cost of my work?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by pstake, May 23, 2012.

  1. pstake

    pstake Member

    Messages:
    715
    Joined:
    May 5, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hello, all, I'm looking for some guidance on rates to charge for my work.

    I have been asked by a coworker to take family photos. This person also wants to purchase a wet print from a photo I already took.

    I've never been a commercial photographer ... I'm a journalist (actually a writer) but I do have some background in documentary photography. This person has easy access to a half-dozen of the digital Facebook-based "professional photographers" that seem to keep cropping up. I'm friends/aquainted with some of the aforementioned photographers although I rarely if ever opine about their "work."

    The point is that this person came to be because she likes the look of my work, and the quality of traditional b&w work.

    She wants two 5x7 prints of the one photo.

    She also wants me to photograph her family.

    I'm excited about doing something different and possibly capturing some return on my investment in gear. But I don't know a fair price to charge. I told her it would likely cost more than going to one of the aforementioned "photographers," because of the time and materials required.

    Off the top of my head, I was thinking $200 for the "photoshoot," during which I plan to use no more than two rolls of film / 72 exposures. Then I would process and scan at high res and provide a CD. Prints would be extra ... and I was thinking $20 / 5x7 print.

    Does this sound fair? Am I cheating her or selling myself short?

    Any guidance is appreciated, even if you don't have definitive answers (who ever does.)
     
  2. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,118
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2008
    Location:
    Hamburg, DE
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For sure it is not expensive. I would most probably ask similar price. In my life I sold only 3 photos - 20x30 cm silver prints for 30 euros each.

    But this is very sensitive subject - you can hear advice's from 10$ up to 1000$ or even more :wink:
     
  3. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,665
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If the quality is high, I would not hesitate to pay that kind of money for a high-quality family portrait. But my experience with coworkers (friends and family, too) asking for photography is that they really want much more of a bargain.
     
  4. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,252
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I do the type of "sessions" you are talking about with friends and co-workers.

    I take a very different approach to my sessions and fees. Namely, other than some reasonable token of appreciations, I refuse to accept money for my "services." If someone wants a large number of prints, I do have to charge but that has not happened so far.

    The rational behind this is that, personally, I am still learning and this is my hobby. I do not want money involved in it. It takes the fun out of my hobby. Also, when money is involved, there are certain level of expectations. I simply do not want to deal with that.

    This comes from someone who turned every one of his hobby into a paying job in the past.... (and lost the hobby)

    Your "fee" sounds reasonable but I thought I'd throw in how I deal with my own situation.

    By the way, my "clients" will not go to commercial photographers otherwise, so I am not taking a paying job away from any working photographers.
     
  5. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Member

    Messages:
    1,887
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Location:
    New York
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  6. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    First, there's cost of materials or cost of goods sold. Second, there is labor cost. Third, there is a "premium" cost because you are unique.

    Materials cost is easy. Add up the cost of everything you use to make a photo and divide by the number of units sold:
    Regular B/W photo paper costs between $1 and $2 per sheet.
    Regular B/W film costs between $2 and $5 per roll.
    Chemistry for film costs around $2 per roll. Chemistry for paper costs from $2 to $5 per batch.
    These numbers vary depending on what you buy, the brands you choose, whether you buy in bulk or at a discount. These numbers come off the top of my head. Just crude examples. Your figures will be different.

    Don't forget to throw in a few extra bucks for the cost of wear and tear on your equipment. You have to buy cameras, enlargers, film tanks, print developing trays, thermometers, utensils, lab ware and other consumables just to get started in your darkroom. Don't charge too much but don't be afraid to add a buck or two to your cost to account for it. I just round my numbers up to cover this cost.

    Let's imagine you shot two rolls of film and made ten 8x10 prints out of the batch:
    Film and processing might cost you $10. Printing might cost you $20. Total cost = $30.
    (Again, just examples off the top of my head. You'll have to do your own math.)

    So, next what's your labor cost?
    How much do you get paid for your work? I can easily get paid $15 per hour.
    Whether you spend your time working in the darkroom versus going to your regular job makes no difference. That's the minimum amount your time is worth. Maybe your time is worth more.

    Add up your time in the field or in the studio. (2 hours?)
    Add up your time processing film. (90 minutes?)
    Add up your time printing in the darkroom. (4 hours?)
    Total = 7.5 hours. (Round up to 8.)

    8 hrs. * $15/hr = $120

    Right there's the minimum amount you need to charge to break even. If you charge less than $120 you're losing money.

    Other things to consider: Automobile: Did you drive to the location? How much does gas cost? Envelopes, folders or postage: Add in for that.
    What about other miscellaneous items? Pencils, paperclips, gaff tape? Who knows what? Add them in.

    We're probably up to somewhere between $125 and $150, now. Aren't we?

