Charging for Photo's?

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#1 ChaosFoxCostuming on 5 years ago

[CENTER]So, I was recently having a discussion with a few different people about charging for photo's and I was told that I should at least charge a small fee like 10 bucks even If I don't consider myself a professional and I only consider myself a hobbyist. The reasoning behind this was that i shoot in manual I take raw pics and I use photoshop so I should be compensated for a little of my time and that it would also teach cosplayers that they have to pay for photo's from photogs.

I'm still biased on it what is your guys opinion on this?


[/CENTER]

#2 Av4rice on 5 years ago

I don't charge. I shoot for fun. I get all my fun from the experience of shooting and the results afterwards.

Getting paid wouldn't make it any more fun for me, especially if it's only something like ten bucks. If it's going to be that low, it may as well be nothing. If I were in it for the money, I'd want a decent amount, and few cosplayers if any would want to pay that much.

I don't care about diluting the market or setting a bad precedent or whatever. I work a regular job so I can shoot photos in my spare time and not have to worry about making money from photography. If someone else wants to charge for their photos, they just have to be good enough or offer something of value to justify it. As with any business, they have to compete.

#3 Access on 5 years ago

It is mostly theoretical discussion, since the current dynamics just don't support it.
Nor is it likely that those will change any time in the future.

If you did charge, then you would be providing a product, and customers have every right to demand satisfaction, quality, timeliness, etc. Suddenly it's a business relationship, and the stakes are much higher.

#4 brucer007 on 5 years ago

You have a right to charge a fee for photo shoots, if you want to. Cosplayers don't have to pay for photos from photographers, generally speaking, since so many photographers are willing to give free photos; even edited ones.

If you choose to charge money; even $10, you will likely find that much less Cosplayers will agree to shoot with you on those terms. If that is okay with you, go ahead.

You are more likely to get customers, if you have some qualities that are rare.
I have not yet seen photography of yours that seems unique enough to gain clients based on that. You might win customers based on your ability to make them feel comfortable, or to show quality that is hard to find.

I do offer paid shoots with full resolution images, edited, without watermarks added.

I still offer free photo shoots to some Cosplayers, spontaneously at conventions, but that promo is much smaller images with my watermark. They are big enough to show on the internet. Convention rates are much less than private shoots between conventions.

#5 Sufida on 5 years ago

Here is a perspective coming from someone who has worked on both ends of this.

At one point (and might go back to this) I charged for shoots for a long time. I waited a good while though until I developed the quality that would garner people towards my work. I did this by doing shoots for free or taking photos of simple subjects. Similar to you I also had people I worked with who said I should charge a little something.

I started at around $10 and while that may seem menial to somebody, it would be a huge help for me when it begins to add up. Eventually as my quality got better and my fanbase bigger, my prices went up to around $20-30 dollar.

There are no conventions near me. Large conventions could cost somewhere between $150-$200 for me to attend. Being a full time student with no job, I was lucky to attend one or two conventions a year. By charging however I was able to bump that number to around 6 or 7. Not only was I able to sometimes break even, but occasionally even profit a little.

When entering into a paid shoot there was more pressure for me to do better. I learned a lot as I would find myself making the best out of what was given to me. Whether it was undesirable shooting conditions, a costume that didn't turn out great, directing, and coming up with ideas to make it work. It was also fun being able to interact with people on such an intimate level.

There are some downsides to this.

Being somebody who offers services you only have the option of saying yes and no. If you decline somebody then you lose potential revenue... even if it is something you don't really want to shoot. This could also include people who you may find yourself working with a lot, but kind of wanting to take a break from them. As brucer007 said cosplayers don't have to pay for photos, which includes people you may see and wish you could shoot.

However I would still promote myself and got to choose a little by doing free hallway shots in between. I also never got much time to enjoy the convention itself.. which is normally ok because I like taking photos most of the time anyway.

Now that I have job (not the best job) I am able to afford more liberties to taking photos. So I have decided to try and revert back to a free format I used prior to charging. Being "free" I can pick and choose what I want, even go as far as scout talent in advance. Go off a schedule that allows me more flexibility and enjoy the con more. Fortunately there are also people who insist on paying me anyway.

