Q&A – About Study, Yearly Salary and Challenges
I receive a lot of emails thanks to this blog, and most of these emails are from other (starting) photographers or students who would like to know more about my job as a fashion photographer. I received this email from Cheyanne, she is currently enrolled in a photo class in high school and wanted to ask me a few questions. I asked her if I could share them on my blog as well and she agreed. Here we go!
What is the amount of education required for your profession? (Degree, years of study, courses taken)
I think it’s good to have a degree in photography, but nobody asked me what kind of study I did before they book me as their photographer. Because the client will look at your portfolio and if they like what they see, they don’t care that much about your degree. The good thing about a photography study is that you can practice your skills everyday and talk about photography techniques with your classmates and teachers. I studied 4 years at the Art Academy in Rotterdam and right before my graduation I registered my company name so I could officially work for clients. I hear a lot of stories about photography students who already know that they don’t want to be a full time photographer and a lot of students will fail during these years, but I think that is a good thing, because it’s very hard to work as a freelance photographer in the beginning. You have to be sure that you want to go for it and invest a lot of money and time in the start of your career. In my early years I invested almost all my earned money into my business, and this is something that I’m still happy with. Good equipment makes the work more fun and easy to do. And you will feel more secure during a shoot if you know that you can trust the quality of your gear.
What is your yearly salary?
Of course I can’t tell you the exact numbers, but this also something that will grow during the years. When you just start in photography, you probably don’t have very expensive equipment yet and you are not very experienced, so you start working for a small fee that is fair enough for you and the client. When you are more experienced and when you can invest in more professional equipment you can earn a good or even a very good yearly salary. But you have to keep in mind that when you work as a freelancer, you have to save a lot of money. Not only for your business, taxes etc, but also for your personal life and things you don’t think about now like your retirement or what if you get sick and you are not able to work.. No work means no money.
This is something that you have to learn and soon you will figure out how much you are worth as a photographer. And some people or clients just ask: what do ask for a shoot? Or what is your price per hour? But without any information I don’t have a standard price. I have to know where to photos are getting published, what about the rights of the photos, what kind of equipment do I need, how many days do I need for the editing, do I need to hire an assistant etc. With all this information I can create the right price, both for the clients as myself as the photographer.
What are some challenges you face?
You never know how many assignments you will have next month. Some shoots are already planned weeks before, but most of the time they are very last minute. With other words, you also don’t know how much money you will earn. This can be a little hard sometimes. But when you talk with other freelancers, the most of them will experience the same, so you are not alone in this. I’m thinking about other challenges I might have, but I can’t think of another one…
What kind of equipment do you need or use daily?
A computer screen (EIZO CS2420), a laptop (Macbook Pro Touch 2017), Wacom tablet for Photoshop (Wacom Intuos Pro Large), a phone (iPhone 8 Plus), a camera bag (Think Tank Airport Essentials) a daily camera (Olympus PEN 9 or OMD EM1 + lenses), a professional camera (Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + lenses) and my studio lights, but I don’t use them on a daily basis.
What is your daily/ weekly schedule like?
Everyday is different, but I start the day with checking my email and posting on Instagram. A lot of my clients found me on Instagram, so I invest quite a lot of time in this app. Then I look in my agenda if I have time this month to create portfolio (non-paid) work with a creative team. I create a mood board and write emails to the team members and model agency. Some days I have to visit new locations to find interesting places and sometimes these are also interesting for the paid shoots.
I’m also looking on the web and social media for new clients and I try to get in touch with them. If I have to edit new images, I go to my studio where I can work without any disruptions. Or some days I have to check my administration, very important too.
Other days I’m preparing for a shoot, I’m looking for inspiring images and I prepare my gear, what means: charging batteries and figuring out what kind of lights and lenses I need.
During a shoot day we meet on location or in studio with the team, where we first talk about the planning for the day and make sure everybody is on the same level. Then we start with the hair and makeup and I prepare my lights, or on an outdoor location, I will search for the best spots and I already make some shots to see how the daylight is and I try some compositions with my assistent or another test model. Then we start shooting and most of the time this will take the whole day. As you can see, everyday is different, but that is what I like about this job!
I hope this answered your questions!