Sunday, 14 August 2011

When should I start to charge for photos? How do I know if I'm ready to charge for shoots?

I've recently been asked by new photographers when they should start to charge for photos and how do I know if I'm ready to start charging for shoots?

It is a very difficult question to answer but there are a few guidelines to bear in mind.

1) As soon as you accept money for doing a shoot you are now working as a business. As such you need to make sure you have the right equipment and insurance. Being paid to do a shoot but your camera breaking half way through would be a disaster. Working on a professional basis means you need appropriate liability insurance cover. If someone trips over your gear or worse still you injure somebody (the example I've heard was a photographer knocking over an old lady when he stepped backwards) then you could be sued. Without suitable insurance you could be personally liable.

2) You need to know how your camera inside and out. It is no good getting to a shoot and finding a setting or error that you are unable to resolve. If a dial changes then you need to know how to immediately reset it back to normal. You need to know how to use light, when & how to use flash, how to creatively use depth of field and shutter speed.

The first rule to me would be item 2 - unless you know how to use your camera then you should not even consider charging money for a shoot whether that is a wedding or a family portrait. By all means sell prints after the event but accepting money to provide a service is setting a contract in place to deliver that service that you are then responsible for delivering!