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Day Rates For Photographers & Artists

The day rates for photographers & artists depend on the amount of work required, expertise of the artist, equipment needed and location of the production.

You are doing a production and need models, photographers, hair stylists, makeup artists, wardrobe stylists or creative directors and you want to pay “fair” rates so everybody involved (artists & clients & agency) is happy?

Then the following info will help you gain a better understanding of how day rates are determined.

Generally speaking, the artist’s day rate depends on 4 factors:

  1. amount of work required
  2. expertise of the artist
  3. equipment/tools needed
  4. location of the production

Day Rates For Photographers & Artists Overview

Day Rates For Photographers & Artists Overview

Amount of Work Required

Day Rates For Photographers & Artists
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Depending on what kind of artist (model, photographer, hair stylist, makeup artist, wardrobe stylist or creative director) you need for your shoot, the required amount of work varies. 

I’ll explain that for each level of artist in further detail.

At a minimum, everybody works at the day of the production; up to 8 hours are considered a full day and up to 4 hours a 1/2 day.

Expertise of the Artist

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Artists don’t get better due to “theory” but by doing. So working consistently over years is required to eventually master your skills. The terminology may vary but you’ll get the point.

For example, if you are a hair & makeup artist it is not enough to simply do great hair & makeup but can you have the talent hair & makeup ready in 15 – 30 minutes for a live TV performance?

Master Artists

Day Rates For Photographers & Artists
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A “Master Artist” is someone who has 10+ years of consistent work experience doing photoshoots/movies/concerts and has done hundreds of e.g. photoshoots.

These artists don’t do TFP shoots or work for small budgets because they have tons of clients and great work accumulated over the years. 

They have done everything, from kids to mature adults, and all ethnicities. For example, they can do “Black” hair, “Asian” hair and “White hair” because hair is hair and there is no difference if you know what you are doing.

They can lead teams of other artists as “Lead Artist”, e.g. “Lead Hair Stylist”.

Professional/Senior Artist

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A “Professional/Senior Artist” has anywhere from 5-10 years of work experience working on photoshoots, in retail or in a salon/studio setting and have done less than 100 photoshoots.

These artists may do TFP shoots if it benefits their portfolio, meaning they don’t already have what’s supposed to be shot in their portfolio and the quality of the pictures is fantastic. Their main source of income comes from working as an artist.

They have a good range of work in their portfolio and can do most looks without oversight or further instructions from a “Lead Artist” but they have limitations.

Day Rates For Photographers & Artists
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They may lead a small team of artists if the work that needs to be done is within their scope of previous work.

For example, they are only used to working with “White” hair and can’t really work with Black or Asian models because they don’t know how to do the looks properly.

Junior Artist

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Then we have a “Junior Artist”. They have 1-5 years of work experience on photoshoots here and there while going to school to become an artists.

They know the basics in “theory” but didn’t have the opportunity yet to practice their skills to become stronger as an artist and build their portfolio.

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These artists do TFP shoots to become stronger in their skills but the quality of the pictures need to be very good – they need to look as if it was a “paid shoot”.

Otherwise they are useless when the artist competes with other artists for a job. Their main source of income is not from working as an artist.

They have a “limited” portfolio with regards to range of work and ability of skills (looks that can be done). 

They cannot lead a team and need to be told exactly what to do.

Equipment / Tools Needed

Day Rates For Photographers & Artists
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The overall quality of the finished product is important for its “success” on the free market. 

Let’s take look at a photographer, for example. There is a difference if you shoot pictures with your cell phone camera or “professional” equipment that costs thousands.

Or if you use a reflector ($50) as a “light source” or “ProFoto D2” studio lights for $5000.

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Or let’s say you are a makeup artist…are you using cheap makeup from the local drug store or “professional” makeup, where a tiny bottle can cost $250? 

Since the makeup artist has to replenish the makeup, the artist incurs additional expenses to do the job, which is why they charge a “kit fee” of e.g. $75 on top of their day rates.

Location of the Production

Day Rates For Photographers & Artists
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A day rate of $250 may sound like a lot of money…in places like Lubbock, Texas, but not places like New York, L.A. London, Geneva, Hong Kong, Singapore or Munich. 

Do you know what 1 hour of parking costs in those cities? $20+/hour…for $1500/month you live in a “dog house”.

Or in other words, $250/day in New York, L.A. London, Geneva, Hong Kong, Singapore or Munich is like $75/day in Lubbock, Texas.

How Much Work Is Required? 38 Hours Minimum!

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To produce pictures that will actually sell your products or services require 3 phases or steps:

  1. Pre-production phase
  2. Production phase
  3. Post-production phase

because simply producing “pretty pictures” will not translate into making the client money. 

Pre-Production Phase (min 20 hours work)

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During pre-production all the planning required to execute the photoshoot is done. This includes but is not limited to:

  1. developing a shoot concept
        • mood boards/references for hair styling, makeup, wardrobe styling, photography, prop styling
  1. location scouting / studio rentals
  2. equipment rentals
  3. rent/purchase props (e.g. flowers, chairs, plateaus, etc.)
  4. finding & hiring models
  5. finding & hiring hair stylist, makeup artist, wardrobe stylist, creative director, etc.
  6. ordering all clothing, jewelry, products etc. required for the photoshoot
  7. filing for & acquiring permits, if needed

Production Phase (min 8 hours work)

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This is the day of the photoshoot where all the content is produced. An 8 hour photoshoot is considered a full day…anything over 8 hours is considered overtime.