For me charging was a way for me to open up opportunities to do what I enjoy; take photos and attend more conventions. However if you can afford not to charge you open yourself up to more freedom, but less pressure to do better.

Just ask yourself what you would be doing with those $10 and if your work would attract an audience near you.

#6 SolarTempest on 5 years ago

I think charging for photoshoots is a good opportunity for growth in photographers.

It encourages photographers to be more selective with their work, be reliable under a wider variety of conditions, and shift the focus towards satisfying clients, instead of just themselves.

You have to be confident in what you can provide and really understand the value of your own work. Both of which I believe are important learnings for photographers.

Being able to work under pressure and execute photo jobs well is a fantastic skill to have!

#7 nathancarter on 5 years ago

Generally, I don't think the cosplay community is ready to support the business models that work for family portraits or commercial photography. The customer is different, and the expectations are different. If you're charging $200 for a cosplay photoshoot, it's gonna be a lot more legwork to find clients, and you're going to attract haters who think you shouldn't charge that much. Therefore, you better be damn good, be able to produce professional results regardless of subject/location constraints, and conduct yourself professionally (I've gone into detail on this in a separate thread). Caveat: To some degree, top-notch people skills and business skills can supplant top-notch photography skills.


I do charge, and I don't charge. My general rule is this: If I seek out the subject and ask for a shoot, I don't charge. If the subject comes to me to ask for a shoot, then I will charge some.

At conventions, I open up my schedule to everyone, and I charge a little bit because it places value on my time. It weeds out the people who aren't serious about making good pictures, the people who aren't committed, the people who are going to no-call-no-show. Free photography has no value; offering it for free indicates that your time and skill have no value; your "clients" will treat it as such. In the past 18 months, I've only had two "flakes" at conventions, and they were people that I agreed to shoot for free. ALL my paying customers showed up on time and were ready to shoot, or gave me enough notice that I could book a standby or take a break.

In the past year, my convention rate has been $20 for a half-hour, and guaranteed six to ten finished/edited images (delivery timeframe varies depending on convention). I'm thinking of changing that up a little bit this year, charging a little more and taking fewer clients. Haven't decided yet. At DragonCon I had so many $20 shoots that I didn't have time to otherwise enjoy the con.

To Ken's point: Shooting for free does allow you to be selective in your subjects. It's a fine line to walk, though. I don't want to turn into that snooty guy that only shoots the people that spent thousands on their costume, or only shoots the girls with tiny costumes and giant assets. I don't want to be the guy that tells the average just-for-fun cosplayer to buzz off, that they're not worth my time.


[QUOTE=Access;4826383]If you did charge, then you would be providing a product, and customers have every right to demand satisfaction, quality, timeliness, etc. Suddenly it's a business relationship, and the stakes are much higher.[/QUOTE]

This is an important point. If you charge for your work, it's a business transaction. To that end, you should be able to guarantee a quality product, delivered in a timely manner.

#8 Ashurachan on 5 years ago

[QUOTE=nathancarter;4826700]To Ken's point: Shooting for free does allow you to be selective in your subjects. It's a fine line to walk, though. I don't want to turn into that snooty guy that only shoots the people that spent thousands on their costume, or only shoots the girls with tiny costumes and giant assets. I don't want to be the guy that tells the average just-for-fun cosplayer to buzz off, that they're not worth my time.[/QUOTE]

That's because we wanted to avoid this sort of discrimination that when an association I was a part of ran a booth, we took everyone as long as we had a free timeslot (we opened booking at the beginning of the day, and closed it when our schedule was full).
We don't do it anymore (the association has kinda been dissolved) and the remaining booths are picky each in their own way, excluding the average beginner from the opportunity to shoot in one of the studios. I guess it goes with the widening gap between some so-called 'elite' cosplayers, and the average one. The sad thing is, a lot of these cosplayers who get free shoots on the booths already know photographers and could do shoots outside of cons with them, whereas for the average cosplayer cons are the only opportunity to meet photographers. Since there are no photographers who charge around here (money is a dirty thing for us French people), there's no one left to offer these average cosplayers the unique experience of a photoshoot with a good photographer, and I find it sad.

