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This blogpost is for the most basic of beginners, so feel free to skip the beginning portion of this post if you’re an intermediate photographer.
First and foremost, here are some lingo:
Test: This means to shoot for free in exchange for photos.
Book: This is your portfolio or website. Back in the day before digital, photographers would have to print out their work and literally bind it in a book so thats why they call it a book.
MUA: Shorthand for makeup artist.
Mood board: This is a short series of images you need to send over to the agent and team so everyone is on the same page about what the shoot will be about. Read more about mood boards here.
Call Sheet: This is a 1 page doc you need to send everyone on the team after the shoot is confirmed that contains info about the date, time, address, schedule and any other notes and reminders to the model and team.
If you’re an amateur photographer without a book whatsoever, these are the following steps I would recommend to get your book to a place where you can test with models. Steps 1 and 2 are for super basic beginners so feel free to skip ahead if you already have a portfolio and you’re just wondering how to get into the modeling testing world.
Shoot your really attractive friends and family. If you don’t have a portfolio, it would be really hard to reach out to agencies so you have to build up to it with family and friends. Block out time on the weekends and just get familiar with posing and directing!
Reach out to really attractive strangers (no, seriously) I actually did this in a coffee shop once. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your network and just offer to shoot! If you’re still new to photography and looking to expand your book, I would definitely recommend this. Instagram has made it SO easy to reach out to attractive strangers. Just slide into their DMs. (lol)
Cold email agencies and ask them if they have new models (new faces) you can test with. Here is a sample of an email you can send:
“Hi there, I’m a photographer based in Los Angeles looking to build my book. You can find my portfolio here (Insert link). Are there any new faces in your agency that I can test with? Looking forward to hearing your response. Thank you!”
I always like to include my website link within the body message link because you don’t want to assume they’ll look for your portfolio in your signature. I like to make things as easy for agents as possible because they’re probably going through hundreds of emails from photographers asking for tests every day. Reaching out to agencies to test with is a numbers game, so be sure to reach out to a few different agencies— one is bound to say yes. Comment below if you have any other questions!
I know this is still a few weeks early butttt I’m already in 2019 mode. So here are my tips on how to always be prepared for a shoot.
Visualize it. In general, I hate surprises. Believe it or not, I’m a very risk adverse person. I always like to know what’s coming so I can be prepared. The best advice I ever got from my photography teacher (Steve Anderson) was to visualize your shoot— envision all the steps of setting up, going through the shots, all the locations, so that when you’re actually shooting that day, it would actually be your second time going through the day. Don’t underestimate the power of visualization. Visualizing your shoot for the next day could also bring up equipment that you might have otherwise forgot to pack, which is usually what happens to me. I’m also super neurotic so visualizing also helps gives me a peace of mind to know that I’m 100% prepared and have all my bases covered. I usually shoot in my studio so I never have to location scout and I’m already familiar with all the lighting and equipment in the space, but if you’re shooting in a new location, it couldn’t help to scout the location before hand. If you can’t scout beforehand, then show up extra early! Which brings me to my next point …
Be early. I like to show up early (usually 30 mins before call time) and have everything set up before the clients get to my studio. There’s usually a designated set up time for photographers on the call sheet, but I like to show up early and set up so I can use that time to network and get to know the team better. (Or just relax and drink coffee before the day starts.) The worst thing is if the client is waiting on you to get set up while everyone else is ready. You also seem more professional and put together if everything is prepped and ready to go (even if you’re nervous on the inside.)
Do your homework. A photographer’s job is not just to take pictures on the day of. A photographer’s job actually begins weeks before the shoot. Always ask your client for a shot list and mood board. I hate shooting without one because you just have no idea what you’re going to be shooting on set—which brings me back to my “I hate surprises” bit. Familiarize yourself with the shot list so you know exactly what you’re going to be doing on set. Follow the list on set so you’re on track of shooting all the looks and you don’t run over time.
When clients shoot with me, one of the things they always tell me is how fast I am. I think I’m fast because I do little things like visualize the shoot, show up early, and I know what I’m shooting when I’m on set. These little things help me to always be prepared for my shoots. What do you do that help you prepare for a shoot? Share with me in the comments below!
Hey guys. It’s almost the end of 2018 and in this year I posted a handful of times enough to count on my fingers. Rosalie Agency has been keeping me busy and this year has really gone by in a blink of an eye. I closed Rosalie Agency for a 2-month vacation and now I’m taking a break to envision and plan for 2019. The first month was a lot of traveling and family time. I also got engaged! Now that I’m in my second month, I’m back in my office in LA planning out content for next year.
I thought it would be fun to finally start posting youtube videos. I’ve wanted to have a youtube channel since I was 18 when I first discovered Kevjumba and Nigahiga. I had a story to tell too and I was attracted to Youtube as a platform, but I always found a reason not to. I was either too fat, or I needed the perfect wall and equipment. Whatever the reason was, I always found a reason not to. Even when I finally had the nice wall and equipment, I still found a reason not to. Rosalie Agency was too busy.
