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    Haven’t posted in ages but figured I’d give this a shot. I’m in the UK so hopefully someone from this fine island can shed some light on my problems.

    I shoot portraits and weddings for which I have prices. What I’d like to do is figure out how to price for advertising and editorial work. I’ve searched, read, watched videos and tried calculator software, none of which has helped me. Most information is US based and I’m struggling to work out how a day rate of $700, plus expenses, plus licence fees of around $800 for full page image use, are fair and reasonable? (I read a $3100 quote for 2 days work, expenses were included in this quote but were only $900).

    As a personal example… I was recently contacted by a MUA/Hair Stylist who has done work for 2 clothing brands (last time was January this year) at a London event. She gets sent free clothes to review and creates looks on her blog. She would like to hire me to take images of her modelling outfits for editorial use in these articles.

    I can find or create contracts but what do I charge? She’s not some big shot with a big budget. I understand the value in photography. HOW much value, is lost on me!

    Can anyone help me out here?


    I don’t live on “this fine island”, although some of my distant ancestors may have lived there.  I’m not sure it’s necessary to live there, to address your question.  Just as I am sure there is no definitive answer to your question.  Keeping in mind I took economics in first year, about 40 years ago, and hated the class, let me throw out some ideas.  Take what you want from them.

    We both live in mostly free economies.  Here we have a Milk Marketing Board and a Wheat Marketing Board, and the government dictates what many doctors can charge for services.  Most other businesses are free to charge what they like.  Usually, what they like is a price that delivers some profit and which people are willing to pay.

    Generally people want to pay less and businesses want to charge more.  There are exceptions though.  There was a great restaurant across the road from where I lived for a few years.  They were only open a couple of days a week, and only for dinner.  The food was fantastic and relatively inexpensive.  The business was a make work project for someone’s child and no one cared if they made a profit.  Years before that, at Main and Benlamond, there was a marine store — they sold boats and motors though they were many blocks from the lake.  They were in business for years, until the owner retired, but they were expensive compared to the Canadian Tire a few blocks up the street.  One time, probably when 10 or 11 years old, I asked why they were more expensive.  The answer was that at their prices they got some customers and if they charged less they would have to work harder.  So, some people found a reason to pay.

    As a photographer, you are more like a manufacturer or service than a retailer.

    Looking at retail for a moment anyway, Target is a US brand that came to Canada a couple of years ago, and now they are leaving.  For Target, Canada has been a huge money pit.  Target is a successful US store and many Canadians skip across the border, at places like Buffalo, to shop at Target because there are products not generally available in Canada, at lower prices.  There was a lot of anticipation when Target announced they were opening Canadian stores.  Unfortunately for Target the anticipation dissipated as soon as customers entered the Canadian stores.  Prices were the same, or very close to prices at other local stores, and selection was also very similar to other local stores.  On at least two occasions I wandered through a local Target store, and left empty handed.  I never saw anything I wanted to purchase.  Living two hours from the border, I have never felt it was worth the drive to shop in the US, but others have, and they report the US Target stores are quite different to the Canadian stores.  So a lesson might be that you have to either manage or meet expectations.

    Manufacturers usually figure out how much it costs to produce and market an item, then they add some profit and that becomes the price.  It is a little more complicated than that because they also have to guess the number of units they will sell and amortize development costs.  It is then up to someone to purchase the goods.  Sometimes the product is so desirable that supply cannot meet demand and the price can rise.  Sometimes there is no demand and the company loses money.   Services are similar although the product may be less tangible so the inner workings are more difficult to see.  If you ask for a quote to have custom software written, and you decide the price is too high, the software is not written.  Some negotiation could take place, extra features added, or the price lowered.  Or not, depending on how desperate the developer is for work.

    So, a long way to say that your photo has no value if no one is willing to pay you for it.  And it may have a lot of value if someone wants/needs it enough to pay a lot for it.  It may have less value if someone else is willing to provide a similar photo for less money.

    Back in the days of film, someone could spend a lot of money on gear and processing without ever figuring out how to create an advertising worthy frame.  Now you can spend a few hundred dollars on a digital camera that will deliver reasonable photos if you just aim and press a button.  Also, there is all kinds of help on the Internet.  YouTube is full of how to videos.  And, you can access millions (billions?) of stock photos from your desk.  Stock may not help if you need a specific photo, of course. The cheap camera with basic operator may not help if you need exact colour, good light, good pose, precise exposure, etc.  How much better are your photos than those she can take on her own, or obtain from another source?

