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Business photography pricing advice

Discussion in 'General Photography Discussion' started by eurotrash, Jul 15, 2017.

  1. eurotrash

    eurotrash Premium Member

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    This may not be the correct section to post in (feel free to move it, mods) but I cannot find one that seemed appropriate for the question.

    Typically I shoot weddings and events. Recently I've been posting a lot of product photography for beer on my Instagram. A few local breweries have noticed and wish to contract me to photograph brew days and products as well as staff members for use on their social media and websites. I'll have to go there multiple days to catch all three beers that are being brewed/canned and return at random times to catch all the taproom employees as well as the product photography stuff they want. So, yeah, a few hours of work for sure.

    The problem is I have little to no experience with pricing for businesses and it's kind of a new territory for me at the moment. Should I demand an hourly rate or a set price? How can I ensure it's worth my time to travel there and back, shoot and edit whilst still coming off as a fair deal to them? I struggled with setting prices for a long time when first getting into wedding photography and decided that it was simply best to charge a set price in line with other photographers in my area but that information is slightly difficult to find I've found, many photographers will not divulge their rates on their websites, and I know if even less product photographers in my area. I know pricing is all subjective but I wouldn't mind suggestions coming from those who have experience in this field.

    Thanks guys!
     
  2. eurotrash

    eurotrash Premium Member

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    It's also worth mentioning that my girlfriend works part time at this particular brewery and has mentioned that the owner is sort of stingy and stubborn on spending money on his own business. It's unfortunate because they produce excellent beer. I feel like if my price is too high, they will back out and not take advantage. They have been slacking on their social media game and really need to step it up and play catch-up . Alternatively, if my price is too low, I won't feel as if it will be worth my time Either way I know a lot of the people there and feel like I can approach this one of two ways.

    The first one being, cut them a deal because I know them. Assume that this job will lead to even more business from other establishments.

    The Second, charge what I feel I am worth regardless of relationships with staff and owners.
     
  3. EAB

    EAB Active Member

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    The first thing you should do is define the precise scope of the work - in writing - and tie your quote to that. If you simply quote a price based on verbal generalities (particularly a "lump sum") you will find yourself a victim of mission creep. This will generally lead to a feeling of dissapointment on the part of your client and yourself. At the very least you will feel unmotivated and ripped off.

    In your own figuring make a line item list of what you think is a fair price for you to charge to accomplish each task including post production and delivery. And now a short digression: In order to arrive at a fair price you must know your cost of doing business (assuming you are actually treating this as a business, and you should be). If you need help figuring your cost of doing business I'd refer you to John Harrington (google him if you dont know him, He's in your area and accessible, read his blog. Better yet buy his book and learn it by heart.) If you havent already you should also secure general and liability insurance as well as a business license and a sales tax account. There be monsters here - you may avoid them, you may encounter them - best to be prepared.

    Back to what to charge - once you know your actual cost of doing business you simply need to figure out how much money you need to earn to live you life (profit in a sense). Do the math (number of day worked divided by expected return etc.) and thats what you need. Not necessarily what the work is worth (that depends on perception) nor what the market will bear. Having arrived at that you present a written proposal encapsulating the clients exact requirements, deliverables, due date and payment schedule. Then you negotiate.

    Just remember that if you dont get it in writing you may not get it at all.

    Good luck.
     
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  4. ru2far2c

    ru2far2c Well-Known Member

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    Check out this guys pricing structure it may be a little dated:
    Washington DC Photographer: Pricing

    And site may help you as well:
    Photography Business Legal Overview: Forms, Contracts & Rights

    You should be able to find this at a local bookstore or on line. I found it helpful starting out:


    Who is going to own the right to the images in the end? How are the images going to be used in print, online and for how long etc?

    Weddings and commercial are two different animals IMO. Most commercial photographers price themselves according to usage and their market. There is a reason commercial photographers don't post their rates online if you think about it. They didn't all start out getting top dollar for their work they had to work their way there. Price yourself for where you are and increase you prices as you build your business.

    There are tons of places online to help with pricing.

    Good luck!
     
