I came across an interesting article recently. This photographer wrote on his blog about his recent experience with one particular client, or would be client, who wrote a nasty email about how his exorbitant photography fee is a deal breaker. The client was comparing his peers’ hourly salary against the photographer’s high per hour fee, which was a deal breaker, and demanded a lower fee.
This is the main issue with most clients, even here in Malaysia. A photographer’s fee is usually compared to the likes of standard everyday Joes working a 9 to 5 job.
Let’s do a Malaysian version.
Assuming an office worker with a salary of RM5k, and that he works 8 hours a week, and assuming a 22-working day a month. That adds up to RM28.41 per hour.
A photographer, let’s say a wedding photographer who charges RM3k for an actual day wedding with an assistant who gets paid RM800. Then there’s the album cost of RM600.
So, the photographer gets paid RM1,600.00 for his services.
And just to let you know, just because you see the photographer for about 8-10 hours that wedding day, does not mean he only works 8-10 hours for the wedding. A typical wedding starts early in the morning. Very early in the morning. Firstly, he gets up early and prepares himself to arrive at the bride’s location by 7.30am to take preparation photos, photos of the bride getting ready, with the make up artist putting on the make up and doing the hair do. After the bride has put on her gown, he pulls her aside to take beautiful portraits of her. Then the groom arrives and the games and tea ceremony begins. Basically he, and his assistant, wraps up the morning session probably at about 1pm. He then rushes back to prepare for the slide show.
He downloads the RAW photos from the memory cards, backs them up and then starts the sorting and selection process before preparing them for the slideshow. The entire process until the slideshow is exported, takes roughly 5 hours. All the while, he is stuffing in his lunch in between. At 6pm, he has to rush off to the dinner reception. And while his assistant covers the outside of the dinner hall, the photographer is inside with the banquet team, testing the slideshow and ensuring the projector is ready, and tuned properly in terms of brightness, color and contrast. Then the dinner starts, and ends nearing midnight.
The photographer goes home, and before he could hop into the shower, he downloads that night’s photos and backs them up. By the time he is able to lay his head down, it’s already 2am.
Let’s do bit of calculation, yes? He starts his day at 7.30am. Let’s not take into consideration his preparation time, you know, getting his gear ready, ensuring batteries are fully charged and things like that.
And basically he is working through out the day (although you do not see him), until 1am (minus his shower time and all that). That’s 17 hours in total working hours for that day only. Then comes photo selection, sorting and processing. That normally takes an estimated 10 hours to complete the entire batch. Plus the additional 3 hours to design and prepare the photo album.
So roughly 30 hours for the entire job. And that’s a very modest calculation. And with an income of RM1.6k, that translate to RM53.33 per hour.
Comparing that to the rm28.41 per hour of an average office employee, it seems like double the amount. But, there’s a lot more to consider.
Firstly, the photographer has to purchase his own equipment. For example, his cameras (main and second camera), his various lenses, flashes and memory cards. He also has to purchase his own computer. And on top of that, he has to pay rent, pay for insurance, water and electricity bills. His transportation, parking and toll. Not to mention his own coffee and creamer.
And average office employee has no overhead. His computer, electricity, water and coffee are all taken care of by his company, including rent.
So the next time you have the urge to think about how exorbitant photographer’s fee are, remember these calculations.
Oh, and since we are already in this topic, let’s do a little breakdown on his initial ‘investment’ in order to have a photography business. This is just a standard wedding photographer.
2 x camera bodies – RM 30k. 3 lenses (wide zoom, tele zoom, and large aperture standard lens) – RM16k. 2 Flashes – RM3k. Memory cards – RM1k. Batteries – RM1k. Bag – RM500.
Total : RM51.5k
Then a nice computer to be able to handle the workload – RM5k. UPS backup power – RM1k. Data backup system – RM2k. Color correction device for monitor – RM1k.
Total computer costs : RM8k
That leads up to a grand total of RM 59.5k.
This does not include other equipment such as studio strobes, stands, backdrops, wireless controllers and all that. RM59.5k is purely the gear required for a standard wedding assignment. And these have not been taken into consideration when calculating per hour fee, cos we are not financial people.
Of course, the financial guru in some of you might argue the depreciation value and staggered purchases and such, but let’s just stick to simple calculations. We are not financial people and are just straight forward money out and money in kind of people.
So there. The next time want to say “FUAH!! very expensive la”, stop and think again ya.
Oh, by the way, I just recalled; it’s not very fair if you compare an office employee’s per hour fee based on his monthly salary. A company will charge a different rate when charging for consultation or when calculating project fee. To be very modest, a company will charge man hour fee at 1.8 times an employee’s salary. This means, someone with an hourly salary of RM28.41, his ‘project fee’ would be RM51.14. Well, that is just RM2 shy of the photographer’s hourly fee.
So anyways, just want to put this out there.
Oh.. and its hard work also ok. Sometimes having to be under the hot sun the entire day, or..
.. being at the construction site as well.