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| p.1 #5 · How much do you pay your second? What do they do? |
When it comes to weddings I only 2nd shoot. Though I did some 2nd shooting early in my career, it wasn't a regular thing for me until last year. I quickly realized that the offered rate of around $200-$300 wasn't enough for me for an 8-10 hour day so I started naming my price for 2nd shooting at $50 per hour. It's a rate I feel comfortable with and I think it's affordable for most wedding photographers who's rate fall into the $2500-$3500 range.
The reason why I charge that rate is
1) I think it's just about the most I can get away with. I would ideally like to charge about $75-$100 an hour. But I'm sure a lot wedding photographers would probably balk at that rate. And the only ones who would be willing to pay it are high end photographers. There are a lot more mid range photographers willing to pay that rate. I've also shot for a few inexperienced photographers where my rate was about 1/3rd of what they were charging but I think they were glad just to know there was someone with experience there so they were comfortable paying it.
2)It's the cost of doing business. I figured out once that it costs me about $130 just to show up to a wedding up to 150 miles away between dry cleaning, fuel and tolls. I also don't ask to be reimbursed for that. Only a few photographers I've worked with have added expenses without me asking. I think it's easier to add expenses to your rate than charging them separately.
3) It's psychological. If I'm only getting like $30 an hour I start to feel like I'm being taken advantage of. For some reason at $50 an hour I actually do work really hard like I'm trying to justify that value. At that rate I also don't mind hauling luggage, holding lights, parking the car or running for coffee. If they want to utilize my skill that's great, if they want me to run errands I'm fine with that too, I'm getting paid the same either way.
4) I think my experience requires that rate. Weddings are not my full time job. I've only done a little over two dozen of them. Which I think is enough to know how a wedding day goes. But I am a full time photojournalist and I've photographed hundreds of assignments. I like to market myself as a "professional 2nd shooter." When someone hires me they get someone who knows what they're doing. The benefits of "experience and portfolio images" mean nothing to me. I have experience and wedding pictures have no value to photo editors when I apply for assignments. I have no aspiration to photograph weddings so they aren't training competition and If they need I could very well shoot the whole wedding on my own. It's that piece of mind that I think justifies my rate as well.
5) Competition. For every wedding I've 2nd shot there are two dozen others willing to do it cheaper, and three dozen willing to do it for free. It doesn't matter how skilled and experienced I am, for some people it just comes down to numbers and that's a factor too.
Edited on Apr 25, 2013 at 03:39 PM · View previous versions