How much can I earn?
Your potential earnings really depend on many different factors, not least your range of services and your ability to market yourself as a top-notch photographer.
"Style is important", states Steve Barham. If you can create a distinctive and stylish image, you can charge higher prices. He explains:
"You've got to be different from your competitors. As an example, you might want to specialise in black and white photographs, and use white frames. And the continental style of framing - which is one larger and two or three smaller pictures all in the same frame - could prove very popular for you."
If you want to focus on wedding photography, profit margins are high, but there is a limit on the number of weddings you can do - you can only physically be in one place at any one time, and because most weddings being held on a Saturday, you'll only really be able to fit in one or two at most in one day.
Given these constraints, you may have to boost your wedding income with additional work - anything from passport and industrial photography to copying old photographs. Steve Barham, of the Grove Studios in Ipswich, estimates his workload divides up as “50% weddings, 40% portraits and 10% from bits and pieces.”
A portrait photographer may earn lower profits than a wedding specialist - typical figures vary from £30 and £500 - but you can aim for far more jobs, perhaps as many as six a week.
As a target figure, you should expect to earn around £20,000 a year as a reasonably successful professional photographer.
Sample costs and profit - a wedding
To get an idea of fees and profits we spoke to Steven Brooks, who runs his own photography business based in Kent and Norfolk. Brooks says that, while some "cowboy photographers" will shoot a wedding for as little as £500, most serious professionals will command a far higher fee.
Below is a summary of the key figures he outlined:
Wedding fee £1,200-1,400 (plus a booking fee of between £300 and £350 - due 30 days in advance).
Material costs (processing, album etc) £200-£500
Average profit £1,000
Reprint sales to relatives used to provide a major source of revenue for wedding photographers, but Brooks says that "the advent of point-and-click cameras means that loads of people are snapping away at a wedding, so there is less demand." He says that, while the cost of reprints is low (between £1 and £3 per item), so are the margins.
Overall, Brooks says he expects to earn around £1,500 in overall profit for each wedding. However, it's far from easy money; as part of his service, Brooks meets the couple before the wedding, views the church and other locations, holds a pre-wedding meeting and also a post-wedding meeting of between two and four hours. On the day itself, he spends at least 12 hours on the job.