I work almost exclusively as a digital tech in NYC (about 90% of income). I shoot some video projects (less than 10%) and do occasional set design & production work (to get away from a computer screen); combined between business income and paying myself a minimal salary (after expenses). I also own a small amount of gear that I sub-rent.
I’m set up as an S-Corp and I pay myself a small salary. I am the only employee; a handful of times each year I hire freelancers for video work. Keeping my personal salary low allows me to qualify for low cost healthcare.
The type of shoots I digi tech on run the gamut – Lifestyle, Fashion, Product/StillLife/Cosmetics, Celebrity, Occasional E-comm; mostly NYC, occasionally LA and Miami jobs.
Minimal overhead; no studio, some gear I rent out to clients. Try to keep my overhead to a minimum.
My retirement is an IRA that I manage.
I work 130-140 days a year.
The pandemic years between late 2020 and Late 2022 were some of the busiest years of my career as a DT. This year has been up and down.
My day rate as a DT: 650-750/10 hour day. Set Design/Production days: 500/day; Camera Op/livestreaming: $1000/Day.
Best gig recently, last September 2022, 6 day gig as digi tech $6000 including some OT.
Worst recent gig was a photographer I work with regularly who took 6 months to pay a $650 invoice. After that I added a $100 fee on top of all his invoices to guarantee on time payment .
My jobs come from word of mouth/recommendations from colleagues.
I believe the photo industry needs a movement to unionize. Too often it’s every one for themselves. The younger generation undercuts those of us who’ve put the time in; the photogs sometimes forget the crew that are the backbone of the industry and we need them to stand with and stand up for their assistants/techs/producers etc so that we can all flourish. We need a sliding scale that makes sure everyone is taken care of and a way to reward longevity and experience in the industry. We also need a way for clients to know they can hire crew with confidence, while they also pay industry standard rates with a base for minimum rate they should expect to pay.If not I expect the industry will continue to be a race to the bottom.