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Archive 2013 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated wi...
  
 
KaBudokan
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


Background: I've been hovering in that netherworld between amateur and semi-pro for a little while now. By "semi-pro," I'm talking about getting paid to subsidize my hobby; I have no intentions at this point of quitting my day job and becoming a pro photographer.

The family of a friend co-owns a successful micro-brewery in the area, and my friend does the web development for the company. He asked me recently about doing product photography for their beer lineup. (He said he used to take pictures of the beer himself.) I said I would be happy to do the pictures, but that I would need some more details before giving him some pricing. I did some sample beer shots a few weeks ago, and he was thrilled with what I sent, so now we're moving forward. He is aware of my "mostly amateur" status, FWIW. They're a small company, but they are certainly a business, so I'm treating this as such.

At this point, we're looking at doing all-white backgrounds. I need to confirm exactly what they're looking for, but I think they want just straight beer bottle shots, and then some shots with a bottle and six-pack packaging. (He had sent me to http://www.ohbeautifulbeer.com/ to show me examples of the type of photography they're looking for. What I've done compares favorably with what I've seen there in general.)

I haven't confirmed this (though I asked), but my impression is that they'd like unlimited usage of the images forever. (I'll be going through details with him this week, but that's what I think they'd like.)

I'll be shooting at home, and once I get one lighting setup, it will be easy to swap out bottles for the other beers. Each lighting setup requires some tweaking, obviously.

I'm located in PA in a medium-sized market (i.e. not Philly, not the country).

When I've tried to research online, I've seen everything from $29/image to $500/image. (!!!) My guess is that I'll want to fall somewhere in between. I actually told my friend that I would provide a discount on the first round (reflecting my lack of commercial experience), because I want to get my foot in the door with them, as this likely could be an ongoing gig. I discussed this with a few people, and it seemed to make sense; it makes coming to me an attractive option and allows me to prove myself, but doesn't set me up to work for less than my value in the future.

Can anyone provide me with some feedback on pricing for this shoot? I have pushed for details, but with him being busy, etc., I haven't gotten details yet. At this point, I feel like I need to come up with an idea in my head of where I want to come in, and then if he throws anything unusual into the mix I can adjust as needed.

Thanks for any help!

(And... it would be great if we could avoid any deeper philosophical discussions about whether or not I should be doing a "professional" shoot for a company when I'm not a true professional. Thanks!)

Edited on May 16, 2013 at 04:02 AM · View previous versions



May 14, 2013 at 02:23 AM
scottam10
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


How many images are we talking about? As you say, once you've got the lighting sorted out you can just swap out the bottles.
You need to think about how long it will take you per image including processing, and set your price based on a reasonable hourly rate.

I think $50 per image would be a reasonable starting point



May 14, 2013 at 02:38 AM
KaBudokan
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


scottam10 wrote:
How many images are we talking about? As you say, once you've got the lighting sorted out you can just swap out the bottles.
You need to think about how long it will take you per image including processing, and set your price based on a reasonable hourly rate.

I think $50 per image would be a reasonable starting point


Well, the number of images is one of those details I am still waiting for! That would help, huh?

I'm thinking... there are seven full-time beers, and it my quick impression is that they may be looking for a single beer bottle image and then one with the packaging. That makes 14. I'm also going to push for a "family" portrait as well. That would be 15 images.

Thanks for the input.



May 14, 2013 at 02:51 AM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


scottam10 wrote:
How many images are we talking about? As you say, once you've got the lighting sorted out you can just swap out the bottles.
You need to think about how long it will take you per image including processing, and set your price based on a reasonable hourly rate.

I think $50 per image would be a reasonable starting point


Why would you think that $50 is a good "starting point" If the OP is starting at $50 should he plan to go up from there by adding on things like post processing and usage or down from there to continue undercutting himself and leave more money on the table?



May 14, 2013 at 05:19 AM
AlexF
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


If you are matching the look of the linked site, assuming you know how to setup the light correctly - after the first bottle everything else is very simple and should not require much if any post processing. Personally I would shoot it for 50 per image and be quite happy or just charge a day rate if you don't want to get into exact calculations of things... At the end only you can decide what it is worth to you ofcourse - its your time after all.


May 14, 2013 at 05:39 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


Valuation ... of anything ... is relative.

