Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Life of a Photographer!

As exciting and glamorous a lifestyle as it may seem, the actual life of a photographer may be quite different than what you've perceived.  We've summed up a list of the tasks of what being in the business really means, and tried to put it in a neat little package, for all to understand.

First, let's point out that there are a multitude of types of photographers.  Sports, Fashion, Editorial (Daily papers), Architectural, Culinary, Concert, Product, Jewelry, Real Estate, etc....   The data below is based on our personal experience, and may vary depending on what you do.

Lesson one - Get yourself a good chair, and a large HD monitor, because that's where you'll be spending most of your time, so you might as well be comfortable!  Yes, depending on the type of photography you do, you'll be sitting at that computer screen between 25-30% of your "photography" time, processing and touching-up images.  A lot more, if you are doing fashion, portraits, and product images, and do your own graphic work.

A Glossary of the topics in the chart above, can be seen on our WEBSITE

Lesson two - Clients usually need to be educated, as they have a hard time grasping the concept that we do more than "press a button".  In fact, the actual time of taking images is less than 10% of our workload.  That's one of the reasons why the consumer thinks we're expensive. It's no wonder they have a hard time justifying the cost of Professional Photography. For example... they get to see you at an event for 2 hours, and you are charging them $600.  In their minds, that's $300/hour, when in fact you'll be making a lot less than that.

Lesson three - Know how to count.  As a continuation to the above paragraph, let's take the same "event" project, as this was a real project that was recently conducted, so I'll take my own values as expenses.

Income:  .....................................      $600

Expenses:   Taxes .........................      $132  (22%)
                   Fuel ...........................      $  20
                   Parking ......................      $  18
                   Tolls ...........................      $    6
                   Vehicle (km) ...............      $  31  (Fixed price per km)
                   Amortize Gear ............      $  64  ($32/hour)
                                           Total >     $ 271

You're left with $329, for 2 hours of shooting, 1.5 hours of travel time, 2 hours of downloading, selecting, editing and submitting to the client.  ($59.82/hour) and you have all the risks associated with the gear, and miscellaneous expenses, like insurance, office supplies, broadband internet connection, etc...  There's not much left for your experience, rights of use for these images, and profit.

If you shoot for a daily paper, get used to editing in your car, freezing your butt off in the winter (as most assignments are outdoors), and the stress levels of tight deadlines, are through the roof!

If you think that because you shoot concerts, you get to "Party like a Rockstar", think again.  Not only do you rarely (if ever) meet the talent, but when you do, it's for a very short period of time, and you concentrate on the job at hand.  As a professional, you don't want to be perceived as a "groupie", so you keep your distance, don't ask for pictures with the talent, and, if you do a good job, you might get called back for another gig.  The delivery deadlines are tight, and the project (your job) isn't over, until your client gets your images, and the invoicing complete.

All things considered, if you intend on making Photography your profession, know that it's more for the passion than for the income.  The hours are long, clients are often nonchalant, the stress levels high, but the self-value and satisfaction in the results, are quite rewarding.