  5. Jonimages

    Jonimages Premium Member

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    It is a tricky situation as you want the business but you also want to make it worth your while. I would figure out how many hours you think it would take, then compare that what you normally charge for a wedding or event. If you have to miss an event to do this then charge what it would cost to do a normal event. If you can work around your normal event photography then maybe charge a lower rate, and consider it experience and portfolio building.

    My main thing is sunset pictures so that is my prime time. If I get a request for something in my prime time not related to portrait work I charge that rate. If it is during the day in a time slot I am not normally booked and I get a sense they are tight with money I will come down on the rate.

    I wouldn't worry about usage at this point. What I would worry about is how much time you spend on it and the customers expectations. Lay it out clearly if you go to bare minimum pricing they are getting bare minimum service. Explain extensive editing or reshoots are extra. You do not want to get into a situation where you are spending time on the phone, doing extensive edits, or having to do reshoots without extra compensation. Get a list of shots they want, estimate the time it will take, and be clear how long you will be on site. As you probably know, clients will try to squeeze you and keep adding extra stuff once you get there. If you explain at the beginning, you can say this will be extra as my pricing was based on this expectation. It will give you leeway of giving extra service if you feel like it, or get more if you feel they are taking advantage of you.
     
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  6. ru2far2c

    ru2far2c Well-Known Member

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    I was writing when you posted you reply John Harrington. His enclosed link is an old link. ;)
     
  7. F2Bthere

    F2Bthere Premium Member

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    Pricing cheap and sloppy to get the job is very likely to make you unhappy. You should be a decent deal due to inexperience, but not cheap.

    What I have observed and experienced is that underpaid jobs either do not lead to referrals or they lead to other underpaid referrals. :)

    One practice is to give them a fair and reasonable quote and then write in a discount. This has the advantage of showing that you know what a fair deal is, that you have normal rates and that you are giving them a deal. This time.

    Do a rock up job and blow the doors off. Put in the extra work and time because this is your chance to break in and, even though you are experienced, you are new to commercial.

    I'll second John Harrington as a good source:





    Also, ASMP is a good source. Their website has tools for calculating what to charge.
     
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  8. Woodworth

    Woodworth Premium Member

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    Most companies will expect a daily rate of at least £250 (uk), probably more, with expenses on top. They will expect you to be insured for Public Liability (or what ever that is in the US) and for you to invoice them in a form that is standard with business. Also payment will take quite a while, four weeks will be very quick. They may also have contractual confidentiality clauses, etc, etc. Do your home work so you don't fall into any traps or make a fool of yourself.
     
  9. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    Is the beer any good?
     
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  10. David Schneider

    David Schneider Premium Member

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    Either set an hour rate (or hourly rate for the photography, set-up time, etc. then a separate rate for post production work) or set a half or whole day rate, which would be what I would do as you said you would need to do staff as well as three trips.
     
  11. fatdeko

    fatdeko Premium Member

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    Your girlfriend works there. That's enough for me to suggest that you turn down the job. Both of you are inexperienced in this: You don't know what to charge because you haven't done this sort of thing and he doesn't know the value of decent photos because he's never paid for proper ones before. So you're both hemming and hawing about putting a finite dollar figure on your work and both of you are sort of trading on the shared relationship with your girlfriend and assume that any friction will be lessened by your mutual tie to her.
    This not only puts her in an awkward position: she would like her boyfriend to get a gig and her boss to get a deal, but it puts you in an awkward position if and when the scope of the project gets broadened for no more money, or if the invoice is not paid in a timely manner or if the amount is disputed because of unsatisfactory quality. In short, your new client has an extreme amount of leverage against you.
    Not worth the trouble, the headache or the money.
    If your work is good enough for his brewery, it'll be good enough for others that don't have the encumberances and conflicts that this gig does.
    As I see it, you have three choices:
    Walk away.
    Do it for free.
    TFB: Trade For Beer.
     
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  12. eurotrash

    eurotrash Premium Member

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    Very good comments posted here, thank you guys.

