Photography as a Business
July 22, 2004 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Going semi-pro in photography: pricing and related questions [more inside].

After doing some (volunteer) photography recently, I recieved several emails looking to use my photos or to hire me for assignments. I'm completely new to this, but love photography and would love to explore it as a potential future career goal. The problem: everyone wants to know my rates. Googling and general photography forums bring up pretty unhelpful general advice ("price high, but not too high") or the seemingly outrageous rates of true professional photographers.

Keeping in mind I am just getting started and am shooting entirely in digital (I've never had film experience), several questions:
What is a daily/hourly ballpark rate for location shooting (i.e. around a college campus, some portraits, some general scenery, and some event coverage)?
What is a general rate for usage of previously existing shots that appear on my personal webpage (that might appear, for instance, on the admissions webpage for a major university or in publication with 20,000 or 60,000 circulation)?
What is a reasonable price for personal prints of pre-existing shots, and what is the best way to get these prints made?

All of my pre-existing shots, by the way, are at 3 megapixels, though I just recently purchased a 6 megapixel dSLR in the interest of future assignments.

Bonus subquestion:
When you photograph "on assignment," do you retain the rights to any/all of your work? I'd assume this would vary greatly depending on the contract, but typically if I was being paid a daily rate for covering some event/whatever, would I also be able to take several shots for personal/website/print-selling use?
posted by rafter to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Going pro: [see answer]

Oh, and as for rights: you normally keep all rights, unless someone's willing to hand you over a very big check.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:48 PM on July 22, 2004

Go thee directly to the advertising photographers of america (APA) yahoo group. Its moderated - but once you get in the archives have all the information you'll need about how to price your services, why you rarely if ever sell your rights tand how generally to succeed in the business of photography. Its rough - I joined the group and largley due to what i read there decided that its too tough a way to make a living.
Also read the great info on the EP website.
The traditional path to pro photographer is to work as a photgraper's assistant. You get paid to schlep equipment while hopefully learning something about the business. If you're serious - there are a bunch of books on the subject of assisting. If you go into your local camera shop/pro service bureau you'll find a bunch of these people with flyers and cards tacked up to bulletin boards. Good luck.
posted by Wolfie at 2:59 PM on July 22, 2004

Dan Heller's photography business information has been enormously helpful to me. I imagine it would answer some of your questions too.
posted by Hankins at 3:28 PM on July 22, 2004

Check out my sister's site: BurnsAutoParts, which, despite its name, doesn't deal with auto parts. She's a photo rep and has good links and info there...
posted by jpburns at 9:15 AM on July 23, 2004

Thanks, all -- Dan Heller's link in particular already has been an enlightening resource, and the general advice all around is appreciated.

But the summary all around seems to be "You can't reliably price photography" -- which is troubling, of course, to someone who is trying to get started by pricing photography. FotoQuote's demo version will only let me view the "brochure" option, but it's telling me that a 1/4 page price is $500-$600 per image for press runs of this size. Given that I've never recieved any payment for photography before and that the interested party is asking to use 19 images, this seems outrageous. Complementing the issue is the fact that (1) I took all these images on a purely volunteer basis for another department at the college, (2) the gist of the offer in question was "We'll give you photo credit!" with mention of payment conspicuously absent, and (3) I am hoping to do assignment work for this client in the fall.

I really think my course of action has to be to name a price -- but I neither want to lowball myself or ruin my chances for further employment in the fall. How much is reasonable for me to ask? $20 a picture? $100?
posted by rafter at 2:21 PM on July 23, 2004

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