
    I have recently been very interested in wedding photography, and I'm having a challenging time figuring out what I should charge. I have been doing photography and video production for around 5-6 years now, and I've had a somewhat alright-going videography business for the past nine months. I am using a Canon T6i along with a 50mm and Canon 10-22 lenses gear wise.
    I feel I should charge significantly less due to a mix of not as much experience compared to competitors, and I also need the lower price to balance out my age, as that may draw some people away from the table. I'm thinking about offering different packages, basing it at around $30-35 per hour I'm spending on location, and either $220 for 50 edited pictures of my clients choice, or $350 for 100 edited pictures, and if they want more than 50 or 100 pictures, then it'll be $4 per additional edited photo.
    What do you guys think? Should I modify my prices or leave them be? And also, what are some sites that would be good to advertise myself on? This next weekend I have a 4 hour shoot and am editing 50-75 pictures for a flat fee of $300 for the whole project, which I thought sounded like a pretty good price for my first wedding :)
    Heres what I'm thinking:
    ------------------------
    Package #1:
    I will shoot at your location for $40 per hour, and will provide you with all the raw files I took at no extra cost.
    p=$40h (where h=hours, and p=price)
    Package #2:

    I will spend 4 hours at the reception/ceremony, and will provide you with 50 beautifully edited digital photos, selected by you!
    $300 ($4 per additional edited photo)
    Package #3:

    I will spend 6 hours at the reception/ceremony, and will provide you with 50 beautifully edited digital photos, selected by you!
    $360 ($4 per additional edited photo)
    Package #4:

    I will spend 4 hours at the reception/ceremony, and will provide you with 100 beautifully edited digital photos, selected by you!
    $450 ($2.9 per additional edited photo)
    Package #5:

    I will spend 6 hours at the reception/ceremony, and will provide you with 100 beautifully edited digital photos, selected by you!
    $575 ($2.9 per additional edited photo)
    ------------------------
    Thank you!!
    Riley
     
  2. Perhaps practice and not charge. See if you can't shadow or apprentice under a local photographer- there are legal implications that you probably don't know about- what about labor laws in your state? can you get insurance? are you paying taxes on any wages you bring in?
    Maybe you could even volunteer for the yearbook committee and in the school's newspaper as the photographer as well- maybe you could photo the dances as a practice as well.
    Study and hone your skills more and I'd say at least wait a couple years before diving into a huge project like this. Not many will want to work with a high school student with such an important task.
     
  3. Not many will want to work with a high school student with such an important task.​
    I suppose many might not, but some who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford a photographer at all might.

    I suspect that if you did two or three free of charge, that would be good practice, and you would have something to show potential paying clients. As above, find some who otherwise would not have any photographer and offer to do it. (It takes some practice to know where to stand, and when, and how to stay out of the way, among others.)
    After that, I suspect that the prices you note are about right for a few years.
     
  4. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    What do you guys think? . . . This next weekend I have a 4 hour shoot and am editing 50-75 pictures for a flat fee of $300 for the whole project, which I thought sounded like a pretty good price for my first wedding. . .
    I also think that $300 sounds pretty good for your first wedding. Having already contracted a Wedding job for $300, then on the face of it there seems to be little business sense in doing subsequent Wedding jobs for free.
    However, knowing all the results of this first Wedding job would be very useful. I think that if you can objectively assess and then present the results of this first job here in this conversation then more detailed commentaries and advice will be forthcoming.
    ***
    As a general comment apropos your Packages, I think that there are too many.
    The first one is technically a rate per hour. If you want your business to present 'packages' and to also have a time component within each package, then I think it is better to have two or three 'packages' and then simply state something like “additional time at $xx rate per half hour or part thereof”.
    Although I do understand that the first package is different to the others in that it supplies all the raw files. That’s also something that I would not do – I would not use the word 'all' that takes away your editorial control to remove your mistakes, test shots and mis-shots.
    There are quite a few logical arguments not to supply raw files, in any case.
    Packages 2 through to 5 inclusive are repeats of each other with a different amount of time and processed images files – I’d prefer to have just two, one for 4 hours and one for 6 hours and each with 100 edited images. And provide the choice of extra time and also extra edited images if that is what you want to do.
    You also have to be somewhat aware of your local competition: my guess is that a few would be mentioning large numbers when it comes to images supplied on a disc . . . there are many discussions here that mention words like “coverage including 500 to 1000 edited images supplied to you on a disc or USB stick”.
    Now I think that 500 to 1000 images from a Wedding is simply silly, but if that is what your competition are offering, then you probably have to have a rationale to present to your Clients as to why you are offering (‘only’) 100 images.
    On another point: the use of a forward slash (/) means “or”. It might mean something else in the USA, but probably not. So, in packages 2 through to 5 inclusive, you are restricting your packages for you to EITHER work at the Reception OR the Ceremony for that Package, is that what you mean? Also, a small point, when listing the segments of an event, it is better to keep a chronological order, i.e. we would mention the word ‘Ceremony’ before the word ‘Reception’, because the Ceremony occurs before the Reception.
    ***
    On one important point: irrespective of you having or not having insurance (perhaps as a Minor one cannot enter into an insurance agreement anyway, I am not sure of the laws under which you'd be working?), if you only have one camera and those two lenses that you mentioned, you are leaving your business vulnerable. And what about Flash gear?
    It is critical to understand that, a Wedding is a 'one-off' event and timeline. Within that timeline there are certain 'must have' shots. These are general societal expectations that a Bride, Groom, Mum and Dad would have of any Wedding Photographer, no matter of the Photographer’s age or experience and I think that Clients wold have a general expectation that their Photographer would have at last one set of “Back-Up” equipment to use in the case of any gear failure – no matter what prices the Photographer is charging.
    WW
     
