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Thread: Turning pro

  1. #1

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    Turning pro

    Hi guys.
    It's been some time since I have been on this site due to significant changes in my personal life (now unexpectedly single).
    I've ended up in an interesting position doing one job but having the opportunity, with some support by my current employers, to turn professional. I am not in a position to do so just yet as there ar work permit issues to be resolved first.

    So, looking for some guidelines as to pricing.
    I've done some architectural photography to promote the area I work in as a freebie (plus portfolio work) to a friend of the boss. Future work is now coming my way and I am in a position to charge. However I have no idea what a typical ballpark figure would be. US prices would be best if there are any significant differences to Europe and other areas.
    Please note, generic comments such as 'whatever the market will bear' are not useful. We all know that already, so something to advance the cause would be good. Think entry level rather than world class.
    I've included a shot that they want to use amongst others The others are more typical shots, this is the one I prefer, but not necessarily applicable for business purposes.

    I've removed many identification marks cos I don't want to jigger this chance. Hope you understand.
    Thanks all,
    Graham

    Turning pro

  2. #2

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    Re: Turning pro

    Hi Graham, this article has some good advice on pricing your work, and setting a viable day rate:

    http://www.professionalphotographer....-Your-Day-Rate

  3. #3
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    Re: Turning pro

    Graham...

    Congratulations on the opportunity. IMO, the very best way to turn pro is to do in in phases, like you seem to be doing. By keeping your main job and branching out to professional photography, you will always have a lifeline to a salary...

    I would at first, invest all my profits from photography into equipment.

    If I were going to be shooting architectural images, I would want to use a full frame camera. Even the older Canon 5D Classic would be good. I would then look into getting a couple of top-line lenses and definitely look into the Canon TSE line of lenses.

    I would also look into getting a full power editing program. Photoshop is the standard of the industry. Photoshop Elements can do most things that the full power Photoshop program can manage but, falls short in some areas.

    With your editing program, practice correcting distortions. Your shopping center image needs to be corrected so that the buildings do not keystone (fall backward). Additionally, getting adept at shooting composite images and editing them is another important facet of architectural photography. HDRI and panos can often save the day.

    Finally, equipping yourself with some battery operated lights will help when you encounted the need to light your images. You can get several Vivitar 285 (series) hotshoe flashes on the used market very inexpensively. An inexpensive radio trigger/receiver set will enable you to sync the flashes. I got a couple of Vivitar 285 flashes for around 10-15 U.S. Dollars at garage sales. Later on, you can upgrade to more professional and capable lights....

    Best of luck...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 19th August 2012 at 07:31 PM.

  4. #4
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro

    If you want a typical ballpark figure for the USA, (which is what you asked), then act as a Customer and search out the type of Photographer and the type of work in the geographic areas of the USA which are particular to you – and ask them.


    If you want an opinion of what you should INITIALLY charge: then my opinion is you should take your existing wage or salary NET hourly rate (i.e. the hourly rate after all taxes and compulsory deductions have been made) and then compute how much the customer must be charged per hour by YOUR BUSINESS to allow YOUR BUSINESS to pay you at least that as a NET rate per hour for ALL the hours you expect you would need for a 'typical' job you will offer.


    WW

  5. #5

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    Re: Turning pro

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    If you want a typical ballpark figure for the USA, (which is what you asked), then act as a Customer and search out the type of Photographer and the type of work in the geographic areas of the USA which are particular to you – and ask them.
    WW
    Thanks WW, I initially thought of this but the area I live is is a very small area (pop around 50k max, with corresponding levels of work to be had) and everyone knows each other and I was wanting to start on the QT so as not to step on toes (or be perceived as such, people can be so sensitive). Although I suppose I could find out from similar areas remote to my location, but many photographers want to discuss business rather than provide a ballpark quote.

    The salary calculation would also have to take into account capital cost (and that would vary depending on how much business) as well as other variables (insurance, office costs and the like) making it difficult, hence hoping for a simple figure from someone else.

    Thanks again.
    Graham

  6. #6
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro

    The problem with a simple figure from someone else, is: that it is a “simple figure” and “from someone else”.

    And to be clear - I was NOT suggesting that you use a typical figure from the USA to set how much you charge.

    It is very important to know exactly what business one is in (or going to be in).

