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Introductions / Re: Interior photos -- pricing/licensing question
« Last post by Jeff Behm on January 16, 2018, 07:22:43 PM »
Really good stuff, Steve, as always.

[12 hours later]
Now that I'm not on my phone to reply, I'll add that I don't tell clients a "day rate".  I tell them I quote "Their Job" for which I need to learn more about their needs.  Between you, me and the wall, I do know what the so called day rate is, and can plug it into my calculations for myself.  However, telling clients a day rate leads to preconceptions that aren't easy to dislodge, once we know the facts.  Especially if there's any sort of increase between what they thought a day rate told them versus the final numbers.
Introductions / Re: Interior photos -- pricing/licensing question
« Last post by Sbuchanan on January 16, 2018, 06:58:14 PM »
Sorry I'm a bit late to the thread here, but please indulge me...

1. The emphasis on CODB is important, but please remember that CODB is a floor, not a baseline. This is the number you MUST stay above.  Otherwise, mine for bitcoins. 
2. Keeping abreast of the competition is not a task, but a process. It needs to be part of your regular routine. If you're not willing to do so, bitcoin.
3. Always ask what their budget is - that will inform the conversation moving forward. We've all been bitten by forgetting, or neglecting that step. Learn from the mistakes of others.
4. I hate day rates. I really hate half day rates. And if you ask me for an hourly rate I may use some curse words that would impress a middle schooler. The problem, for a photographer, with day rates is that is doesn't account for experience, skill, equipment costs, usage, talent or shoot specific conditions. I've been doing this 20 years, and I know I'll get more done in a day than most others. But if I'm charging by day rate, that efficiency works against me, instead of with me.

I use the creative fee method. I consider how long it will take(ie, days shooting based on my CODB,) how many images they want, and what their usage is. That calculus goes into a creative fee. For example...

2 days at CODB at 600/day and 10 shots at $500/shot brings me to a creative fee of $6200. Along with that you've got to add pre and post production time (billed out your CODB,) crew (assistants, grips, digital techs,) props(flowers, fruit, furniture,) rentals(your gear) and anything else that may come along (travel, insurance riders, security, bourbon, etc.)

Finally, one further shoe to throw into the cogs. Consider multi client licensing. This builder may have other trades-people that they've worked with on these projects. Those trades are potential customers. If you can work a package deal with multiple clients, you can effectively lower the production costs for all involved, while simultaneously increasing your licensing fees. 
General Discussion / Re: Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 1.4/50mm on Canon or Nikon?
« Last post by otto on January 16, 2018, 05:55:09 PM »
I think this is the solution!!!! THANKS!
Introductions / Re: Interior photos -- pricing/licensing question
« Last post by Duck on January 16, 2018, 01:05:42 PM »
Not getting off subject but taking a side step, how many of you have done (or recently redone) market research on your competition?

I am currently working on going full time and need to seriously up my game. I won't have my other job to support me ;-) so I started looking into who is doing what, where. I know Todd keeps a finger on the pulse in his area, which is admirable considering the time involved, I am finding. About 30% of the photographers within a reasonable area to me are doing commercial photography. The rest are in the consumer market with weddings and headshots being the top two leaders. Of those 30% about half are what I would consider really good solid producers. Not that it matters since that whole 30% would be competition. The majority of that 30% also seem to do anything that comes their way, from architecture to product to editorial work. That probably says something about the area market.

I'm finding the more data I collect the clearer the image I get of what is being produced in my state. It also shows the path I'll need to travel down to start in order to get some more experience under my belt.
Introductions / Re: Interior photos -- pricing/licensing question
« Last post by Jeff Behm on January 16, 2018, 08:54:58 AM »
In another thread we've talked about how Todd's primary niche (High School seniors) has literally dissolved in the matter of about 2-3 years.  I don't think any of us really saw that dissolve coming, but fortunately, he'd already begun work on a new niche that has replaced seniors.  Finding that niche that provides a desirable service is the key.  For 27 years I photographed industrial and manufacturing in western PA, near the steel city and was known for being able to do it well.  Train cars, Sailboats, ladders, porcelain products, china and the processes by which these were made were my biggest clients.  When these had all gone away, exported to other countries, I moved to Frederick, where I am now.  There is no manufacturing to speak of here, but I had also photographed food and jewelry in PA, and those are here in plenty.  So I rededicated myself to learning how to do the available products better than I ever had before, and pushed for more of that work.  These (plus headshots) are now what I'm known for. 

If what we're doing isn't in demand anymore, rebrand, retool, re-learn, move, or move on to something else are about the only choices we have.  Those aren't always pleasant options, but I was willing to do almost anything to stay in photography.  Finding new ways to do that was thrust upon me, but so far it seems to be working out.  That's not a pat on the back for me, it's hard to take pride in being forced.  But in my experience, it was necessary and, so far, it's worked.
Introductions / Re: Interior photos -- pricing/licensing question
« Last post by Jenny Gavin-Wear on January 15, 2018, 08:07:52 PM »
Thanks Jeff, I totally agree, it's the way I work, too.

My business is based on a failed model and I need to drastically change it or get out of it.  That's my bottom line.

Not enough actors in my locale.  Not enough of those prepared to pay my price.  So many photographers who are either pricing to go bust or aren't needing to earn a full living from it.

Business headshots aren't paying enough and the vast majority of the market has a low expectation.

