This week’s feature is all about naming your price, getting work and selling your photos. It’s one of those unspoken things within the photography industry. In my honest opinion it would actually be better if people talk a little more about it. As a freelance photographer I’ve officially been on my own, paying my way with what I make off of individual projects. After looking at my “2013 Invoice” folder it looks like I am at 45 projects for the year so far. If you think about it, that’s almost a project a week and the reason I even mention that is to give you an idea of how many times I have had to name a price for my work. As always, and as I have said from day one with this column, this is just my opinion, and you can take it for what it’s worth. I work very hard at what I do and strive to do more, create more, and work more every single year. The last post that I did related to selling photos was back in June of 2012, which you can check out here. I have been asked a lot over the years how to go about pricing photos, selling work, and negotiating with companies so I wanted to give an update on all of that and go a little more in depth about it.
The first thing that you have to do is understand exactly what it is that you are doing. If you are trying to sell a photo, you need to know exactly where the photo will be going and what it will be used for. If you are getting hired for a day rate, you need to know what the end result of your work will be. From there, you will have a much better chance at naming a price that is not only fair to you but fair to the company that is going to be paying you as well.
Here are a few steps that I take when determining a price for a job when it comes to a commercial company that I happen to do a good amount of work for.
#1. Find out what the shoot is all about and what the company is looking for as far as an end product is concerned.
#2. Get as much information as possible about where the photo(s) will be used. Will they be used for online use only? Will they be used in print? Will they be used for both? Will they be used as advertisements? Whenever a company is hiring you for a multi-day shoot, or you are selling a single photo you need to know exactly what their intent is. That could drastically change your asking price.
#3. I calculate in my head how much work and effort will be going into the project.
*Will I be traveling?
*Do I need to do any research before I do the shoot?
*Do I need to rent any camera gear?
*Do I need to hire my own assistant?
*Will I be doing a lot of post-production editing?
*Will all of my expenses be covered if I am traveling?
*How much actual time am I going to spend shooting?
*How much actual time am I going to spend traveling?
#4. Think realistically. This is a step that often seems to get overlooked in a lot of situations with newer up and coming photographers. They will name prices that are too high, and cut themselves right out of the picture so to speak before even getting the chance to book a job and prove to the company that’s hiring that they do good work.
#5. Learn from your past experiences. If you name a price, and get turned down. Think about why they turned you down. Were you asking too much? Did they get a better offer from another photographer? Did they decide to go with someone in-house? Did they decide to go with a company instead of an individual? All of these are possible reasons for not selling a photo or not getting hired for a specific job.
#6. Name my price. As I said before, there are times when companies will offer you a set rate and you either accept it or not. But, there are also times when a company will simply ask you to provide a quote for a certain job. This is when they do the behind the scenes work and compare photographers across the board. Now, when it comes down to it, do you think they are going to just jump at the highest quote with the thought that since it’s the most expensive that must mean it’s the best photographer? Or will they compare all of their options and simply go with the most affordable? That’s where you have to let fate do a little bit of work. If it was meant to be, and your price fits their budget, you will be getting the job. And on the other hand, if the photo that you are trying to sell fits their budget and they deem it worth the price you set on it, you will be good to go.
With all of that said there is plenty of ways to go about this whole process and in time you will find out what works best for you. It’s one of those things where once you land one job with a company; make sure you work your ass off to let them know you should be the one they hire back for the next one. In today’s society, there are photographers or I should say “photographers” around every corner leaving the businesses and company owners that need the work with the upper hand. You have to dig deep and do a little bit of fighting to survive solely as a photographer these days so keep that in mind.
On a more positive note though, the more work you do, the more that you will learn, and eventually you will figure out how the system operates. As much as I hate to say it too, a huge part of being a photographer is selling yourself. This is one thing that I hate doing. I hate thinking of myself as a product but in all reality myself, mixed with the services that I can provide with the experience that I have gained over the years is a product when you think about it. Here are a few more tips on selling a photo(s) and/or landing a job.
*Be nice to everyone you come in contact with regardless if it’s in person or via email.
*Be thorough. Make sure to be as detailed as possible when communicating.
*Be confident. Make sure that you come off as a professional, and make sure that you have the work to match
*Be responsible when it comes to deadlines. Whether or not you have a specific same-day deadline, or a two-month deadline make sure to keep track of it in your own way and make sure to deliver the product when the time comes no matter what.
*Provide the company with a product that they can use with confidence. Give them something that will make them remember you.
*Put in the extra time and effort now, and hopefully that leads to more work later.
That’s all for this week. Hopefully this column helped some of you out there looking to sell some photos or book a job. Keep in mind that if you don’t get a certain job, or get turned down because you wanted too much for a photo, you don’t have to be discouraged, it’s all a part of the process. Just keep positive, and move onto the next one. Be sure to check back next Wednesday for the ninetieth edition of Through the Lens and as always feel free to leave any questions in the comments section or email me at [email protected] and I will hit you back as soon as I can. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @jeremypavia.