Reality show DP rates?


Well-known member
I have a job interview tomorrow to DP the second season of a reality show. It's a version of "Say Yes to the Dress" that's based in Boston. It airs on TLC. I'm trying to figure out a ball park idea of what to charge.

They're going to shoot from January through March. I don't know what the schedule will be like yet. I don't know how much of a time commitment it will be. It may be Monday through Friday four weeks a month, or just a couple days a week... I'll find out more tomorrow.

The set is already lit from last season and I'm guessing they've already established a look. What they said they mainly need is some one who can lead the other camera people. They're shooting on full sized broadcast HD cameras, and some small HDV ones too.

I haven't done a long term gig like this before. Do you generally charge a day rate, weekly, monthly...? What is a reasonable range? What sorts of questions would you ask before establishing a rate? Even if they have already established a rate from the last season, I still need to figure out if its reasonable.


PRO user

I have been shooting on Reality TV shows since 2006. The day rates that I have been paid vary between $500-600 per day. A day in Reality TV is considered a 10 or 12 hour day.

You rarely use your own gear. So basically you are being paid to be a camera operator, or DP.

The days are long, and mostly shoot off the shoulder. Tripods are used mostly on interviews and location B-Roll (i.e. city shots around town)

Hope this little bit of info helps. I too worked on Say Yes to the Dress for the Atlanta episodes.


Well-known member
I AC'd for a friend on a similar show/Bridesmaids. We were all over the place. Interviews in a hotel room (my friend said they usually greenscreened interviews but went with hotel decor (very well lit) for his gig. Two days, three towns, five locations. Both days in excess of 13 hours. He used his gear totally from cameras to lights. Hired an audio guy, PA, AC and worked with a talent wrangler and producer. The only time on the tripod was interviews. They did allow time for setup for interviews...but getting between locations was too tightly scheduled and we seemed to be running late a lot. Not sure of the rates, but he said he gave them a good rate and THEN they told him it was for 12/not 10 hours or he would have charged more.

Ask what the hours are - what they provide/what you provide. Do they pay overtime, parking, mileage, hotel if out of area, etc.

Capt. Slo-mo

Well-known member
If you are using their gear, try to resist most of the "well, it'll be a lot of work!" pressure to give them a discount. In the reality work I've done in the past--with gear--there was generally about a 20+% discount on the overall package rate, mostly along the "5 for 7" gear lines.

Also, make sure you have on paper whether it's a 10 or a 12 hour day before OT kicks in, and if it's 12, adjust your rate accordingly. I've even had LA producers ask for a 14 hour day as the new watch your back.

Plus, if you own gear, you have to do the calculus of not only having your gear sit at home (unless you can be renting it out while you're working) PLUS the issue of not being able to serve any other clients while you're tied to the long term gig.

As far as rates, if you're the DP and in charge of supervising other shooters as well, $500-$600 is rock bottom. You should be higher, in a perfect world. But as in any of these negotiations, let them go first on the money offer.


Well-known member
That's why I quit shooting on reality shows. I won't accept 12 as the new 10. If they want 12 hours/day, I wouldn't go any lower than $850/day unless its just something you really want to do.


Well-known member
I shoot a lot of reality, it's almost my bread and butter. I don't mind using their gear. Typical rate for me is $500-$650 just for a camera op/DP. DP is usually higher at $650 for the shows I work on. I have been lucky lately, I just shot a sizzle reel, was renting out two P2 cameras, audio kit and light kit. My usual rule is a daily labor rate for the entire week, but I do a 3 day week rental on gear if it is a long term gig. If it is only one week, I will do a 4 day week on rental, but charge a daily labor rate. That is the standard in the Dallas market for longer term gigs.

I have been asked to DP, but I usually refuse and just pick a "camera op" role so that I can take other gigs if they pay more and they can substitute someone else for me that day.

FYI, just finished "Best Funeral Ever" pilot about these crazy themed funerals which will air on TLC circa January 6th, hilarious material, I couldn't stop laughing, I actually really enjoyed the gig.

here's the link: