My income is 75% first assist, 25% photography (20% commercial 5% editorial). For editorial, I cover a lot of Florida based conservation projects. Sponge divers, oyster farmers, controlled burns, etc. For commercial, I cover a lot of outdoor brands. Paddle board, surf, and lifestyle brands that fall into an outdoor realm. Underwater usually plays itself into both categories.
I deduct 30% from each paycheck for taxes. I write off the bare minimum in hopes of buying a house one day, which is why my expenses are low.
When assisting, it’s all over the US. Large outdoor brands and Fortune 500. Personally, I have one Fortune 500 client, and a handful of small companies I’d shoot for throughout Florida.
My overhead is usually travel expenses that get reimbursed. My main overhead is website, Dropbox, insurance, intuit, etc. Comes out to around $2k a year.
I’ve been stashing as much savings into a high yield as possible this year in hopes for a home. I have 0 debt though, so that helps increase my savings.
I work roughly 100 days a year.
I detail cars and boats on the side. I pay myself the bare minimum from my photography business account, so this cash flow helps if I have unexpected cost that come up, extra savings I want to put away, or the extra money to take a small vacation. On average, I detail around 8 days a month. (96 days a year) this income is not reflected in my photo salary. I typically make an additional 12k a year from this side hustle.
Average assist rate is $500 for 10 hours. Anything after is OT. If it’s out of town, travel days are half rate, expenses such as gas and food are covered.
Photography rate is $1k a day. Working on getting my rate up. Typical shoot is 6-8 hours. Travel days are half rate, travel expenses and post days are added in as well. For every two days on a shoot, I bill for one post day @500/day. Take home for a two day shoot is $2,500 (not including expenses). After taxes, $1,750.
Best paying shoot was for a fire truck company. For a three day shoot, travel days, post and expenses included, $8200. Take home after expense and taxes was $4305. No licensing terms added.
Worst paying shoot was a four day campaign + 2 travel days for a very large, very successful CA based surf brand when I was first starting out. Rate + expenses was $2650. After taxes and expenses I took home $1400.
Video makes up 5% of my income.
I’ve learned that cold emails don’t work for me. What’s worked best is meeting people in person and working on personal projects. I’ve learned that the best way to get new business is to provide value, and I think that comes across better for me in person.
Best advice: be a person that people want to be around.
Worst advice: ask for more money when I was first starting out.
Don’t be an asshole. People will treat you like shit in this industry, but that doesn’t mean you have to do that when you’re finally established. Be kind to the new people coming in. Give back and be willing to help. You never know what roles those folks will take on as they advance in their career.