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Offered my first paying photo shoot, exciting and many questions.....

Rising Star

So I was out at a city event shooting photos for fun for a band that was performing and one city employee asked me to share those photos with him.It was outside, a community event with kid activities, etc...

I did share the flickr album with them and they loved it, so did the band too.


As a result I just got an email from the city asking how much I would charge to shoot their Christmas event in Dec. It would include main tree lighting event, animated lights, fireworks, school choirs performing, ice carvers, snow hills, snow man building, etc..... 4+ hours.......


From what I have read online, most say charge a flat rate and not an hourly rate.

Again, this will be my first paid event, not sure what to charge. It will be all digital, no printed images from me (not set up for that).

I want to be sensitive to photography industry......


Any guidance or thoughts?


Thank you,




On rates, I have no advice.  Work out ahead of time, how many photos you will turn over to them, though.


One wise guy around here always says to carry a backup camera on a critical shoot.  I suppose that would hold true for your lenses, too.  Since it will be cold, winter weather, plan for bad weather, and protect your gear acccordingly.  Battery life suffers dramatically in cold weather, too.

"The right mouse button is your friend."


Congrats, I suppose :).  I can't help you with rate as I've never shot for money.  I've been approached many times to shoot events and weddings for money but chickened out every time.  I'll be an amateur forever and that's just fine with me :).


One advice would be to be assertive in setting things up, posing people and never appear nervous or not knowing what to do.  People feel a whole lot better if they think the photog knows what he's doing.

Diverhank's photos on Flickr


"Any guidance or thoughts?"


Yes, I do.  Smiley Surprised

For events like the one you described an hourly fee is usually best.  Just before I retired (almost 14 years ago now!) I charged $50 per hour. Events like this can run long and sometime, albeit rarely, short.  So you need a minimum fee, too, for instance two hours or a $100 bucks in this case.  I have done 4 hour events that turned into 6 hour events.  I have done them that turned into 5 minute events. This is what makes the flat rate a bad idea. You charge to the next half hour. Four hours and 20 minutes equals 4.5 hours.


The really big question and don't take it lightly.

Are you sure you are ready for the pressure?  If you take a job where people are depending on you and expecting you to produce, you must. Excuses like it was too dark or too cold, I had a flat tire on the way, etc, don't cut it.


What gear do you have? Two cameras is a real good idea. Almost mandatory. Extra batteries?  Flash? Extra SD cards (use several small capacity ones, 8GB). Never use a single large SD card. Anything that can fail will fail.


After you are through with the shoot, what about post?  You need to set a fee for this too. A four hour shoot means about 2 days of post. How will the the photos be delivered and when?  For this type shoot I provide a DVD. Collect the minimum fee before hand and collect the rest when you deliver the DVD.  Lastly for get everything in writing.  Exactly what is expected from everybody.


Go shoot Christmas! Smiley Happy

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

One thing I'd add to Ernie's very sound advice is to find out whether your City has a Public Information Officer and open a dialogue with him/her. It should help you gauge the City's expectations and find out how they've handled similar arrangements in the past.


BTW, just as Ernie's advice is based on experience, so is mine. I've just retired from a 21-year stint with a medium-sized City government (population 100,000+), and for the past eight years or so my responsibilities have included taking pictures for the City. During that time I often worked closely with our PIO, and we were a big help to each other.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

Rising Star

Great advice everyone, thank you.


I have been keeping in contact with the City's special events & marketing Planner who hired me.

I was hired at a flat rate for both days.


It's a total of 2 days, first day it is with children with senosory disorders 6-8 pm, basically as dry run for the following day.

The second day (5:30-9:30pm) it's with the kids from the whole community.


He told me the type of pictures they want for the second day, with elected officials (mayor, councilmen, etc....) the kids having fun, choirs singing, ice carvers, tree lighting and fireworks, Santa, snow hill sledding, train rides, etc..


So this is the gist of it.......




"So this is the gist of it......."


Sounds like you need a second shooter.  It's going to be tough being everywhere.

This is how you learn.  Soon you will know what to do and what not to do.

Good luck to you.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!
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