How is a new photographer supposed to know what to charge for professional photography services? You don’t see lawyers, and architects and contractors working for low rates, to get started, to get their foot in the door of their profession.
Somehow, because anyone with a camera and little else in the way of credentials can hang their “Professional Photographer” shingle out and solicit work, there’s been a race to the bottom with some of these so-called professionals working for free, giving away their work and their copyright, and then wondering why they have no business.
They have no business being in business without business sense, that’s the simple answer.
But in their defense, many professional photographers’ rates are hidden from view. There’s no easy way to know whether a headshot should be $100 or $500. (It should be at a minimum $200, since usage rights are usually given with headshots to use on social media and other promotional material online and in print).
The simple answer is education. Photographers need to know that there are two main fees, the Creative Fee and the Usage Licensing Fee. With both of those working for you, the photographer has the chance to make a living off their craft.
Without them, with work-for-hire, with giving away all copyrights, with low rates due to ignorance about how the professional bills, this photographer will always struggle to get the next one-and done client.
So, I’ve gone to the effort to spell out what photographers’ rates should be, a ballpark idea. People challenged me, saying you can’t have price fixing, it’s collusion, it’s illegal. I’m not doing anything but offering a way to empower the young photographer with information to what the professional charges, and how to negotiate similar rates.
The site I can direct them (and you) to is PhotographersRateCard.com. It’s hosted at my web site and is a one-page explanation of everything I could think of about how to run a commercial or editorial photography business. complete with a sample contract and terms of service.
Because you can make enough money to buy a house on some national photography advertising shoots, but you never will if you come in with a low-ball estimate because no one will trust you even understand the industry your “shingle” claims you serve.
Be a professional, there’s room for more pros, there’s a place for you. There’s just no place for the non-pros who are detrimental to the reputation of the professional photographer industry.
Visit PhotographersRateCard.com and start charging professional rates.
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