Well, I think I finally ran out of excuses. I’m sorry it took me this long, but maybe now is finally the right timing. So without further ado… stay tuned to all the new updates this year!
& watch this video on how to edit a photo on Lightroom:
Since so many of you guys requested a pricing post.. here are my 2 cents on pricing!
Should you shoot for free?
The best answer came from my photography instructor-- between shooting for free or for trade, which one do you think is more valuable? His answer? Shooting for free, because now you've built a relationship for when you need something. (For this reason, sometimes I'd prefer to shoot for free than a super low rate that's not worth it.) Trade is good too but honestly I think some photographers are too reserved when it comes to shooting for free. I shot for free and for discounted rates SO much when I was first starting out! If I hadn't shot for free in the beginning I daresay I wouldn't be where I am today. And although it was super hard in the beginning to shoot for free when I wasn't making money, it helped me build connections and network. The key thing is not to be short sighted. Although this client is not paying, she could refer you to other high paying clients. So my answer? Depends on if you're booking, depends on who they are, depends on what the project is.
But I wouldn't say it's an immediate no!
How do you figure out your pricing?
I've been a freelancer for almost 3 years now and in the beginning it took a lot of trial and error. I've been on both spectrums of undercharging and overcharging. Eventually I found a price point where my clients was happy paying, and the clients who aren't aren't my target clients. The thing about photography is that there are no set prices. You can throw out a number and your client can either meet you halfway or you "can work within their budget."
One way that the internet recommends to do this is work backwards-- how much annual income do you want to make and figure out how many hours a week to your hourly rate.
So for example, you want to make $60,000 a year.
Divide that by 12 months in a year is $5000/month. Divide that by 80 shooting hours a month (20 hours a week, because assume half your time would be spent editing), then your hourly rate is around $63/hr.
I don't love this model because first of all, it doesn't take into account of taxes. As a freelancer you have to pay your own taxes, so if you bring in 5k/month, at least 20% of that will get taken away for taxes. It also doesn't take into account of editing time.
Another way photographers price is arbitrarily assign a few hundred to the project, and say "I'll charge you $300 for 2 hours of shooting and this includes 15 photos."
Great-- but what is your hourly shooting rate? What if they want to add one more hour and 10 more photos? Then it becomes fuzzy because you don't have an exact breakdown.
To make it simple for you guys, this is what I do.
Ask yourself, what is your ideal hourly rate?
Now add $20 more on top of that. (Because if you ask a creative that question, chances are they'll underprice themselves because that's generally how creatives work. They'll say, I want to make $30/hr-- but really, they can charge $50/hr.)
Now that's your shooting hourly rate.
Now figure out how long it takes you to edit a photo within that one hour, and that's your price per photo. If it takes you 10 minutes to edit one photo, then your rate is $5/photo. One tip I have for this is, the cheaper the price per photo, the more photos clients will buy from you. So if you charge $50/photo, someone might buy just 2 photos. But if you charge $5/photo, then they'll keep coming to you and buying in quantity. Think of this like going to the grocery store LOL. If you pay for something expensive once, you'll never go back. But if it's cheap, you'll go back and get more.
So instead of saying I'll charge $300 and this includes 15 photos, first ask them how many horus they want to shoot and how many photos they need. Then send them a sample breakdown:
Shooting 3 hour x $50/hr = $150
30 Edited photos x $5/photo = $150
= $300 total
So now, when they want to add an hour and 10 photos, it'll look like this:
Shooting 4 hour x $50/hr = $200
40 Edited photos x $5/photo = $200
= $400 total
If they want a full day with 100 photos, then it'll look like this:
Shooting 8 hour x $50/hr = $400
100 Edited photos x $5/photo = $500
= $900 total
And these numbers are yours to tweak around. If you decide you want to make $75/hr and charge $10/photo, it'll look like this:
Shooting 8 hour x $75/hr = $600
100 Edited photos x $10/photo = $1,000
= $1,600 total
Bam. That's how you charge.
Now if you want to take that number and figure out how much you make in a year, can we do that. Let's say you book 3 projects a month at your $1600 full day rate. That's $4800 a month x 12 = $57,600 a year. Now that's very close to 60k annual income. And that's just shooting 3 times a month! That's an example of how lucrative photography can be if you price properly.
One note I do have-- if you don't have at least a decent camera (full frame) and decent laptop, don't charge clients over $50/hr. That's just rude lol. Don't charge clients professional prices if you're still shooting with a kit lens!
How do you find your pricing compared to other photographers?
