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Archive 2013 · Upstart Needs Food Photography
  
 
davekatz
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


I was contacted by a small NYC-based company that wants to have 20 images per restaurant, starting with 10 restaurants with an unlimited license. This would normally sound pretty simple to price out, but they expect to do all 20 images in one session. All styling is done by myself in conjunction with the chef onsite. How should I go about pricing this? I don't want to lower the quality of my work, but 20 images of food in one day is unheard of (as far as I know in the editorial and commercial food industry).

Would a per-image contract make sense here? Or should I go with a flat day rate? Any suggestions are much appreciated!



Apr 06, 2013 at 12:39 AM
leethecam
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


I'd go for a day rate plus a % for the unrestricted licence.

20 plates to do in a day is a tall order and I'd make no promises in that respect - particularly if you are at the mercy of their chef. Some built in provision for extra time may be in order (you can pitch it as not wanting to overcharge initially by building in a potentially unnecessary safety net).

I've maxed at 18 in a day and these were full / complex plates - so it is possible. I kept my lighting simple and I use essentially one constant light with sets of mirrors for speed and efficiency. I shoot tethered which allows instant sign off by the client and this helps with getting through the shots.



Apr 07, 2013 at 05:14 PM
obscure
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


I would say "sure thing.... but"

The "but" being to make the client aware that a project of this size would normally take longer and that a rush job would cost more and, far more importantly, may impact on image quality - as there may not be sufficient time for the chef to prepare the dishes and for them to be dressed properly". I would then present them with two quotes. One for the shorter shoot with a higher price tag and one for the longer shoot with a lower price tag based on the fact that in almost any business a rush order costs more.

Work out how long you would expect a 20 image shoot to take and then cost that. Add 20% for the "rush", then add the usage fee (the % for unrestricted license mentioned by Leethecam).

The key is to make clear that you are more than happy to do what they want, can do it, but are concerned that the short time may put pressure on their staff that will impact of end quality. This puts you in an entirely positive light while making clear to the client that the time allotted is too short.



Apr 08, 2013 at 06:39 AM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Do they really need 20 images of food? or are there shots of the restaurants too?
Sounds like they sort of chose a random number of shots (20) to be done in a random amount of time (one "session", how long is a session?)
...time for a sit down and find out what they REALLY need and tell them how much time you need to make it work.



Apr 09, 2013 at 04:25 PM
davekatz
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


I will definitely build in a clause regarding overtime, because it may very well be necessary with so many plates per day.
I went with $200/day and they came back after about a week with no word and said I'm currently the top choice. Their next question is regarding travel expenses...

Since I'm traveling from New Jersey into Manhattan, there's gas, tolls and parking to consider. I could document all of these things and charge them exactly the expenses I'm incurring, or keep it simple and tack on an extra fee per shooting day. With the toll at $13, parking varying by neighborhood and gas varying by traffic, I was thinking $40 or $50 on top of the day rate. Does this sound reasonable? My competition is likely within Manhattan so their travel expenses are inevitably going to be lower- I figure by swallowing some of the expensive parking garages, I'll gain back some of that traction.



Apr 16, 2013 at 06:11 PM
BruceF99
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


davekatz wrote:
I will definitely build in a clause regarding overtime, because it may very well be necessary with so many plates per day.
I went with $200/day and they came back after about a week with no word and said I'm currently the top choice. Their next question is regarding travel expenses...

Since I'm traveling from New Jersey into Manhattan, there's gas, tolls and parking to consider. I could document all of these things and charge them exactly the expenses I'm incurring, or keep it simple and tack on an extra fee per shooting day. With the toll at $13, parking varying
...Show more

$200/day? That's a typo, right?



Apr 16, 2013 at 06:57 PM
davekatz
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Unfortunately not. Since I'm just getting started in the field, and this company is brand new, I thought that was appropriate.