  5. Is this question a joke.
     
  6. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Is this question a joke.​
    Upon scrutiny a within a couple of hours that the OP was made: I believe it is a sincere question.
    Considering that evaluation, do you have any helpful advice for Riley?
    WW
     
  7. it

    it

    I think at that age the OP should be asking about how to make the best photos possible, not how much money they can get.
     
  8. Lets forget about the cost for now. Shoot for free. Here's why and it has nothing at all to do with your age.

    You need more gear, better cameras, back up systems, and plenty of Photoshop experience.

    You should be carrying 2 cameras that hold 2 memory cards, 2 powerful flash units, 4 to 6 lenses, and a ladder unless
    you are at least 5'7" tall. You need a contract, insurance, you need to register with the city, county as a working person
    under the name of whomever, and file a 1099 form for the government taxes at the end of each year.

    Once you've got all of this completed you can think about taking your first shot at a wedding. I'm not trying to scare you.
    Accidents happen, cards fail, cameras and lenses suddenly stop working, I've seen a flash catch on fire more than
    once! I saw a photographer trip and fall into the cake, so no cake photos were taken and the bride and groom had
    nothing to cut the cake. Needless to say, lots of lawsuits were filed for no photos to no cake, to damaged property from
    the flash catching on fire. Some of the upscale hotels now require at least a 1 million dollar insurance policy for the
    photographer to get into the door. Some are as high as 2 million. Getting insurance isn't hard, but you have to be a
    registered business owner paying taxes, and in your case you may need a parent to own the company.

    You aren't ready. Or you could be illegal and take your chances. Then your folks can lose a lot.
     
  9. I think at that age the OP should be asking about how to make the best photos possible, not how much money they can get.​

    I am sometimes surprised at the non-photographic questions that get asked here, especially legal questions. I suppose some lawyers who are also photographers read these, but there should be better places to find legal advice.

    I presume those hiring Riley realize that he isn't a seasoned professional with many years in business. Also, they should realize that there is some probability that things will go wrong, and that they won't get any pictures. (As noted, that can happen from anyone.) Many won't be able to afford professional prices, and would be happy to hire Riley, when the alternative is none at all.

    I believe that for a home business, it is possible to add to homeowners insurance enough to cover the usual problems. I am not a lawyer or insurance agent, so don't know for sure.
     
  10. As for raw, which I suspect means JPEG, more and more studio photographers now supply them.
    I do remember in the film days, wedding photographers that, at the end of the wedding, would give the bride all the rolls of undeveloped film. In that sense, Riley's offer of all the image files, with no post production, makes some sense.
    From about 10 years ago, our kids' school photographers would sell the JPG files for the pictures, along with some of the packages, or maybe alone.
    More recently, we had an outdoor shooting session from a nearby studio chain. I started with a Groupon deal that covered the session and one 8x10, but at the end they offered a larger package including all the JPEG files, for a total cost of about $300, for about two hours and 150 shots. (All shot on a Canon 5D.) (That is, they subtracted what I had already paid Groupon, from the $300 charge.) I can then get prints any size I want, any time.
     

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