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Charging Your Gear

November 9, 2013

I came across a blog post recently where the author was explaining why photographers charge as much as they do. I’d written a similar post earlier (never published, though) but one of the points in this one caught my eye.

The photographer / author in question listed out various costs associated with the photography equipment. Cameras, lenses, bags, memory cards, laptops / desktops, software, flash, batteries etc. Though photography has become accessibly to many in the digital age, being a professional photographer still involves a lot of money. 

Now, there are various reasons to pay a certain amount for a photographer, but it made me wonder if a photographer’s gear is a reason to charge more? 

Every profession requires a set of equipment. A printer, for instance, invests crores into the machines. A mechanic invests millions into a garage. But if they charges us more than what their skills were simply because of the amount of money invested in the equipment, we would definitely throw a tantrum. 

I often get annoyed when potential clients ask me a list of my equipment I’d be using. Some of them are “amateur” photographers and are disappointed that I use the same camera that they own. By that simple factor, they expect my skill level to be the same as their own, though they marvel how I’ve taken photographs they would never be able to. Most of them do not understand that it is the time, experience and skill they are paying for and not the equipment. 

I choose my equipment for a shoot when I begin planning for it. I sketch out a rough draft immediately after I’m booked for a shoot. I choose my equipment anywhere from a week to a couple of days before the shoot. In this period, I could decide to go for a different camera, or perhaps even own a new camera. The lenses again are a matter of choice, based on the location, light and event. A mere list of “this is what I’ll probably be using” will never give the client an idea of the whys and whats, and I’ll probably never take the time to explain all of it, even if they have the patience to read through all of it. 

Actually, I’m getting a little tired of justifying costs and explaining things to people, either on the phone or via email. Most of the people who contact you are not professional enough to say “No thanks” if they’ve decided to work with someone else. The famous Indian “if we haven’t called you, we’ve gone with someone else” silence is what you face. 

I would have thought this happens only to photographers, but I’ve seen this happen even as a PR professional. You get an enquiry, you send them a proposal or costs and if it isn’t suitable, they just don’t bother mailing you back or calling you back to say “No, Thank You.” If you don’t work out for them, you aren’t worth the extra minute it would take to say that. 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Annie permalink
    November 11, 2013 10:58 am

    I completely get what you mean. This is my third year as an active professional photographer and now I have somehow learnt how to deal with such clients / people or maybe I have simply become more tolerant. I do take one friendly follow up from my clients via email and then I just let go of them.

    As for gear, I still don’t own a full frame camera but I don’t think that effects my work in any way. People here have memorized one name: Canon Mark D 2/3. They think that if I don’t own that then I am just not up to the mark. I have stopped debating with people and simply show them portfolio and leave it up to them whether or not hire me. Pointless to explain to them.

    • November 12, 2013 11:18 am

      That’s pretty much the same situation here… I rent a full frame camera for some shoots, but that’s only when I require a little better processor and sensors for bad lighting etc. But unfortunately, people think pricing depends on the equipment you own

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