Wedding couples are sometimes taken aback by the quotes they get from experienced photographers. New wedding photographers sometimes feel bad about charging rates that, at first glance, seem exorbitant. If you, as a photographer, are struggling with this conundrum and wondering whether you’re charging too much or too little for event photography, there is a good chance that the answer is too little.
The thing is, you can’t simply charge for the hours that you spend photographing the actual weddings and events, and the cost of prints and/or albums. That amount won’t be enough in this day and age – not by a long shot.
There are a multitude of other factors to consider in working out what you should charge your clients, so let’s walk you through some of the most important (and often overlooked) costs that need to be built into your rate…
Hours Spent On The Actual Project
As we mentioned above, you’re probably already factoring for the hours that you’ll spend photographing a wedding or event. But what about the hours you’ll spend on all the other tasks that go into a finished project? When you really think about it, each wedding or event will come with loads of little tasks before you can present your photos to the client. Here is a quick list of some of those tasks:
- Time spent meeting your clients before the event. This includes the time spent at the meeting(s) plus petrol costs incurred to and from the meeting(s).
- Don’t forget the time that you’ll spend transferring images to your computer and sorting them. You’ll likely take hundreds, if not thousands of images at a day-long wedding or event.
- How much time will you spend on post processing? The answer will differ based on the number of photos you’ve taken, whether you’ll batch process a large number or give each photo individual treatment, and how many you send the client for their final selection.
- Will you spend time designing albums, dealing with print companies, uploading prints or making greeting card templates?
- There will likely be some back and forth between you and your client, even after the event – mainly for photo selections, album decisions, design approvals, payments and so on – and it all takes up your valuable time.
All of these things may sound like small jobs, but they’ll certainly add up when it comes to the amount of time that you’ll put in to each project. Time is money, so make sure these items and more are factored into your rates.
Cost of Your Gear
Photography can be an expensive business, even if you opt for budget-friendly gear. This means that you need to calculate the costs of all the gear that you’ll need, including your camera, lenses, umbrellas reflectors, memory cards, light meters and so on.
This can be a tricky cost to factor. You’ll need to estimate the amount that you’ll spend on new gear, upgrades, replacements and repairs, and build that cost into your project rate. In fact, it is often wise to add an extra 10% to the cost of your equipment so that you can be assured that no matter what happens, you’ll have the money to get the equipment you’ll need.
The Costs Of Running Your Business
There are numerous business expenses that will need to be factored into your rates. Think of all the things that you’ll need to do to promote yourself and make sure your business runs smoothly. Here are some examples:
- The costs of a studio or home office, which includes things like property insurance, maintenance costs and more. Keep in mind that if you work out of your home, the portion of the home that you use for work is considered a tax deductible business expense.
- Legal fees: you’ll need to spend some money up front on getting yourself a decent contract template to cover every type of event that you do.
- Album samples. You’ll need to show off your photography to potential clients, so get some professional quality sample albums from companies like Photo Productions.
- Computers and software (Photoshop, Lightroom and so on).
- Advertising and marketing costs. As much as you’d like to depend solely on recommendations, that isn’t always possible, particularly when you’re building up your business. “If you build it they will come” doesn’t (usually) apply in the real world. You may want to advertise in local newspapers, wedding magazines, online wedding sites and forums, search engine listings, and so on. Factor website set-up and maintenance costs into marketing too, plus stationery, business cards etc.
- Vehicle costs are important. There is no getting around it – wedding and event photographers will be travelling to and from their events with a car-load of equipment. Make sure to add vehicle costs to your rate. This includes depreciation, wear and tear, and insurance costs. Remember that if you use your private vehicle for work purposes you must declare it on your insurance, which pushes up the costs. (On the flip side, you can claim for ‘allowable expenses’ on your tax returns, such as insurance, repairs, fuel etc.)
- Business insurance. Whether you’re moonlighting as an event photographer or making weddings and events a full-time job, photographer’s insurance is a must. Without it, what will you do when a rowdy wedding guest spills his drink all over your brand new £5,000 DSLR? Or, how will you cover the costs when a client is dissatisfied and demands a refund? Think of photographer’s insurance as crucial protection for your business against accidents and other costly mishaps.
There are a lot of costs listed here, but keep in mind that this isn’t every cost that you could possibly run into. Each business — and each project that your business completes — will come with its own set of unique expenses. Best of luck!