    We (my company) had another business (not Photography) from 1997 to 2011. This business sold widgits. My nephew began a business around 2004 and he sold the same widgits, but for about 40% less than our selling price.
    We were selling the same products, but we were entirely different businesses.
    If, when my nephew had begun his business, I had used HIS selling price as a model for my selling price I would have gone out of business in 2005.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamH View Post
    The salary calculation would also have to take into account capital cost (and that would vary depending on how much business) as well as other variables (insurance, office costs and the like) making it difficult, hence hoping for a simple figure from someone else.
    To be frank, perhaps blunt: your concerns about the initial planning and research being “difficult” does not bode well.

    WW

  7. #7

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    Re: Turning pro

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Graham...

    Congratulations on the opportunity. IMO, the very best way to turn pro is to do in in phases, like you seem to be doing. By keeping your main job and branching out to professional photography, you will always have a lifeline to a salary...

    I would at first, invest all my profits from photography into equipment.

    If I were going to be shooting architectural images, I would want to use a full frame camera. Even the older Canon 5D Classic would be good. I would then look into getting a couple of top-line lenses and definitely look into the Canon TSE line of lenses.

    I would also look into getting a full power editing program. Photoshop is the standard of the industry. Photoshop Elements can do most things that the full power Photoshop program can manage but, falls short in some areas.

    With your editing program, practice correcting distortions. Your shopping center image needs to be corrected so that the buildings do not keystone (fall backward). Additionally, getting adept at shooting composite images and editing them is another important facet of architectural photography. HDRI and panos can often save the day.

    Finally, equipping yourself with some battery operated lights will help when you encounted the need to light your images. You can get several Vivitar 285 (series) hotshoe flashes on the used market very inexpensively. An inexpensive radio trigger/receiver set will enable you to sync the flashes. I got a couple of Vivitar 285 flashes for around 10-15 U.S. Dollars at garage sales. Later on, you can upgrade to more professional and capable lights....

    Best of luck...
    Hi Richard,
    Thanks for the time you put into your reply. I see that you are a Canon guy.
    I've already invested into Sony so will be sticking with that for now. No need to change or spend without a good cause to do so.
    Currently using Sony A77, Tamron 10-24mm and 60mm f2 Macro, Sony 18-250mm and 500mm CAT, Flash, Metz 58AF-2.
    glass of better quality is now getting into the thousands and there is absolutely no justification for investing that kind of money as an entry level business. Later as money coming rolling in (yeah right).
    I would agree with your assessment in an ideal world where money is no object, and I have given the very same advice as you have done (with my own privos added in) on photographic sites in the past where it comes to equipment.
    The question however was about how much to charge. My apologies if I did not make this clear.

    More top of the line equipment would be nice, but I personally consider it unnecessary.
    If someone can show me images taken with better glass than I currently have (and there is a lot of it out there), then I would consider investing - under the following evaluation conditions. Letter sized print from an uncropped image. Viewed by a normal member of the public from a distance of at least 24" (typical viewing conditions). If they give a significantly improved reaction to the more costly glass, then that would enthuse me to change. I personally don't reckon it will happen. Composition has by far and away a greater impact than technical quality of image.

    As the business progresses, then extra functionality provided by the vast monetary input would be useful to get those occassional jobs that I couldn't do otherwise, and even then, renting is a possibility.

    For example, I've found an APS-C to be quite adequate for the job. I haven't seen anything special about shots with a full frame (except the wider field of view and that can usually be worked around very easily). What do you consider so valuable about a full frame that it is worth an extra few thousand dollars?
    Elements is my program of choice, I know it very well and I am aware of a few tools that may possibly be of interest with CS, but nothing that can't easily be worked around. (I also use the Nik software through Lightroom). Love to know what is considered so important in CS that it requires an extra investment of $500.
    You also mentioned T/S lenses as well. Most people on this site will be aware of the advantages they can bring (and the cost), but another great example of an unnecessary cost (into thousand for second hand) when starting up.

    I would get a T/S/ lens ahead of either PS-CS or a full frame but that is for the artistic value rather than the technical aspect.