    Some blogs make a lot of money, well into six figures if they have a large following and good advertising contracts.  How much will your photos boost popularity of the blog, or retain existing visitors?

    How much value?  That depends on your photo skills, your marketing skills, your negotiating skills, and your salesmanship.  I have no idea.

    Worst Case Scenario

    I now have a flat rate of £70 an hour for EVERYTHING I do.

    ie: My wedding packages are based on so many hours at £70, my portrait sittings are based on half an hour and if they take longer, I charge more ( at the same rate) My commercial work and post processing is all at the same rate.  This rate is based on the maximum I can charge, for where I am.  In London I’d be cheap, for a country town I’m quite expensive.

    I know guys in my area who would charge more, and guys who would do it for free : (  There’s a studio down the road who will do a portrait sitting with all images on a disc for £25. ( I’ve posted their work on here, that’s how good they are) . I know that’s not much help! But at least by having a fixed price, I can answer the phone and tell people EXACTLY what my prices are….


    Guys, THANK YOU!

    Camera Clicker, that is the most Epic answer I have ever read, totally loved it (and the end had me stifle a giggle). Genuinely found it interesting reading, many thanks. I asked for some UK specifics as there seems to be quite a vast difference in the inner workings of photography between the UK and the US. US seems to be more understanding (generally) of the value of a good photographer. I’m not saying the UK doesn’t have a clue, but it seems to be more valuable in general to the US market. This is just based on some articles I have read and my general observations as I lurk in the shadows of photography related news and forum websites… haha

    Worst Case Scenario – That seems like a pretty fair idea to me, good way to go about it. Work out how many hours, times by your rate and you’re there. Rather than worry about final uses, who it’s for, who is paying etc etc. Just say, “this is what I want per hour, end of”. I feel this may be akin to most builders, plumbers, services in general. It doesn’t matter who you are working for, the price will always be £100 a day for a carpenter for example. Whether that’s someone on the poverty line, or someone living in a mansion. The vast difference will be in the price of materials used which are passed to the customer anyway.

    I don’t need to worry too much about what work I get, I have a FT job and no studio with overheads. I’m wondering about the prices because, if I’m going to make money, I want to make as much as I can without ripping people off or totally undercharging. I just find it hard to find a middle ground. But again, thanks for your answers, I enjoyed both of them.


    Services are similar although the product may be less tangible so the inner workings are more difficult to see.  If you ask for a quote to have custom software written, and you decide the price is too high, the software is not written.


    Some negotiation could take place, extra features added, or the price lowered.


    A bit late to the party but the spambot above me threw this one in to the light again.

    National union of journalists have a guide to free lancing but obviously the prices aren’t realistic in this scenario. http://www.londonfreelance.org/feesguide/index.php?&section=Photography&subsect=Online+use+of+photos

    In a case like this, might it not be better to suggest you do a swap for time? It may well be that both of you come out better off having bartered services with each other instead of money changing hands. It depends on the blog a bit though. If it is one with 100k clicks a day I suggest you charge her according to the NUJ rates but otherwise you might find it beneficial not to. Could you business benefit from having a MUA and thus bring in more money that way?


    @Nesgran – No problem, thanks for the advice. That’s a great link for reference as it’s UK related, and the gap between prices in UK & US seems strange sometimes. Bartering is an option I’ve never looked down upon and have already made links with various artists. I don’t think it’s a hugely popular blog either so I wouldn’t charge silly amounts. It’s not so much that I’m worried about making shed loads of cash, but I’m never sure if I’m underselling my services.

    I don’t rely solely on income from photography as I have a F/T job. It’s a hobby that I can make some extra money from (all legitimate by the way), so I can afford to be somewhat cheaper than others with a studio and more overheads anyway.

    I’d feel the same if I was a painter or something, It’s hard to judge what your work is worth. What makes a piece worth £1mil compared to £1k…. is it just “What someone is willing to pay”.

    Anyways, nothing has come of it so far but I’ve got a reference now for future enquiries, thank for that everyone.

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