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What will I charge for my photographs? This is one of the first problems that a person has when they are asked to do work for friends, relations or acquaintances.

Many acquire price lists from professional photographers or from other freelance photographers and work on the basis that I am better than him, so I will charge more, but I'm not as good as them so I cannot charge that amount.

This of course is like the blind leading the blind and if none of these people are aware of their true costs you have a whole bunch of photographers pricing their work at often below their basic cost.

I have no argument with somebody that sells their products for less than what it costs them, providing they know that they are doing this, because if they know, it is a conscious decision to sell at that price.

Many people take the price of the materials and double it feeling that they have made 100% and therefore are well on the right side, nothing could be further from the truth because that is taking no account of any of their overheads.

I have prepared a spreadsheet, aimed at people just starting working in photography, it does not take into account many of the overheads that a normal business has to carry, however there are many things listed of which the normal freelance photographer totally ignores, and then wonders why after 10 years their working partner is still subsidising their hobby.

When you fill the spreadsheet and I do ask you to be honest with the figures that you are placing in the necessary sections because if you cannot be honest with yourself then you don't have much chance with anything else you are going to tackle.


Download Spreadsheet

When you put in your salary it should be realistic and be at least what you are earning for wages if you are fully occupied in your trade or profession. I have a photographer friend who is an engineer by profession and he has always aimed at earning more from photography that he could as an engineer.

The number of sittings you wish to do a week again you must be realistic with what quantity you put down and you must have the marketing setup to provide that number of sittings Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. It may be easy to get three or four family groups a week, that you can photograph outside in the gardens, during the fine months, but come the wintertime you better have something else prepared, or set your sights on a realistic average for the year.

The spreadsheet will tell you how many dollars you require in profit per sitting, and you must remember that your material costs and other money that you pay out must be added to this. Even so there's been nothing added for insurance, petrol, telephone, electricity, stationery, business cards or anything else that you will require to be in business on a full-time basis.

Even if you intend to only work part-time, you should do this basic spreadsheet as if it was a full-time situation.

If, when you look at the price you require per sitting and you decide it is too great and you decide that you can only charge 25% or 50% of that amount you are substantially reducing your income by that same percentage or alternatively working the correspondingly longer hours. This is of course your decision, and it is a situation that can only be maintained whilst you have money in the bank and you should be making plans to change your situation so that you are able to make the charges that are necessary to continue his career. This is usually achieved through more education in photographic techniques and usually, more important, a broader knowledge on the skills required to run a successful business.

Is quite possible in preparing these comments I have overlooked something basic which I have assumed you know, if this is the case please e-mail me and I'll update this advice immediately.

Ivan P.W. McLellan hon FNZPPA

Studio Costing Excel Template.

These nine sheets were prepared by the writer during his last years at Chromatek to help his customers see were they were wise.   

They were on going in development and are in all probability 85% finished. 

These sheets are supplied without any guarantees that any item in them are correct or that that any math is correct.  In other words you use them at your own risk.

By downloading this spreadsheet you indicate that you agree with these conditions.

You need Excel 5 or later to run these sheets.... it is a large file (253KB) so it may take a while to download.

You may get asked for a password etc during the download...just press cancel.... well it worked for me!!