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Archive 2013 · Upstart Needs Food Photography
  
 
infocusinc
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p.2 #1 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


cineski wrote:
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.



Not to mention the damage to ones reputation...budding or not...caused by doing work that is not really up to snuff and priced way too cheap.

I know its a catch 22 for an upstart photog. You need work and you need samples. You MIGHT and I stress the word might dig yourself a hole here that will be really hard to climb out of.

What happens to you when someone asks the restaurant owner abut the photos, not liking them? Oh that was so and so he says. Or asks about then liking them...oh that was so and so, he works for next to nothing.

Learning to say no and to price your work correctly are the hardest lessons you will learn in this business.

I say no all the time and many times second guess myself after the fact, but I always come back to valuing my work and reputation.

There is an old saying in thus business and it still rings true.

You are only as good as your last job....

Words to live by if you plan on doing this for a lifetime.





Edited on Apr 24, 2013 at 11:25 PM · View previous versions



Apr 23, 2013 at 09:11 PM
davekatz
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p.2 #2 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Points well taken. Glad to be learning these lessons sooner rather than later


Apr 24, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Crabby
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p.2 #3 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


This thread IS very frightening. I strongly urge you to do the asmp CODB calculator.Check out Photoquote. Check out Corbis or Getty or even Istock Photo how much a single rights managed, exclusive use image would cost.
A couple things to keep in mind with CODB. A full time independent pro (woking by him/herself) will be very busy billing for 50 shooting days a year. Those billing days have to pay for everything or else your career and your clients through your work are being subsidized by outside sources like your other job or your spouse's job. When I say your billing days have to pay for everything I mean everything. That means equipment, repairs, liability insurance, health insurance, transportation, maintenance, retirement, and fixed expenses like how much you need to be paid each month just to name a few. Plus you have to charge enough to at least get by starting out and less busy. You have to calculate things like health insurance even if you are not paying for it now because soon you will be.
I would not argue with you Dave, but $200 a day for this job is ridiculously low. Figuring out how long it will take you to complete this project and calculating $200 an hour would be on the low side but at least in the ball park. You are perpetuating bad information by doing a job below its value let alone below its cost. A full time minimum wage unskilled laborer cost an employer roughly $200 a day. You're saying your skills are comparable to a drive through clerk?
Unfortunately you have now set this as the standard. This company will now never pay a penny more this work and in fact next time if there is a next time they will try to figure out how to get even more for that price.



Apr 25, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Crabby
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p.2 #4 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


davekatz, I just viewed your website. If this comparable to the work you are doing or will be doing for this company, you should be totally ashamed of yourself. These restaurants are going to make a boatload of money thanks to your work and give you the shaft. You would make out better on the corner with a cardboard sign saying "Will work for food, God Bless".
I can't fathom what "pro" would recommend working at anything near this skill level for anything near $200 a day! I can hardly find an assistant that knows what a pocketwizard is for that amount. And I'm in a lower cost of living area.
You didn't sell yourself short, you sold yourself out.
Sorry to be so blunt but this company is laughing all the way to the bank. Please next time let them go to walmart and buy a casio. Or perhaps you could have offered to shoot the first restaurant and let them see your work before charging a reasonable fee and if they don't think its worth the price they can walk away. That way you would at least have the learning experience and some images for your portfolio which is virtually all you are getting out of it now. My guess is if they bulked at first, they would be running back after seeing what the bartender did with the casio. Or let them suffer the consequences in go out of business in a year or so or pay again later to have the work redone. Nothing brings down a business's image like bad photography.
You are afraid. You think anyone can do what you do. They can't! Straighten up or bow out.



Apr 25, 2013 at 08:31 PM
davekatz
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p.2 #5 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Points well taken Crabby. I'll need to find a software to work with that I can grow into. And yes, this whole valuing my work thing is a little scary, but it's not like I have a choice but to get over it. Thanks for your words. This is the last time I make this mistake.