Ho hum.
Introductions / Re: Interior photos -- pricing/licensing question
« Last post by Jeff Behm on January 15, 2018, 06:09:41 PM »
Duck's negotiation outline is really important, because when they want to pay less, they get less, not the same for a lower price; they get less.  Otherwise they're strong-arming you.   A corporation with operations in 10 eastern cities asked for a quote last week.  Once we started to talk, I asked if they had a budget I needed to stay within. They did not, they didn't know what it might take.  On the other hand, a single operation client I met with two weeks ago, when asked about budget, gave me a figure that was half what I was beginning to think they'd need.   But the point is, they had a budget.  I explained why I couldn't meet their budget, but suggested ways to split the difference if they really wanted to use our services.  They do, and the retainer is on it's way.  At least, I think so.  :)
Introductions / Re: Interior photos -- pricing/licensing question
« Last post by Duck on January 15, 2018, 02:21:29 PM »
As Jeff states, calculating you CoDB is key. That gives you your bottom line and everything will be measured against that bottom line.

The hardest thing I am finding as I too enter into a full time photography business is that I am not established so I don't know what product will be profitable and which will be filler services (i.e. headshots for Jeff). Until you have put some time into your business and what demands your clients have of you it's going to be a bit of a guessing game. That's the frustrating part. What you can rely on in all that is that CoDB calculation, because with that you will have the numbers to calculate hourly, daily and even project pricing. That will be your bottom line.

I was asked to quote a large menu shoot last year. It was an ongoing project over several weeks with full day shoots each session. I began with my baseline and added on all the extras (assistant, rents, licensing, etc.) Their jaw dropped when I gave them the estimate but I told them I could work with them. I dropped my price by 20% by removing a few "extras" and resubmitted. It came back as too high again. Then it occurred to me I hadn't asked their budget (rookie move but lesson learned) they told me their budget, I reworked the schedule and the licensing in order to keep my baseline (plus a little extra) and met their budget. They were happy, I was happy, my assistant was happy and I get to revisit the license in two years (instead of the original 5 I had quoted). I also included language that would limit image use to their one location. So when they're ready to franchise I get paid again. A caveat that works for both of us. They get a stay on payment that they can pass on to the franchisee and I get another paycheck for work already done.
Introductions / Re: Interior photos -- pricing/licensing question
« Last post by on January 15, 2018, 01:47:01 PM »
Thanks, Jeff...great info and very helpful.  Definitely hear you on the CODB calculations, and their importance to establishing the "floor" for a quote.  I also can appreciate Jenny's concerns.  I have read a lot of back-and-forth on lots of forums about pricing and there's a distinct tension between "what the market will bear" vs. "what my business-oriented pricing structure and quality of work is worth."

I don't know that that's ever going to go away.  I've given away work on more than one occasion for a prospective client -- and I've used each of those occasions as opportunities to educate them about what goes in to the creation of a great image.  This most recent experience was one such example...the client was there with me, and watched as I went about setting up lights, composition, etc.  I shot tethered so he could see the OOC images, and then what happened when I spent just a few minutes doing some editing.  He was blown away at the difference in quality between what I was showing him and what he had been getting on his own.  I told him that photographers don't take snapshots...we bring technical and artistic expertise to bear in order to create something beautiful and/or useful.  I've found it's easier when dealing with corporate clients...they already start with an understanding that if you pay cheap you get cheap work.

One resource that I've found an fotoBiz, the pricing database tool.  It's not perfect, but has been good to give me a place to start from.  Just like getting a rough idea of hourly or day rates is a starting point I can work from...still needing to know if those rates fit my CODB needs or not.  But it has been a great tool in the sense that one of the hardest things I found when I decided to jump in with both feet was finding anyone willing to share their pricing numbers so I had that data point to help me build my own model.

I'm surfing lots of real estate and architectural photographer sites to get some ballpark numbers, asking the question on forums and then using what I find to level-set against my own projections.

Thank you both for your time in responding...I'll drop an update once I throw out the proposal and end up with something.

Introductions / Re: Interior photos -- pricing/licensing question
« Last post by Jeff Behm on January 15, 2018, 01:31:39 PM »
What it costs me to thrive in business has never been dependent upon what others charge, and therein lies a significant difference, that between our real cost of doing business/profitability and competitors who under charge, usually out of ignorance of CODB.  Now, once I know my CODB and have determined what profit I want to have left over, I might choose to sharpen the pencil a bit.  The biggest change that's happened in this industry isn't just the glut of wannabes, it's also the damage done to clients' ability to recognize quality imagery.  That's  from having seen too many crappy social media photos made by unskilled wannabe professionals.  Couple that to so many poor images on TV or online in general, and we have watered down peoples' perception of quality.  Therefore, if our work doesn't absolutely stand out, how is the uninformed prospective client to decide?  As a result, they lump all photographers together as a commodity - as if we were all corn flakes, and their only job was find corn flakes at the lowest price.  We have to be good enough to be able to elevate our appeal - become bacon and eggs vs cornflakes -  to those who really appreciate what we do, and are willing to pay what we know we need to thrive.  That's usually down to about 10% of the market, so larger communities may support us better.  Of course, larger towns also mean more competition. 

That all said, the only thing that I might consider to be somewhat commodity-like in my entire repertoire is the business headshot.  It's the only thing on my website that has a listed price, and even that carries a "Starting at" descriptor.   Most US headshots are rather generic, at least for business people, the larger portion of that genre I'm asked to create.  Because they're a bit generic and commodity-like, that's a low stated price, done only in my space with a selection from some standard backgrounds, etc.  Custom and location fees go up, because now we're no longer generic. 

So, in answer to the low-ball person, be obviously better, provide great, great service and imagery.  Learn what your selling points are and how to close the sale at the first meeting, or you'll likely lose the prospect.  I guess, in summation, we may want to be aware of the low prices out there, but not "worry" about them.  That's hard to do, but in order to be proactive, I have to find and impress the right clientele, not lower my standards to compete with a person charging ridiculously low prices who is essentially funding their photo hobby while living off their day job.  There's no way I can truly meet that standard, because photography IS my day job.  Therefore, move on, mentally at least.
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