“How do I calculate my fee or daily rate as a photographer correctly. I am puzzled as to how prices on the market can be so different. And it’s really hard to get an answer from photographers.”
More than 80% of all new self-employed people fail in the first 5 years. Probably for that very reason. Because they write invoices, but they don’t even have the idea of whether their fees are enough for their survival.
That’s why we’re now doing a small example calculation for photographers (and all other self-employed) together.
Your daily rate as photographer determines whether you can live off your work as a photographer or not.
I think we agree on that, aren’t we?
I hear and read the question from above all the time, including the confusion about the enormous price differences.
New people struggle to set daily rate as photographer, then orient themselves to the “average” and believe they can do nothing wrong. This is exactly the safest way to spoil, because the average price offered is no longer one that can secure your survival as a photographer.
Unfortunately, I often hear that photographers “don’t want to get out of it” and don’t disclose their daily rate as photographer calculation.
Which is quite weak-minded. That’s probably why we have this situation where new photographers are entering into a discount war that no one can survive.
The whole industry would be helped if those with experience would help those without a little.
That’s why we in the Team talk very openly about pricing.
Then perhaps not 80% of all independent photographers would go bust in the first 5 years.
But this is another construction site 😉
Generally, it’s easy to forget a lot at the beginning. In the first euphoria you think quickly it would be enough to have a good camera and take good photos with it.
Why this is not the case, I have already written in this article – First Todo List for aspiring professional photographers
Pricing is a relatively dry matter that must be done urgently at the beginning and which must also be constantly corrected. I changed daily rate as photographer every year in the first few years, because my circumstances have changed.
I have purchased more and/or more expensive equipment, rented a studio, etc. And these changes, of course, also change the calculation.
A sample calculation for daily rate as photographer
Calculation for photographers is relatively “simple”:
You’re noting everything you need to do to do your job at all. Really everything.
So of course camera, lenses, all equipment, computer, screen, tablet,… whatever you have to buy in order to do your job.
But this also includes all insurance, your car (at least proportionally, if you also use it privately) all office utensils, marketing expenses, website, printing grades, paper, training in which you invest, etc.
Just really everything.
You shouldn’t forget anything. Because no matter what it is, you can’t pay it out of your own private pocket. Everything you need to do your job will have to pay your customers in the future.
Otherwise, you don’t have a business, but a hobby that you finance to make others happy.
There is nothing against this in itself, only if you give money to companies that make money with your work for fun in the cause, then that is … Maybe not such a good idea. To put it mildly, 😉
You’ll expect all of this for a year.
So if you can use your camera for a maximum of 5 years, you can calculate the price by 5, which is what it costs you for a year.
You should also include new purchases, repairs, service costs, etc. The more you think about it, the less you end up paying for it.
Then you roughly calculate how many working days you have per year. And please consider that as a self-employed person you can also get sick and need a holiday in between in order not to get sick.
So even if in reality you work 365 days a year (which I wouldn’t recommend) these are of course not the days you expect here.
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In 2018, for example minus all public holidays and weekends had 247 working days. if you take another 25 days off for you, you are at 222 days to work. If you never get sick.
Ok, how much do you want /must you earn to be able to live decently from it?
For the sake of simplicity, let’s count this at 2,000,- net. (12 times a year.) This is far from much, but that is roughly equivalent to the average earnings, 14 times that would be 1,700,- net per month.
To do this, you need about 30,000,- income per year, so that after deduction of the taxes you pay for it you will get this 2,000,- x 12.
What we have not yet calculated, however, is social security.
In order to get to your 30,000,- income, you need roughly 42,000,- income.
Of this, you will then pay approx. 11,000,- SVA and are back to approximately the 30,000,-
Of course, it still wasn’t. Of course, what your job costs you per year has to be on top of it. As discussed at the beginning, your customer has to pay, not you.
Let’s say for our calculation example, you get 20,000,- expenses per year. (and they’re gone faster than you think)
So we’re putting that on the 42,000,- and we’re on the 62,000 turnover you need each year. And because you as an entrepreneur also pay VAT, there is also 20% sales tax, which you will not pay out of your own pocket. That’s 12,400 euros on top of it again.