Apr 26, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Crabby
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p.2 #6 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Sorry for the tough love. I'm glad you are not taking offense and taking it to heart. At this point it's not really directed at you but another beginners looking for insight.
In commercial photography (where a company wants images to promote their business) it is very, very rare that the company can't afford to pay. In fact I would say never. They just don't think they need to. They keep getting conditioned that it's just the cost of labor and the time spent looking through the camera is all the time thats needed. Our images are what sell their goods and services. It's a value thing not just the cost of labor. The Cost of doing business is just the base line ground floor of what's absolutely necessary to be worth saying yes. I guarantee you if any of these restauranteurs had to shell out $5000 to a building inspector they'd do it in a heart beat and move on. Or they could probably shave off $5k from their startup by buying slightly less expensive flatware but they didn't because they know a little fancier or better quality boosts their image and they might charge an extra $1 per plate or fill one more table a night.
There is an avalanche of downward pressure from everyone wanting our skilled labor for little or nothing in return. Just because it looks easy and enjoyable to do, and this one time when all the stars were aligned, the lighting was just right and their girlfriend was looking extra pretty they happened to take a nice snapshot with their iPhone. Easy peasy.
I often compare what I do for a living to being a stand up comedian. Everybody loves a laugh. Everybody has said something funny. It takes a pro to get up infront of a bunch of people and be funny on demand at 8 o'clock Saturday night for 5 minutes or an hour with distractions and pressures and perhaps a sore neck from the night before.



Apr 27, 2013 at 03:35 AM
cwebster
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p.2 #7 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


"I often compare what I do for a living to being a stand up comedian. Everybody loves a laugh. Everybody has said something funny. It takes a pro to get up infront of a bunch of people and be funny on demand at 8 o'clock Saturday night for 5 minutes or an hour with distractions and pressures and perhaps a sore neck from the night before."

I often compare what I do with a wedding caterer. You must deliver perfectly, every time, without fail period. Ever. Anything less is not acceptable to the client. As Crabby says the pro has to do it right even when they aren't feeling particularly creative or even particularly well.

I recently had to shoot the opening of a large department store, while I had a 101F fever. I couldn't call in sick, I couldn't tell the client "gee I don't feel well, I'm gonna go home early" and I couldn't not deliver.

That's my definition of professional photographer.

And I expect to get paid accordingly.

<Chas>




Apr 27, 2013 at 05:26 AM
tcphoto
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p.2 #8 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Crabby wrote:
Sorry for the tough love. I'm glad you are not taking offense and taking it to heart. At this point it's not really directed at you but another beginners looking for insight.
In commercial photography (where a company wants images to promote their business) it is very, very rare that the company can't afford to pay. In fact I would say never. They just don't think they need to. They keep getting conditioned that it's just the cost of labor and the time spent looking through the camera is all the time thats needed. Our images are what sell their goods
...Show more

It's worth repeating.



Apr 27, 2013 at 03:08 PM
davekatz
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p.2 #9 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Oh no need to apologize, tough love and real life lessons are plenty more important than my ego. I really appreciate you spending the time to provide some practical advice. As I mentioned, these are concepts that I've intellectualized previously, but there's no better teacher than experience, and I'm happy to be getting this lesson out of the way at the beginning of my career.

Your words echo what I read on aphotoeditor in February:
"in the professional world, that you need to be creating 12-20 AMAZING images day-in and day-out, everyday, regardless of circumstances, since thatís what is demanded (expected?) of you as a professional."

Getting paid accordingly only makes sense.



Apr 28, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Crabby
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p.2 #10 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


davekatz wrote:
Your words echo what I read on aphotoeditor in February:
"in the professional world, that you need to be creating 12-20 AMAZING images day-in and day-out, everyday, regardless of circumstances, since thatís what is demanded (expected?) of you as a professional."


Of all the great info over at APE and A Wonderful Machine too, that is the one thing that stuck out the most? I hate to say it but I'm calling BS on that one.It's all relitive of course, but there are only very limited specific kinds of photography where you can pull off 12-20 great images in a day. Food photography for the most part, is not one of them.
Anytime you need to change sets between shots, construct different lighting between shots, basically change anything to any sizable degree, the list is endless, it takes time. Another thing that separates the pro from the amateur is attention to details. I could easily spend 15 minutes finessing a napkin.



Apr 28, 2013 at 12:53 PM
 

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davekatz
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p.2 #11 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Oh I wasn't saying that's what stuck out the most, just that your words echo the sentiment from that blog post, and are relevant. The most shots I've seen on the productions I've assisted on have been 11, and this was a fully styled editorial shoot. I'm starting to see the bigger picture (no pun intended). And yeah perfectly placed napkins are fun


Apr 28, 2013 at 02:56 PM
innaeddy1
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p.2 #12 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


just tell them it was 200$ per photo for all day (10hrs) 200*10=2000$ for the photos+ expenses. Still way low but better than 200$ + expenses

Andy

then charge them a usage fee for 2years worth of usage, at 40% of final cost



Apr 29, 2013 at 01:08 AM
Crabby
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p.2 #13 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


That would be more reasonable, but you can't go back on your word. Unless you have good reason to renegotiate.

Which brings me to the most common ploy from the clients from hell. When they call you for job they want a hard and fast price quote that they can lock you in on and they fill you in on the details later. They'll say things like:
1. They don't know how the images will be used.
They do, that's why they are contacting you. If they didn't have a need the wouldn't be calling. What they are really saying is they do have a specific need but they don't want to say so and be confined. They want to keep it open ended on their side of the deal but you're still locked in on your price.

2. They don't know exactly what they want.
This one is probably somewhat true but dangerous. They don't know what they want but they'll know it when they see it. If they don't see it you get to keep trying to read their mind. They say they just want you to grab some shots of this or that or apply your creative eye and come up with something great. What's really going on is they do have an idea. They've seen some images in magazines or at other restaurants or on your web site even. They just do not want to take the time to figure out what they want and convey that to you.

3. They have a very limited budget. I eluded to this one in a previous post. It's not that they cant afford to pay your price, they just don't want to if they don't have to. For some reason they may think they don't have to, dont be that reason or you're just setting yourself up for a (short) career as the cheap guy with a camera. Every image ever used in any commercial application SELLS. Good images improve the perceived value of the seller, bad images degrade the perceived value of the seller. Not to mention the actual product if applicable. They may not be able to justify a budget for Annie Leibowitz photography but most viable businesses can improve their bottom line by smartly applying the good use of images in their advertising and collateral. In other words, great images pay for themselves, no need to give them away out of the kindness of our hearts or stupidity.

If you don't spell out all of the parameters of a job as conveyed to you (and by asking) in specific detail prior to starting you are just signing off on an open ended contract that they can add to at their whim while you are locked in on price on your end. Don't believe it when they say they "don't know". They just don't want to take the time. They want to snap their fingers and have just the image they wanted appear. What they really don't know is how this business works (or they are accustomed to intimidating or praying on the uneducated). It's not magic, it's hard work, and time.

The second most common ploy is "if you do this job for cheap we'll make it well worth your while on the next job, and/or there will be a lot of repeat work.



May 02, 2013 at 03:19 AM
jefferies1
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p.2 #14 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


If anyone has 10 restaurants they have some money. Each restaurant, even a hole in the wall would be at least making a couple thousand clear a month with a real one making ten times that a week. Multiply by 10 and they have some cash flow. I don't price my jobs by the amount a client might have. I have always wondered how low some other bids are when I send mine in. Now I know and feel sick. I could cut lawns for $200.00 a day and take half the day off. Who cares about cell phone cameras and cheap P/S, this industry is destroying itself from within.


May 02, 2013 at 03:16 PM
davekatz
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p.2 #15 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


inaeddy I may not have made myself entirely clear- it will be $2000 + expenses when all is said and done...20 images per restaurant with 10 restaurants...but like Crabby said, I couldn't go back on my original quote anyway without sounding like an idiot.

Points well taken Crabby. Definitely keeping this thread for future reference when I want to believe some bs that gets thrown at me.

jefferies I never said that they own the 10 restaurants- this is an outside vendor that will be photographing the food at the restaurants. I understand your frustration, yet I think you're missing the point here, that this is exactly the sort of dialogue that will prevent the industry from 'destroying itself from within'. How else will young photographers like myself learn? I think a teaching attitude will get you further than a disgruntled one.



May 02, 2013 at 05:50 PM
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p.2 #16 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Late to the party ...

Sometimes it comes down to perspective. Last year I was approached be a web developer whose client wanted 30 homes shot with about 5 or 6 rooms per home. Going with (minimum) 5 images (1 per room) for easy math, that's 150 delivered shots. At $10 per image that's dirt cheap @ $50 per home and $1,500 for the lot of 30 (volume discount). I figured it would take me a full week to get the work done @ 6 homes per day, which also coincides with a day rate of $300/day.