Post-Production Phase (min 10 hours work)

Day Rates For Photographers & Artists
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During post-production the pictures produced during the photoshoot are perfected and any equipment, props, clothing, jewelry, etc are returned…this includes but is not limited to:

  1. review all the pictures taken during the photoshoot (usually hundreds)
  2. select best pictures meeting high quality standard to be retouched 
  3. retouching selected pictures
  4. send over & backup retouched pictures
  5. return any rented or sponsored equipment, clothing, jewelry, products etc.
  6. pay for dry-cleaning etc., if applicable

Minimum amount of work for a photoshoot with the finished retouched pictures = 38 hours.

Photoshoot Team Members

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If you want to produce pictures of a certain quality, that “sell”, then you need a team of:

  • Photographer
  • Creative Director
  • Model
  • Wardrobe Stylist
  • Hair Stylist
  • Makeup Artist

Photographer – min 38 Hours of Work

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Apart from the know-how & amount of work required to produce high quality pictures the photographer uses professional equipment to produce the pictures and software to retouch/modify/backup the pictures. 

Minimum requirements are as follows:

  1. Professional camera + lens = $2,500
  2. Professional Lights & Stands = $5000
  3. Computer + High Resolution Screen = $2000
  4. Software = $500

Total: $10,000 (minimum)

How Day Rates For Photographers Are Calculated

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As a reference, minimum wage BY LAW in the US is $7.25/hour or €9.35/hour in GERMANY.

So, if you pay the photographer minimum wage of $7.25/hour then the pay (day rate) for the photoshoot needs to be $275.50 ($7.25/hr x 38 hrs of work = amount of work required)

+ $250 2.5% for equipment value (Cost for Equipment Rental: $10,000 x 0.025 = $250)

+ EXPENSES

= $525.50 + EXPENSES

Hence, the minimum day rate = $525

Does It Matter What You Shoot?

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In other words, it doesn’t really matter what you are photographing (people, products or objects) the amount of overall work & equipment used remain more or less the same. 

For example, if you do a product shoot then you don’t need hair, makeup & wardrobe styling…but instead you use a prop stylist to arraign all the products & props perfectly.

So the day rate reflects know-how & amount of work required & the cost of equipment used and the above mentioned is the absolute minimum…we haven’t even accounted for studio & studio equipment costs.

This is the bottom line scenario. You are paying the photographer $13.12/hour.

As you can image, this would be the minimum day rate for a “Junior Photographer”.

For a “Senior” or “Master” Photographer the rates are much higher. The following table provides a good overview.

Day Rates For Photographers

Photography Rates

Please keep in mind that we are only talking about the know-how & amount of work required & the cost of equipment used…what about transfer of usage rights? 

What is the purpose the pictures will be used for? Commercial or non-commercial? What’s the medium, Print or Digital? Who “owns” the pictures, the photographer or client? What kind of license is granted – limited or unlimited?

You guessed it, rates will increase according to what’s negotiated, keeping the aforementioned factors in mind.

Creative Director – 34 Hours of Work

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The creative director (CD) works together with the photographer. For example, they create the (brand) vision for the photoshoot via mood boards together. 

The CD is responsible for maintaining a cohesive brand vision that achieves the project goals. They co-lead (with the photographer) the photoshoot team members.

Pre-Production Phase (min 20 hours work)

During pre-production all the planning required to execute the photoshoot is done. This includes but is not limited to:

  1. developing a shoot concept
        • mood boards/references for hair styling, makeup, wardrobe styling, photography prop styling
  1. securing location / studio
  2. directing / providing info for models
  3. directing / providing info for hair stylist, makeup artist, wardrobe stylist
  4. ordering all clothing, jewelry, products etc. required for the photoshoot
  5. filing for & acquiring permits, if needed

Production Phase (min 8 hours work)

Day Rates For Photographers
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This is the day of the photoshoot where all the content is produced. An 8 hour photoshoot is considered a full day…anything over 8 hours is considered overtime.

Post-Production Phase  (min 6 hours work)

During post-production the pictures produced during the photoshoot are perfected…this includes but is not limited to:

  1. review all the pictures taken during the photoshoot (usually hundreds)
  2. select best pictures meeting high quality standard to be retouched

Total of 34 hours of work (minimum).

Day Rates For Creative Directors

Creative Director Rates

Model – 10 Hours of Work

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The model needs to be able to convey the mood via appropriate poses and facial expressions. 

“Master” level models know how to pose and can give you what you need, when you need it. So instead of shooting e.g. 1000 pictures (“Junior Model”) or 200 pictures (“Senior Model”) you only need 25 shots and you can move on to the next look.

Prior to the photoshoot the model will have received information about the photoshoot, including “mood boards” from the photographer/CD clearly reflecting what kind of pictures are going to be produced. 

