There are two ways photographers price their work, and I’ve just jumped camps.
The simplest, and my previous way, is based on time. I offered a half-day and a full day rate. But, this “simple” approach had a surprising number of problems. I’m now convinced the preferable alternative for both photographer and client is essentially pay based on the number of photos produced in addition to a base rate called a “creative fee.” (It’s also natural to view photos as a commodity, not photography as a service). Here’s why you will like this alternative professional pricing scheme:
With a day rate the understandable goal becomes producing as many photos as possible within the half or full day. A faster photo, however, isn’t a better photo. In fact, a faster photo is clearly a worse photo most of the time. Working frantically isn’t fun for client nor photographer and also sets the stage for oversights and mistakes. Here’s an example:
Come shoot day, the pressure to produce as many photos as possible quickly sets in. I work as hard and fast as I can. OK, it seems, until each shot nears completion. Do we stop yet, or push for more? My client might feel the shot is fine, and likely I do too, but is it all it could be? Another few minutes make a nice difference. When shooting based on time, the drive is for quantity and the perception of value seems based on the number of photos produced. Remove the time pressure, and volia!
The alternative approach solves this problem nicely. If each photo has a pre-determined cost regardless of production time, then time is no longer of the essence. Everyone is more relaxed and in a more happily creative mindset. That’s better! You might think a photographer’s goal would then become cranking out as many photos as possible anyway. Not if the goal is to make wonderful images. And, that’s what my client hired me for in the first place.