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Photography Question 
Eric S. Rundle
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2008
 

Photo Shoot - What to Charge?


Hello: I work for a manufacturing company, and they have asked me to submit a proposal to do a photo shoot of some equipment for advertising. They will be using images for a brochure and on their web site. Being new at this, I need some advice on how and what to charge? Should I charge for the session and then any individual images or a flat rate? Pleas if anyone could help me it would be of great gratitude Thank you.

6/5/2009 3:43:11 AM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
  Hi Eric,
I canít tell you what to charge. This depends on your market and on the perception of your talent that the client holds. Certainly, a potential client will not have the same perception of an unknown that they might have of an established professional.
What I can tell you is that doing business with a business is very different from working with a portrait wedding business. A portrait/wedding photographer will charge a lower fee for the shoot than would be appropriate for the time involved in the shoot. The photographer will make up for that by selling prints. So you might have a $75.00 sitting fee, and get an additional $300.00 from print sales. That doesnít work with a business. There will be no significant after-money from the shoot. So I charge a client based on the time involved in the work.
When I do a job for a new company, the first thing I establish is when we will start. If they are not available at this agreed-upon time, I charge them anyway. The primary thing I am selling them is my time. If they try to change the time with less than a day before the start time, I charge them. Have respect for their budget, be on time, be ready to work, do not spend time on the phone. It is important to me to give a client precisely what they wanted. If that means an extra hour in Photoshop, to clean up my oversight, then I do this. I am not looking for a quick profit, but for a long-time business relationship. Currently, I have a client I work for more than once a month. The advantage of a long-term relationship with a client is more important than a few quick dollars.
I would also encourage you to give the client the files for the company to keep. If you have been asked to produce creative art of the company, I can understand licensing the images for a particular usage over a specific time. But if you made product shots, this is more craft than art. Remember, if your client doesnít make money with your shots, they wonít come back.
Thanks,

6/8/2009 1:45:39 PM

 
Eric S. Rundle
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2008
  Ok John this is sound advice and makes total sense to me I am trying to build my portfolio and to eventualy become pro so I will definitely set my price for a reasonable rate Thanks for the great advice. Pleas visit my site at eric-rundle-photography.com

6/8/2009 3:43:22 PM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
  Hi Eric,
You have some beautiful images on your site. I wish you well with your commercial work.

I do wonder why you have used a non-standard spelling of the word Please on your web-site. When dealing with business clients you might want to choose a very conservative look, business is conservative.
Thanks, John Siskin

6/8/2009 5:29:33 PM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  Your price should be a price that "you" are happy with - nothing else. If you think say $1,000 pays for your time, effort, skill etc - then that's the price. You can't base your price on somebody else's costings. If you heard that a photographer down the road charged $5,000 for a similar job - then that has nothing to do with you. As long as "you" are happy with your final pricing, that is all that matters. In the end it will all sort itself out... if the guy down the road produces work better than you, or worse than you, then the client will decide in the end who he will use next time.

And... to finish off... the idea that many photographers have the right to charge a licence fee for "arty work" is wrong. If your work is "arty" then this is your "skill" and is included in your normal price.... and will get you many more clients down the track.

6/16/2009 5:23:57 AM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
  Hi Roy,
Iím not sure of your point about arty work. As an example if I have a client who wants me to take 25 pictures of light bulbs for an online catalog, should I price that the same way I might price one picture of a light bulb that a company wants made to show that the company is an idea company? For the idea company I would have more time spent in defining the shot and more time spent in finding the right light bulb. Finally the idea company will use the light bulb shot in much or all of its advertising and the light bulb company will use the shots in an on-line catalog. I have done both sorts of jobs, and I do not price them the same way.
Thanks, John Siskin

6/16/2009 9:23:52 AM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  By "arty" I mean "creative" (per your own comment in your first email). My answer to your comments above:

Photographing 25 general shots of light bulbs may take you say 4 hours. Photographing one "creative" shot of one light bulb may take you all day (8 hours). Either way, you have your own hourly rate (whatever that is).

