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05-23-2011, 09:01 AM   #16
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I agree with the sticking to your guns part. I've actually done a fair bit of work pro bono but my first pro shoots I'm just now starting to line up strictly professional work in my book for July and August. That's when I will be officially finished with my internship, have my first light kits all together etc. It wasn't easy at first. A couple of the first people in my appointment book came as referrals from other people who I had shot for free or that I bartered with for things. I nearly didn't keep the bookings once they realized I was going to actually ask them for money.

I had made it very clear though when I was doing those pro bono/barter shoots that I was only doing a few of them to build my portfolio and that was it. Those clients, and their friends, my new clients, they can't say I wasn't up front with them about that.

I've always gotten plenty of offers to work for free. Even when I only had an upscale point and shoot people would see my pictures and ask me to shoot them. More than once I did the odd impromptu maternity shoot,. I did new baby shoot, sets of head shots for actors I knew, formal portraits of friends, even with just my Fuji. I once shot a fund raiser at a club venue for a charity I support and for a year I spent one half day a week taking pics of shelter animals while volunteering there.

I didn't really feel quite right asking to be paid under the circumstances. (Though I was always grateful to be tipped or gifted which did happen often enough.) I was just learning and I wasn't walking around with professional equipment and a business card trying to make my living at it.

But now it's different. Now I have several hundred hours of training behind me. I have been mentored by two great guys and I'm almost ready to complete my internship and go out there and do what I'd consider professional work.

I have more equipment I need to buy. Eventually I'm going to need a second body and some more digital lenses, better ones than I have now. I'm definitely going to need more than just a basic 3 light kit etc. For now, I need to be able to put gas in the family car, but if I follow the business plan eventually I'll need a work truck. I have rent and other bills to pay and I'm not exactly getting much in the way of office work lately so yeah, the photo work I do definitely does have to pay at this point.

I got a vaguely annoyed look from a couple of my new clients when I first told them that I expected to be paid and what I'd charge, sure. They clearly didn't expect that they'd be among the first to actually have to pay me to do the work. But I don't do "favors" for people very often anymore. My best friend once in a while? Yeah, he can get away with asking. He was always good about modeling for me when I needed one to practice. For my pet charities definitely. I don't charge them. Never have, never will, but in general I'm not going to be out there shooting some acquaintance's best buddy as a favor to so and so anymore.

I'm done with that.

People will never pay you so long as you don't make it perfectly clear that you're now out there making a business of your photography. If they can get it for free, that's how they want to get it. But IMHO, as much as they gripe? They also tend to respect you and your work more when you're finally charging for it.

That's not to say you will never do a bit of pro bono work again in your life. Sure you will. It's good for business once in a while (and even better for your karma) I think. It's good to give back once in a while, but you can't do that all the time and ever make a living at your photography. You have to draw the line somewhere or remain resigned to doing it only as a hobby forever.

You want the phone to ring you have to give your clients a reason to call you versus just going to the local mall hack photo shop. Find your niche, your specialty. Find some type of photography that you're hopefully good at, like doing, and that hopefully the other photographers in your area aren't already covering to death. Do a few discounted or pro bono shoots to get the word out that you are doing it and to build a portfolio, then start charging. Eventually your phone will ring. It's bound to if you can offer something that is unique to you.

05-23-2011, 09:56 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by kerrowdown Quote
The mention of money often has that effect, stick to your guns because at the end of the day you still need to eat.

As for doing wedding work, it's really only a question you can answer, it's a tough gig and don't let others tell you otherwise, you do work hard for your money.

It's not something I've ever got into, thankfully, but that's just me.

Stay lucky.

Unfotunatley so does the term "photo release". Do clients really expect this in the digital age am bartering with a client on this issue the gig 140-160 people all ages 55 families at a reunion. Two hours. Client wants indoor and outdoor candids. She also wants family group shot whole family then individual branches 8 or 9. She also wants print sizes to be 5x7 or 8x10. (too small for the portraits she wants) but won't go larger than 8x10. And she wants photo release on cd/DVD for $5.00 per! I need clients can't really afford to turn away cash but can't do this at these terms. Idk really what to suggest to her or how to explain the reason for the cost of prints CDs and why I can't do photo releases. I know it will come across as me being greedy!
05-23-2011, 10:33 AM   #18
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In communicating this kind of dilemma, I recommend that you approach positively. Negotiation is all about knowing exactly what you will accept and what you will walk away from.

"I really want this job, AND I'd like to offer you this deal"

Try to find out if any of your competition (current or future) offer it. Personally I doubt it. Here even the most amateur semi-pro doesn't. Nice thing here is that the "buyers" seldomly ask.

I apologize if I presume too much
05-23-2011, 02:49 PM   #19
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Here is my situation. Buddy calls says he knows a friend looking for a photog. I email potential client. Family Reunion 140-160 guests all ages, 55 families and 8-9 generations! A two hour shoot indoor and outdoor. Client wants posed family portraits of entire group and individual branches or generations. Clients is expecting prints in the size of 5x7 or 8x10! (again for 140-160 people....ugh problem!). Aldo client is expecting photo cd of all shots for $5.00! With printing release. As I start gathering more info and pricing stuff together, I learn other photographer canclef after six months. I state there is no way I can do cd at $5 with release and explain why.

She stated limited budget and yada yada... So magic question what was other photog charging she comes back with sit down folks.... $175.00 plus $5 for CDs!

I was just about to send her my time fee of $200.00

My compromise was 30 minutes of shooting, just family portraits two 8x10's per family. And explained how people would look like ants. Also with no facial recognition when hung on wall. At $20.00 half my normal price due to volume.

Total with taxes $1,510.00. Broke down to $27.46 per family with
Cd without printing rights.

No client response. I thought that was dirt cheap!

05-23-2011, 04:23 PM   #20
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Perhaps heresy on this forum, but the big Canon forum (photography on the net, just Google "potn") has an excellent section on doing business as a photographer. And let's face it, they have a lot more people who do it for a living with their gear than we do...
05-23-2011, 04:48 PM   #21
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You can't even go to sporting event or take a cruise and not pay at least $20 per portrait. $175 for a two hour shoot for 150 plus people plus $5 per CD? That's criminally low. Bottom line, they don't want prints from you. They just want to buy your services behind the camera for 2 hours and print all they want on their own.

I personally wouldn't do it for that figure simply because of the sheer volume of people involved. Some of them are bound to be kids, which always takes longer and in a reunion setting people are always slow to move to where you want them anyway. Just getting everyone you want in front of the camera at the same time can be tough because there are people to be fed et all.

That amount of people just isn't something I could see anyone doing in less than twice that time and likely that's what will happen. You'll get there planning (and getting paid for) two hours, and end up spending 2X that time just to get everybody done. Not to mention you then have to go home edit and make a ton of DVD's which could take you another 5 or 6 hours at the very least.

IMHO, you should maybe remind them that Lincoln did sign a document prohibiting slavery, and explain that there is actually much more to a photo shoot than simply taking the pics for them? Okay, I'm being silly, but still, you should tell them that post processing takes up time too and that you usually get paid to do that. I'd have charged them less than $1500, but definitely at least 4X that $175 figure which was low when you consider how how much work is involved. Plus I'd have definitely charged them a hefty sum for the the photos on DVD to keep them because you know that for every one they actually order they're probably going to send out a dozen more.

As for selling the photos on DVD versus making prints? That's only something you can decide whether or not you want to go there. These days you'll get so many people asking you to release their personal photos to them on a DVD though that it's almost unavoidable. A lot of people won't give you the job if it's personal work unless you agree to that.

I can see it in a way. People want to own their own images of themselves and make as many prints as they want without having to call the photographer and spend even more money all the time. We live in a mobile society now and everyone has scanners and even a bubble jet printer is capable of making a decent print of a photo. They want to be able to post their pics online, send away pics to relatives not there, and they don't want to have to pay for that too.

Personally I don't intend to do too much by way of making prints for people. I'd rather just charge for the shoot and for post processing, then set a price to give them their photos on DVD to print as they like. It's not nearly as lucrative for me as making multiple prints is, but then again a lot of potential clients don't actually want me to be the one making prints anyway, and if I am going to lose work by insisting upon making traditional print package deals versus a DVD then it's not helping me to go that route anyway.

The bottom line is you want the work but you can't work for a pittance to get it. $175? That barely covers your actual costs for the shoot for two hours. It won't cover an assistant unless you can get one for free and you'll be still paying for gas etc out of your own pocket and donating your time for the post work. $150 people for $175? That's not even a dollar per person. That's just insane.
05-23-2011, 05:34 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChallengedOne Quote
Here is my situation. Buddy calls says he knows a friend looking for a photog. I email potential client. Family Reunion 140-160 guests all ages, 55 families and 8-9 generations! A two hour shoot indoor and outdoor. Client wants posed family portraits of entire group and individual branches or generations. Clients is expecting prints in the size of 5x7 or 8x10! (again for 140-160 people....ugh problem!). Aldo client is expecting photo cd of all shots for $5.00! With printing release. As I start gathering more info and pricing stuff together, I learn other photographer canclef after six months. I state there is no way I can do cd at $5 with release and explain why.

