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Yesterday we talked about your expenses to run an office and equipment overhead, today lets look at some real numbers to create those photos.

Both examples below are locations I shot several years ago (Thailand 2006 and Croatia 2007). I choose these locations because they have a history on the market and I felt would demonstrate realistic numbers.

Example 1: Thailand

Thailand: The following are true numbers from a photo shoot I did in Thailand.

International Flight … $1600, In-country Flights … $163.22, Driver … $873.71, Guide … $387.97, Fuel … $196.58, Lodging … $428.01, Meals … $337.60, Entry Fees … $87.50, Airport taxes … $47.87.
Total : $4122.46 (misc costs not included)

Time invested in processing images:

Thailand produced approximately 1800 raw images. After editing and complete processing I finished up with 280 images.

Editing: 4.5 hours, Processing (raws to tiffs): 6-8 minutes per image equals 28 hours, Writing descriptions and keywording: 3-5 minutes per image equals 14 hours,
Total Time : 46.5 hours (Total time is based on least amount of time per image).

I have only had three photos from my Thailand trip that has generated any money. Depending on the location and popularity of that location this can be typical, some photo shoots generate photos that sell more than others. The other two photos that have sold from this investment generated $1080. of income with 12 sales and the other generated $434.34 from 14 sales.

Breakdown of Thailand expenses and profits: Travel expenses … $4122.46, Income from sales … $8863.34, Profit … $4,740.88

Example 2: Croatia

Now let’s look at another situation with very different results, Croatia.

International flight … $1108.11, Rental car … $317.15, Fuel … $138.71, Lodging $684.96, Meals … $495.18, Entry Fees … $63.36, Parking and tolls … $81.39

Total cost : $2,888.86 (misc costs not included)

Time invested in processing images:

Croatia produced approximately 1500 raw images, after editing and complete processing: 235 images.

Editing … 4 hours, Processing (6-8 minutes per image) … 23.5 hours, Writing descriptions and keywording (3-5 minutes per image) … 11.75 hours.

Total Time : 39.25 hours (Total time is based on least amount of time per image).

The photo shoot in Croatia up to this point has only generated 3 photos that have sold.

The breakdown of expenses and profits from Croatia; Travel expenses … $2888.86, Income from sales … $1394.50, Profit … -$1494.36 (a business loss).

A Business Summary

Doing business is expensive and a risk. As you can see from the two examples from above, I invested a lot of money up front, one turned out profitable and the other did not. Obviously, I have come out ahead more times than not, otherwise I probably would not be writing this post, I’d be at another job doing something other than photography. I learned early on in my career that I had to learn quickly what my overhead was and what kind of return I needed from my photo sales to survive. Every photo shoot I choose was decided based on what I thought was a need in the marketplace. I treated every trip as a business trip and not a vacation. How did I decide where to go? If you recall from a statement above, I said photographers should know the market in which their genre of work would be used. In my case it is travel. I am constantly reading and looking at what travel industry professionals were promoting and predicting to be the next hot travel destination. In many cases my homework payed off and there were certainly other times it didn’t.

Regardless of what you photograph there is overhead. A check from your stock agency isn’t a salary until you deduct your expenses. To close, I would ask those photographers who are sincere about making money, to take a look at your investment and time and evaluate your options, you might be surprised to see what is available to you. It is not important how many photos you sell, what is important is how much you get for the photos that sell. I wish you well in your business pursuit. Until next time, Good Luck.

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Note: I’m a contributer to the Photobizcoach blog, for photo techniques and travel locations visit my Photoconnection blog.

© William Manning: all material on this blog is the copyright of William Manning. No reproduction on this material is allowed without written permission from the author/photographer.

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