How to Charge for Your Photography

How to Charge for Your Photography

Next in our series of starting an equine photography business is to figure out what we need to charge for our beautiful pictures and oh yeah our time. Yes, you should get paid for your time as well as your products.  Many new photographers want to know what others are charging and base their fees on those numbers.  While it is great to know what the competition is charging, it does nothing for sustaining your own business.  Your costs may not be the same as mine, and I know my costs are not the same as others in my industry. We each have our own CODB and we need to know what that is. So today we are going to get into another portion of our business,  (sorry no shooting yet….we will get there, I promise), we are going to be figuring out our cost of doing business or CODB. You only thought that doing a business plan was scary, this work is going to show you what you need to make in order to make a living. I know when I fist did all of this, my eyes must have glazed over and looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights. We are going to try to make this as non scary and painless as we can.CharlySRS_9627

CODB – what is it and why do you care?   Your cost of doing business is the result of an equation. (Yep we are doing math here, so hang on!) The equation is not that bad.

Non-reimbursable expenses (A), plus your desired salary (B), equals your total annual costs (C). Simple!


First, how much do you want to make a year this is what you want to make as take home pay. (as if you were receiving a paycheck from an employer, and get to take home and spend how you want) $50,000 a year? 75,000 a year? more? Don’t sell yourself short, but also don’t think you will make as much as Bill Gates in your first year.

The addition of your non-reimbursable expenses, these are the costs associated with keeping the lights on and the doors open. Rent, computers, phones, internet, insurance, gear, office supplies, etc., fall into this category. Beware this is going to be a fairly large number for some of you.  Grab a blank sheet of paper and lets make a list of what our non-reimbursable costs are: office/studio

phone (cell and/or landline)

photo equipment (cameras, lenses, memory cards, etc.)

equipment service and repairs (let’s hope not…)




vehicle expense (double check with your tax advisor on what you can include in this one if you are using a personal vehicle for work)

office supplies and furniture

postage and shipping

professional development (workshops, etc.)

advertising & promotion

subscriptions and dues

insurance (business and equipment)

legal and accounting services

taxes and licenses (business and self employment)

office assistant (I wish…)

utilities (other than you phone since we listed that earlier)

travel and entertainment

Your list may not have all of these, or it may have other things not listed here.  The important thing is to include all that you can think of that you will spend to run your business for the year. Some of these thing will take a bit of figuring out, but again put in the time and work, so your outcome will be a realistic number to work from.

Lets try an example:

A= desired salary    $75,000/year

B= total expenses     $75,000/year

$75,000 + $75,000 = $150,000 per year expenses.  So our CODB is $150,00 per year. This is what you will need to make annually just to keep your business going and does not include any savings for your company.

Yep that is a BIG number.

So let’s break it down into some bite size pieces.

You can break it down by month, or week, or by session or horse show. Let’s do it weekly to see what that looks like. So out of 52 weeks in a year, how many will do you want to work? Be sure to include time you want off for vacations, being sick, time for workshops etc. One month off should give you ample time so lets use 48 weeks as our magic number.

So $150,000 codb, divided by our 48 weeks of work time

$150,000 / 48 = $3125

This means that in order to make your $150,00 per year codb, you need to bring in $3,128 each week.  For equine photographers this can be made by shooting ranch/portrait sessions or horse shows or a combination of the two (there are other ways, such as commercial, but we will keep it to just these two ways for simplicity).

Lets use ranch/portrait sessions for our example.  Lets say we can do 3 ranch sessions a week  (remember we need to include email time with the customer, phone time, editing time, travel time etc.). This means we need to make $1,012 per session each week.  This is where our next topic of cost of goods sold or COGS will come in, as this $1,012 per session is just to pay you, and cover your expenses, it does not cover any products for your clients.  SRS_7300

Lets see what  shooting horse shows looks like.  Lets say you shoot three horse shows a month that are each 4 days long, this means you are shooting 144 horse show days a year (this does not include edit time, travel time etc….these are just the days you spend shooting, adding these thing will put you about 250 days a year.)  In order to determine what we need to make each day shooting it will look like this:

$150,o00 / 144 days of actual horse shows = 1,042 per horse show day.

Again this only covers what it will take to pay you and your expenses and does not cover the cost of products that your customers may purchase. So when you are shooting horse shows on spec work (a topic we will cover later on) it can be very daunting, since sales are not guaranteed.DizzyLizzyGirlSRS_0343web

Our next stop will be figuring out our COGS, so stay tuned!







End of Season Sale

End Of Season Sale

Hi Everyone!!!


We are getting ready to delete old galleries to make room for the fall shows!! So to make your choices a bit easier for you we are offering 15 images on a CD for $250.00. They are fully edited images that you can print, email, use on Facebook, or a multitude of other things. About the only thing you can not do with them is change them or resell them.


This offer is only available to the galleries that have a “Year End” tab in the pricing section. If you happen to choose an image that is not in a sale gallery, you will be asked to choose another image. Once you have placed your order via the internet, we will email you an order sheet on which to list your deisred images. Simply email the form back and we will get started on your images. Please note that due to high volume it may take 3-4 weeks for your order to be completed.


This offer is only good until November 1, so be sure to get your orders in, because after that this deal will be gone.




S. Sylvester Photography


Frustration – we all get that way

Frustration – we all get that way


The heat is making me crazy. Well, maybe not literally but crazy none the less becasue I want to RIDE!

Mini (hand up = bad)

I was put on my first horse at about 6 months, then began riding lessons when I was around 4yrs old.  It’s funny but I can still remember some of those days. My family always hoped I would grow out of the horses.  Well, I have only grown to love them more and more with every passing year. At this point, I have made the leap into cutting horses…..oh boy what a ride!  I have ridden western pleasure horses, reining horses, hunters and about every dicipline in between.  But cutting……… it is almost indescribeable.  You have to really trust that your horse is truely trained to do its job and be able to guide your horse with only cues from your feet.   In other words, while you may have reins, you really don’t get to use them! Now I know better than to be a green rider (ok maybe not green at riding but green at cutting) and buy a green horse.  But what did I do? Yep green horse. Her name is Mini (Da Cats Whiz Kid) and I have most certainly leanred a TON from her, however I wanted to be more competitive, so I went out and got another cutting horse (PG Zorra – aka Gracie). While she is lite years ahead of Mini, she is still on the green side and while I am more competitive, I am a whole lot more frustrated!!!  Not in a bad way, but in that “can we just hurry up and figure out how to do this already” way.

Frustration, we encounter it everyday in our lives, I guess it really boils down to how we deal with it.  Personally I have come to the realization that while I may be frustrated to the

Gracie (hand down = Yeah!!)

heavens, I am still improving everyday.  Gracie, I am sure has been way frustrated with me, but she is such a good sport, she just goes on. I am having to remember that while I know what direction I need to go, I may not get there in the next 5 minutes. It may be days, weeks or even months (oh I hope not!) before we get it right and score where we need to. The same is true with non-riding frustrations. Being frustrated is ok, it means you are at least doing something, you just have not figured out the way that the puzzle pieces truely fit together yet. Deep breaths seem to help, what is happening is no one’s fault necessarily, but rather the timing is not right. This is a hard concept to wrap your head around, without flat out getting mad.  I have leared to make it constructive for myself – like the puzzle – let it be a game.

Riding has taught me so many things, and not all of them are just about horses.  Many life lessons have come from my time with my horses, the current one is dealing with, working through and being ok with my frustrations.

Cutting Is Way To Much Fun

Cutting Is Way To Much Fun


The more I shoot cutting shows and tNACHA Cutting Show 08/07/2011he more I show my cutting horses, the more I love the sport.  Sunday was spent shooting lots of nice horses and even nicer people, and wishing that I had brought my horses along.  But work over ruled the showing which is ok, because you can learn so much from just watching.  Life is a whole lot more fun if you let yourself  learn new things and enjoy the ride. The ability to have and show cutting horses in a pure bonus in my book. Thanks to the board of NACHA for another fun show, and for having me there to shoot it!!

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