Why do most photographers work on a daily rate?
See below for a fuller breakdown, but generally speaking if we come to photograph your event then that's the only job we can do that day, plus there is a whole lot of processing of images that takes place after the event, which is extremely time consuming.
I only need a photographer for 2 hours, is this possible?
Absolutely, but please note that 2 hours of your time to photograph an event is closer to 10 hours of my time.
You've all gone to the cinema and watched a 90 minute movie and I'm sure most of you will appreciate that even though the movie lasted 90 minutes it took a lot more then 1.5 hours to film and produce that movie. In most cases it's taken many months of hard work to film the movie and then it could be many more months of editing, with probably years of planning before that.
Photography is the same - just because your event only lasts 2 hours doesn't mean it takes two hours of effort to produce the finished photo.
Before your event even begins the photographer has to start planning their shoot, researching the venue if possible,planning how to get there and seeing what the traffic will be like or the times of the trains. That's easily 1 hour in planning gone. Plus time spend liaising back and forth with the client.
If you work a regular 9am to 5pm job in a set office you don't have to do this every single day, you know what times the train run or what traffic is like, you could even move closer to your office so your daily commute is very short. When you freelance you do not have such luxuries.
If your event starts at 9am and finishes at 11am the photographer still needs to get to wherever your event is, that might be 1 hour to get there plus 1 hour to get back home. For myself I hate being late, trains could be cancelled or signals fail so I tend to leave much earlier .... in reality I'll give myself at least an extra hour to get to your event. So that's already 3 hours of my time in travel + the 2 hours I'm at your event and in the real world I'll have to get to your event before 9am to setup. So that's already 6 hours of my time. 1 hour planning, 3 hours in travel and 2 hours shooting the event.
Once I get home I'd then have to process the photos. Processing images can be very time consuming. Lets say I've taken 1,000 photos and all I spend processing each photo is 10 seconds - well 10 seconds times 1,000 photos ... that's almost 3 hours of my time. So now I've devoted 9 hours. Then there's uploading the photos to an online site, communication back and forth with the client and we're getting on towards 10 hours of my time.
Generally speaking for every one photo you receive, the photographer has had to reject 3 or 4 others. People's eye might be closed, or they're not smiling or looking grumpy. We want people to look their best and so will take multiple shots, especially for group photos where there is even more chance of people all blinking at different times. Even though those photos got rejected, the photographer still has to spend their time looking at the photo and deciding if they should be kept or not.
Most people when they hire a photographer only think about the time the event begins and ends, they rarely consider that the person they hired had to physically get to the location and then go back and spend untold hours picking and culling images, making adjustments and correcting images to look their best and then finally exporting and uploading those images. Such tasks are very time consuming and means the photographer can't do any other work that day. Whatever they earn shooting your event is their wages for the entire day.
So please when you hire a photographer don't just think about the hours they are there at your event, think about all the time and effort that goes on behind the scenes. People have gotten so used to taking a single photo on their mobile phone and instantly uploading it unedited to Facebook within seconds that they've lost appreciation for professional photography. If you were to sit next to a photographer whilst they worked on your images you'd soon be very bored.