The developer went back to his client and they said they were good with the $300/day rate ... but they wanted it all done in one day.

Kinda like the band story at the cost to pack up the gear to go out the door ... it takes time to set up lighting for each room. The web developer (whom I had shot both his personal home and his office building) was good with understanding the pricing structure, but he never could get his client to understand that I would not be grabbing a P&S and walking through taking snaps.

Even if I only allocated 90 minutes per home that would be a nine hour day for 6 homes. In order to accomplish 30 homes in an 8 hour day (not that I'd restrict myself to that necessarily) that would be 16 minutes per home or roughly 3 minutes per delivered image or @ $300/150 (delivered) images, that is roughly $2 per image.

Market value is something that varies greatly and one person might think I was grossly overpriced, while another may think I was grossly undervaluing the work. Whether you are looking at the $1,500 project tag, the $300/day rate tag, $50/home tag, $10/image tag or the $2/image tag may have some bearing on ones initial perspective.

Imo, how you price will largely depend on a multitude of market factors. But however you do, I think it is imperative that YOU, know YOUR RATIONALE behind your decisions. Which, btw, I think you guys probably know what I said at the one day proposal. And, as to the client ... well above the million dollar/year mark, so how deep the clients pockets are, doesn't necessarily matter/factor in as to how they'll value our craft.

Sometimes you have significant input/influence to the other party's valuation and certainly negotiation is viable. Other times, all you can do is say "No thanks. I'll pass." I'm pretty sure they got somebody to take the pics, it just wasn't me.



NOTE: I forgot to include the 1/2 day for PP they were willing to allocate into the project ... as if that would change my decision.



May 02, 2013 at 10:06 PM
davekatz
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p.2 #17 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Well said and thanks for the input. I'm beginning to understand my value as an image maker, the next question becomes how to effectively, thoughtfully and creatively articulate that value to a potential client. Assuming a contracts are priced "correctly", that seems to me the next logical challenge.


May 03, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Crabby
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p.2 #18 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Lordy, here we go again! $300 per day/ $50 per home, WTF?
If the client is a reality co. they will be making $40,000-$70,000 on selling that home thanks to your images. (Assuming it's a million dollar home) And they won't part with $50 of that for your hard work, investment in equipment, years of learning?
If the client is a developer, they will earn that much or more per home. And they won't part with $50 of that for your hard work, investment in equipment, years of learning?
The client could be other types of business (but I doubt it). Architect, interior designer etc. who may not make their living off of the direct sale of that home but need to showcase their work to get future work. These kinds of businesses would need more highly stylized photos with a much longer shelf life therefore they too cost and are worth a lot more then $50 a pop.

These images are more important to the SALE then this company's professional looking office, or their secretary who always answers the phone on the second ring, or the $5k suits the guy wears to meetings.
I guarentee you, the lowliest unskilled laborer on a construct site cost a lot more then $300 a day, and a backhoe operator who invested in his own backhoe, truck and trailer makes 10x that. The thing is, all these businesses that contact us for work are trying to figure out in the back of their minds what it cost us to do our business. And we're letting them tell us how much that is when actually they are way off. They think they're paying for a guy/gal with a camera. That person can work 5 days a week, 20 days a month, 240 days a year at $300 a day thats $72,000 a year. That's plenty for a job that's so much fun and easy.

We need to spend more time figuring what the potential client stands to gain from our images on top of our baseline CODB which in the United States, has to be more then $300 per day. Who here would shoot an 8 hour wedding for $200, for $300 for $900? And those people don't stand to make money from your wedding pictures.

Reality for me is that for every one day of billable shooting I have four more days of behind the scenes work. So one billable day has to fund my business for a week. I spend a lot of time bookkeeping, maintaining equipment, etc. When a client comes to the studio I make sure the bathrooms are clean. When a client is traveling with me I make sure my vehicle is clean. I can and do pay people to do these things, but if I do it myself that doesn't mean that it doesn't cost anything. The lion's share of my time goes into three things:
1. Learning, I spend a lot of time learn new tricks with the camera, with lenses, with computers, with people. Still, this never ends.
2. I spend a lot of time wooing new clients. By putting myself out there in as many places that I can think of where the potential clients I want might be.
3. I spend a lot of time trying to keep the clients I have very happy. By doing numbers 1 and 2 above and keeping in touch and up to date on what's going on in their lives.

