How Much Do You Make – A Male Southern California based Commercial Advertising and Fine Art Photographer with 22 years experience and no rep.

My clients are Fortune 500 and run the gamut from awesome to terrible. 60% of my income is commercial and 40% fine art. I have zero employees and 12k in overhead. My profit margin is 65%. Around 25% of my work is videos.

I shoot 50 days a year but am working 365 on everything else.

An average shoot day is 10 hours, sometimes more. I work on a day rate plus use models. Most use is between 2 and 5 years in North America or globally. I usually have a producer handle all expenses, and I bill back for lighting equipment and other tools the production uses. I own all my own gear, so this is a profit center for me.

My best shoot was a one-day pre-light and one-day shoot for a global consumer brand, where I licensed 10 images for two years of global use and got paid a 25k day rate and another 5k per image, so 75k in total, and then I made 10k on grip lighting camera and digital.

My worst shoot was a 14-hour day for a major brand where I was paid $7500 for filming and directing a tv commercial for broadcast. I was hired as the DP, and the “agency was going to direct,” except they were clueless, and I ended up directing, so I basically got taken advantage of by an agency.

Photographers need to charge more and expect more, and do the right thing. Also, copyright your images and hold agencies accountable when they steal them and use them in decks without your permission.

Ed Notes:

I would love to have more women participating in this column and more niches within the industry (newspapers, events, senior portraits, weddings, etc.). Email me: [email protected]

I will send you a link to a google form that will ensure your anonymity.

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