When Hale first started, we were shooting 30 minute family portrait sessions for $125. We progressed our way into the commercial world and became so busy that we often had 15-20 shoots/month. Those were $5k for a day of photo and video. Our team was small and we were running ragged. Everyone was either an owner/operator or a contractor and none of us were smiling.
We did the math and realized we were working for about $140/hr. For the entire team. We were tired and not able to take care of ourselves in a way that we were proud of. We gradually started increasing our rates each year. And with that came pay increases. And full-time, salaried employees. We were trying to do things right while also trying to stay in business. It was a tremendous learning process.
The production world can be pretty cutthroat. Crew get worked over 10-12 hours at a time with little security to take time off when their bodies or minds are calling for it. Perhaps that’s why sets can be so intense. Burnout is probably more common than creative inspiration.
As we continued to climb up the ladder of sizable clients, we thought about ways to be a different kind of production company. Through a lot of trial and error, we have landed in a pretty good place between profitable and enjoyable.
- We limit our shooting time to 8 hours so productions typically don’t go over 10 in total.
- We try to cap at 2 productions per week so we have time to prep, edit, recover, etc.
- Our non-shoot workdays are flexible and often remote.
- Our non-shoot days are typically limited to 6 hours and the team can make their own schedule.
- We encourage our team to take long breaks in the afternoon when productivity is usually low so they can engage in other activities (current examples are horseback riding lessons, afternoon surfing, aerial yoga, making a slow lunch, etc.)
- Our full-time employees get a total of 9.5 weeks of PTO (plus 2 weeks sick time)
- 4 weeks baseline PTO
- 2.5 weeks of Hale Fridays (last Friday of every month is off so ensure 3 day weekends)
- 1.5 weeks floating federal holidays
- 1.5 weeks off between Dec 23rd and Jan 2nd
- Our full-time employees have HRA’s (Health Reimburse Arrangements) that can be applied to their insurance premiums.
When you work with our team, you’re doing more than just paying for photos and videos. You’re supporting the environment we are working hard to create. You’re helping our team stay fresh, inspired, and - most importantly - pleasant to be around on set :)