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Lesson 36 Photography Rates´s archives ↓

Lesson 36: Page 01

Lesson 36: Page 02

What to Charge, that is a tough question

When I receive a call from clients regarding a shoot, they usually fall into two categories: clients I have worked with and new clients. Regular clients call me because I am the guy and they want me to do the job. New clients call because they have been referred to me or are calling based on a promotion they may have received from me.

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Lesson 36: Page 03

Then you can do another assignment in the afternoon for another client at the half day rate. Here again, you have to be careful. If they want a simple head shot, $750 is outrageous fee to charge. So you have to again, qualify the client.

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Lesson 36: Page 04

We all would like to get usage fees, but the reality is that is quite difficult on a local level. I chat with other photographer/friends about this and the general consensus is when working locally that clients will move on if you insist in being paid usage fees on top of shoot fees. Here is how these clients work: if you are one of 100 photographers in Nashville Tennessee and the client contacts 10 of you to get bids for a job, the client is comfortable that all 10 of you can do the job because they have seen your work. If 7 of the 10 bid $2000 for the job and the other 3 quoted $2000 plus $1000 for usage, who gets the job? I can guarantee that this is how it works, which means getting usage fees on a local level is difficult if not impossible. Most photographers want and need the job more than losing it to usage fees.

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Lesson 36: Page 05

If I’m working for a new client then everything is in writing right from the beginning. I can tell you of one bad experience I had years ago. A graphic designer friend of mine contacted me and asked me to shoot this project for one of his clients. I never met the client nor do they even have a conversation with them because I trusted my graphic designer friend. I began setting up and shooting the products at the manufacturing plant where they were made and during this time the company’s marketing manager asked me to do six additional shots. I never would say “no I’m not going to do it because it was not part of my original bid” rather I always say “sure no problem.” I completed the six additional photos and The content you are trying to access is only available to members. Sorry.

Lesson 36: Page 06

  • Client Layout: does the client have a layout to show you what they envision for the photo? If you’re shooting for advertising, design projects, annual reports, or any other print pieces it’s very common for the art director to show up with a layout to show you exactly what they envision the photo look what. The sooner you can look at this the better because you can start planning on how you will execute the photograph.

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Lesson 36: Page 07

  • ¬†What does the set look like? Do you need background materials such as canvas, paper, or are you building a fake set to simulate a location. For example, one time we had a shoot in the studio for a company that made siding for homes. So we had a set builder construct a fake wall with windows and the siding attached to each wall. We then moved each wall into position in the studio and propped it up with boards hidden behind the section of the wall. In some cases we created fake flower gardens and planted flowers in bark dust. In another one replaced the bicycle leaning against the side of the house and so on. If you’re doing this type of commercial photography it is good to know a local set builder if you are not keen enough to build these types of things.

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Lesson 36: Page 08

More on Calculating your fee

This is without a doubt the toughest part of your job in trying to earn business. Some photographers charge very little like one half or two thirds of the going rate for their area. In my market day rates are currently $1200 a day to $1500 today but one half would be $600 a day. Very well-known photographers might charge $5000 or more per day and even some of these high profile photographers might make 5 to 6 figures for one photo shoot.

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Lesson 36: Page 09

One photographer friend of mine has a great strategy for dealing with situations like this. The client provides him a list of how many shots are needed and he looks at the list and thinks it will take five days. He quotes the client for five days but uses a sales pitch that basically says if it takes six days they still only have to pay him for five days, but if he gets it done in four days he still gets paid for five days. It’s a sales pitch thing!

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Lesson 36: Page 10

Other photographers who are working in the high end of advertising photography are not only successful in getting top pay rates, but they also get usage fees, and the client pays to rent their camera gear for the job as well This means they are charging equipment fees for their photographic gear on top of assignment and usage fees. I am confident that this is extremely rare and only successful in the high-end of advertising photography. I know of nobody successfully charging for the use of their own camera gear to the client.

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