Apr 16, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


All due respect but why do you think $200 per day is appropriate? Because it isn't.
How did you come up with that number? And when you swallow some of the "expensive parking garages" your fee will go down to $140 per day.
Are you going to bill them for post processing? If you cover that cost as well you will be losing more money to do this job.
Are you in the position to subsidize this restaurant business, who most likely has at least a couple million in start up money in the bank. Do you think any other of their vendors are essentially paying them to "work" for them?

It's too bad that these days there are very few beginning photographers who have a mentor or at least someone to ask business related questions, not a forum but a real live person or friend in the biz to help you from making deal like this....



Apr 18, 2013 at 06:42 PM
davekatz
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


I came up with that number based on a suggestion from an editorial and commercial food photographer in NYC, who I will not name, as well as a still life, portrait and lifestyle photographer from the area where I'm currently attending college. I quoted them travel expenses on top of the day rate, and pre- and post production is included. I'm not sure if you read the rest of the thread, but this is a small upstart (ie: without millions of dollars) and could prove to be a reliable client in the future. This is not to say that I should undersell at the outset, but if I price myself too high then I'm screwing myself out of what may have been a long lasting client.




Apr 18, 2013 at 07:02 PM
rockant
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


$200.00/ 16 hours (10 for shooting & 6 processing) = $12.50 an hour.

Considering the costs of your insurance cost and equipment maintenance. You will not even make minimum wage. That makes this a real money loser.

As for "future business" they will probably expect the same or similar rate, that would continue to allow you to lose money.

Lowballing yourself hurts both you and every other photographer trying to make a living.



Apr 18, 2013 at 07:29 PM
 

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davekatz
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


I didn't think of it that way.
Would you have any suggestions as far as what to do moving forward, besides take this as a lesson?



Apr 18, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Do a trade $500 in food.

Maybe I am over thinking it all, I have no idea what level of quality you are capable of and what the client expects or what kiind of place it is.. If its a drop and pop where they place a plate on the table in front of you and you shoot a few frames with available light or a flash on camera, or if you are going to spend any time fine tuning each shot.

i wouldn't concern myself with the option for future work as they will either find someone to shoot the next job at $100 a day or if they don't have a million or two $$$ available they will be out of business in 9 to 12 months because they are undercapitalized.

I am really surprised that ANY actual photographer would suggest a photo fee that is less than an assistant should make.



Apr 19, 2013 at 01:25 AM
cineski
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Dave, I hope you're not trying to make a living with photography, because $200/day is horrific and you just set the tone with what you're willing to do with this client. If that's what your market expects, you can further expect to have new photographers popping up when you start to get established bidding $200/day jobs which will put you out of business. Those new people will then get to the established point in their career to have another $200/day photographer come in. See the trend? Yes everyone has to start somewhere but wow.

Micky stated: It's too bad that these days there are very few beginning photographers who have a mentor or at least someone to ask business related questions, not a forum but a real live person or friend in the biz to help you from making deal like this.... This is completely correct and there's a lot of different catalysts for this. Unfortunately it's created a culture of unsustainability in our industry. Man this thread is frankly scary.

Let me put it another way. You're not even getting paid to cover the risk of taking your camera out of your apartment/house. Let's say it gets stolen, shutter breaks, whatever, you aren't making enough money on the job to cover any expenses like this and if something does happen what happens with your next client? You can't even rent get a replacement in hand for $200/day. Add the cost of doing business, insurance, retirement, living, etc etc and you'll see that as a beginner you should have charged $3-4000 for 20 shots like this which is $150-$200 per shot. That's what you should have charged as a beginner. And that's still not charging usage fees which is how photographers really make money and stay sustainable.



Apr 19, 2013 at 08:15 PM
tcphoto
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Your friend is giving you bad advice on that fee. I specialize in food images and it sounds like they want to throw the dishes out in the dining room and you just shoot them. That is a recipe for bad images, especially if you have limited experience. You will need a Food Stylist and at least one Assistant plus another day to produce images that are worth a damn. They want unlimited usage? I would not touch that project for less than $7500 and I would limit their term of use to two years. You are looking at at least one day of Pre Production, two Shoot Days and two days to edit the selects, so you better get paid accordingly.