So now we are at 74,400,- Euro gross turnover that you need in the year at least to earn 1,700,- monthly net.
And in doing so, as you will see, if you count on yourself, I have not exaggerated the annual expenditure. Quite the opposite. But for this example calculation, let’s just assume that’s enough.
Your fee as a photographer
Well, that’s an annual turnover that you should achieve.
What does this mean now for your price as a photographer and the fee?
We said you work 222 days a year, right? If you never get sick. So let’s say about safety it’s 210 days a year.
On these days you will realistically work more than 8 hours, but I would advise you not to include this in the calculation. This is the first step towards self-exploitation.
So we assume the regular 8 hours that your customers also work in their job.
That’s 1776 hours you can work to reach your minimum turnover of 74,400 gross.
That would be about 42,- per hour.
This is where the biggest mistake happens, probably so many fail. These 42,- are NOT the hourly rate you have to charge your customer.
You have to earn this 42,- for every single hour you work on or in your new company.
Even in the hours you continue to recreate, in which you do your marketing, do your accounting, make customer appointments and conversations, sort your digital chaos that accumulates, etc. etc.
As a photographer, you spend a maximum of 10% of your working time with photography.
The rest is “all around” work.
Here you have to sit down and realistically assess how much time you will spend on what. As a first clue, I would advise you to assume at least a ratio of 1:2. So an hour of direct work for your customer – photographing and editing pictures – means a total of 3 hours with everything “all around” that your customer of course has to pay.
You pay not only the schnitzel in the restaurant, but the house, the employees, the suppliers, the dishes, the insurances, etc.
1:2 is very customer-friendly. But let’s assume this and calculate a total of 3 hours of effort for one hour of customer work.
42,- x 3 = 126,- per hour
So you are charged at an hourly rate that you should charge your customer of 126,- Euro.
This means for an entire day with 8 hours you should set at least 1,000 daily rate if you want to survive this profession.
Does that feel too expensive for you now?
If that seems high to you, it’s not because it’s high, but primarily because you’ve assumed far too low prices.
Like most who look blue-eyed at the profession of photographer, without worrying in detail about how much this profession will actually cost them.
Of course, you think now “but when I start grad, I can’t …”… But let me give you a different thought. What you really can’t do is work for a long time under a price that is feasible for you, your health and your financial security.
Sure, you can do that over a short period of time. But not for very long. Because at the latest if you do this for more than a year, it takes massive revenge.
At some point the equipment breaks down and you can’t afford a new one.
You get sick and can’t work for a few days or weeks (I even had that for a few months) etc.
What you really can’t do is work too cheaply.
If you think you’re not ready to live on, just work so long and hard until you’re ready.
But don’t let yourself be drawn to work as a photographer for 40,- per hour, only to discover that this was not only never worth it, it more or less ruined you.
Yes, but if I’m cheap …
I know the arguments for favorable.
And they are all wrong.
You think you get customers when you’re cheaper?
I guarantee you, you don’t get customers, but the people who just want cheap.
And then you get it again and again. That means you’ll be working forever for a fee that just covers your expenses, but you can’t live on it.
You think the first time you’re cheaper, will you get the expensive order the next time?
Why should a customer do this?
He only wants you because you do it cheapestly. Not because you do it best.
If there is more budget next time, he will take on the photographers who simply demand their price, who will not be able to negotiate with them.
You will also fall in esteem and , I guarantee you from experience – no customer will come and pay twice as much on the second job.
I want an industry that is healthy again. In the people can live from what they like and do well also properly.
Sure, photography has changed enormously. What was only possible with a professional 10 years ago.
Maybe. Maybe not.
Being a professional photographer means much more than getting some very nice pictures.
As a photographer, it is also necessary to be able to think entrepreneurially. You have to be able to offer more than beautiful pictures. Then you have no problems to calculate your prices correctly and to demand what your work is worth.
I don’t care that 80% of photographers don’t survive.
It would be idiotic competitive thinking to rejoice and think “then there will be more for me”.
I believe that everyone will benefit when the industry is healthy and a reasonable awareness of pricing and fees among photographers is re-established.