the cost of my work

(This is a repost, the original article was written about 12 months ago)

This is something that I have been thinking about for a while, and meaning to write about.  An event today has spurred this on in a slightly roundabout manner.

A week or so ago, I received the email every up and coming photographer dreads.  It said ‘will you shoot our wedding?  We’ll sort you out a bit of cash, or some beers or something…’

I replied, explaining politely that while I was happy to talk about this, it was unlikely.  My reasoning and explanation being as follows:

Firstly, I am not a professional wedding photographer.  A professional wedding photographer would charge upwards of £600 for a wedding for a very basic package, and while not being a professional wedding photographer I would perhaps be seen as cheeky charging that amount, I still have costs.  Covering an event such as this would take up at least 2 days of my time – Maybe more.  Say I would try and produce a set of 200 images, and spend 5 to10 minutes making each one look great.  This is between 16 to 30 or so hours of editing.  Even at minimum wage that would be over £200. Plus £60 for the time taken to shoot. And this is more skilled than a minimum wage job. There is the cost of travel, batteries and so on as well as the costs I have in maintaining equipment running my website etc.  This becomes more than a ‘bit of cash or a few beers’.

The second is perhaps more important. I am not insured as a professional wedding photographer. Whilst I have some limited public liability insurance, this does not cover commercial activities, and I am not insured for the potential cost of re-staging the event if anything goes wrong and I cannot produce the goods.

The response in interesting-  ‘We werent wanting many dun. Just few of ceramony and the usual outside, nt many just a few profesional ones’ [sic].  This sounds very much like wanting professional service without the price tag, doesn’t it?.

Now today, this same person rounded on me, calling me arrogant and rude.  Now actually that’s quite a compliment, I can be very arrogant, I admit it.  This has not won me many fans at times but when you are as awesome and handsome and talented and intelligent as me it is hard not to be… …anyway, I digress.

This was supposedly at some other triviality that I had caused, actually trying to help with something.  But I wonder how much this was sour grapes at not getting £600 of work for a few beers…

I actually do give away quite a lot of my time and talent. Oops, I said ‘talent’ and am therefore being arrogant again. Be this for community events, or shooting club nights for just a guest list. the fact of this is I don’t do it for free, I do it because someone benefits.  Either a charity I feel aligned to, or me!  Club photography, for example, is something I enjoy, and would like to do more of, and doing it gets me some good nights out for free.  More people then invite me out, I get exposure, and it is good all round.  This is different from trying to book me to provide a service for nothing…

To get that exposure, I need to put my images online. For a while, I chose to keep them off Facebook, and left them solely on flickr, on the grounds that I can control who can download full size versions.  However, I found that some people were taking smaller images from flickr and uploading them to their own facebook, with no attribution at all and not so much as a ‘by your leave’.  Now I wonder if people know the meaning of the word ‘copyright’ which adorns my flickr account. I think this infringes it really. But of course, if I say so too vociferously, I am made to feel like I am being a nob.

So, I have started to put them on facebook. Albeit in low quality, small, watermarked versions, which does not do any justice to my work. At least then people can tag them and use them and it will normally link back to me.  Some people still seem to download them and upload them to their own albums though, even though i make these albums public.

I just don’t understand it, especially as I make clear that I will happily send copies to people if they want them and are willing to attribute me correctly.

John Mueller, in this post on petapixel addresses this in quite an interesting manner, looking at the cost of the time, the equipment, the travel and so on to come up with an amount that it would cost someone to re-create the image from scratch…

So, (and I hope he will allow my usage of the method, or this could get very embarrassing), I could price this picture as follows:

Canon EOS 1000D – £399 – I think this was about the price when the model stopped being the current one, obviously it is replaced with the 1100D now…
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 – £550 – this is what i paid for my copy.
Jessops afd-360c – £79 – got of lightly here, the flashgun is quite a cheap one.
Kood UV filter – £10 – again, very light. I tend to use a cheap filter for protection in clubs as they get covered in smoke and crap very fast.
Batteries – £1.99  – for the flash, from Aldi.
Taxis to and from the venue – £11
Refreshments while working  – £20  – beer basically. ok, I might be stretching it a bit now…

Total: £1070.99

I wonder what the girl on the left (who did download this and put it on her page) would say to receiving the bill?


I guess small scale facebook pilfering is to some extent just too difficult to police, but I will be taking a look at the DJs I have sent stuff to, to make sure they are keeping their side of the bargain… after all, you wouldn’t like it if i passed off your mixes as my own…

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