What if it were actually CHEAPER to shoot film?

Have you done your numbers? Figured out your hourly rate? Do you know how many rolls of film you shoot at a session, and how much the total cost per session is? If not, you need to figure that out. It is eye opening.

My name is Meghan, and I am a spreadsheet addict. And I am proud! And every day I look at my "MBP by the numbers" spreadsheet. Every day! Things don't change on it from a day to day basis, but it's good to always keep your business budget in mind. What the heck is "MBP by the numbers"?? It's the giant spreadsheet I created that holds everything relating to money for my business. My goal gross, my hourly rate calculated, my number of hours spent per client, my average sale, my session fee breakdown, my product pricing breakdown, and lots of other pages. One that was eye opening to me is the Film Costs page (I told you there was a page for everything!) But what that page told me, is that it is actually CHEAPER for me to shoot film than digitally.

Did that just blow your mind?

I know you don't believe me. I definitely wouldn't! But here's the breakdown:

  • I know my average cost per roll (BW or C41, 35mm or 120) is $22.76. That will change slightly with film costs, but it's my average right now. 
  • I know my 1 hour shoot will have around 5 rolls of film, making my total film cost per session $113.80.
  • I know my hourly rate according to my gross and hours available, etc, is $122
  • Shooting digital would take approximately 2.5-3 hours of editing time costing me a minimum of $305 (hourly rate x 2.5)
  • Film scans take about 15 minutes to cull and do any needed tweaks (typically just straightening because my head shoots crooked), which costs me $30.50 of my time.
  • My session fee is $225
  • Cost of shooting film for the session including edit time: $144.30
  • Cost of shooting digitally for the session including edit time: $305 and up
  • Profit from my session fee for film: $80.70

  • Profit from my session fee for digital: -$80 (yes, that's NEGATIVE!)

Seems crazy right? But numbers don't lie. It COSTS me my time (which is worth money!!) to shoot digitally. I encourage you to take a look at your own business finances. KNOW your hourly rate. Know your value and what is worth spending your time on and your money on. It might just be eye opening!

Meghan Boyer for Little Bellows // Budgeting Film