equine photography as a side job?
Hey guys! I am thinking about doing equine photography to earn a bit of money on the side ( the same idea as tack cleaning at shows, a mini-business sort of). I was just trying to figure out what to charge, which is where you guys come in!
Do people generally pay for photographers at shows? Would this general idea be reasonable for an extra source of income?
Assuming that I take nice photos, and all other variables aside, what would you be most willing to purchase / pay for?
idea 1 - pay per picture ( ex. take 20 photos, the person pays for the photos they like)
idea 2 - Pay per session (ex. person pays for the # of photos per session )
idea 3 - Pay per time (ex. person pays for a set time, and gets all the photos take during that time frame)
Idea 4 - Pay per class (ex. person pays for pictures to be take during a set class at a show, and gets the photos taken in that class)
Show photographers generally take photos of as many riders/rings as they can, post a site, and have people pay per photo, and vary their prices depending on what kind of print or image they would like.
It's a hard area to get into, and you sacrifice weekends for these shows. You need to have the right equipment (body, lenses, stabilization, flashes if needed.... etc), cards, and a business set up - if you're accepting money, you have to track it and pay taxes on it. Can it be profitable? If you're good and have a good client base.
One of my friends borthers does photography and what he does is he goes to shows (not to sure if he asks permission or not) and takes a whole bunch of photos, he then uploads them to FB and if anyone wants the photos they can order them, he lets you do what ever you want with the digitals as long as you don't remove the brand.
He doesn't cost to much $5 per photo or does combo deals 5 for $22 which is a lot cheaper then the bigger companys.
This only works because his sister is out competting so most of her friends (like me) are told about his site and so we add him see photos and buy.
There is also a more local forum I am a member of where everyone can talk whos going where and will know what photographer will be there.
If that made any sense at all :D
I've heard of people doing this, I remember a friend of mine bought photos after the large shows. Although I always thought it would be rude to take photos & post online without permission. Do you think, if I was to take photos that way, it would be better to contact the show organizers & get the website posted somewhere? or something of that nature?
You would most definitely have to get permission in order to photograph on the grounds for profit.
Charging $5 a photo isn't much profit when you calculate how much time you spend there (and uploading, and printing...) and the amount of equipment you need. Very few jobs would you do for such little money! If you aren't doing a session and are just freelancing there is a chance you might not make any money!
There are many, many equine photographers and you have to be pretty darn good to be competitive with them.
Ok, I know this is about a year old but I am going to put in my 2 cents.....
I am a photographer and it's a difficult business to break into, especially on your own. I have been doing it professionally for almost 6 years and I cant tell you that show photography has changed rapidly. You used to be able to make really good money, but the advent of digital photography has changed that. EVERYONE has a camera. In fact, MANY people have DSLR's. And many of the consumer DSLR's are capable of capturing nice images at outdoor shows (indoors is trickier, even for the seasoned photographer). When people have their own camera, or have someone from their barn taking pictures and giving to the pictures to the riders free or cheaply- like one girl posted that her friend's brother does, more on that in a moment- people are less likely to buy a photo from the photographer. If they are taking photos themselves, and can fire off a ton of shots, and get one or two nice ones, again, they are NOT going to buy from a photographer...Those have been 2 of the major reasons in the decline of quality show photographers...
Another reason, is that you having poaching... Poaching is when, a photographer (usually an amatuer) goes to a show, when there is a photographer there. The poacher goes around shooting people and selling their photos for dirt cheap. This hurts all photographers. Why, because then people are used to getting photos for dirt cheap. They see no value in photography, since the photographer is pricing so low and obviously sees no value in their photography themselves. Again why would someone want to pay $30 for an 8x10 when they can get an ok shot from another (amatuer) photographer for $5 and do whatever the hell they want with it? $30 is NOT a lot of money for a photo (I will break it down shortly).