I can be picky myself now that I don't run the booth anymore, but at least it's not just the big costumes or the cute girls that catch my eye :p It's more a question of 'I like the show/character' than anything else. It doesn't have to be fancy, just well done ^^

#9 Access on 5 years ago

[QUOTE=nathancarter;4826700]Free photography has no value; offering it for free indicates that your time and skill have no value; your "clients" will treat it as such. In the past 18
[/quote]
This is where I would differ. First, there is currency in the sense of money, but there are other types of currency out there also. For instance, someone who is indispensable or who has a valuable skill is going to be treated better by people, friends, acquaintances, and everyone else, whether they charge for it or not.

My perspective has always been that the money is just not there enough to justify asking; if someone offers me money I always just politely tell them to put it into their hobbies like future cosplays or such. Though to be honest I have accepted alcoholic beverages as 'payment' once or twice, but that was more just kidding around with friends than anything serious.

#10 Ito on 5 years ago

To me it is all about having fun, growing as a photographer, and becoming more well know in the cosplay community. I have yet to charge for a shoot because the thought hadn't even crossed my mind. Do I do paid photography work? Sure. But for now I want to keep a clear distinction as to what I do for money and what I do because I truly enjoy it.

#11 Patcave on 5 years ago

Unless photography is your business, you make your bread and butter with it, and have the process of handling clients streamlined; and have the post-processing and print-making options, and have to deal with "that" discussion on photo usage rights, blah blah blah, down to a science, you run the risk of working for peanuts with paid shoots at conventions.

Personally, my "time" is worth more than the $xx/hour or half-hour I'd make/take from a paid shoot because after factoring in the time I'd spend in post-processing, client-handling, etc. I'm probably working for less than minimum wage in the first place. Not too many working photograpers are going to make a bonanza at shoots as a business model at conventions without sacrificing time after the con making their clients happy.

Once I shoot folks at a con, and come home, I get to work on my schedule, with nary an email or text asking me "Are you done yet?" "Can you give me a sneak peak?" "Where are the photos I paid you for? It's been a week already." :) Truth be told, I work as fast as I can and usually get photos uploaded far ahead of people's expectations, but that motivation needs to come from me, and not externally, which would sour the con shooting experiences for me in particular.

But if someone wanted me to make time for them ahead of time before showing up at a convention, I might considier taking a deposit, paypal me $20, and if they don't show up within reason at the agreed upon time and place, I pocket the $20, but if they show up for the appointment, I give back their $20 and we shoot for free. Fair is fair. "Con" time is valuable, you make me miss other opportunities at a con due to waiting on you, there goes your deposit. :D I hate shooting on a "schedule" at cons with the clock ticking down as you go from person(s) to person(s) in blocked off time periods for "paid" shoots. To me, it's just less fun taking photos in that format.

That's just me, YMMV.

But saying all that, I have absolutely no problems with togs who charge, they get the money, and all the follow-up headaches that go along with such a business model at conventions. Most make it work, but are constrained (as outlined in this thread) by such a decision, and that has to be fine for them, or they need to change it up, take less clients and allot some time for their own shooting eye.

#12 Sufida on 5 years ago

Alrighty.

Going to touch on a few points here and drop a couple of pipe bombs on the way.

[QUOTE=nathancarter;4826700]
I don't want to turn into that snooty guy that only shoots the people that spent thousands on their costume, or only shoots the girls with tiny costumes and giant assets. I don't want to be the guy that tells the average just-for-fun cosplayer to buzz off, that they're not worth my time.
[/QUOTE]

That is pretty much what I try to avoid being perceived as. Generally I am [i]open to the idea[/i] of working with something that may not immediately connect with me. However nowadays I ask for some background information such as previous work so I can get an idea of what the person is all about. You don't have to be known or great to work with me, but you gotta have a little personality.

There are people who promise free shoots, but to be honest not all - but a good amount of them are mostly into that kind of subject or whatever they are solely interested in. I can respect that when they are upfront about it. Not so much when people over-pride on doing it for free and bashing anybody who does not. I remember somebody going around saying things like 'I'll never charge teh family!" and then when you look at his work his "family" seemed to have consisted of mostly that.