As others have mentioned, you can place a value on your time to perform the shoot. That could be a per image rate, an hourly rate, a day rate or an entire project rate.
You can add to that your expenses of gear ... either rental or owned (using partial rental rates, etc.)
In this regard the combination equates to a T&M (Time & Materials) pricing.

Another way of placing a value on the images is to consider what the value is to your client. One method would be to compare what it would cost him to have the images produced by someone else @ "market value".

Then, there is the valuation perspective of what are the images worth to him ... i.e. having mouthwatering images help generate sales from now till eternity @ his expectations of his ROI (Return On Investment).

When I try to set a price ... I try to understand the value of my time, the current market value and the ROI expectations of the product I'll be producing. The better I understand these, it gives me a sense of value relative to me, competition, client. Strategically/philosophically I can usually come to terms with a valuation that sits among the three. The problems arise when a valuation is clearly outside what makes sense for me, or for the client.

I think part of the reason for the $29/image to $500/image wild swing is rooted in how others have approached valuation methodology ... and the missing pieces of the information puzzle @ why/how they achieved those valuations. While I get that you are wanting to establish a "baseline" that you can go up from there with ... I'd suggest establishing your baseline APPROACH to valuation first.

As others have mentioned, PP is a part of the issue ... both that which is seen in advance, and that which may be later requested, i.e. add-ons/scope creep. Who has final say on the acceptance of the image? What happens when the client decides to change his mind about something, etc.

Part of your thinking (correctly) is that your setup will allow for efficient production once established. What about a need for a re-shoot because the client decides he wants a couple of "one off" shots spawn ... how will you approach the inefficient production for a re-shoot or additional creative PP? Are you gonna "eat it", or have you already compensated for that contingency, or is it CLEARLY understood (by both) that those things are inside vs. outside the scope of the quote/delivery relationship.

I mention these to illustrate that while you are asking about a "price" ... I'm suggesting you should develop your pricing approach strategy, and the price will follow, once the details are known. Wrap your pricing approach around the details of the shoot vs. trying to squeeze the details into a price that you've boxed yourself into in advance, then tweak as needed @ negotiation/agreement ... if that makes any sense.

HTH



Of course, you could always just barter with him.
Unlimited use of the images you produce for unlimited use of the beverage he produces as long as he is using your images.
One image used one day/week/month = one bottle/six-pack/case ... or whatever you two can agree upon. Now that's valuation.




May 14, 2013 at 12:20 PM
jefferies1
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


I would stay away from offering a first time discount. Maybe give a discount for every 12 photo shoots they book but not as a start. You can always go lower. Raising price is harder. All this means is you feel your work does not have value. If that is how you feel then practice more before doing the shoot and charge for the time it took to learn, not discount for lack of experience.
Price is hard to know. I would allow a fixed amount for set-up. Maybe $250.00. If they do one bottle then that is the price plus price of shooting the bottle. If they do 25 then that set-up times becomes very little part of the mix. Avoid allowing them to send one piece a week unless they want to pay for the set-up time.



May 14, 2013 at 04:03 PM
cineski
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


Having a philosophical discussion would be vastly better for you than just getting a price.


May 14, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


KaBudokan wrote:
Snip

I haven't confirmed this (though I asked), but my impression is that they'd like unlimited usage of the images forever. (I'll be going through details with him this week, but that's what I think they'd like.)

Snip

(And... it would be great if we could avoid any deeper philosophical discussions about whether or not I should be doing a "professional" shoot for a company when I'm not a true professional. Thanks!)


I don't know how much you are thinking of charging but take this into account. I did a job for a friend of mine who made a low budget horror movie in the 80s. This was a time before photographers and even hobbiest semi photographers considered usage rights. Since the film was a hit, the photos have been used around the world for a long time, became iconic images for the movie.. Fast forward to today and the photos are still being used, the $250 I made for the shoot went to rent. If I had known about usage things would have been different.
The brewery will use the image for as long as they stay in business, brew that flavor and until the labels change. It might not be thirty years but it will be 3 to 5 years. So $50 per shot, when a good glass of craft beer is $5-$7 strikes me as low.
Regarding discounting the first job, you've established the value of the work as the discount price....you should do the first couple jobs at a full price and discount the third shoot.

Like it or not you became a professional once you started charging for your work for a company and began discussing usage rights.



May 14, 2013 at 04:40 PM
cineski
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


Quoted for emphasis.

Micky Bill wrote:
Like it or not you became a professional once you started charging for your work for a company and began discussing usage rights.