Apr 20, 2013 at 03:37 AM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


I have a feeling that if it costs more than $200 the owner will do iPhone pictures. It doesn't sound like a place that would spend $7500 for a photo shoot..


Apr 20, 2013 at 04:33 PM
nolaguy
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


davekatz wrote:
I didn't think of it that way.
Would you have any suggestions as far as what to do moving forward, besides take this as a lesson?


Hi Dave,

This thread may feel disheartening to you at the moment – hopefully it will turn out to be the reverse and you’ll feel empowered to up your rates both in an absolute sense and factoring in all the “hidden” expenses everyone’s pointing out in their replies.

It may feel like it takes a lot of courage to break out of your current pricing mindset and quote what feel like huge numbers to you right now but (if you sort through this methodically) sustainable, reasonable pricing can (and must) become more “matter of fact” in your thinking.

In theory it can help to have your litany of justifications and explanations (insurance, taxes, retirement, etc) to share with a client if challenged but even that is a flawed approach. It’s sufficient for you to understand what you need to charge to be a viable business and make a commitment to yourself that you have no intention of living hand-to-mouth or not being able to clothe and house your family (the latter has always been a significant motivator and point of clarity for me personally).

Think less about what you guess the market will bear and more about the simple truth that if you can’t earn a sustainable living in photography, the sooner you discover that the better off you are (and if you aren’t business and accounting savvy, you may need to research business plans and consult an accountant).

Quote your price and don’t blink. Just as often as we fret over whether or not our pricing seems outlandish, clients worry that they don’t understand (or can’t afford) the cost of professional, high quality work. Note that part of marketing/selling any product or service is dealing with the “sure, you can always find someone who will do it cheaper, but here’s why you shouldn’t, etc, etc”.
[[Really think about the value-proposition you offer and what the client needs. What are the ramifications for him or her personally if the shots suck?... will their business suffer?... will their boss slam them? How are you solving their problem and how much is that worth to them? What do they fear?]]


One of my favorite mental games with customers or clients trying to negotiate or low ball is the simple statement: “Do you want it? Can you afford it? Great, sign here”. Even if I don’t say it aloud (and I sometimes have), it helps me remember that my price is what it is for a reason. If I capitulate, I’m subsidizing their retirement, not my own.

On the other hand, if you genuinely feel you’re not delivering work on par with other professionals, that’s another matter for another thread.

HTH and good luck.

Chuck


Addendum:

Coincidentally I just ran across this thread. In particular have a look at the NPPA calculator:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1204528

GoGo wrote:
…Please look here for an idea https://nppa.org/calculator
A supermodel (before the concept ever was thought up) once said "I don't get out of bed for less than $10,000!"


In my original reply I held back on my inclination to add a comment similar to the supermodel quote because I didn’t want to sound like a jerk but, minus a zero, that’s pretty close to my thinking.


I’m already (as typical) way into boringly-long-post territory so I’ll add this…

My senior year of high school I was organizing our prom and being the bright boy I was, I was sure I could negotiate the desired band down from their standard fee. I laid on my best (preppy, good student, class officer, athlete, etc) rationale on the band’s (stereotypically stoner) “leader”. He looked me in the eye and said: “Dude, it costs us $XXX to just pack up our sh*t and walk out the door.”

It was one of my first really useful lessons in business.







Apr 20, 2013 at 06:20 PM
davekatz
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


I very much appreciate all of the feedback- this has given me some real-life insight into issues that I had before only intellectualized.

cineski wrote:
Dave, I hope you're not trying to make a living with photography, because $200/day is horrific and you just set the tone with what you're willing to do with this client. If that's what your market expects, you can further expect to have new photographers popping up when you start to get established bidding $200/day jobs which will put you out of business. Those new people will then get to the established point in their career to have another $200/day photographer come in. See the trend? Yes everyone has to start somewhere but wow.