The model needs to review the mood boards thoroughly…for example:

  1. Can you do the poses?
  2. Can you convey the mood?
  3. Are you ok with nudity or implied nudity?
  4. Do you feel comfortable smoking or doing shots where smoke is involved?
  5. Can you swim? (pool or beach shots)

Once you have reviewed the mood boards and instructions and don’t have any concerns, it is expected you will be able to do the work accordingly and you will be hold accountable.

Why? Because adherence to mood boards is very important in order to achieve the desired outcome / looks / shots – otherwise the photographer/CD are wasting their time and hence the client’s money.

Day Rates For Photographers
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Pre-Production Phase (min 2 hours work)

During pre-production all the planning required to execute the photoshoot is done. This includes but is not limited to:

  1. review the shoot concept / mood boards
  2. train / practice poses, if necessary
  3. follow instructions from photographer/CD – e.g. arm pits & private areas need to be shaven
  4. have enough sleep etc. to have good energy throughout the shoot

Production Phase (min 8 hours work)

This is the day of the photoshoot where all the content is produced. An 8 hour photoshoot is considered a full day…anything over 8 hours is considered overtime.

For the model it’s a total of 10 hours of work.

Day Rates For Models

Model Rates

Same scenario as with the photographer, we are talking about the know-how & amount of work required & the cost of equipment used…what about transfer of rights?

You need a “model release”.

Again, the details of the license granted affects the final day rate.

Wardrobe Stylist

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The wardrobe stylist doesn’t just prepare the wardrobe during the photoshoot but also has access to it via sponsors, own closet or other resources. This also reflects what level of wardrobe stylist we are referring to, Junior, Senior or Master.

Prior to the photoshoot the wardrobe stylist will have received information about the photoshoot, including “mood boards” from the photographer/CD clearly reflecting what kind of pictures are going to be produced. 

The wardrobe stylist needs to review the mood boards thoroughly…for example:

  • Can you do all the looks?
  • Do you have all the necessary products & tools available?

Again, once you have reviewed the mood boards and instructions and don’t have any concerns, it is expected you will be able to do the work accordingly and you will be hold accountable.

Why? Because adherence to mood boards is very important in order to achieve the desired outcome / looks / shots – otherwise the photographer/CD are wasting their time and hence the client’s money.

Day Rates For Photographers
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Pre-Production Phase (min 16 hours work)

During pre-production all the planning required to execute the photoshoot is done. This includes but is not limited to:

  1. reviewing the shoot concept / mood boards
  2. wardrobe pull day – make sure you have all necessary wardrobe items & accessories
  3. ordering all clothing, jewelry, accessories etc. required for the photoshoot
  4. fully prepare each look, from head to toes

Production Phase (min 8 hours work)

This is the day of the photoshoot where all the content is produced. An 8 hour photoshoot is considered a full day…anything over 8 hours is considered overtime.

Post-Production Phase (min 8 hours work)

During post-production the pictures produced during the photoshoot are perfected and any equipment, props, clothing, jewelry, etc are returned…this includes but is not limited to:

  1. prepare and return any rented or sponsored equipment, clothing, jewelry, accessories etc.
  2. drop off and pay for dry-cleaning etc., if applicable

For the wardrobe stylist it is a total of 32 hours of work.

Day Rates For Wardrobe Stylists

Wardrobe Stylist Rates

Hair & Makeup Artists

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The hair & makeup artist (HMUA) needs to be able to do the respective looks in a timely fashion. 

“Master” level HMUA know how to execute the looks to perfection in minimal time.

So instead of starting to shoot e.g. 3 1/2 hours (“Junior Model”) or 2 1/2 hours (“Senior Model”) after call time, you can start shooting 90 minutes after call time. 

Therefore, you can get a total of 8 looks done (Master), instead of 4-5 looks (Senior) or only 2-3 looks (Junior) in 8 hours.

Also, the level of proficiency of the artist has implication with regards to the quality of makeup and tools being used, which also is reflective in the “kit fee”.

Pre-Production Phase (min 8 hours work)

During pre-production all the planning required to execute the photoshoot is done. This includes but is not limited to:

  1. reviewing the shoot concept / mood boards
  2. make sure you have all necessary hair & makeup items & accessories
  3. clean all your required brushes and hair & makeup tools
  4. fully prepare each look, including eye lashes, etc.

Production Phase (min 8 hours work)

Day Rates For Photographers
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

This is the day of the photoshoot where all the content is produced. An 8 hour photoshoot is considered a full day…anything over 8 hours is considered overtime.

So for hair & makeup we have 16 hours of work in total.

Day Rates For Hair & Makeup Artists

Hair & Makeup Artist Rates

Please don’t forget the “kit fee” to replenish the makeup.

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Credits

Photographer: Phil Halfmann

Creative Director: Sophia Lenore

Wardrobe Stylist: Sophia Lenore

Hair & Makeup Artist: Sophia Lenore

Models: Gaelle, Djanto, Troy

Shoes by TRIPPEN SHOES

Jewelry by KONPLOTT

Makeup by Charlotte Tilbury Makeup

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