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Tech Talk: Pay rates for unit stills photography work

The most common questions I seem to get from aspiring unit photographers lately relate to how much we should get paid or how much they should charge for their work.  So I’ve gathered together some thoughts on the topic that may be of use to other photographers attempting to determining what rate to charge (or…

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  • JohnJune 30, 2015 - 6:29 pm

    I work as a union stills photographer in Canada.

    As of out latest contract- which I think came into effect two years ago- we are paid a set minimum ‘processing fee’ for every day we shoot unit on set.

    You can still negotiate a different rate, and some productions would prefer to pay you the specific hours worked, but in general, I’ve found it works really quite well.

    We get $150/day for processing, paid as a labour cost, to cover the time we spend in Lightroom/whatever processing/exporting/whatever we do to unit shots.

    I like it- and I think it works well for stills guys and for productions: productions know what it’ll cost to shoot unit, and they can budget easily, and stills guys know that they don’t have to fight for the time to do the work in post that they want to do.

  • PSbyAYJuly 2, 2015 - 7:34 pm

    John, Thank so much for your input. It’s great to hear that the post production side of things is being addressed on your side of the pond. How does that align with the role of the photo editor/lab side of the stills business? Does it sit along side or supplant their role?