Time is relative, we all know that.

Different people have different approaches to time tracking. OK, but what does it have to do with the photography business?

Let me try to explain.

There are two types of people in this world when it comes to time tracking.

1. One type of people are those estimating the time by taking into consideration only the very best/ ideal conditions, which by the way are very unlikely to happen

2. In the other group are those estimating time “door” to “door,” and these are the realistic ones.

Here is a perfect example for the first group:

Frank lives in Schaumburg (Chicago western suburbs) for instance, and he has to show up at the lake- Randolph Marina in Downtown Chicago.

When Frank moved with his family from Chicago Downtown to Schaumburg 2 months ago (33ml), I asked him how much time it takes him to travel from his new place back to the city. His response was – up to 30 minutes.

That is correct if Frank is driving after 3 am, and there is no one on the expressway. What happens in real life situation is that Frank will need a little bit more than 60 minutes on average to get from point A to point B.

Think about regular heavy traffic, rush hour, add to that one or two medical vehicles or fire department vehicles on the way, and since Frank lives in Chicago area – add a few drops of rain or snow.

So, I asked him again, trying to rephrase my question: how much time you leave to yourself to get to work. He responded differently this time: to be safe, he said, probably a little bit over 70 minutes.

And there you go. We have a straight answer.

To give you an example for the second group, I talked to Linda.

Linda is smart. She is a very organized and highly responsible person. One of those people that you consider to be your very best friend because of their reliability. The one you trust so much you can ask her to pick up your kids from the travel soccer game and bring them home because you are on the annual summit, and you need someone you trust.

Linda lives and works very close to Frank, but she responded differently. She said right away that she needs more than 75 minutes because she is estimating her time from door to door. Linda instantly included a possible stop at the gas station, grabbing the Starbucks coffee real quick, etc. She is a very organized and punctual person.

Again, what does all this have to do with the photography business? It actually has to do a lot.

Sometimes we get approached by people who want “oh, just a couple of pictures.” This very phrase is already a downplaying in every service. When a service provider of any kind hears this, they already know that this client wants to think of it as a small job, not taking into consideration all aspects of it. In the photography business, it is very often the postproduction, but can also be travel time to the location or other logistics matter.

I am writing this because I have experienced a very similar situation just recently. A person asked me to show up and take “just a few photos” while the location was 2 hours from my home, in another State to be precise, and it did not pop up until I asked.

So here is the math.

To be professional, I am Linda-kind-of-person, and I have that highly responsible, operational approach.

Even if you need just a couple of photos from the event, you should keep in mind some tricks of the trade I already talked about in one of the previous posts. Usually, the chance to take the best photos is at the very end of the session. People are most relaxed at that point, and the trust between me as a photographer and participants has been established.

As a professional photographer, you are not estimating just the time spent on site. Preparing for professional photography is a process that is usually starting the day before.

  • I charge batteries.
  • Prepare the memory cards.
  • Flashlights.
  • Set up a timer.

Now let’s do the math together, shall we:

Wherever I am shooting- Chicago downtown, Chicago Edgewater, Lincoln Park, North Beach, Gold Coast, or West Loop, I always show up one hour earlier. To be there, let’s say for one hour just for shooting, that translates immediately to 2 hours.
For these locations, it takes me usually an hour driving from and back home and 2-3 hours for postproduction.
Layed down like this, plus preparation, it sums up to at least 8 hours of my time.

So when the clients see that we are on site and working in front of their eyes for an hour- we work up to 8 hours.

Since the purpose of every business is to be profitable, we are trying to have attractive prices and be competitive on the market, while providing top of the art service. Therefore we are continually investing in our equipment and production quality, as well as the marketing services, digital blueprint, and promotion.

Therefore our full price is based on all the abovementioned aspects which are crucial for keeping EllyElite photography as a creative but at the same time healthy business.

If you like what you just read, please reach out to us.

What are your thoughts on the projection of time in the photography business? Please comment in the section below.