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Everyone sings praises of your work, until money enters into the equation

epp_b

No longer a newbie, moving up!
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True North Cold and Freezing
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www.eppbphoto.com
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This might be a lengthy post, so bear with me.

I do photography primarily for my own enjoyment (and I really do enjoy it). But, I also believe that my results are both artistically and technically proficient to where I can charge, at least, a reasonable sum of profit.

On more than one occasion, people have contacted me from my website with messages of praise and appreciation for my photos. Unfortunately, that tone takes a nose-dive any time they ask for prints, copies or what-have-you and money enters into the discussion, presumably because they were expecting something cheap or free. Either, they change their mind (ie.: sticker shock) or they begrudgingly accept; I never get the sense that they're happy.

I don't think my print prices are terribly high. This is what I've been working on for a preliminary pricelist:
- 4x6 @ $5
- 5x7 @ $10
- 8x10 @ $25
- 11x17 @ $40
- 13x18 @ $50

Then again, I live in rural shtick where some people think that paying real, actual money for a puppy is crazy. People really are cheap around here :er:

Either way, though, I end up feeling ... "unclean", somehow, like I've sacrificed my art for a profit. I fear that if I start charging money, I'll begin to forget about the art and, instead, focus too much on what people might be more interested in buying.

Any time I enter into a discussion with someone on whether or not I'll sell a photo and for how much, I end up hemming and hawing and, probably, sounding like a bit of a dick (when, really, that's not what I'm trying to do at all).

On the other hand, I don't want to just give everything way. I can appreciate and respect that working this hard (even though it's enjoyable work) and giving everything away reinforces the collective belief that photography is simple and worthless, and that it hurts working professionals.

On the (third?) hand, I don't want to be a selfish old hermit by keeping everything to myself.

My latest situation with this struggle is a recent drag racing event I shot on-track (the same event as I shot last year). There was no official arrangement like there was last year, but I had a verbal agreement, with one of the car club's higher ups, to get on the track again this year. It was a blast: 16 hours, over two days, in the searing heat getting pelted by bits of molten rubber. I got some of the best pictures of my life that weekend (you can judge them, for yourself, here, if you like) and conducted myself in a highly respectful and professional manner. No monetary pay was given to me for doing this; I'm pretty happy to have the opportunity.

Anyway, one of the participant members of the car club contacted me today, through my website, flat-out asking for copies with no indication that he expects to pay anything. I've replied to ask how he intends to use them, to which I was answered that he would like to make a large print.

I have a strong suspicion that I'll be promptly blown off if I try to sell him a print, instead of just giving him a full-resolution, non-watermarked copy of the file. I also suspect that he may try to pressure me into giving it away due to the club having let me on the track. I don't know... even though I enjoyed it, I think the 16 hours of hard work I gave to the club is worth something.

What do you make of all this?
 
just tell him you dont gives your files to anyone. you sell prints.
 
Quit hemming and hawwing and give them a price. You time alone is worth something and you don't need to justify that to anyone..

Seems to me I remember a price of $.60/inch quoted for prints.

Cheers, Don
 
Some nice shots in there (35, the Camaro, is my fave by far). Don't give them anything for free under pressure. The entrants didn't get in free, nor would they. "The Establishment" an deal with it until THEY start letting people get in, enter or get concessions for free.
 
I think I'd go half-way on this one. I wouldn't give the digital files away for free, but since they are a member of the auto club that gave you that great access, I'd offer a lesser rate for print(s).

Some great shots in that gallery, BTW...
 
It's not clear to me, and perhaps to your friends, what you are doing there. Taking photographs for sport groups etc. can be frustrating, because no one person is responsible. Why are you there? Is there an agreement? If you are there because you like the activity, why should they pay you for photos you're taking anyway?

The photos seem competent enough, but perhaps you need to establish what it is you're doing and get a contract.
 
your prices are cheaper than mine .. First guess is that it's not your prices that is the problem but more than likely your targeted consumer demographic. On your website you have galleries for nature & landscapes, architecture, concerts, automotive, Sports & Events, Animals, & everything else. From a business marketing viewpoint you're giving yourself the appearance of a jack of all trades shooter rather than a specialized professional photographer. When people see a "jack of all trades" presentation they automatically associate it with a hobbyist who just like taking pictures and that does not get you their respect or their money.
If you are going to be dealing with photography on a pay basis then you might want to keep the "this is what I like" and "this is how I'm gonna get paid" separate from one another.
As far as business goes, my recommendation would be to take the automotive and sporting events and give those their own website. The other stuff is for fun more or less in comparison. This will give you the appearance of a niche photographer rather than a jack of all hobbyist. With this in peoples minds they will be more apt to expect to pay as they would for any other professional service.
You also have to keep in mind that the potential client your talking about might just be a prick. I mean come on seriously ... how much money is that guy literally blowing on his extreme car hobby?? He can afford to buy a frickin print.
Never go with digital files either. Prints are how you make your money. Also I'm not sure if it's just different in Canada but the 11x17 and 13x18 are some really odd sizes. Normally consumers expect for the 11x14 and 16x20 to follow the 8x10's .. but I don't know that just here in the US.
 