Photographers don't talk to each other about pricing. And we're all at different experience levels with different gear, that's what makes it so hard to price properly within the photographer community. For example, if a guy lives at home with his mom and doesn't pay rent-- then he'll probably charge less than someone who has to worry about making rent every month. Or if he has a full time job and shoots for fun, he probably won't charge much at all. (And trust me, there are a lot of these guys/girls.) There have been plenty of situations where a client would rather pay someone who is willing to do it for half price. But the key thing here is that cheap clients get what they pay for.
Have confidence in what you're worth and what you bring to the table. That's why in my pricing model, I didn't suggest you look up the average income of a photographer and price off of that. I asked what YOU want to make per hour. Every photographer is different and their eye is different. If you want to charge $100/hr (assuming you have all the gear and proper lenses), then charge $100/hr. If you're turning more people away than you're taking on jobs, then it must mean you're too expensive for your current clientele and you can lower it to $80 for now and work your way towards $100 with clients that have a bigger budget. But don't compare! Have confidence and find your niche within your clients. And be good to your clients. I don't raise my prices every year on my clients. I keep them at the rate they started with me at because I value their business.
What about price packages?
A lot of clients ask me about packages so I found it really helpful to create a document that details out that formula I shared with you guys earlier in this post. You can price it out at different hourly packages so they have a clear idea.
Package 1: 2 hour shoot (2 hr booking minimum)
Shooting 2 hour x $75/hr = $150
30 Edited photos x $10/photo = $300
= $450 total
Package 2: 4 hour shoot (half day)
Shooting 4 hour x $75/hr = $300
50 Edited photos x $10/photo = $500
= $800 total
Package 3: 8 hour shoot (full day)
Shooting 8 hour x $75/hr = $600
100 Edited photos x $10/photo = $1,000
= $1,600 total
When do I raise my prices?
Like I said earlier, I don't raise my prices on my current clients. But of course, if you have clients that are paying you a low rate because you started working together years ago but now your prices changed a lot, then I would have an honest conversation with them about working out a new arrangement that works for both of you.
However with new clients, I recommend raising your prices every January on the new year and committing to that for the rest of the year. So if you made $50/hr last year, maybe raise it to $75/hr this year and don't raise it again until the next year. That way you only need to update your price sheet once a year and it's way less confusing logistically.
How do I price for different photography jobs?
When you get more experienced in the field, you typically wouldn't need to answer this question. For example, I don't ever shoot weddings or baby photography. And if I get asked to shoot something totally random, I'll either "work within their budget" (Gas money is still money, people.) if I have the time and it's worth it, or I'll just be upfront and say I'm not an event photographer but this is my rate.
How do you count the price for time you take to prepare, travel to the location... etc?
If you're spending hours and hours planning for a shoot, you can charge for a creative production fee (which would be either the same rate as your hourly rate.) But to be perfectly honest, I'm pretty lax about pricing out everything to the dime. I did a campaign shoot recently where my team and I spent 20 hours creating a shot list broken down by the minute and I didn't bill the client because they were already paying me a day rate and I just wanted the shoot to look amazing. So pick and choose your battle kiddies.
As for travel to location, I've billed clients before for parking if I need to pay for parking, but it also depends on the client. (At the end of the day is $10 really that big of a deal if they're paying you for a big job?) If I were to travel from LA to Palm Springs, I would charge my hourly for the time it took me to get there and for gas. (Miles traveled x gas price + hourly rate.)
How do you charge when you travel with the client?
When a client pays you to travel with them, at the minimum they should cover everything from food & travel expenses (uber) to hotel and flights. Then from there, I just charge for the hours I shot while traveling with them + price per photo. I love traveling so when I get to go to cool places I just take traveling as a loss in exchange for getting to go somewhere super cool. (Because let's face it, you can make more at home working than traveling. I also can't answer emails and coordinate with clients as much as if I was back in my office.)
What do I do when a client asks for raw photos? Do I charge?
Yes! The best advice I got was to charge a processing fee for raw images. These are BIG files you have to send over or hand over to the client. Typically when a client books you, they're paying you for your edited photos and that's how you make money -- so if they ask for raws too, then you need to charge at least a processing fee. (I recommend charging something small, like $1/photo lol. Typically when clients ask for raws, it's usually 300-1000 raw images so something small like $1/photo is easy to calculate.)
That being said, I've personally never charged a client for a processing fee for raw images because I end up getting along with the client and I just don't want to go through the hassle of tacking on an additional charge. I'm the type that's firm on my hourly rate-- but once I take on a client, I try to be very accommodating. Like I said, pick and choose your battles.
I don't typically get clients now that ask for raw files-- people come to me for the full package, shooting and post production. What are they going to do with 10 extra options of the same pose that's unedited?
What about paying for usage?