    Next, we have to tackle the subject of premium cost. This is tricky.
    Just ask yourself, "What am I worth?" and "What is it worth for somebody to hold a handmade, traditional photograph in their hands?"

    Are you well known enough or is your art evocative enough to demand a premium?
    Ansel Adams could demand a large amount just for the privilege of owning one of his photos. Joe Schmoe, down the street, virtually unknown, probably couldn't demand anything?
    You're somewhere in between, I'm guessing.

    Then, finally, when you have your price, don't forget to consider the old "Friends and Family Discount." :wink:
    If you know the person, if you think they are nice, if they are close friends or family, if they might refer you new clients, go ahead and knock a few bucks off the price. (10% or 20%)
    If you do give a Friends and Family Discount, tell them about it and tell them how much.

    1 to 2 hours photographing. 2 rolls of film. Lab time. Darkroom time. Prints. Finishing time. Delivery or Postage. Extras or incidentals.
    $125 to $150. Round up for your premium if you can demand it. Let's say your total price is $150 to $200 for the package.

    Friends and family discount, if you decide to apply it, might bring you down to somewhere in the $175 area.

    Do your own math. Come up with your own numbers. Your answer will be different than my crude examples.

    I'm not trying to be authoritative on the subject. I'm just giving some examples on which to base your price and to give you the confidence to ask the price that you think you are owed.

    The bottom line is that you should sit down with a pencil and paper (or a computer spreadsheet) and spend some time thinking about your costs and what your time is worth.
    Once you have a fair price in mind, don't be afraid to ask for it. It's okay to let your customer bargain for a lower price if you want but don't go so low that you lose money. Set a bottom line price and don't go below that.

    Overall, the price you mention doesn't sound too far off the mark.
     
  7. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

    Messages:
    2,131
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Location:
    NYC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That was quite comprehensive. I should start doing this with a excel sheet with these itemized tidbits. I've been doing the freelance thingy for a bit on the side and have not been charging friends nearly enough, depends on if I like em haha. I've only begun to charge prices that were in line with my quality of work as of the last 6 months to companies/organizations. But most of that is d$&@'&l. My film and silver prints are usually gifted to dear friends.
     
  8. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,665
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I can't wait to see your formula for the value of friendship.
     
  9. DesertNate

    DesertNate Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Location:
    New Mexico
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    V(f)= Y x F / (N +D)

    Value (friendship) = Y (the number of years) x F (the friendship factor) divided by the sum of Nuisance and Drama.
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,826
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    And for the sport fans:

    1 / SOLSTV

    ("SOLSTV" = Size of Large Screen TV)
     
  11. pstake

    pstake Member

    Messages:
    715
    Joined:
    May 5, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You left out the "free pizza and beer" vector!

    Thanks, everyone, for confirming the murkiness of this topic.
     
  12. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,960
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you're speaking about the business in the commercial realm, cost of prints are just incidental. Commercial photographers mainly make their money off fees and markups on prints just cover the incidentals of producing the print like running to the lab and handling prints. Here's a link to a book on business practices by ASMP. http://asmp.org/articles/professional-business-practices-book.html
     
  13. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

    Messages:
    2,131
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Location:
    NYC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've given away prints for food and beer before actually haha. Maybe it's more of a trade but not implied. A sandwich shop by my work used to have two of my silver gelatin prints on the wall before they remodeled, got free beers for that one :D
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. polyglot

    polyglot Member

    Messages:
    3,472
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    South Austra
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm with the "it's completely free for friends at least once" brigade, after all what are friends for? Even with that approach, good people will often insist on paying something and I've received $100-200 on average for about 50% of my intended-to-be-free jobs. If they want to keep on having shoots and prints though, explain that they will have to pay cost-of-goods and be ruthless in adding everything to that cost that you will actually use (e.g. tell them it's petrol money plus $10/roll to shoot B&W plus $10 per delivered 8x10" (don't forget wastage, test strips & work-prints!); some simple price that covers your direct costs). Your labour cost is up to you; I still generally leave it at $0 for friends after charging them for materials but for more-distant acquaintances, I charge a nominal labour cost ($50/hour) that will scare off the time-wasters & riff-raff.

    You need a written contract specifying price, terms of delivery and most importantly, that you retain copyright and laying out the license that you grant with the prints you supply. Doesn't matter if it's your mother or brother or whatever as customer, rights need to be nailed down (duration, resale, sublicensing, replicas/backups, display, etc) precisely even if you're ultimately generous in what you grant.

    If they're strangers, you're competing with commercial studios so you have a responsibility to a) not kill your local businesses by undercutting them with free skilled labour and b) ensure you extract appropriate value from your commercial services, because you are at that point providing a commercial service. Such customers get the full billable rate ($100-150/hour; 30-40% of that will go to paying your overheads like building, vehicle, etc) and 100% markup on materials consumed. If they balk at the total quoted price, let them walk.

