Digital-Tech Rate Questionnarie: The Results

A few weeks ago I put together a questionnaire to gather data regarding rates for Digital-Techs. I've collated and analyzed the data to share with everyone. Before you dig into the information you should be aware of the following: 

Interpreting the data: 

I highly recommend reading the data interpretations for each section. This will provide context for the data and likely answer most readers' questions.
Sample size:

The questionnaire was shared on Instagram, Discord and Reddit by myself. I assume others distributed it in other ways. Not everyone or every market will be accurately or fully represented. Some are more active in online communities than others. However, I feel there was a respectable number or responses from around the world with a total of 266 responding and 94 being from 23 countries outside the USA.
The raw data is available below for anyone to make comparisons based solely on their location.


Rates will always vary depending on location. However this deviation shouldn’t be that significant. The types of clients and work also affects the rates. It’s complicated. I will share more about this later on.

Misinterpretations and flaws:
It should be noted that I'm no expert in gathering this type of information and my wording could have been flawed at times. I attempted to limit variables and other “what ifs” so as to not overload participants and myself. There certainly could have been more metrics gathered with more granularity. Overall, I feel the goal was achieved with the responses. There is a bit of a blind spot for individuals that work for digital capture companies or in-house for a brand as they are often on payroll and using provided equipment. It was focused toward independent people. Participants were instructed to convert their currency to US Dollars. This could have introduced some errors by anyone failing to do so.

Now for the data...


  • Age and Experience  

  • Location


  • Identity    

Day rates:

For the sake of this questionnaire a day rate is the pre-tax amount one will receive for 10hr of labor on set. This doesn’t include any equipment.

Obviously, with day rates there can be a range based on both location and the types of jobs one takes. Context of the situation varies significantly. For instance, Editorial will almost always be a lower budget than Advertising jobs. Higher rates typically go hand in hand with bigger budget jobs that require more stress and responsibilities. Someone might work both Editorial and Advertising and have a lower rate for the former. It would have been too difficult for me to try to break up rates and directly tie them to a segment. Therefore two questions were asked about day rates:
What is your typical day rate for 10hr day?
- What is the lowest day rate you will accept for 10hr day?
The purpose behind these two should be obvious. There’s a rate one prefers, the typical (which could be higher at times), and a minimum that they will accept. There is no definitive answer for what your rate should be. But there is a minimum that should be a respectable amount in order to live in your location.

Kit rates:

For this category two questions were asked: 

- "What is the average rate for a capture package/kit you offer?

- "What is the lowest rate for a capture package/kit you offer?"

Just like the previous two questions the purpose of these two was to find the average and lowest rates. The context of these is important and difficult to really nail down. While one job could mean having all the equipment you own on set and therefore bill for significantly more than your typical jobs, that's an outlier and not exactly worth factoring.
Many techs tend to have a few typical kits/packages they offer and add items à la carte to them like monitors, iPads, cameras and lenses. For the lowest rate, it’s often just a simple laptop on a tripod and nothing else. There could also be individuals that only do larger studio jobs requiring larger kits, therefore their typical rates would be higher overall. For the sake of this questionnaire assume the lowest rate is for a simple laptop on a tripod kit in most cases. However, there were outliers with significantly higher minimums and it’s safe to assume those are much larger kits.
Mentioning these larger kits, there’s a potential some survey respondents chose to include a camera package in their kit rate. These questions weren’t intended to include camera packages. Cameras/lenses are in addition to a kit being that at this point in time the majority of photographers own their own cameras. With that, I admit there could be some ambiguity based on wording and semantics that affected the responses for this question.

Furthermore, there might have been some misinterpretation of the question
“What is the lowest rate for a capture package/kit you offer?” As described earlier, in my mind this meant, at the least; a laptop on a tripod. But this could be potentially up to a computer on a cart with multiple monitors and more depending on the individual and type of work. Maybe I should have given an example and been a bit more specific. But then again there could be some that don’t offer smaller kits. That being said, based on some surprisingly low numbers I assume some took it to mean one item they might rent out like a lens or iPad. Maybe it’s my ignorance of the economics of other countries but, I sincerely can’t imagine renting out a kit for some of these numbers. With that, there were some $0 entries, I took this to mean someone that works as digi-tech but using someone's equipment therefore they don't offer/rent kits themselves. These entries were not factored into the minimum or average rates.
Being that most of these lower rates were outside of the US and I'm based in the US I can’t fully place that in context with the economics of those areas. So, it could very well be acceptable and reasonable for these locations. I leave that to those individuals to decide.