    First, let me clarify I don't do any work without a contract and everything in plain text. This applies across the board to anything I shoot for profit obviously.

    they basically want an entire rebrand done. They are outsourcing new can logos but want me to shoot the taproom, employee portraits, product shots, cover brew dates and canning dates, "lifestyle" type shots of product..I'd be delivering material they'd use on their website and social media for profit and they would acquire rights to use the material in any way they see fit. it'd be a few different visits for sure to capture everything because Brew/canning dates occur on different days of the week, every week. I was talking to a graphic designer pal of mine the other day over a few beers and he mentioned that $3000 probably wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility and even on the lowish side for all of that work. Here's my basic math on it: I estimate about 16 hours of shooting over the course of four visits. Let's say if my hourly rate is $75, that would already be 1200 bucks. Assume conservatively two times longer in post and we are up to 32 hours at $75/hr. That's 2400 bucks. Add in the rights to use the photos for PROFIT, indefinitely, for a few hundred and add gas and time to physically get there multiple times, you're right around three thousand. that doesn't even take into account my overhead such as software licensing, gear I'm bringing, all MY COB, so that number sort of makes sense to me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  13. eurotrash

    eurotrash Premium Member

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    Yeah, it's very good award winning beer. We have some of the best brewers in the business here in the area, one of which works at this brewery.

    While I can kind of see where you're coming from fatdeko, I think carefully weighing options in order to build new business relationships is par for course. Throwing in the towel because of inexperience in a particular field ultimately leads to zero growth both as a business person and a photographer and hardly seems like the ideal solution for either of us. After all, failure to learn and grow in certain areas is what led to their outreach stagnation in the first place. Also, I already get free beer from the place through the GF, and unfortunately for us all, beer doesn't pay bills:rolleyes: <- that was supposed to be a sad face..
     
  14. F2Bthere

    F2Bthere Premium Member

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    @fatdeko makes very valid points. It does sound like you have considered them.

    My sense is that there will be a lot more work than you anticipate.

    $3000 sounds pretty low.

    Your time estimates for creating a photo package for rebranding of their image also sound low, especially given it's a one man show. Are you planning to use lighting? Will you be directing people or are the images candid? Scouting the location or just going in and figuring it out? Is thought going into who will be in the shots (demographics, looks, ability to project the desired look--focused, happy, whatever)? Clothing and other styling issues? Dealing with eyesores?

    I do think one well done campaign with a solid portfolio to show for it could give you a good entry into a new area for your business.

    A friend of mine with deep photo skills went into a project alone that was similar to this in some ways (different industry). His experience wasn't in this sort of photography--he had depth in photojournalism, theater, events, portraits, which he has been doing for years full-time. He has a good eye and I trust him for advice on my work, for his editorial perspective.

    The schedule for getting the images of process, lifestyle shots, etc was...ambitious. I suggested he hire an experienced lighting assistant. He said there was no budget. He came back and needed help with post processing because the art director (independent, hired by the company, had hired the photographer) had issues. It was fairly clear to me the AD was not as experienced with buying photography as she might have been, which compounded the problems. The AD created the schedule and was not present on site. Her deputy was not useful.

    I think the experienced lighting assistant would have made a decisive difference. A second set of eyes, someone to prep the next location, the ability to bring more skillful use of light into the situation, someone who has worked on sets providing commercial work, someone who could buffer the impact a compressed schedule forces upon quality.... a skilled assistant makes the photographer look more competent and deliver better results.

    When inexperienced photo buyers work with photographers who are new to the area of photography, there is a lot of risk. The buyer expects images which can be printed at poster size, look like the finished images in commercial advertising and yet appear like they were taken casually.

    That one image in the magazine probably took a crew of people on set a day to create (photographer, 2-3 assistants (lighting and technical), wardrobe, hair, makeup, a stylist, a producer, paid models plus an art director and whoever they bring and perhaps a client representative). This isn't including support and post work.

    A lot of good work can be done light and lean, but everyone has to have reasonable expectations :).

    My advice....

    Maybe break it down to smaller jobs and get paid as you knock them out. That way, either party can walk away without hard feelings if it isn't going well and there is some incentive for everyone to stay in the game and play fair. It also gives a great feedback loop as you proceed. If the image for the first job falls short, you can work together to get it right. There is more clarity about expectations and what it takes to do the job. Which informs the next job.