...I had a verbal agreement, with one of the car club's higher ups,.., I think the 16 hours of hard work I gave to the club is worth something.

But this is were the trouble comes in: Just what is the "agreement?" An agreement... a meeting of the minds includes each of you giving something of value. What is the exchange? I'm presuming what they gave you is access. What did you provide in return?

If it wasn't your time, then what was it? And if it wasn't, you can't expect to change the terms of your agreement afterward.

I think though your print pricing is fine... not out of line at all. You're certainly not gonna get rich. If they don't want to pay... oh well. Do you think any of them would walk up to the cashier at the grocery store with a loaf of bread and begin to haggle? The bread is $2. Buy it or don't.

Of course you don't want to come off sounding flippant. Just reassure any tire-kickers that they are receiving the club discount rather than your usual pricing, reflecting a savings of 20%.

Now go sell some prints.

BTW - I never sell files... or pay for puppies.

-Pete
 
If you are there because you like the activity, why should they pay you for photos you're taking anyway?
This argument is silly. Do you enjoy your job? Yes? Why should your employer pay you?

our prices are cheaper than mine .. First guess is that it's not your prices that is the problem but more than likely your targeted consumer demographic. On your website you have galleries for nature & landscapes, architecture, concerts, automotive, Sports & Events, Animals, & everything else. From a business marketing viewpoint you're giving yourself the appearance of a jack of all trades shooter rather than a specialized professional photographer. When people see a "jack of all trades" presentation they automatically associate it with a hobbyist who just like taking pictures and that does not get you their respect or their money.
If you are going to be dealing with photography on a pay basis then you might want to keep the "this is what I like" and "this is how I'm gonna get paid" separate from one another.
As far as business goes, my recommendation would be to take the automotive and sporting events and give those their own website. The other stuff is for fun more or less in comparison. This will give you the appearance of a niche photographer rather than a jack of all hobbyist. With this in peoples minds they will be more apt to expect to pay as they would for any other professional service.
I understand what you mean, I just have a real hard time narrowing myself down.

But this is were the trouble comes in: Just what is the "agreement?"
To be honest, it was just "Can I get on the track again this year?" "Yup". The end. Presumably, my prep-work, shooting and post-work is what I was giving them, but that was never discussed. I don't think it's reasonable to give them free prints, though.

or pay for puppies.
You terrible, terrible person :( ;)
 
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BTW - I never sell files...

I should clarify this statement. I never sell files to consumer type clients... you know... retail sort of stuff.

I do deliver files to my commercial clients... who do pay me for my time. This pricing begins at $325 for one image made on location, so long as I can finish in an hour.

-Pete
 
But this is were the trouble comes in: Just what is the "agreement?"

To be honest, it was just "Can I get on the track again this year?" "Yup". The end. Presumably, my prep-work, shooting and post-work is what I was giving them, but that was never discussed.

I think that's a reasonable presumption. I too would think that it was implied.

I don't think it's reasonable to give them free prints, though.

Again very reasonable. Maybe that's what you have to remember (and remind any print buyers) when selling prints. It's like a portrait customer buying prints without ever paying a session fee. If you remember that, then you won't feel funny at all asking for your print price.

Good luck!

-Pete
 
If you are there because you like the activity, why should they pay you for photos you're taking anyway?
This argument is silly. Do you enjoy your job? Yes? Why should your employer pay you?

Not the same thing. This is clearly not your profession. You like car races...so if they allow you to take photos, and you would take them anyway...that lowers their value.

A 'pro' would be someone who would not be caught dead there...unless he's being paid handsomely for taking photos.

Do you think wedding photographers "hang out" at weddings at which they're not working?
 
First of all, you need to decide your philosophy and approach to your "business" of photography before the client ever gets involved. Are you going to sell digital files, prints, both? Under what circumstances, if any, will files ever be given for free? You should come up with answers to these questions before shooting another gig like this where things might get confusing, because if you don't have an answer when a potential customer asks, then you do look bad.

Second, once you decide your image policy, put it on your website. List prices for prints, digital files, etc. Make it obvious and easy to find. Not that people have to be able to order from your site, they just need to see the pricing. Then when someone calls with general price questions, you send them to the website - and the website becomes the bearer of bad news, not you. Plus, when people see things in print (or on the web), it seems more set in stone to them than if you are nervously telling them a price on the phone. They are FAR less likely to haggle with you if your prices are on your site.
 
Do you think wedding photographers "hang out" at weddings at which they're not working?

Now, ya see? You were making good sense in your first post when you asked, "Why are you there?" and suggested a, "need to establish what it is you're doing..."

Then you come back with this? Common, man.

-Pete
 

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