Micky stated: It's too bad that these
...Show more

I see your point regarding being undercut, and I want to make clear that this is not a pricing structure that I plan to live by or set as a standard. Every client has different needs and a different budget. For this reason, I felt this day rate was appropriate based on a 10+ year professional's opinion as well as the status of the client's company. Could they be lying about their "small" budget? Sure, they could. I looked them up as much as I could and found nothing more than their one-page website describing themselves and a contact page for vendors. That was proof enough for me that they're new, and can't afford to pay what would otherwise be a normal day rate for this sort of photography.

I totally agree with Micky's sentiment, and the person whose advice I took is somebody I've met with multiple times, worked with on an editorial shoot, and plan to work with in the future, so please don't make assumptions. I wholeheartedly believe in the craftsmanship of photography, and as such plan to continue my 'apprenticeship' phase, assisting for those photographers whose style resonates with me. This opportunity came along and I asked my 'master' how to price it, and followed his advice accordingly. Though definitely insightful, I think there are a lot of strong opinions being thrown around here that are a little out of line.

I've done my research regarding pricing structures, both print and online, and this figure only came after a lot of mulling and discussion.

tcphoto wrote:
Your friend is giving you bad advice on that fee. I specialize in food images and it sounds like they want to throw the dishes out in the dining room and you just shoot them. That is a recipe for bad images, especially if you have limited experience. You will need a Food Stylist and at least one Assistant plus another day to produce images that are worth a damn. They want unlimited usage? I would not touch that project for less than $7500 and I would limit their term of use to two years. You are looking at at
...Show more

I think you are right that they aren't looking for highly stylized imagery, but rather a high quality version of what one might encounter at these restaurants. I did limit the usage to 2-years, web only.

Micky Bill wrote:
I have a feeling that if it costs more than $200 the owner will do iPhone pictures. It doesn't sound like a place that would spend $7500 for a photo shoot..


Agreed 100%. Had I quoted them something more reasonable by the standards of working professionals, they would have gone to Best Buy and purchased their own camera and shot it themselves.



Apr 21, 2013 at 11:57 PM
davekatz
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Nola,
I appreciate the understanding. It's definitely a bit scary to name prices like these, but I am beginning to see the bigger picture.

Might a software solution like fotobiz or blinkbid be appropriate so as to minimize this whole process next time around?



Apr 22, 2013 at 12:03 AM
nolaguy
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


davekatz wrote:
Nola,
I appreciate the understanding. It's definitely a bit scary to name prices like these, but I am beginning to see the bigger picture.

Might a software solution like fotobiz or blinkbid be appropriate so as to minimize this whole process next time around?



Dave, we've all been there. No worries. You'll know you're getting on top of it when it scares you to not "name prices like these".

I'm not personally familiar with the software packages you mention but a quick google suggests yes, they might be great for you. Perhaps others who know these apps could chime in.

The biggest thing is to account for all costs and income requirements in a sober fashion. Not worst case. Not rose colored glasses. Reality - on average. Be prepared for worst case and hope for rosey, but price based on what you realistically expect to be true.

You'll be wrong. Find your mistakes and make adjustments as quickly as possible. Nobody gets it just right. The successful folks just identify and correct mistakes faster than the rest of us, then they look for the next ones.

Have fun with it.

Chuck



Apr 22, 2013 at 03:33 AM
cineski
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


I know you're not saying this, but if that's the case people should simply not agree to those terms. There's more value in saying no just as much as there is saying yes. It just depends on the situation.

Micky Bill wrote:
I have a feeling that if it costs more than $200 the owner will do iPhone pictures. It doesn't sound like a place that would spend $7500 for a photo shoot..




Apr 22, 2013 at 07:11 PM
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