Also, this generation is used to the digital age. Another reason, why show photography is not as lucrative as it used to be, is that people steal proofs online...Every computer comes with a print screen button....it's really not hard to figure out how to steal photos. And most people don't care if there is a huge watermark on the photo or not. I have people from shows that are my facebook friends, and they thing nothing of stealing work from my proofing site and plastering it all over facebook...Again, I see this because they are "friends" with me on facebook. And this generation has no qualms with stuff like that. It's mostly teens and midtwenty something year olds that steal proofs, but those are a large portion of the people that show. Legally, I could go after them, but morally how will it look if I go after a teen for stealing proofs online?
Now back to the subject of poaching and the girl's, friend's brother. I would likely count him as a poacher is he is selling his stuff for $5 per print. Why, because NO show photographer would price themselves that low! Why? Because, to be at a show, it actually COSTS the photographer money to be there, and it's VERY hard to recoup your costs as a photographer if you are only making $5 per print.
At the show my cousin went to (a fairly large one) there was a guy set up in a trailer. The announcer said every now and then that anyone who wanted pictures could go there. It was about $30 for one photo and he allowed you to tell him what "edits" you wanted (like if you wanted to crop it or something). They were really good quality photos and in my opinion they were worth the price.
Most exhibitors don't think about this, but yes, it actually COSTS money to be a show photographer. Show photography is a business, just like anything else.
My equipment is not free, the schooling I took to learn how to be a photographer was not free either. I don't get compensated for driving hours to a show, nor am I paid by the show comittee to be there. I get no guarrenteed minimum amount of money for going to a show. In fact, what I am guarrenteed is that I will be on my feet for 8-12+ hours per day, with barely a bathroom break, in the hot sun (and inclement weather...yep I have photographed in the rain...it's not fun, but if I say I am going to be there, then I have to be at the show, prepared to shoot in whatever weather is going on. A rule of thumb is, if it's safe enough for riders to continue riding in the show, then I will be shooting).
Sometimes, if I am lucky, the show will comp my lunch, but many won't even do that. Sometimes, shows want the option of being able to view photos onsite during the show, that means I have to have the equipment to be able to offer that AND I have to PAY someone to mann it for me... Everything stated above costs time and money. That isn't including the 20+ hours it will take me to upload, store, organize, cull, edit and post the 2500+ proofs I will have from the show. It also costs me money to host my website and proofing site. many proofing sites will charge a monthly fee + commission on YOUR photo sales. Many hosting sites for websites will charge a monthly fee for their services. For quite a few of those sites, the monthly fee is based on the amount of photos that you have on the site....so no, posting proofs online is NOT free either.
So lets break this down into a cost analysis (with just the basic gear, not including extra gear for inclement weather, equipment for viewing stations or backup harddrives for photos-god forbid something happen to your computer- ths is just for the initial day of shooting). I'm going to average my equipment. I have a main pro camera body that cost about $2500 and a back up body that was about $1300. Neither of these cameras came with lenses. My main lens was $1200 Sigma 70-200 f2.8 (which is THE lens used by most equine photographers well a 70-200 f2.8 in general- obviously brand name ones like Nikon or Canon are better, they are usually sharper and faster, but they are also 2-3 times the price!). I have a 70-300 on my back up which was about $750. The I have about 6+ memory 4-8 gb memory cards per camera, so we will say about another $240 in memory cards. I have spare batteries for my cameras. My main body the extra battery cost $169. My backup camera the battery was about $70. We'll also through in the cost of gas to get to and from this show. For me, it's about $100 per tank. Also, something I am SURE you have not thought about, but most shows want YOU (the photographer) to sponsor them! That can be anywhere from $50-$300+! Yep, there are many shows want you to pay to be there, bet most riders don't realize that. We'll also include the $20 for lunch and drinks throughout the day. So right now for the show you are looking at a cost of over $6000 for you to shoot at a show! Thats not even including YOUR time for shooting! Include another approximately $100 for your time in shooting at that show! I don't know too many people who like to work their butts off for free...
If you take off equipment costs (but really if you want to make money, your equipment should be paying for itself), you are still looking at about $300-$600 per day to shoot at a show (including your time, gas, food and sponsorship fees...). Just to break even at $5 per print, you are going to have to sell 60 prints, which is very hard to do with all the above reasons (poachers, other parents and riders giving away photos, people stealing photos from your site instead of buying them, etc.)
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