    The hotshoe flashes I could certainly do with a few more. Currently working with a single Metz (58 AF2). Waiting for my studio lights (Bowens) to clear customs. I also want to get the battery for those to expand my functionality, although the Elinchrom Rangers/Quadra systems look very enticing. But, again, tripod with long exposure can provide enough for now for the exterior shots. Interior shots a single powerful flash is enough (along with suitable post processing). Remember, I'm thinking entry level for now, not full on top-flight pro who uses 20 flashes, half a dozen assistants and a make-up girl just for show .

    Pesonally I like keystoning when done appropriately (this one taken at 10mm, with APS-C), it can be very artistic and I have found a lot of architectural shots to be very bland. As such the shot does not need correcting, it was deliberately shot with this image in mind. I do have other shots that have been corrected (in-camera as well as post processing) and don't feel the same.

    Now I do understand that the client may not want the artistic shot and wants a simple representation and I have done many of those as well, but when I saw the sunset, I just had to go for the shot. This one is actually going to be used on-line with the mall businesses embedded in the foreground and background (clickable of course). The main promotional shots will be the bland, full on, non-keystone shots. I feel that this shot has a lot more impact than the straight shot has.

    I consider this shot to be more of a promotional shot for myself rather than 100% useful to the client.
    I've also got a twilight shot of the same location and the mall owner loved it but he won't use it for promotional. It did, however, prompt him to offer to support me in my photographic endeavor. So it has a function and it worked.
    Hope this helps to see where I am coming from.

    All the best,
    Graham

  8. #8

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    Re: Turning pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Brocken View Post
    Hi Graham, this article has some good advice on pricing your work, and setting a viable day rate:

    http://www.professionalphotographer....-Your-Day-Rate
    Thanks Christopher, this gives me an idea. It sounds as if $300 per day (or $40 per hour) is a good place to position myself for now, at least for architectural. Then as demand grows I can change as appropriate. I was originally thinking of $20 per hour, but that's way too low.
    I'm hoping the wedding photography will be where I can bring in the major monies (and that is where the major competition is and where I will be stepping on toes big time).
    Graham

  9. #9

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    Re: Turning pro

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    The problem with a simple figure from someone else, is: that it is a “simple figure” and “from someone else”.

    And to be clear - I was NOT suggesting that you use a typical figure from the USA to set how much you charge.

    It is very important to know exactly what business one is in (or going to be in).

    To be frank, perhaps blunt: your concerns about the initial planning and research being “difficult” does not bode well.

    WW
    Yup, this last comment is my concern. I woud almost certainly be out of business very quickly except that I am incredibly lucky that I have access to a small but powerfull and well known network that will allow me to be exposed (love the pun) far beyond my own ability to do so. And the major requirement isn't technical/artisitc ability, it's all about the marketing.

    I appreciate your comments about someone elses price and being from someone else.
    I'm sure you also appreciate that without a point of reference for discussion, the discussion is likely to go nowhere.
    Graham

  10. #10
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Turning pro

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamH View Post
    I'm sure you also appreciate that without a point of reference for discussion, the discussion is likely to go nowhere.
    Yes I do.

    WW

  11. #11
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    Re: Turning pro

    Hi Graham - I can't help you out much on the business side, but I read your post and just wanted to say sorry to hear about your personal situation.

    Take care, and best of luck to you!

  12. #12
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    Re: Turning pro

    Hi Graham and all the best with your new opportunity. The answer to your question is in he competition in your area. Any business needs to do a competitor analysis, market analysis, and a break even analysis. This is where you will find the figure your looking for. Look at your fixed costs, variable costs and try to work out what is reasonable. If this is all too much then just look at who are your competition and how much they charge, what sort of quality they produce as that is more relevant than anything. It may take a while to build your name so perhaps start about 20% lower at first. I am also starting out but have a full time job and not many overheads so charge a little less than the established photographers.

  13. #13
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    Re: Turning pro

    A friend of mine became a professional photographer and was also successful. He did a lot of commercial work. I say did because unfortunately he died rather young. I can roughly relate his experiences.

    I think some one has already touched on one problem You may turn up with gear that the person who is hiring you has themselves as have many others. It's not likely to impress. A lot of the cost of having a photo taken comes down to the gear that is used. Some own it, some hire it. The more expensive it is and also sometime the more complex it is to use the more that aspect of a shot will influence the price. The quality of the work that results is also important. The link some one posted gives a rough outline of how costs are made up but no total figures really. My friend fixed the gear aspect as soon as he could. In fact most of his earnings went into equipment for several years.

