hotographers working on commission charge by time, typically by the day. However the photographer is the owner of the intellectual property in the work, and while the day rate charged includes an initial licence for reproducing the photographs, the commission fee in fact represents the figure below which a photographer is not prepared or cannot afford to work.
This figure varies according to individual circumstances but should start at around £400 per day before production charges and expenses.
It has to cover all overheads and capital investment before producing enough in a three or four day week to pay a salary high enough to cover holidays, periods of sickness, and a pension. Three full days is usually about as much as can be fitted in between preparation before the work, post production and delivery after, with time to spare for all the other aspects of running a business including marketing and accountancy. Allowing, after holidays, for a 48 week year, that leaves 144 days to produce the the estimated turnover, which can be 2- 2.5 times the required salary.
Each photographer has to work out this figure according to their requirements, their costs, and the number of days they can work in a year.
The NUJ provides a calculator for photographers to work out their own figures.
Static day rates now leave many photographers working below the level at which it possible to earn a professional income. The only long-term solution is to establish a higher day rate which over a period of time would provide a living. In the short term many photographers accept lower rates in the hope of surviving through subsequent reproduction fee sales. No photographer should work for less than £250 per day.
As mentioned above, the commission fee should include an initial limited licence for reproduction, to be negotiated between the photographer and the client, beyond which further reproduction fees are chargeable. Typically photographers working for editorial markets restrict reproduction to one issue of a newspaper or magazine, and further restrict the number of reproductions included, for instance six per day or three per half day.
Some may charge a premium for use on the cover. Some charge “day rates against space”.