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09-20-2017, 06:38 PM   #1
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What would you charge?

I just lost a small photo job based on price, and would like to know what you think is a fair price for the job.

A person in my neighborhood created a web page to sell brackets he makes to hang Jeep doors on the wall. He wants better pictures than the ones he took with his iPhone. I went over to look at his garage where the brackets are installed. There are a number of challenges. The garage door track partially occludes the wall, and there are many other things creating reflections and obstacles. If you look closely at the reflections in the doors, you can figure out what is in the room.

How much will it cost to persuade a photographer to take “better” pictures?

09-20-2017, 07:25 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffBurns Quote
I just lost a small photo job based on price
So you lost this job to his iphone?

QuoteOriginally posted by JeffBurns Quote
How much will it cost to persuade a photographer to take “better” pictures?
Not sure I understand what you mean here???

If you are asking what someone would charge to shoot those photos, then likely you will get a variety of answers. But the reality is if the customer is happy with his iphone snaps then nothing is going to convince him he needs to spend money on 'better' pictures. It's like trying to convince someone who thinks McDonald's hamburgers are just great that they should spend $35 on a nice dinner. Just not going to happen, they do not see the value. (OK, maybe a loose analogy but you get the idea.)

I had a client who wanted images of their artwork for a website. Fused glass and difficult to shoot without reverse polarization. I quoted them $40 per image for shooting at their location, developing and color matching. They decided to shoot them with their iphone. And personally I was glad because by the time I hauled lights, stands, polarized filters and gear to their house, set up, shot and then went back and developed I doubt I would have covered my time. Not all gigs are good gigs.
09-20-2017, 08:26 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffBurns Quote
I just lost a small photo job based on price
If price is the customer's first priority, you do not want him for a client. Nothing but a PITA. And, remember, there's ALWAYS someone who'll do it for less.

The clients you want are the ones seeking quality.
09-20-2017, 10:54 PM   #4
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The first rule of any negotiations is to ask the "client" what they are willing to pay or what is their budget. From there you can either:
a) Walk away.
b) Conditionally accept their offer.
c) Tell them your fee, but negotiate for a compromise between their offer and your fee.

My only other suggestion would be to do a few shots for free as a sample of your work. Let them know in advance if they like it, what is your fee to continue shooting.

Pro photography is extremely hard unless you've got an agent or work with an agency that knows your value and standard fees. A web designer entrepreneur that sells Jeep door wall hanging brackets out of his garage is not going to have the budget or the appreciation compared to a marketing firm putting together a catalog or brochure for an auto parts convention.

09-21-2017, 04:31 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
So you lost this job to his iphone?
The customer is not happy with his iPhone shots. That’s why he was looking for a photographer.
09-21-2017, 05:43 AM   #6
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Alas, "fair price" has nothing to do with it. You are competing with the client's perceptions of how easy the job will be ("it's just a 2-minute job for anyone with a real camera") and the willingness of other photographers to do it for a low price.

That said, there is a fine art to sales of services like photography in which anyone with a Canon Rebel can do a bad job for a low price. Your sales task is to educate the client on what it will take to get a good image (avoid nasty reflections, shadows, bring out the finely crafted shape of the brackets, add drama with lighting, etc.) This will show them that the job is not just a point-n-shoot snapshot and they will be cued to hate the work of any other photographer who does not do a good job.

Once the client understands that a good image actually takes a fair amount of work (and that you know what you're doing), they may be willing to pay you closer to a fair price.
09-21-2017, 06:02 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Find out what he makes an hour and charge him that.

The fact that he tried with his iPhone and failed is a bad sign. That means there are lighting, and other technical problems. Find out what he expects to pay and negotiate, but also don't be afraid to walk away.

I'd start off with, "If you paint the wall an even colour , remove the overhead door track, rent some lighting for illumination, build a litght box around the doors to block the reflections, I'll do it for $25.