    You mention weddings. In the UK the minimum your likely to see a wedding photographer use is the latest 5D, battery grip and a very capable canon flash. The 28-105 L IS zoom is very popular even on 1D's. Most seem to use Canon. Even the week end only photographers. As my friend put "Otherwise some on in the crowd will say I could have took these for you for nothing." He had an easy way out as he started with film. He used a medium format Mamiya Press. You may find pictures of those on the web. Unbelievable things. That's only one problem. The other is results. My 5D came of a failed wedding photographer and there were shots on the card. Poses were not very good neither were the photographs. You need to be able to take over, arrange people, find reasonable back grounds, do the right shots. get the colours of the dresses and suits correct etc etc and keep the people amused. It's not as easy as many think. Where you can there is also a need to shoot people so they look there best - eg eye level and probably from a distance if they have a big nose. You need to continually look for something that might spoil the shot. Do a good job and good work and word spreads. Make mistakes on something that can only be done once like a wedding and things are likely to get a bit heated.

    I know the gear you have is ok for web shots within reason but for instance I know some one who takes shots through a microscope for a living. He uses a 5D MKIII. When the shots get to the publishers they want to know where the rest of the file is. They are used to massive 48bit colour medium format files. They find it incredible that anyone uses anything else.

    Anyway all I wanted to do was point out that there is a need to tread carefully and not exceed your capabilities. Most of your work is likely to come via recommendation. One bad job wont help. In fact on a wedding or such like it could prove terminal. Best of luck. Branching out like that takes courage and a lot of determination.

    What my friend found in the end relating to social photography babies, portraits. weddings etc was that using medium format gear allowed him to charge a lot more than others. The people that went to him had plenty of money and usually said they wanted a real photographer. Mind you he also had a large studio and lighting etc to go with it and the bulk of his income came from commercial works such as advertising shots. He went in that direction on social work because he couldn't match weekend photographer rates.

    John

  14. #14

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    Re: Turning pro

    Graham: some to what has been said about gear, show up with gear that does not impress the client, and they feel they are not getting there money worth. You and I know it is not the equipment but they are "dumb" they like to be impressed if he has that he must be good. As you are in TO yor could rent, say the 5DMkIII and a big lens, impress them, also you your stuff as a second, you could stated the the less camera is lighter and easier to move with for those inclose images instead of using the big guns. People like the big guns, if they see them they believe they are getting their money worth. Ok is cuts into the profites at first, but if they believe they will spread the word which will bring in more work. As a side a friend who works on sick buildings, said show the customer to is spendings hundreds of thousands, a device that costs ten thousand dollars to measure air flow or leaks in the building envelop and he will be impressed, stick your finger in your mouth to find the leasks and he will not be impressed. Want to guess which one is better at finding those leaks, wet your finger.

    Cheers:

    Allan

  15. #15

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    Re: Turning pro

    Hi Graham,
    You have already been offered the opportunity, by impressing someone with your photography, not the gear you carry.
    You would not have been offered the opportunity if your prospective client did not like your style. Do not change that style. By the way that SLT A77 is in a league of its own - very good gear. (Canon and Nikon will follow suit)
    GO FOR IT

  16. #16

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    Re: Turning pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Polar01 View Post
    Graham: some to what has been said about gear, show up with gear that does not impress the client, and they feel they are not getting there money worth. You and I know it is not the equipment but they are "dumb" they like to be impressed if he has that he must be good. As you are in TO yor could rent, say the 5DMkIII and a big lens, impress them, also you your stuff as a second, you could stated the the less camera is lighter and easier to move with for those inclose images instead of using the big guns. People like the big guns, if they see them they believe they are getting their money worth. Ok is cuts into the profites at first, but if they believe they will spread the word which will bring in more work. As a side a friend who works on sick buildings, said show the customer to is spendings hundreds of thousands, a device that costs ten thousand dollars to measure air flow or leaks in the building envelop and he will be impressed, stick your finger in your mouth to find the leasks and he will not be impressed. Want to guess which one is better at finding those leaks, wet your finger.

    Cheers:

    Allan
    Yes. like it or not, a good impression can help sales.

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