I can't think of any business that has a higher cost ratio per customer.

Rustybug, your last couple of statements are somewhat true. Market value is king and we are extremely undervalued. Market bearing is another thing and I think actually what you were talking about. That is what a market is willing to bear. Perceived value more then anything goes into market value. Perceived cost and past experience largely determines what a market will bear. These are to very different things. We need to steer potential clients away from cost, which they are way off base on, and direct them towards perceived value which is, believe it or not much easier to justify. We just need to show them how important quality imagery is to their sales and/or image and if they don't think so then they would be better off just doing the work themselves. The caveat is that you work has to look much better then what they can just do themselves. At 6 homes per day x 5 rooms per home plus travel how can they look that much better then what they would do themselves? Keeping in mind that when they do it themselves they don't have the same time constraints.



May 03, 2013 at 02:00 PM
turbodude
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p.2 #19 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


200 a day?!!!!! i charge more per hour. And i dont live in NYC. Food is no easy shoot either. After you equate the use of your gear, editing time, and travel, you are losing tons of money.


May 03, 2013 at 02:38 PM
RustyBug
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p.2 #20 · Upstart Needs Food Photography


Crabby wrote:
If the client is a reality co. they will be making $40,000-$70,000 on selling that home thanks to your images.


Imo, this is a gross misconception regarding the role of photography in the real estate market. Although, it makes a great pitch if you can get someone to bite on it.

Imo, it is an incredibly rare (almost non-existent, myth only) instance that a photograph, no matter how good it is will actually sell a home/property.

The image doesn't fill the role of getting the buyer to "pull the trigger" and make an offer on a home. The image fills the role of getting the potential buyer to "call the agent/owner" by providing information and/or creating desire. Better images create stronger desire ... the property and the agent then have to be able to continue to carry that desire through to close the sale.

The image cannot "close" the sale, that is the role of the agent/owner to either allow the potential buyer to self-close, or to facilitate closing them. Houses don't sell because of images ... but agents/owner/broker phones ring do.

Imo, crappy agents will not benefit from awesome images because they aren't able to harness the desire that was originally initiated through the imagery. Which just happens to coincide with the trend that crappy agents don't want to spend any money on great imagery ... because it adds little value to overall process/outcome for them ... i.e. they screw up a good thing.

Good agents on the other hand, understand how to utilize desire in the realm of the sales process. Good agents thus value the head start they get by using images that generate desire more than just "informational" snapshots. There's another piece of the puzzle here that I share with good agents about desire ... but I'm keeping that one close to my chest (i.e. not public) as it is part of my inside track @ levels of desire.

I typically don't shoot "run & gun" information only. It's not that I won't, but it isn't the segment of the market that I lean toward. My relationship with my agents/brokers, they will let me know if they want a "run & gun", but they also know that it isn't where my greatest value to them is ... it is more of a courtesy service when it's appropriate. If an agent/broker sees me as a cheap run & gun only (even after the desire dialogue) ... I pass.

I study a property and the target market with the agent and strive to deliver a "desire" enhancing package of images presenting the strengths for such desire. If this is not something that an agent/broker values and all they want is a cheap labor force to take information snaps ... then I'm not the right person for the job for them, and they'll never value the work, because at the root of the issue is the fact that they don't understand the sales process well enough to utilize desire appropriately.

That's just the way it goes sometimes ... i.e. not much different than marketing to someone who thinks Sears makes great portraits. You'll have to educate them accordingly to create desire/value for your work. Your call at whether that effort/initiative has value to you or you pass.

As to my originally quoted price in the illustration, it was a pretty lowball offer on my side of things because of:

A) My relationship with the web developer and the potential for much more work with his client (which we subsequently learned is work I don't want @ undervalued snapshots)
B) The volume of work during a time when I was light-loaded
C) Market bearance (these were not million dollar homes)
D) Expenses (transition time/money) were nominal as they were in very close proximity to each other.

Anyway, this is neither to suggest right/wrong ... just perspective that runs a little deeper than "you should charge "X" amount of dollars". Imo, you have to know your market ... both sides of it.

HTH



Edited on May 03, 2013 at 04:49 PM · View previous versions



May 03, 2013 at 03:09 PM
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