Ask an Agent / How much to charge for travel time?

Document type 800 800Ask an Agent is a regular monthly column that answers all your dilemmas about the business of photography - a sort of photography agony aunt. Whatever area of the industry you are in, if you have any questions you’d like to ask an agent please send them to   This month Ask an Agent tackles the issue of charging for travel time.  

I’m a photographer based near Worcester shooting mostly corporate commissions. I just wondered if I should be charging for my time when I travel as often my shoots can take a large part of the day if not a full day to get to and back. And if so, how much?

A Photographer, Anonymous

Yes you most certainly should. As they say ‘time is money!’

Aside from your fees to actually shoot the images you should charge for any additional time required of you to fulfil the client’s brief.

Many of our shoots for example are ‘within the M25’, as we put on our estimates, and on these shoots we usually find we don’t need to charge for travel time as it falls within a normal shooting day. But on shoots that aren’t local it is necessary to charge travel fees. The reason being is that the photographer is then unavailable to work on other projects which could potentially affect his income, the time of a freelancer is valuable, so this is only fair.

So how much should you charge? The standard practice is to charge your travel fees at roughly 50% of your basic shoot rate. Say your fee is £1200 you would charge £600 for your travel days- based on a day being 8 hours you can work out a pro rata rate. If you were working on a large advertising campaign with extensive usage and were commanding a higher fee- as we know shoot fees are based on usage- you need to look more at your basic advertising rate before you incorporate the usage fees and calculate your travel fees based on this. For example say you were getting 5K a day, obviously 2.5K just to sit in your car for a day is a bit steep so 50% of a basic advertising rate is more realistic, say around 1k a day for a travel fee. It’s only fair if you think about it, imagine you agree to spend a day of your time travelling to a shoot free of charge and then had to turn down another shoot that you might get 3K for, you’d be kicking yourself wouldn’t you? On top of this it goes without saying you should charge travel expenses- i.e mileage, parking etc.

It isn’t being greedy it’s just being professional.

Looking forward to solving more photography dilemmas next month.

Please Note: We reserve the right to shorten questions due to space constraints. We reserve the right not to enter into ongoing correspondence. We reserve the right not to answer all questions. Please state whether you would like to remain anonymous. This advice should be taken as a guide only. Lisa Pritchard and LPA take no responsibility for any omissions or errors. Please seek professional legal advice should you require it.