May 14, 2013 at 05:20 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



KaBudokan
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


cineski wrote:
Having a philosophical discussion would be vastly better for you than just getting a price.


This is likely true... In fact, Rusty Bug's advice above is probably the most helpful for me in approaching this situation.

As I mentioned in the first post, part of my issue with going in "guns blazing" when negotiating is due to the fact that this person is a friend, and because of that, he knows about my lack of experience. (The "friend" part is not the issue; his knowledge of my inexperience is.) If I were approaching this "client" cold, I would have much less reservation about just laying down a price and being confident with it based upon my work.

Having said that, I did shoot and send him some samples, and he was happy with them. At this point, I should probably move forward with this fact in mind. I didn't put the work out there as "it's not bad considering I've never done it before." And he didn't respond with "it's not bad considering..."

And yes, this is a company, and they're on the higher end of the microbrew price spectrum. (Most of their cases are in the $40-50-60 range and up.) I'm not sure how familiar they are with the business end of the photography world - my friend has done the graphic design for their company, so I may be seeing him as a bit more naive than he really is. I did ask via email for specifics (about number of pictures, usage terms, etc), but he didn't provide them yet.

He was asking if I'd be able to shoot pictures this weekend, which is why I'm kind of scrambling to figure this out. This all came about a while back when he casually asked how much I would charge to shoot some beer pictures for them. He said he used to do it, but doesn't have time anymore. (I also noticed that when I looked on their site, they didn't have any photos of beer - just labels, etc., and he did point out to me at that time that shooting beer is challenging.) Multiple emails (before and after his request for me to shoot this weekend) asking for specifics went unanswered, and we're planning to talk tomorrow night when I see him about something else.

So - I'm thinking I should get the specifics and tell him I need a little while (even a day) to formulate a price. My initial thought about the "discount" was that I would go in with the understanding that in the future I wouldn't provide the discount. This would get my foot in the door for what could be a long-term opportunity (since they are constantly putting new beer styles out). If I charged "market value," then there may be no reason to go with me over someone more established in the market, but that's a chance I have to take, right? However, even saying that I would be providing a discount, that still doesn't change the fact that in the future it would be a challenge to double my prices in the future, for example.

Thanks for being patient with me, folks!



May 14, 2013 at 06:53 PM
jefferies1
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


You can't price based on what others will bid. I can guarantee if they sent out several bid request they would get $10.00 each all the way up to $3000.00 for one day or 12 fully processed shots if not more in high cost areas.


May 14, 2013 at 09:16 PM
cineski
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


Jefferies, you are correct. A friend of mine recently bid a job and for some reason the person at the agency accidentally sent bids from the 4 photographers back to all the photographers (wonder what happened to that person?!). Anyway, the bids went from $5000 to mid $20K's and up to (iirc) around $50K for the top bid.


May 14, 2013 at 09:33 PM
KaBudokan
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


Thanks again for the feedback.

Just as a reference, I did a little research - in terms of the value to the company - their sales were over $3 million in 2011, and their sales showed a steady increase in 2012, and they also tripled their output ability in that year.



May 15, 2013 at 01:22 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


KaBudokan wrote:

Most of their cases are in the $40-50-60 range and up.


Man, I can get several cases of Stag for that price !!! Who in their right mind would pay that kinda money for a beer?

Okay ... a bit overly dramatic.

But, the point here is that he is establishing his pricing based on XYZ factors of being a small scale micro-brewery @ custom blend and ambiance of service, etc. that is different from massive, cheap, economy of scale production. Part of the value of having you at his "beckon call" and as a friend having a genuine interest in how his business fares is different from that of some "run & gun" shooter.

He places valuation with his customers differently than Stag places valuation with their customers. They may both be beer, but the inherent factors that contribute to valuation go beyond the common element of them both being beer and they each succeed in "getting their price" even with it being so far apart.

Be fair to yourself and your client, just as he is being fair to himself and his customers ... in your perspective. I'm sure he has had to "defend" his price at times, but I'm pretty sure he knows his cost to produce and his profit margins accordingly. Likewise, look at your cost to produce (T&M) and your profit margins. The more you understand your own pricing structure, the more confidently you can present them (not meaning you have to explain / justify every nickel of it). The more confident you are = more good stuff.



May 15, 2013 at 01:29 AM
craigbess
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


Just trade product photos for a case of beer per week for life..