    Consider hiring an experienced assistant for some of the jobs. A good assistant always defers to the photographer publicly, informs the photographer of problems discretely and is often more skilled than the photographer in many areas. They are often working photographers. Assistant work provides a source of fair income for work done on the day, without needing to generate the work or deal with it after the day is done. :)
     
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  15. EAB

    EAB Active Member

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    Lots of good advice above, and I agree on the pricing. Shooting everything you mentioned without skilled assistance and adequate (to the task) lighting is gonna be a path to disappointment. Especially the lisfestyle shots.

    Break it down into chunks and work your way through them. Start with the stuff you're experienced at and build your clients confidence while at the same time educating them in what is involved. Clients see lovely pictures and think gee that shots a piece of cake - just get some happy people in a room and shoot the party, what could be easier. Experiencer teaches us something else...
     
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  16. ru2far2c

    ru2far2c Well-Known Member

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    We all started somewhere. There are some wise words of wisdom above worth following.
     
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  17. Solo with others

    Solo with others Well-Known Member

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    First. You're going to mess this up and underprice it. I did that early on and still do from time to time. But I think what you want to do is make this work, get the experience, not damage the relationship, and maybe make some money. Not knowing the scope I like the idea of breaking this into base hits where things can't get too far afoul.
    1. You should always have a daily rate to start conversations with. Mine is $1K/day and that is for shooting, hauling gear, post processing, or standing around. That's what my time is worth.
    2. Always work with people that like your work and want you to be successful for them. That's one of the best things about being a photographer and will keep you out of trouble and stupidity. As soon as they try to make you feel like a commodity move on.
    3. From the daily rate you can find ways to make it more efficient for both you and the client if there is other benefit to be derived from the work. Will the introduce you and your work to others you are interested in working with? Can you use the content and story on your blog and portfolio? Is there follow-on work that will reduce your time and cost of future sales, etc.?
    4. Put a scope in writing that includes, trips, gear, post processing, delivery, license, etc. Use bullet points but make it comprehensive. If they look to reduce the price you need to have things outlined that can be thrown overboard to justify the lower price.
    5. Don't be afraid to be turned down. In most cases that's the best thing that can happen to you.
    I'm sure there is more but I hope this helps. Be cautious, and make sure the relationship can handle this especially with your wife working there.
     
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  18. eurotrash

    eurotrash Premium Member

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    Awesome advice all around and I do appreciate it all. I've learned from doing in the wedding world and I'm sure that there will be some setbacks if I continue to do commercial stuff, but I consider it all part of the game.

    I don't think they want the world honestly, they just want 'more professional images than what we've been taking with our camera phones since the start'. I actually think that when I hand them a contract they'll be taken aback that I'm taking it so seriously, lol.. They're really down to earth and I think with the expectations laid out on my end not being ultra-experieneced and the pricing which IMO is a deep discount given the time i'll be putting into it, I think we will both walk away happy. (Hell, this could let me buy a few things that I need for next wedding season and help to elevate my game anyway) This could lead to repeat business when they do events and things obviously so it's in my interest to take a small financial hit up front in order to get my foot in the door. I think it'll work out assuming they're not being cheap as usual and see the benefit of spending some cash to look MORE professional (again, perfection is not expected). If this were a corporate lawyer gig, I would have instantly turned it down for fear of messing it up beyond what I could fix, I simply know I don't have that kind of experience backing me.

    The wife is going to be on the way out gracefully soon though. She wants her weekends back, her main job is working at a busy corporate lawfirm in the city. It's certainly cushy enough where she really doesn't need the extra work. She's finally starting to realize her time is worth a little more than the meager pay provided by her other two jobs in addition.

    I'll make my pitch and see what happens. Sometimes in life you just need to take a leap of faith and you'll never know what happens until you try.
     
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  19. Solo with others

    Solo with others Well-Known Member

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    Best of luck. Try not to stress. And knock their socks off with great images. Don't get in a hurry. it will show in the work and you might drop a camera. (from experience)

    Cheers!
     
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  20. eurotrash

    eurotrash Premium Member

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    Dropped my XT-1 and 23mm last wedding I was at, right on some bricks. It hit RIGHT on the front element, but luckily just dinged the filter thread a bit. Second time that's happened to that poor lens.. It's still producing excellent images with no ill effects though (for now!) Whew*!
     

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