Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hard work for little reward

I do not get paid for the photographs I take here in Bigastro, nor do I get paid for the photographs that I post on Flickr that are used regularly on various websites and in publications.  Actually I would not want payment because that would put pressure upon me to produce a higher quality of work. My reward comes from the pleasure that my photos give to people.

For those that rely upon income from their work, things are different and there is a common misconception that photographers are well paid. For example, I was reading an article about wedding photographers that said many now charge around £1,000 and more if the couple require an album. That might seem a lot for what most would think is just a few hours work on the day. However, you have to factor in expenses, insurance, travel, equipment costs and repairs. You also have to take account of the many hours that are needed after the event to process the images.
Most photographers will tell you that for every hour spent taking their photos, they have two to three hours in front of the computer getting them right. The advent of digital cameras was both a curse and a blessing. The main issue with them is that digital sensors do not see the world as we see it. Apart from colour balance, digital cameras have a much narrower dynamic range than our eyes. In bright light, shadows turn to black and highlights get bleached out. There are ways to improve matters for the finished result but they do take time and skill.

At a wedding, the main concern is to get the colour balance perfect. After all, no bride wants to see her white dress showing up with a coloured tinge and none of the guests want to see their faces looking as though they have a dose of palsy. Even the colour of daylight can vary from cold to warm during the day according to weather and time.

Take some shots indoors where there is artificial light and things get a whole lot worse. You might imagine that the sophisticated technology in modern cameras can adjust for these changes but in truth it can only go so far and if the light is mixed then the situation becomes very tricky indeed.

So, apart from those who take weddings, how much do photographers earn?  A few examples good and bad.

  • In 2014, the Sunday Times newspaper paid £200 for a portrait assignment to include 1/2 day shooting and 1/2 day post production. They took 2 weeks or less to pay up.

  • In the same year, the Abaca Press ( a French news agency) paid 0.50 euros per picture and took 3 months to pay up.

  • A British University paid a photographer £6.30 per hour to take event photos at a conference. They took took 3 months to settle the account.

  • On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal in America paid $650 for assignments last year and the BBC paid £499 for 5 minutes work or 15-25 prints for its website.

  • As one witty person has said, “in Alaska exposure is what you die of.  Same with photography.”

1 comment:

Pete said...

Interesting. I'd not thought of photographers being paid by the hour, but I'm sure it must happen a lot.