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I like to consider myself as an amateur photographer but I've been shooting for almost two years now. For a year and some change I've done work for free just to gain some experience. About 4 months ago I started to charge $75/hour for shoots and events; all my sessions are held on location except for events of course.

I recently started to lose interest in photography or got "burnt out" on photography because I feel as if I'm putting in hours editing, coming up with ideas/concepts for clients, and hardly any ROI (return on investments) with equipment I've purchased [yes this is a run on sentence lol]. Also, my creative juices are running low and I stopped accepting clients to regroup. I will like to up my prices but I'm skeptical I'll lose clientele.

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  • It's up to you whether to raise fees, but why are you worried about losing clients when you've already stopped accepting clients? – xiota Dec 27 '20 at 2:35
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    The only question asked is in the title, "am I shorting myself as a photographer?". What do you mean by "shorting yourself"? "Shorting yourself" of what, specifically? – scottbb Dec 27 '20 at 5:36
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    You're charging 75/hr to be onsite...but what are you charging to be working at home doing the editing, uploading, printing, etc.? If you want to make money from photography, then you need a business plan, including an investment plan for equipment. If you are already burning out, it sounds like a photo business is not right for you - simply making more cash per hour does not suddenly make you more creative. You have to enjoy the job first, the money second. – OnBreak. Dec 28 '20 at 23:25
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    @OnBreak "You have to enjoy the job first, the money second." Very good advice for almost any job! – Toni Homedes i Saun Jan 2 at 10:07
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I like to consider myself as an amateur photographer but I've been shooting for almost two years now. For a year and some change I've done work for free just to gain some experience. About 4 months ago I started to charge $75/hour for shoots and events; all my sessions are held on location except for events of course.

Both an amateur and a pro produce photographic art for a client - but a pro is one whom you agree to enter into a business relationship with. The pro brings a process or method to the relationship, guarantees work, and makes amends if things go sideways.

For example, an amateur will be asked to shoot a friend's wedding and they'll say "sure, I'll be there!" - then they will show up and shoot what they want to shoot or might take direction from the bride. Maybe they get paid, maybe it was just a favor.

A pro will sit down and discuss the client's needs and wants ahead of time, they'll create a contract that holds both parties accountable, they'll provide direction during the event so as to capture everything asked of them. They will show up, guaranteed. They won't have gear issues, because they have backups for backups.

Which of these two is more like you? Are you treating this as a pro would or as an amateur just picking up some coin? It is perfectly acceptable to be an amateur and to even remain one - you don't have to be a pro. Just know that by designating yourself a pro or giving the impression of being one comes with some baggage in the form of client expectations and process in how you run your business.

As for pricing - it is very easy in the modern world to look at products on the shelves of the store and equate yourself with them. DON'T. You are a service provider who provides a unique product not available anywhere else in the world. There are many shooters, sure, but only one you. So, charge what you want for that service. But, pricing is a two way street: your client must agree to said price and find that much value in your work. You will price people out of your service - this is fine. If you are a pro, then you've a business plan that explores your local market and what the thresholds are for pricing and market size and you've chosen a price point that you feel sets you up well to make the profit you need to survive.

If you're an amateur simply making extra cash, then there is less stress on deducing a proper price for your market. Simply charge what you feel is appropriate and what gets you the work you want to do.

I recently started to lose interest in photography or got "burnt out" on photography because I feel as if I'm putting in hours editing, coming up with ideas/concepts for clients, and hardly any ROI (return on investments) with equipment I've purchased [yes this is a run on sentence lol]. Also, my creative juices are running low and I stopped accepting clients to regroup. I will like to up my prices but I'm skeptical I'll lose clientele.

When I shot professionally, I found that weddings paid the bills, though they weren't my passion to shoot. In Arizona, where I was, there is a wedding season because summers are too hot. So, you need to get a wedding on your shooting calendar for every weekend from September/October through March/April. If you got just one wedding per week, that's 32 gigs for the season. Could you survive a year having just 32 gigs? What would you have to charge them to make it? Is it feasible given the market you're in? It wasn't, for me, which is why I found someone getting married on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as often as possible - which tripled my gig count.

I spent the rest of the week meeting with clients, discussing shooting plans, drafting contracts, editing photos, uploading to social media, drooling over gear that wasn't on the investment plan (yay rentals!), and attempting to find a side gig for any moment of spare time not booked by a wedding.

In short - I burned out, hard. I changed careers and then didn't even touch a camera for nearly 8 years.

I'm telling you all this so that you don't burn out. The short of it is: if you want to go pro, have a long and deep look into yourself and, if you want to make that decision, commit. But, if not, there is no problem with staying an amateur simply making extra beer/gear money. You don't owe anyone anything - charge what you want that'll satisfy your needs or ego and take/drop clients as you see fit to maintain the joy that shooting gives you.

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First, you need to decide what you want photography to do for you. Should it be your primary job? Are you hoping to make a bit of money to buy your photography gear? Are you hoping to make a bit of money to validate your photography skill? Are you charging to chase away the people who would want you to do a project but only want it for free? All of these should be focused on delivering what the client wants, not on being a creative outlet. If you want to make money on creative photography you are an artist, and I think it is even harder.

I haven't tried, but I am convinced that making money from photography is hard. If you want it to be your primary job, you need a business plan that supports that. Finding enough volume to pay the bills seems to be a real challenge. If you do it as a sideline, many of the clients will think you are not a "real pro" and will shop somewhere else. We all have friends who have a fancy camera. Many people think that is all it takes to make good pictures. You and I know better, that there is a lot of skill beyond owning the equipment, but many of the people who will hire a sideline photographer do not appreciate that and will use their friend who will do it for free.

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If you do not know then you are not a pro. It's okay to be an amateur and it's okay to charge according to your needs, but the customer will decide if your work is on par with your rates.

I will say that $75/hour sounds steep for an untrained entusiast who is not enthusiastic.

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