I've never had a client ask about usage, and generally when they ask me about usage I just shrug and let them have the rights to the photos forever. (I'm a dgaf photographer lol.) But then again, I don't book ginormous Nike campaigns that need usage writes written in the fine print. This article I found is super helpful to understanding usage for you guys to just get more information about this.
Do I need to send OUT invoices and what is the best form of payment?
I don't accept venmo as payment. And if it's a professional client, they typically wouldn't pay on Venmo. A great website I use is "Hello Bonsai." This is a web tool that helps you send out invoices, keep track of invoices, how much you've made per month, and facilitate payments from clients. Via Hello Bonsai you can select paypal as payment, or checks or credit card so it's super helpful. I love this because it marks off when a client has paid an invoice, and if they haven't, it'll send a reminder that it's overdue.
If you're going to send out an invoice using Google docs, at least change the colors around so it doesn't look super obvious that it's a Google doc template. (So it doesn't seem like it's your first day on the job, and also it's just a personal pet peeve of mine lol.)
Phew okay! So that's my two cents on shooting and pricing as a photographer. If you guys have any specific questions feel free to leave it in the comments below and I'll answer them next week in a part 2 pricing blogpost! Thanks guys love you!
5 things to know about being a freelance photographer!
So updates first-- I had my birthday celebration two weeks ago and it was very relaxing! My birthday fell on a Thursday so I took Thursday Friday off and had a long 4-day weekend to celebrate with friends in Malibu.
After that weekend, I flew straight to NY that Monday morning to shoot the Summer Fridays launch and then flew back to shoot their L.A. launch. It's been a crazy hectic two weeks of shooting nonstop-- last Saturday Rosalie Agency had a big campaign shoot for a new product that's launching in the summer! So the reason why I've been MIA on IG is because I've just been so busy and tired.
One thing that really helped me to stay organized and keep track of what to do for each shoot is having a good mood board & shot list. I honestly wouldn't have been able to make it through the past two weeks without these two things.
Mood boards help me so much in pre-production and to keep everyone on the same page during the shoot because the last thing you'd want is to reshoot! Nowadays I hardly shoot without a mood board and shot list. So today I'm sharing my tips & tricks for creating a solid mood board & shot list.
This is basically a collection of inspiration images you want to achieve for your photoshoot. A good mood board should have 7-10 strong and clear image of what you're trying to achieve. (No random pictures of a dog or cloud.)
Sample Mood board for a beauty shoot:
Most of my images are sourced off Pinterest-- you can easily find amazing photos by just typing in "beauty editorial" or "fashion editorial" etc.
Often times I would ask the client if they have any inspo images they can send me too.
A mood board can go either way-- either you create it, or the client creates it. Either way, it's essential to getting the vibe of a photoshoot.
I use Keynote to create all my mood boards. It's honestly the simplest program. You can just right click an image you like, hit "copy image" and paste into keynote. A great keynote feature is also file>advance>reduce file size so you can make your file smaller. When you're done, you can just hit file>export as PDF and boom-- you have a shareable PDF file that you can upload to dropbox/share as an attachment to email.
(You can try Niice to make moodboards too.)
As for shot lists-- this is a MUST. I don't shoot unless I have a shot list from a client. (This is true for all campaigns.) Time is money and if your team is only there for 4 or 8 hours, you need to know exactly what you're shooting every hour. See below for sample shot lists!
This is created via excel-- which you can access in Google Docs! The more detailed the shot list the better.
Evergreen: shots/content that are timeless and aren't seasonal. For example, a santa shot is not evergreen because you can only use that during Christmas.
E-comm: Shots of product against white.
Swatch: Texture of the product like foundation poured out
& there you have it!
Hope this was helpful and stay tuned for more photography tips ;)
I'm a bit late on the New Year post and the coinciding resolutions, but at least I'm consistent. I think I was late last year as well. 🤷 (Hands down my most favorite emoji of 2017 btw.)
This year is off to a deceptively slow start. I've spent the last two weeks in PJs and shooting here and there. But mostly I've been relishing in this extended break before it becomes really busy again. I've taken the time to redo my website-- so now you can see there are 3 categories I will be creating posts for: Photography, Beauty and Mental Health. These are all topics that I'm passionate about so stay tuned for more! I've been shooting and planning posts in the past two weeks so there are definitely some exciting things coming your way.
A few other updates.. the biggest would be my studio. Click it out if you haven't already! I'm also going to Paris in two weeks and NYFW in Feb. There are also a few more exciting travel destinations coming up very soon in my calendar but I'll keep mum about it until it gets closer to the date.
Anyway, in regards to resolutions and everything.. this is the first year I haven't really sat down and written them down. I think I've just been busy living in the moment. I feel like in this year I already know all the things I want to work on-- my agency and my studio. And my self.
So here's to 2018 and I can't wait to have another year with you guys.
Zara Dress (Similar Here)
H&M Hoop Earrings (Similar Here)
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