Building a commercial photography department

Discussion in 'Commercial/Product photography' started by Evansmitty, Aug 16, 2017.

  1. Evansmitty

    Evansmitty TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I posted here last night about licensing for an in-house photographer at an ad agency. Now that I feel a little more informed I am going to being a plan to build an in-house photography department at the ad agency I work for here in Florida. We are a fairly large agency (50+ employees) but do almost no original content as far as photography is concerned. The ADs are always offering stock photography as a way to save the client money.
    So Im seeking advice on how to get started. I want to show them how profitable commercial photography can be. How licensing can create a stream of revenue they've never had before. And I want to learn how to gain new photography clients while convincing all of our existing clients to begin using this service.
    Does anyone have any thoughts on this? How do I pitch this to my studio heads? How do I begin landing new, qualified clients?


     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Messages:
    40,663
    Likes Received:
    12,307
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    That sounds like a really tough row to hoe. HOW is in-house photography going to be more profitable for the company and beneficial for the client? I don't like it, but I have pretty much accepted that commercial work is mostly dead, except for a few very lucky studios with very high-end clients, or those with very specialized requirements.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    40,350
    Likes Received:
    5,508
    Location:
    Iowa
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    How much do you have budgeted for marketing, promotion, and advertising?
    Landing new clients is mostly about salesmanship. And as John points out the run of the mill client will still want to use stock images - because of the cost.
    Salesmanship is way easier to do if you have a body of work (samples) you can show prospects.

    The Internet, social media, the consolidation of the RM stock photography industry to the now big 3 - Getty, Corbis, Alamy - and the growth of microstock agencies and RF licensing make it tough to make significant money doing any kind of photography today.
     
  4. astroNikon

    astroNikon 'ya all Bananas I tell 'ya Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2013
    Messages:
    13,209
    Likes Received:
    3,211
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    You've basically identified the easy part the problem.

    Selling it to the AD heads is fairly simple. More Profit after potentially a large fixed costs depending upon what you do (ie, lipstick vs cars).

    It offers the Customer a choice of stock photography versus custom photography which may be more specific or dramatic than the stock. But then the hard part is convincing the Customer to spend the extra $$$ of Custom images versus Stock.

    It comes down to doing a business analysis and plan of your customers products,
    the total cost of a potential mockup to do the customer photography, photographer time, setup time and costs, etc etc etc + profit + pay off initial debt of fixed costs.

    As you can probably think, stock photography of lipstick may be far cheaper and easier than custom photography. If Customer wants a very specific model to be putting on lipstick, then that is a venue for custom photography. All dependent upon what the customer wants, total cost, etc.
     
  5. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    Messages:
    6,279
    Likes Received:
    1,826
    Location:
    US
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I was wondering from the other thread about an ad agency not being that up on how to license usage, til you said they're mostly using stock photos and that seems to explain it.

    Usually I think doing photos as part of a job assignment/job description etc. means work for hire, which means the employer owns the photos/the copyright. So I'm not sure if you could contract separately from your employer or do the photos on your work time.

    It seems like you're starting from scratch so try American Society of Media Photographers - Homepage or PPA to learn about licensing usage, contracts, etc. etc. ASMP has webinars that are usually made available to nonmembers (sign up, they send a link, there's no cost). Try The Photo District News http://www.pdnonline to get some idea what's going on in commercial photography.

    Once you get some semblance of a plan figured out is there someone you can bounce it off? just to get some idea if it's worth putting more time into developing it? I'm wondering if it would be worth it if clients want inexpensive stock photos; or if it might be better to do your own thing in photography as a sideline separate from your job.
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2009
    Messages:
    40,028
    Likes Received:
    15,012
    Location:
    USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    One can buy stock photos for pennies these days. TIME magazine did a cover story and used an 'expensive', $7.00 stock shot. Seven dollars. For a cover shot. Not $350.
     
  7. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2006
    Messages:
    3,656
    Likes Received:
    471
    Forget licensing revenue. Commercial photography is sold by the hour and expenses not by the image. The images are expected to belong to the client. You are setting yourself up for failure, I'm afraid. BTW I'm a former commercial photographer.
     
  8. MidnightUK

    MidnightUK TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2013
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    UK
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit


    Perhaps part of the question is, can you get enough clients who need images impossible for them to obtain in any other way than a custom shoot?

    'This will do' general stock images, given some of the earlier comments, seem financially unviable, which leaves you with taking images of very specific products or situations that cannot be found in a stock library. Could you generate enough of these ultra specific images to make it pay? Increasingly images are generated via computer. I have been told huge amounts of the IKEA catalogue are computer simulations and not photos at all.

    If your clients need exclusive or hard to obtain images
    - who is providing them at the moment?
    - can you equal the required shot quality they can already get?
    - how much are they paying for them?
    - what would persuade them to switch to you and break with established image providers/photographers (undercutting costs may put you on a downward spiral, so you probably need other reasons) ?
    - would in house production benefit your employer in ways other than licensing revenue? (Cutting down on productions time, increasing satisfaction of clients, moving the business to higher value clients?)

    If this is a no sell to your employer, but its something that really engages you, is it worth trying to find work for yourself at a high end studio and start a plan to leave the employer you are with?

    Good luck and let us know how it goes if you can.
     

Share This Page