She stated limited budget and yada yada... So magic question what was other photog charging she comes back with sit down folks.... $175.00 plus $5 for CDs!

I was just about to send her my time fee of $200.00

My compromise was 30 minutes of shooting, just family portraits two 8x10's per family. And explained how people would look like ants. Also with no facial recognition when hung on wall. At $20.00 half my normal price due to volume.

Total with taxes $1,510.00. Broke down to $27.46 per family with
Cd without printing rights.

No client response. I thought that was dirt cheap!
Face it guy... some people are just cheapskates.... And explaining why you cost 2-3 times what "Uncle Bob" does just isn't going to get thru their thick skulls. My advice is to tell this prospective client (trying to be nice) that you are not interested in working for them at that rate...

You really need to get this book...

Amazon.com: Best Business Practices for Photographers (9781435454293): John Harrington: Books

John Harrington is one of the most savvy photographers in the business these days and he did a great job capturing the business side of the business... which is where 99% of failed photography businesses fail...
05-24-2011, 10:16 AM   #23
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Heard back from prospective client "I'm sorry we can't afford anymore than $200.00. We have a budget of just under $7,000.00 for two days, two catered meals, and several events.". Wow! un-real expectations... Maybe it's because I'm new!

MRRiley, thanks just ordered it...

05-24-2011, 05:28 PM   #24
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It's always amazed me that people are willing to spend thousands of dollars on food and decorations and things that won't last more than a couple of minutes or days... Yet they expect the person who is working his butt off to insure that their special day or event is accurately and completely recorded, in a form that will lasts for decades or longer, to work for peanuts (sometimes literally).

Mike
05-24-2011, 06:53 PM   #25
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Photography isn't the only field like that. Check out this knucklehead.
05-25-2011, 01:53 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Francis Quote
QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico:
My career and life might have been quite different had I apprenticed before attempting a (disastrous) shoot long ago. HINT: Never shoot your boss's daughter's wedding unprepared.
Oh my... I would love to hear that story
That will never happen. As a computer programmer aka software engineer aka codemonkey, I have been humiliated by devices with less intelligence than a termite. I have no intention of humiliating myself in public about using the wrong sync speed.
05-25-2011, 02:09 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by MRRiley Quote
It's always amazed me that people are willing to spend thousands of dollars on food and decorations and things that won't last more than a couple of minutes or days... Yet they expect the person who is working his butt off to insure that their special day or event is accurately and completely recorded, in a form that will lasts for decades or longer, to work for peanuts (sometimes literally).
My daughter's wedding was a beautiful thing, on Hallowe'en night in a huge dark Gothic hall with the organ playing Bach's Toccata & Fugue (Dm) and all attendees in full formal masque. My impending son-in-law was a celebrity chef, and food was provided by his mates, all the hip chefs in the SF bay area. And the photographer... well, she used to shoot the goth raves the happy couple had run, and she worked for friendship (and a few bucks). But even a seasoned wedding pro would have had trouble in that dim theatrical space, and she wasn't, and the shots mostly sucked. Some of what I shot from the sidelines with a 1.1mpx P&S were better than the 'official' pictures. So the spectacular event survives mostly in our memories, not in imagery.

MORAL: If you're going to get your wedding shot, get somebody who knows what they're doing, and pay them for it. NOTE: I wasn't asked to pay for the wedding. Whew.
05-25-2011, 03:41 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
That will never happen. As a computer programmer aka software engineer aka codemonkey, I have been humiliated by devices with less intelligence than a termite. I have no intention of humiliating myself in public about using the wrong sync speed.
LMAO! Private message? I understand where you're coming from.
05-25-2011, 04:34 AM   #29
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I guess to get business, I would consider giving special discounted rates for the first little bit. I think you have to decide as well if you are going to give people disks after a shoot (in which case you would just charge a large lump sum), or if you are going to sell people prints (in which case you would probably charge less).

The question of weddings is difficult. Either you like or you don't. My wife shoots weddings and when she started doing it, she had less gear than you have. She loves it. I have shot second to her and I hate it.

Anyway, you need a business model. With everyone and his brother owning digital cameras these days, people think that anyone can take good photos. You need to sell them on what you offer more than Aunt Nelly can with her cybershot...
05-25-2011, 04:53 PM   #30
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So, the OP has done this wedding by now? How about some shots?
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