Travel days:

Some people travel to work in other locations and it can vary on whether they accept ½ day rate for travel days. This is sometimes done to help meet the original budget outlined of the bidding process to ensure a photographer can work with someone they know well and not a stranger. Taking a ½ day rate for travel can be a bit controversial for some. It’s worth fighting for full rate travel days. It is a day in which you are typically fully occupied with travel logistics and transporting equipment. It’s not a vacation.

Being Incorporated:

This is more of a US oriented question as the tax structures and aspects of owning/running a business vary greatly in other countries, which I'm clueless about. This information felt relevant to see how many are incorporated and what type. Depending on the type of jobs you work and the income you generate you might benefit from being incorporated. You can learn more about this topic here. For those outside of the US you should look into the equivalent in your country and the pros/cons and costs associated with it for your situation.

Rate increases:

The rate of inflation is always changing. See here. As of writing this, the current rate of inflation for the US is 3.7% over the past 12 months. (You will note in the link above the only period of significant deflation in the past 20 years was in 2009 after the 2008 banking crisis.)
Basically, If you aren’t increasing your rates annually, it means you are making less money than the year before. At the VERY least one should increase their rates by 2% annually but it’s best to keep up with the annual inflation rate. If you are still working at the same rates you were 5-10 years ago you are doing yourself and others a disservice. I can’t think of much that hasn’t increased in price in the past 5, 10 or 20 years. Your income should correlate with this.

In Summary:
Hopefully this was a worthwhile endeavor that others find insightful. The complete data is available to download HERE so you can filter it by your location or market and make relevant comparisons.
You can also view it and the charts online

I do believe this will be an eye opener for some and frustrate others. Just keep in mind that comparison is the thief of joy. But, I feel it’s important to have the knowledge. I certainly don’t intend everyone to look at the max value for rates and just start using that as their rate. There are many factors that contribute to that number as discussed prior as well as potential flaws in that data. You should use the info to evaluate yourself and where you stand in those regards. You might be happy working with smaller clients with smaller budgets that are less stressful and require smaller kits. There’s nothing wrong with that. You shouldn’t expect to have a top-tier rate or the highest kit rates. Often those higher rates come with more stress, responsibilities, overhead and equipment. (But, there can be outliers.)

Final Thoughts:
Finally, by doing this experiment I learned a lot myself. Thank you to those that participated.
These days clients want more for less and it can feel like a race to the bottom. In late 2022 budgets were slashed due to economic fears and yet it seems clients still expect the same amount if not more work for less compensation.

Now is never fast enough, everyone seems to want things yesterday. Digital techs have had a lot added to their plate since early 2020. We had to quickly learn new software, technologies and workflows. The amount of data we are presented with continues to grow and the number of tools and equipment we are expected to offer does as well. Additionally, each year we are forced to rely more on SAAS (Software As A Service) as companies move away from perpetual licensing which increases overhead.

This data should also be something that Producers, Agents/Reps, Art Producers are aware of because that’s often where the budgets begin and they factor in the rates they are expecting to pay for production.  

While I can completely understand and relate to being in a tough spot financially and needing to take work that comes your way. Accepting a very low rate means that those offering the work think that’s acceptable and often start to ask for more without compensating more. If they can’t find anyone to work for a low rate they will learn they need to offer more to find someone. There isn’t now nor do I feel there will ever be a collective/union to ensure proper compensation in this field but using data like this can be a strong tool.


Remember, 10 hours on set often turns into 12-14+ hr days with preparation, commuting and loading/unloading equipment. We aren’t always fortunate enough to get prep or post days. Know your worth. Take a look at your overhead and position in your market and ensure you’re being compensated at a competitive rate. Hopefully those low-ball rates being presented to us will disappear when they realize no one will take the bait.


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