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jenlk1207's avatar

I'm a photographer in Southern California, how much should I charge for media (newspapers, magazines, etc.) freelance work?

Asked by jenlk1207 (440points) March 22nd, 2010

I’m 26, have about 13 years experience in photography, 3 years expierence in the newspaper business as the only staff photographer on the team, and have won multiple awards with my sports photos. I want to focus more on my freelance work now for magazines and newspapers, instead of being tied down to one newspaper, but I don’t know what to charge. Does anyone have any ideas? I’d appreciate any views.

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5 Answers

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Depends on the gig and usage. PR is very competitive and everyone thinks they can do it. Plus, most clients have their own super digi cam that is good for the home grown press release.

$75—$125/hr for PR if you are lucky.

Magazine work depends greatly upon the circulation of the rag.
A fashion spread for Vogue 10 pages is worth $30,000 plus expenses. The same fashion spread for a City Magazine will bring $2,000 expenses included, if you’re lucky.

The best quick and dirty cash I’ve found in this economy is attracting web site photo upgrades for Doctors, Lawyers, and all the peripheral businesses they deal with. Group shots, headshots of staff, and working operations gets about $1,500 per day. Upload the proofs and charge additional $25. each for retouched finished selects. It’s all done on the web so no hard product is produced… which means no tax, it’s all a service.

Commercial advertising has taken a big hit. Assuming you have a studio to shoot product or fashion, you might get $1,500 per day plus expense as an unknown. $3,500 per day if you are established with a book. $800 or so per day for low rent small clients. It all depends on your book and if you have a specialty like jewelry or bridal. Those bring in good cash.

Currently, photos of people using small electronics are very popular for portfolios and clients. People with product, in a voyeuristic style… nothing posed. $20,000 for a week with full buyout is fairly safe if they like your stuff. Probably need a rep to get that work, so you’ll have to split it.

Little league team sports brings in about $150 per team. 20 teams a day is nothing to sneeze at. Lots of production though. Find a good lab. Or you could do action shots, print everything up as 4×6 and put them in a book for parents to purchase. $5 per image or 5 or more for $25. Make sure to get 10–15 decent shots of each kid and all the parents will buy the $25 deal… X 10 parents… $250 per game… X2 teams… $500 per game… 5 games on a Saturday… $2,500 per Saturday… X2 with Sunday… = $5,000 per weekend.

Good luck!

theichibun's avatar

Newspapers and magazines already have people working for them. Plus they can pull from the AP and/or Getty files in most cases. Which isn’t to say that you won’t be able to work for them too, just that they’ve already got a supply so you’ll either have to be really really good (which I’m not saying isn’t true, I just don’t have any examples to make an opinion), and you’ll have to be somewhat comparable to what they’re already paying other people.

njnyjobs's avatar

What kind of “Freelance” work are you talking about? Is it paparazzi style work? If so, depending on the celeb and the awkwardness of the subject, it could be in the thousands. especially if it’s exclusive, then it could go up in the 10’s of thousands.

However, if it were to cover certain beats, then you can negotiate with the editor on a per assignment basis. Figure about $60–75/hour as a benchmark plus certain allowable expenses like mileage, parking, meal…

jenlk1207's avatar

This is a small town weekly newspaper, circulation of about 4,200. I’ve recently quit as the staff photographer, and have gone out into freelancing and working another job unrelated to the field. The newspaper now wants me to freelance for them, and I don’t want to be taken advantage of anymore. So by freelancing I’m trying to come up with a fair price for them using my photos. Some would be pre-scheduled events, others would be spot news. Any suggestions on what I should take to the table with the pricing of the use of my photos? or if I should charge by the event? or by the day? I’m not really sure where to go from here. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Offer them a retainer deal for a grand per month. Sign a one year contract and include limited usage rights with running the photos one time in print. This should cover their needs and put an extra G in your pocket per month for stringer services.

Charge extra for re-runs on web or ads. Never sell them complete ownership.

However, in this economy, I’m surprised they don’t have a load of photographers grovelling at their doorstep to take your position. You’re one Craigslist ad away from being permanently replaced.

That’s why you need your retainer in contract form.

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