IN short, I wouldn't attempt what amounts to commercial photography in someone's garage. There's just way to much opportunity for a dissatisfied customer. One of my friends used to shoot huge trucks for GM and Peterbuilt. He had huge circus style tent and huge lights. He could drive the trucks right into the tent and then use the canvas as light diffusers for the light banks outside. Personally, I set up my basement to do some product shots for a niece who was running her own mail order business. We did that for nothing. I dug up some old optical slaves I hadn't used for years and did a brief shoot with Tess wearing some of her clothes. For a guy who trained in a studio they were abysmal but we had fun and the sense of the fun we were having was a big part of the images, Technically, they were at best so, so. We didn't charge anything for that. It was like having a hobby for me. She was happy, it was better than her bazillion iPhone images.

It all depends on what the guy is expecting. A good photographer is a good photographer because he gets the job done meeting the expectations of the client. If you can't meet expectations for the money he wants to pay, pass on the job. But, be aware of what you need to do to get it done to his expectations and don't do less.

Doing less will get your name tossed around in an unfavourable light as in " I paid <fill in the blank> $25 to take these pictures and they suck." Nobody needs that.

I once had someone ask me to build them a custom screen door for $75 and they thought they were doing me a favour. ( For custom work double retail for the same thing is a good rule of thumb. He offered me 30% less than retail, so $200 would have been a fair price. Just because some body wants something doesn't mean they can afford it or will pay it. Sometimes it's just better to go and mow your lawn or do something at which you have a chance at success.

Your first clue he doesn't understand the process enough to value it is he took bad images with his iPhone. People who are DIYers rarely are willing to pay market value for work done by others. You're going to have to educate him, and then come up with some images. It might be more more complicated than you're anticipating.

For many of us, it's just not worth it for a one time job. There's commercial photographers struggling to make a living. I could create a commercial studio in my shed and do jobs like this, but I wouldn't unless I had a long term contract.The set up an knock down for a one off is going to be 3 times as expensive and just going to someone who's already set up.

Or as the old joke says...
" There's thousands comedians out of work, and you gotta crack corny jokes."

Last edited by normhead; 09-21-2017 at 06:27 AM.
09-21-2017, 09:58 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Unless you're doing photography as a profession (or at least a side job) and have standard rates established, there's no way to price something like this and really get it right, simply because the client doesn't really have a value assigned to the project because he doesn't know the return value.

What is he willing to pay? He doesn't know because his website is just a thing on the side. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like he's someone who can make a novelty item he can sell to a special interest group to make a little bit of money on the side. (Nothing wrong with that.) He's not a businessman and he's not really running a business; he's running a hobby that makes some money. (And wow do I have a lot of experience with people who do that!) As a result, he doesn't know what value to place on premium photographs because he doesn't know how much they are going to help sell his product. He may not think it makes any major difference in sales; given what he's selling, that may be totally correct.

So how much can you charge? Probably not much. You probably need to view it as a favor, something that gives you enough cash to go out for a nice dinner; if you can get $50 from him, you're probably doing well. You can try to educate him all you want; it's not going to make a difference on how much expertise you're giving him because he doesn't have a return value he can assign to those skills (specifically, the photographs). If he knows that his iPhone photos will move 5 units but your photos can help him move 100, he'd listen a lot more. But he's not a marketing major, not a business man, etc. He has no idea what your product is going to do for him and so he will assign it a low value.

Compare this to something like professional headshots for an aspiring model or actress. She knows the importance of those photographs and how critical they are to her getting work in her desired field. If she's serious about getting that work, she will pay $500-1000 for those if the work is good enough. If she's just someone who wants to screw around, she won't even pay $100. But in this situation, there's a clear expectation (or hope, more accurately) of return on her investment and she can quantify that. $1000 is worth it if the jobs she can get with those photos pay 20-50x that. If the jobs only pay $200, she won't pay $1000.

09-21-2017, 12:45 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Find out what he makes an hour and charge him that.
^^ My fantasy. And only working for lawyers.

If you're too busy, you're not charging enough, and vice versa. Just depends on where your comfort zone is.
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