[QUOTE=nathancarter;4826700]
It weeds out the people who aren't serious about making good pictures, the people who aren't committed, the people who are going to no-call-no-show. Free photography has no value; offering it for free indicates that your time and skill have no value; your "clients" will treat it as such. In the past 18 months, I've only had two "flakes" at conventions, and they were people that I agreed to shoot for free. ALL my paying customers showed up on time and were ready to shoot, or gave me enough notice that I could book a standby or take a break.
[/QUOTE]

I get an average of atleast one "buyer" canceling prior or on site at the convention per convention. So while you may have had some luck, I am going to debunk that right now as it not always being true for everybody, this can also be said from others I have known to offer paid shoots.

Also I agree with Access that there is value that is not limited to money. When you enter a shoot you have the ability to [i]potentially[/i] express your creativity and raise your skills. The person in front of the camera gets something that will help promote them and usually will benefit them more than you. When you work in the creative field you usually have to do things for free including what interests you because you cannot acquire the funding or it becomes your only way to achieve funding for other things. There is never really a guarantee for anything, just credibility which is something you have to build.

There are people who value me and I acknowledge that. They reap the benefits whether they pay me or not. Then there are people who do not value me and I just don't even bother with them. This is where you also play a part in the value you have. If you cancelled on me in the past pay-or-not, don't expect to be working with me again. If you rush, insult or harass me.. GOODBYE.

The problem is that sometimes people seem to forget this is usually [b] you doing them a favor[/b] and [i]not[/i] them doing a favor for you. I don't care how known or good you are.


[QUOTE=Patcave;4827537]
Personally, my "time" is worth more than the $xx/hour or half-hour I'd make/take from a paid shoot because after factoring in the time I'd spend in post-processing, client-handling, etc. I'm probably working for less than minimum wage in the first place. Not too many working photograpers are going to make a bonanza at shoots as a business model at conventions without sacrificing time after the con making their clients happy. [/QUOTE]

Understandably there are times where you have to be a business man and an artist. However I personally do this because [b]I am a fan[/b] whether I charged or not. It is something I enjoy and helps me get better at things outside of photography. I don't consider myself a professional even though I acknowledge my quality as being professional. Charging is just a way to open up more possibilities for some people.

#13 figment1986 on 5 years ago

Honestly, I had a friend figure out how much time and money im worth... and it's funny cause even armature, I spend a lot more time editing a photo than people realize at times (well i used to) and could easily charge $50 for a shoot for the originals. per shoot. makes me wonder would anyone ever pay me for my photos...

#14 VisualRemix on 5 years ago

Let me make it simple for you.

You're a professional when you get paid. Whether you are good or not, is a different story.

That being said, I usually offer cosplay photography as a free service because the cosplay scene is a hobby for me and I understand that most cosplayers have spent enough time and money on their Cosplays already and I respect that . I don't feel the need to charge cosplayers, even though my camera body is well over $3,000 and a single lens can cost over $1000. It is a scene to have fun, the moment I try to profit, it becomes an uneccesary hassle and can ruin my experience.

#15 nathancarter on 5 years ago

[QUOTE=figment1986;4827880] could easily charge $50 for a shoot for the originals. per shoot. [/QUOTE]

The interesting thing about charging: You can ask for whatever amount you want, but actually getting someone to pay your asking price - there's the rub.

[QUOTE=VisualRemix;4827967]That being said, I usually offer cosplay photography as a free service because the cosplay scene is a hobby for me and I understand that most cosplayers have spent enough time and money on their Cosplays already and I respect that . I don't feel the need to charge cosplayers, even though my camera body is well over $3,000 and a single lens can cost over $1000. It is a scene to have fun, the moment I try to profit, it becomes an uneccesary hassle and can ruin my experience.[/QUOTE]

Not trying to provoke, but just continuing the discussion: Are you selective in your choice of subjects, or do you shoot anyone and everyone that comes along, regardless of how much time & money they've spent on their cosplay? Do you only shoot subjects that you find interesting or beautiful, that measure up to a particular standard?

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