If you want $100 an hour, then the first 25 shots will be charged at $400 (ie: 4 hours @ $100 p/hr), and the 2nd "creative shot" will be charged at $800 (ie: 8 hours @ $100 p/hr). Your total invoice would be $1200. This is simple arithmetic. Nothing complicated.

As I said in my first email, one should decide on what "you think" is a fair price for your own talent ($$$ per hour) - regardless of what others charge - then just multiply this by the amount of time you have spent.... or think you will spend if you have to quote on something. It's a basic business approach used by lots of people in various trades and professions.

If your client pays your invoice of $1200 then you should be happy with that. Job complete. End of story.

6/16/2009 10:21:52 AM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  I can't believe Photographers want "more money" if the images they have already been paid for appear in whatever magazine across whatever media (via the client). This has nothing whatsoever to do with the photographer. When a client pays you for your services, the pictures then belong to him. Why do Photographers want to be paid twice, three times, four times... whatever.

6/16/2009 10:40:51 AM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  On the other hand.... if a Client approached a Photographer and asked if he had a really good "creative shot" of a light bulb in his portfolio? and then asked "how much to use it in all his advertising" ... and the Photographer said $10,000 ... and the client agreed.... then that's OK also.

In this scenario the Client has the option of agreeing to his price, or walking away and pay nothing.... and look for another photographer with a better pic for much less.

If the photo is really stunning, the Photographer may be able to sell this pic (under licence) to 100 clients and get millions of dollars for it.

In another scenario... I believe that if the Client "commissions" you to photograph something, and agrees to pay for your Time, Effort, Skill etc (at whatever hourly rate you initially tell him) then this is also fair and the pictures should then belong to the Client.

You can't have it both ways. It's unethical.

6/16/2009 11:00:07 AM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
  Hi Roy,
I think that we are actually in agreement over most things; I do make some exceptions, as Iíll note. The first thing, and I hope that you will agree, is that the photographer and the client need to come to an arrangement before the shoot begins. I believe it is disreputable to add charges to a shoot that were not expressly discussed before the shoot. This includes obvious things, like late cancellation or perhaps the product will only be available on two separate days. If I do intend to charge for usage or non-photographic services, I need to be clear about that before the shoot starts.

As an example I do a lot of work for homebuilders. If the client wants all rights to the shot, I can give him a price for that. If I retain the right to sell the images to the subcontractors or designers, the homebuilder can get a significant discount. If the client intends to sell, not give, the images to the subcontractors and designers him/her self I expect to get a portion of those sales, and I will arrange this before the shoot. I think this is reasonable; certainly it is not underhanded. The availability of a discount can make it easier to get the client to go ahead with the project.

Returning, for a moment, to the light bulb. The single bulb is not a shot for the catalog company. Perhaps you have never had to search for a custom object for a client, be it a proof coin or a piece of jade, but I have to do this often. There might be special meetings, on a job like this. Many things that are not shooting. Do you do this for free? Many of my clients think I should. An add agency might show this as a design fee, as a photographer it is easier to get paid for usage. Iíll tell the client up front, and Iíll take the money. I hope you donít find this offensive.
Thanks, John Siskin

6/16/2009 12:46:40 PM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  I do agree with charging for your "time" (ie: meetings etc) but only after you have been commissioned to do a project (and your hourly rate and contract obligations/expectations should be clearly stated during the quote process).

If you try and charge for your time just to "attend" the brief or quote session then you will quickly lose a client.

By the way, I am not offended at all by anything you have said. We are all adults and we are only expressing opinions on what some might call "grey areas" of the industry.

6/16/2009 9:01:47 PM

 
Eric S. Rundle
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2008
  This is all Great stuff I definitely got a lot of info thank you for discussing it. It has helped a lot
Eric

6/17/2009 4:23:07 AM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
  I agree, Roy, nothing is billable until you have the job. Good luck with the job, Eric!
Thanks, John Siskin

6/17/2009 3:15:34 PM

 

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