It is very easy to underestimate the costs of working as a professional wedding photographer. From transport to accommodation, expenses can quickly add up, which is why you should always remember to make a detailed template of your predicted expenses beforehand.
How much equipment will you be using?
If you think you might need to hire some additional equipment (or purchase equipment as a long term commercial investment), include it in your overhead expenses and don’t forget extra costs like delivery charges. In certain cases, you may be able to claim back the VAT for any hired equipment like lenses or camera bodies, as long as it was used exclusively for commercial purposes. This should also include the cost of any software that was required for the photo shoot, such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.
Monitor your travel expenses
If the wedding venue is difficult to access via public transport and you don’t have a car, you may have no option but to take a taxi, which could be quite expensive. Many wedding photographers will automatically include travel expenses in their standard fees, although in certain cases it may be necessary to charge a special supplement if you have to travel very far. If you decide not to charge for travel expenses, you may be able to deduct some of your costs in your annual tax return.
Include any expenses that are specifically related to your work
Food costs, petrol costs any other expenses that you have incurred during your commercial work should be factored into your calculations. Underestimating them could have a negative impact on your profits; not calculating or predicting them in advance could also jeopardise your relationship with your client. For example, if a customer suddenly receives unexpected expenses costs in their invoice that have not been outlined or discussed in advance, the person may consider disputing the invoice or just refuse to hire the client again in the future.
Should you charge by the hour or by the project?
Charging an hourly rate ensures that you are paid for all the work you carry out – provided that you haven’t agreed to a fixed number of hours (i.e. 5 hours for an afternoon wedding and reception shoot). Whether or not this includes the processing stage or any client communication is up to you, although it may be difficult to accurately predict how much time it will take you to process all your wedding photos.
When you determine your fees on a project basis, however, you are not just basing your charges on the shoot itself. You must also include the time it takes to prepare for the event, the photo processing stages, the meetings with the client beforehand and the time taken for e-mail and telephone conservations. Establish a minimum hourly rate based on how much time you actually spend on the project in total and set a benchmark. Any project that ends up paying below this minimum may not be worth your time.
Transparency is key
Let your client know what your expenses are in advance and any additional costs they may need to pay (such as going over an agreed time limit or having to travel to additional venues). The more honest you are upfront, the more trust you establish and the greater your likelihood of winning repeated business with your client in the future.