I am planning on doing a "mini tour" in the next month or so. I have one photographer definitely interested and I have accommodation should I need it. I thought it would be really easy to find other photographers to work with in the area and my idea was for them all to share travel costs between them. I have found it quite difficult to arrange, although people are interested they seem to not reply after I mention sharing the costs.
Could anyone who has successfully done tours / mini tours please give me some advice. Perhaps I have left it too late to organise (I have been searching photographers for about a month now) or perhaps I should cut out the travel costs and just charge a bit more on my hourly rate?
From my limited experience, tours can be hard work as some people are just unreliable.
I have booked models from far afield and they have stayed with me over one or both nights with the aim that they find other bookings around that nearer the time. They have both had to reschedule which was no problem for me and even on the second time, they ended up being messed around by others so ended up just shooting with me - which was a hell of a lot of travelling they had to do just for one shoot.
I assume you are doing this to get some pretty solid bookings over a period of days which you would be less likley to achieve if you stayed at home. So not sure charging extra for travel is a wise move - isnt that your investment to get the several days of solid bookings?
My advice is don't bother. If you're going to be in the area anyway then it doesn't hurt to book shoots whilst you're there and nothing wrong with travelling for single shoots but tours are IMO not worth the effort.
As Tansy has mentioned its easier to just absorb the cost yourself. I wouldn't up my rates to cover the costs.
In the past I have travelled with other people to save money - I think it cost us about £130 roughly each for the 3 of us to travel from Edinburgh - Newcastle-Leeds-Liverpool-Preston and that includes all hotel bills and petrol costs. Look at it this way I was away on my trip for 6 days - I had a couple of TF shoots (so my portfolio benefitted) and 4 paid bookings which made me £660 in total - take away the £130 and I was still left with over £500 from my little trip away and it was like a mini holiday for us all - spending time with people I loved doing things I loved away from home.
Other times I have planned shoots around holidays, I went for a cheap and cheerful Mon-Fri in Blackpool with the other half - I had a couple of shoots before blackpool and made £400 from them, even taking away the nice hotel we opted for and the travelling I still made over £100 and I would have been paying for my travel anyway so it was a win win situation. Again when I was on my holiday I managed to collaborate with somebody close by and got some nice pictures for my portfolio.
I don't ever charge travelling money, its just easier to have one rate and stick to it no matter where I am or what I'm doing. If you think you will be able to book yourself out for a week on a mini tour then you WILL make money, work with new people and be part of making new pictures. I always say "as long as I don't loose money" then I'm happy
I think I've only managed it a couple of times where two photographers would say, "Hey, come to London from Plymouth", I'd explain that travel was £50 return and would they be happy sharing the cost. It's awkward to do so now I just go somewhere for a long enough period of time to make it worthwhile. I probably spent £150-200 on travel on my recent tour to Manchester area/south Scotland, but I was away for 14 days, and it was definitely worth it as there are no photographers in Plymouth.
I think it's probably difficult to tour unless you have an extensive bank of photographers who you know want to shoot you... Your best bet is to find a 'base' and work from there... I have a 13 acre private location and studio in Leicestershire, and when models come to the Midlands they often use it as a base and shoot here, as then both them and I can put out castings for one specific place... It cuts travel costs, the midlands photographers know where to go, and (for travelling models) I throw in private accomodation... In other instances, it's probably worth contacting studios in the area you're heading to, and trying advertise for work that way.
I usually charge travel but not for tours. I've just been touring in Birmingham and paid travel and hotel myself and for Finland tours (done 3 of them this year so far) I usually stay with someone and one photographer usually pays my flights to get there. I've got a list of photographers I know in Finland and always got enough work there when I go, I just let them all know I'm coming.
I tour a lot around the country and I've never asked photographers to split the travel costs for me to get to the initial location. I'm touring Kent next, so I'll pay for the initial trip from Newcastle to Kent and return myself and absorb the cost from the bookings I pick up in the area. I think most other touring models do the same, so it may be that the photographers are going quiet because they didn't expect the additional cost (not that it's an unreasonable thing to ask, it's just not the norm as far as I know).
The specific problem with proposing to share travel costs between photographers is that it is an unknown amount. How many photographers ? What happens when one or more drop out. Do you expect the others to pay more than previously agreed.
Another negative is that photographers will always expect (and rightly so) that you find the cheapest option available.
I don't know about anybody else but the thought of a long bus journey actually makes me feel quite ill and thats just thinking about it, not actually doing it. I often opt for slightly better but more convenient for the shoot location hotels which is not always the cheapest but it avoids me having to worry to much about having to take 16 buses the morning of a shoot to get somewhere. If somebody else was footing the bill I would feel guilty, another thing is - how do you work out how much % people pay? Say somebody books you for 2 hours and another person books you for 8? it wouldn't be very fair for the person who booked you for 2 hours to pay as much as one who booked you for 8. If you know there will be demand in a certain area then go for it.. If things don't work out as planned then put it down to experience and move on from it. Seriously though a couple of days paid bookings will cover your costs, if you don't manage to secure many more shoots or only come back with £20 profit then maybe it was a bad idea but you don't know until you try.
Thank you for all the responses! I will definitely rethink my travel costs. I have always charged travel as most of my shoots aren't local and (especially for shorter bookings) I would be at a loss or only just breaking even. I would love the opportunity to tour with other people but I don't have any friends that are freelance models!
Thanks again for your thoughts, you've definitely got me thinking!