    People expect photos to be free these days. You don't need to play that game unless you want to be a sucker and/or philanthropist.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2012
  16. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Location:
    Rome, Italy
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I think the price is fair as far as the capture and developing is concerned. I have some problems with "photographing her family". Do you go there? They come to you? Your studio? Do you provide a lighting setup with multiple flashes, background etc. or do you just go to their place and take pictures?

    I have no idea how much time would it take to make a good print, but I think I would raise the price on prints.

    I wouldn't do this for free for a coworker. A friend is a friend, a collegue is a collegue. If the work is well received, you might receive other requests from the same client, or from other clients - other coworkers, other persons to whom you were referred by this client.

    So if I were you I wouldn't do it for a price for which you wouldn't do it many times. Price in a way that it might become a future activity for you (not necessarily your main one, but a pleasant second work).

    Especially don't do it for free. You'll find out that if you do it for free, you'll have difficulties even in finding them at home when you go there. And in any case "no good deed goes unpunished".

    Fabrizio
     
  17. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Oh... BTW...

    Think twice about providing a CD for free. You should charge for that if you provide it at all.
    That CD has value. That CD took work to make. But, moreover, that CD contains all your pictures in digital format.

    If you want to sell prints, the CD is going to work against you. Your client can now print off 1,000 copies on her inkjet printer, virtually for free. Why should she come back to you to get prints that cost $10 or $20 apiece?

    Providing a CD is a good service but, as I said, charge for it. (Like $50!)
    When you do provide it, make sure the images are SMALL. Like 300 pixels horizontally.
    You want pictures that she can look at on her screen or post on Facebook but you don't want her to be able to print out full size images that she could be coming back to you for.

    ALSO, put your name, address and copyright statement in the metadata! If she's going to post your pictures on Facebook (et. al.) you'll want your name attached to them. 99% of the people out there don't even know what metadata is, let alone how to strip your name out of it.

    You could put a visible watermark in the pictures or use a steganographic method like DigiMark or similar. That's up to you.

    Bottom line: Watch out when you provide a CD!
     
  18. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,665
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That happened to me once (4-hour Sweet-16 party for a very spoiled girl). It was nice that they offered payment rather than asking for a freebee. The $200 they gave me was $100 less than they promised... but I felt good helping them out and they still (4 or 5 years later) compliment me on both the kind act and the nice photos.
     
  19. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,665
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    p.s. My friends even asked what film to provide, how much, and they did the processing themselves.

    Whether I would do that again is really a matter of how good the friendship is... or how much beer-and-pizza was offere, or how big their TV screen is. :smile: As Fabrizio said, "I wouldn't do this for free for a coworker. A friend is a friend, a collegue is a collegue."
     
  20. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Member

    Messages:
    1,887
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Location:
    New York
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    .
    If I was providing the photographic service, I would maintain
    ownership of the entire process. I would purchase the film,
    provide the processing service, and keep the negatives in my
    possession. I would never turn over the negatives, or an
    " Unmarked CD " of images to someone.

    Ron
    .
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2012
  21. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,665
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I thought about it, and did that once before in my lifetime... but value the friendship more than the rights to images I really couldn't ever use in the future. In my case it was their party, their daughter, and their memories. The value of "rights" to any of that is zero to me. The value of their friendship... and they express thanks for that and comment on how happy they were with the photos every time I see them... is invaluable. Oddly, I have never seen the photos myself.
     
  22. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,203
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Was the $100 less than they promised maybe a charge for making you feel good?:D.

    If I had paid you 33% less than I'd promised I'd still be complimenting you 10 years later:D

    pentaxuser
     
  23. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,925
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The last time I worked weddings was 1999. I was paid $40/hr, the fellow I was working for supplied the cameras and film. All I did was go to the wedding, take pictures, and hand the film and equipment back to the studio's owner.
     
