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you are at : [Productivity and your hourly rate]


It can be very hard for a part-time photographer to work out how much they should be charging, and how productive they are.

The following may help in some way….

The average person works a 40 hour week, has four weeks paid holiday per year and 11 statutory holidays. This means they get paid for working 1832 hours every year.

So I am going to take this number and say this is what you should work if you are in your own full time photographic business.

It now we have to work out productivity. This unfortunately requires pen and pencil and you need to be accurate in your recording of your chargeable time for as long a period as you can. The longer the period the better the average is.

You will be surprised at the low productivity you achieve and if you can reach 50% you are an extremely efficient person.

The things that stop you from reaching 50% are the slack periods when you have no work, this of course includes the wintertime and the period before and after holidays.

But if you are a part-time photographer you will need to work out the number of hours you wish to work every week. You cannot say you will work longer in the summer that you will in the winter, because I know of no full-time job that will allow you this luxury and pay you the normal wage every week.

The other reason you do this survey is to see your part-time business with open eyes and so if you are ever tempted to turn full-time professional you know precisely what your business is a part-time basis is doing and then you will be in a better position to ascertain whether you should make this leap.

If you are a part-time photographer the chances are that most of your income comes from weddings and a few portraits, so I will talk as if this is the case.

First you must ascertain how much time you need to allocate in your busy wedding season to photographing a wedding, getting that proofs ready and delivering the results to the bride.

I will make the first assumption that all day Saturday is involved in the wedding in some way so that gives eight hours to your time clock.

Then there is getting that proofs ready and doing perhaps one appointment either for a bridal interview or a portrait and this I would guess would take another two evenings of your week.

Let us assume that this is all the time you need to handle your work in the wedding season, if it is not you will need to adjust your figures accordingly.

So we have Saturday and two evenings with say three hours each a total of 14 hours a week.

Now I believe for the purposes of this exercise you must nominate the two evenings you wish to work and I would choose Tuesday and Thursday.

That this means that your working week in your business is now Saturday for eight hours, Tuesday and Thursday evenings for three hours each.



This is your working week whether you have weddings or not. It is over to you to get work for these 14 hours. This is what your boss has to do to keep you occupied at your full-time job, and if he does not have enough work he does not send your home but you stay at work either waiting for customers to walk in, doing some other work, or perhaps even reading a book.

It becomes your boss's problem if he cannot keep you busy all of the time which is why often use the companies working with part-time staff so that they have staff for their peak periods.

.Now as you are in photography for yourself, be it a part-time position, I do not believe you can classify yourself as a casual person that your employ on a casual basis because whilst you may like to think that is the situation I don't believe that it is, because even with part-time staff they are rostered to work for pacific hours irrespective of how much work is happening during that time.

Professional Photographers are famous for only remembering the very large job that comes in once a month where perhaps they got $5,000 for one hour's work, they forget about the other 172 hours where they sat around doing nothing and instead of a wage of $5,000 an hour they ended up with $28 90 to cover all of their overhead's and if you took that hourly rate out to an annual income that would come to less than 55,000 to cover all operating expenses, taxes and income. I would be surprised with that turnover of the photographer paid tax on $20,000. This is the guy that thinks he is getting $5,000 for one hour's work!!!!!!

Now if you are allocating 14 hours a week for your business, this works out at 672 hours per year that you must be productive. If however you have weddings for 10 weeks of the year, portraits for five weeks of the year and not much else for the other 33 weeks it is those 33 weeks that drag your productivity down for the year. You're just like the $5,000 an hour photographer are above.

But this may not matter to you, you may say I work in the summertime and I relax in the wintertime, I can accept that, but what I cannot accept is when you turn around and tell me that you've got so much business that you would like to turn professional and you have not even done that basic home work on your productivity.

In the above example your productivity assuming the 14 hours per week for the 15 weeks you are producing product that can be sold for the full margin, by being nonproductive for 33 weeks your productivity falls down to about 30%.

Now to work out your income you require.

The starting point for this I would suggest would be the salary you are collecting from your full-time job and we will use that to get your basic hourly rate.

So if you are on $55,000 a year this means you are on $30 an hour at your place of work after we have made allowances for annual holidays and statutory holidays. Of course if you are allowed two week's sick leave a year this further increases your hourly rate.

But if you are 50% productive this means you have to charge $60 an hour net to get the same as you do at your full-time job. If you're like our friend above who is only 30% productive you need to charge $100 an hour net. Then there are your overheads and I usually suggest doubling your net hourly rate as a starting point. If you wish to work out accurately take account of every little thing, unless of course you wish to describe yourself as the Social Services Dept, instead of photographer.

Sent me questions so I can expand on this to fill in the blanks.

Contact Ivan

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