May 15, 2013 at 02:09 AM
KaBudokan
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


craigbess wrote:
Just trade product photos for a case of beer per week for life..


Well, I do already drink free beer whenever we hang out, which is nice.

My wife has forbidden me from simply trading photos for beer in this case! (Although financially, in the long run, I may make out better that way based on the cost of their beer! lol)

And yeah - I'm starting to develop a sense of how to approach this deal based on these (admittedly somewhat philosophical) discussions.

Thanks again everyone!



May 15, 2013 at 02:58 AM
paparazzinick
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


KaBudokan wrote:
By "semi-pro," I'm talking about getting paid to subsidize my hobby; I have no intentions at this point of quitting my day job and becoming a pro photographer.


Doesnt matter if you are quiting your job and doing this full time or just doing it on the side. The pricing should always be the same. That is where people are ruining this field. They think, ok I am not a pro so I will charge enough to make me happy to do it on the side. Then they go full time and wonder why they cant make it now...

With that said, I shoot professionally and have never and will never charge per image. That is the old school way of thinking and pricing. Charge an hourly or day rate.

I did a shoot for a local diner for their menu. It was 10 photos. I knew each photo would take 10 minutes to shoot once I had my lighting the way I wanted it. But I didnt tell the client this. I gave them my hourly and day rates and suggested how many hours I thought the shoot would take. Let them decide if it was worth it to do the day rate and relax and take our time or try and rush through it.

Also, don't forget to build in editing time in the price. When I first started doing commercial work I was excited to get $1500 for 5 hours of shooting. Then I didnt realize I would be spending some time on the computer editing. So what was going to be $300 an hour ended up being $75 an hour before my expenses and taxes. Which is still decent money if you are only part time.


SO I would suggest charging a flat rate and give your friend the initial discount. Over deliver and you will get more business. In my day job, I am a corporate photographer. From time to time I have to contract out some work because I just cant be in 2 places at once. I had one guy that did a shoot for us and would only give me 10 images and said I had to pay $200 an image after we already paid him $5k for the shoot. I laughed at him and said this wasnt 1990 anymore and we will never use him again. Guess what, that guy went out of business last year. We have 4 other guys that we pay $200 an hour and they deliver what they shoot. They keep giving us everything and it looks good so we keep throwing them more shoots. Over time they will make close to $20k from us each year and are not too busy. The other guy, he got 1 paycheck from us and is now out of business.

Do the right think and make the smart choice. Dont charge per image if you want to make this work. i get you are not quitting your job to do this full time. Doesnt mean you cant charge full time rates.



May 15, 2013 at 02:18 PM
KaBudokan
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


Thanks for the feedback, Nick. I had been leaning toward a price per image fee, but what you're saying makes sense as well. I think charging a fair rate for both of us (based on time, valuation, etc.) and overdelivering in this case is the way to get the repeat business I'm hoping for.

Can I ask an "in general" question (which I'm starting to learn, there isn't such a thing)? Is there a typical, standard length of time to grant usage rights for, or does it just vary completely on the client's needs? If the client wants longer (or permanent!) usage rights and you're charging a time-based rate (hourly, daily, etc.) does the fee increase, or is it typically an "add-on" cost?

I had a two-year usage term in mind for some reason. I'm getting hit with so much info I'm not sure if I heard that from someone (maybe even up above in a comment) or if I somehow came up with that.

Again, thanks.

If nothing else, I've certainly learned that if I am getting paid, to deal with the situation as any professional would; now I'm just figuring out what all of that means...



May 15, 2013 at 03:45 PM
cineski
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Pricing help for product photography (BEER!) - updated with more info...


Pap, you are exactly correct with your first sentence. This industry is being rocked to its core from this. It's also a perfect example of people sidestepping the traditional route of becoming a photographer while working for another established photographer and actually learning the industry vs people now just stating they're a photographer and not having a clue what's right or wrong and often completely undervaluing themselves.

However, my experience with fee structure is just the opposite. I only charge per finished image and only bid a job based on that, usage for each image and logistics to get that particular image photographed. First off, in my experience, a company who expects an hourly or daily fee often want to cram as many images as possible into the time of shooting. They also tend to expect unlimited usage (most companies do now days anyways). Having a very structured bid showing how many finished images are delivered is really the best way to bid most commercial jobs as long as you stay in control of being realistic with your estimating.



May 15, 2013 at 03:47 PM
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