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  • Writer's pictureyzhensiang

Why photographers charge so much? Myth Busting.

It’s been a while since my last article after what seems like the busiest period since the start of my career. Finally manage to dig out some time to write about yet another sensitive topic that has been in my mind for the longest time. It is myth busting what do clients actually pay for and what kind of value do clients actually get in return. Bummers, it does not seems like what it is.

Mythbusting The Common Perception.

A common perception or what I would label as an easy way of justifying our rates are expensive equipments, time and our skill sets. But if you actually look deeper into understanding our production, these may seems true and logical at first but they are just way too vague and inaccurate. Yes, these may be the direct business cost to us photographers but it may not be what the clients are actually paying for. In other words clients are paying for the end product produced by professional commercial photographer instead of financing us to run the business.

Reason being, clients do not care about the equipments that we use for production (at least not their major concern) if we are able to produce what they need. A newer camera does not change the content we are capable of producing, or at the very least change our ability to produce. However I must say there are a few rare exception where speciality equipments are needed to achieve a certain requirement threshold in a commercial shoot that would otherwise not be able to be produced without it.

On the other hand it might also be a little counterintuitive to think that we are directly being paid for our time to create photographs. As we progress in our career we tend to be better and more efficient in our task. And if we are getting paid less by being much more efficient something must be wrong there. Yes, in a way we are getting paid by time but that is not where the value is placed upon. It’s just an easy way to quantify our rates after taking business cost into consideration. A better breakdown would be the better we get, the more efficient we are, while producing more quality image with the same amount of time. Hence, explains the rates and the value which client gets directly.

Skillsets, this is a tricky one to bust. As it is highly dependent on the personal progress of the photographer and his team. Some may take 10 years of experience to be proficient at something and others may just take 5 years of experience to be just as proficient and that doesn’t mean the photographer with shorter years of experience and are as proficient couldn’t charge as high as the photographer who took 10 years to be that proficient. Yes expertise is a value but the client isn’t really directly paying for that. It is already our responsibility to produce good work.

What Clients Actually Pay For.

After all the myth-busting, now we discuss about what the clients are actually paying for and getting back their bucks of worth. We truly believe that most clients hire us for our vision which also known as our perspective of the world. In other words, the style of our work and the level of understanding of our niche directly determines whether or not we actually end up landing that specific job. If I may add, there’s only two ways of of landing a job in photography business, to cast your net big and wide to accept all types of job from all clients for the bucks or to fish slowly with a fishing rod for that one niche job and client.

That being said, we sacrifice and work hard to only accept jobs from that niche so that we’re able to retain the highest level of work quality. As time goes by, this will ultimately build up our reputation in the specific niche genre. And this will be the value that client gets in return, someone who is able to deliver the highest quality of work with deep expertise knowledge in that genre.

To build a good reputation in specific niche, we’re required to produce quality work with a good track record, and that is what our clients hire us for. Our capability to deliver high quality images on time and on specific budget. This kind of guarantee and certainty is what gives the client the confidence to work with us knowing we will be able to produce what they want with minimal hiccups. After all, we are here to solve the client’s issue not adding to it.

Our ability to handle the stress and hiccups is also an added bonus for the clients when their stake is high. Clients can’t afford to screw up and risk themselves getting into trouble just because the photographer is not capable in handling a specific shoot when they have invested so much into the production.

Lastly it might be rare to say we’re hire for our creative concept in a commercial shoot. As often in a commercial shoot, there will be the presence of creative director that will provide us the creative brief for the shoot. And our task is to produce quality content that fits the brief. Having ample amount of experience on delivering shoots this calibre will be a plus point especially after we have worked hard and make sacrifices to reach a certain level in the industry.


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