How much is your time worth?

* 3 min. read

How much do you expect to be paid for the time that you spend working. You know that precious time that you spend away from your children while breaking your back trying to earn a living?

How much is that worth?

I’m going off on a bit of a rant today because lately been trying hard to bury my feelings, and I’m trying desperately to stave off any feelings of resentment towards this profession I’ve been in love with for over 20 freaking years.

I’ll start off by saying that I love what I do – honestly, I do. Talk to any past client of mine, and they’ll readily tell you how much of my heart I pour into our time spent together. Working with me goes beyond me snapping the shutter button and you receiving photographs. I’ll just leave that there…

Pricing and worth have been a major topic discussed in the photography community for a really long time.

Now more than ever it’s been a hot topic of debate. There’s a movement going on for professionals to get back to basics by charging their worth, and not accepting what people have been conditioned to telling us what they’ll pay. Or worse, have the next aspiring photographer undercut our pricing just to make a quick buck.

In my opinion, the mindset of most people looking for a photographer is straight up disrespectful. The pricing that is expected of us to offer equates to less than minimum wage earnings for a real photographer.

Just think: If a photographer needed to make $50,000 a year, based on the $150 price point that most people consider to be reasonable, that photographer would have to shoot approximately 333 sessions to make it. That’s just about one session a day, or 6 sessions a weekend for an ENTIRE YEAR which is impossible. No vacation, no holidays and definitely NO TIME SPENT with their family who they began their business for in the first place. And let’s address the elephant in the room because I don’t know about you but earning $50K here on Long Island and actually being able to survive on that salary is purely laughable. But we’ll just use that number to keep things easier to digest.

Let’s dive one step further. If the said photographer is actually running a legitimate business, (you know, not just doing this on the side for date night, dance class, or vacation money), then they also have overhead costs that are associated with running their business. We all know that Uncle Sam takes a third of that 50K right off the bat. Add in all other expenses such as paying your accountant, business insurance, gear and equipment upgrades, gas + automotive maintenance, continuing education/courses/workshops, website hosting, computer applications, programs, subscriptions, graphic design, marketing, etc. For a year’s worth of work, shooting almost damn near every day, that photographer is lucky if they’ve netted $70 in their pocket for the day – not an hour, DAY!

Photography is my profession. It’s not something that I do for extra income.

It is not a side gig. It’s not vacation money or shopping money. I am a single mother of two little children that I have to support. I’ve got real life responsibilities to take care of, and I earn my living through running my photography business. I don’t have a husband’s salary to fall back on, and even if I did, my time is still worth more than what people assume they should be paying me.

To be frank, receiving praises of how good of a photographer I am or getting “exposure” isn’t going to put food in my children’s bellies! As much as it’s an ego booster for sure, let’s be real – how much is your time worth that you spend away from your children???

If your boss asked you to work more than 8 hours a day for $70 would you do it or would you tell them to go f**k themselves?

There’s a difference between reasonable, livable, and sustainable wages.

You wouldn’t expect any less from your employers, why should WE expect anything less from you?


Author: Eboni Rivera

I’m a hugger (shaking hands feels too formal). I began learning photography back in 1996, mixing chemicals and developing film in a darkroom. I've spent the past 20+ years observing and learning about different genres but Documentary Family Photography is where I feel the most at home. The best photographs are ones with a real story behind it – the kind that immediately brings you back to that specific time and place, no matter how long ago it happened. I'm a Memory Preservationist. For me, it’s all about reminiscing and feeling nostalgia when you look at photos that make them so incredibly special.

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