  24. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    When my stepsister got remarried, my wedding gift to her was a set of framed photos of her kids plus an 11x14 print of her wedding portrait. All for free. (Of course! It was a gift! :wink: ) For several weeks before the wedding, I kept my camera close by at all times during any family gathering and took candids of the kids. During the wedding, I shot over the hired photographer's shoulder. (I knew the photographer. He was my uncle. He knew what I was doing. He was okay with it. I made sure I stayed in the background, letting him take the lead on everything. I was basically just the "backup guy.") Over the span of about a month, I shot five or six rolls of film plus another three rolls at the wedding. I spent a couple of weeks in the darkroom, printing pictures in my spare time.I ended up with four 5x7s of the kids plus the 11x14. The 5x7s went into a 4-opening collage frame. The 11x14 in its own frame.Right there, the project would probably be worth $250 to $300 on the "Friends and Family" discount. If it was work for hire, I'd ask $500 and accept $400 after bargaining. On top of that, I my wife, my brother and stepbrother had cameras at the wedding. One of them had a video camera.All of that material, the video, the digi-pics and the scanned traditional pictures got edited into a video & slide show and burned onto a DVD.The whole package, the framed traditional pictures, the digi-pics, the video and everything would probably be worth $750 to $1,000 for anybody else but, for family, I would never think of charging a penny. That doesn't mean that I can't, politely and calmly tell them how much their gift might be worth. I wouldn't tell them at the time the gift is presented but, certainly in conversation some time after.They have the right to know the value of what they are getting. Don't they? I think so. Furthermore, if any of her friends see my work, they might like to know how much I would charge to do a similar job for them. After all that, I still have the negatives and retain all the rights to them. Even though I would never allow them to be widely published without asking first, I still maintain those pictures in my portfolio and show them to people who want to see my work. Should I have occasion to display those pictures in a gallery setting, I certainly would tell my stepsister that I'm doing it but I feel no obligation to get explicit permission to do so unless I expected to sell any of those images. After all, I spent time money and energy to make those pictures int he first place. I deserve to recover something for my work even if it is only artistic recognition. Immediate family and close friends just get photos for free or at cost. I don't even think about it. If they asked me for a special favor the maximum I'd ask is cost plus beer money. For ordinary friends and coworkers, I'd figure up an actual cost then figure in the "Friends and Family" discount which varies depending on how much I like them and how much time I have to do the project. Anybody else pays my price, take it or leave it. For CDs, they are always at an extra cost. A minimum of $50.All those pictures are compressed JPEGS, 300 pixels, at the largest. They are all DigiMarked. They all have my name and copyright info in the metadata. I also include a "ReadMe" text file at the root directory of the CD with my name, address, image descriptions and copyright statement. If anybody wants anything more than that, they pay more. A likely cost will be $100 and up. IF they want a copyright release it will cost them $250 (or more) ON TOP OF the cost of the CD as it would be without the release. Even then, I still maintain possession of the copyright. I only give them permission to use the images for their own purpose. All of that would be included in the "ReadMe" file mentioned above. This, I learned from my time working for the Picture People studio in the local shopping mall, two Christmas seasons ago. We always had people trying to use those CDs to make end-runs around paying the studio for reprints. It was stupid because we ALWAYS had coupons, discount specials or frequent customer bonuses that would let them get reprints for a price that was comparable to what they'd pay WalMart for reprints. If I liked a customer enough, I could usually "stack" discounts and coupons so that they could get reprints for $1.00 or even free. But, no! There were always people who tried to get something for nothing. Those are "always" the same people who call you back and complain that they get crappy prints off their inkjet or bitch because WalMart refuses to reprint pictures off those CDs. Bottom line: Yes, do something nice for your customers if you like them and make them a CD but don't let them treat you like a doormat just because they have "digital copies" of those pictures.
     
  25. polyglot

    polyglot Member

    Messages:
    3,472
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    South Austra
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    For sure, always put EXIF in your digital copies. While most customers have no idea how to strip metadata, Facebook does it by default! In fact, I'm not sure it's possible to keep the metadata in images on FB.

    When I do jobs like this for friends, I generally put a "give credit" condition if the images are to be posted online because I know that it would otherwise be stripped. Having to manually acknowledge your work will generally make people value your efforts more than having to pay a few dollars for materials. The purpose of it isn't to give you advertising (because really, no one is going to look at the photo and think "I shall hire that person!") but to link, in the long term, your name with your efforts in the mind of your customer/friend. It's the difference between "oh, that was yours?" and "remember those awesome photos you took" ten years later.
     
  26. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Location:
    Rome, Italy
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Copyright information can be contained both in the EXIF data and in the IPTC data. IPTC data are more comprehensive and I suggest to compile the relevant fields also in the IPTC data. IPTC fields are probably less likely to be stripped than EXIF fields. (EXIF fields serve mainly to contain information about the device, such as the scanner, while IPTC fields have the exact purpose to contain information about the image and the photographer).
    IPTC fields exist in various flavours: for being a standard, it definitely it is not standardised. Even the label of the fields is not standardised. Anyway there are two fields, "Photographer" and "Copyright" which should be compiled always. You may also find fields "Photographer URL" and various other fields with contact information of the photographer. Depends on the IPTC implementation of your application and the IPTC "revision" the application is taking into consideration.

    I would also embed a small visible watermark on the lower right corner of the scan. That will not detract from the image and will sign your work. Or you can make a frame around the image with the signature on the lower right corner.

    Prints would be signed on the back with a pencil as customary.