How to price photography of ceramic and paintings?


TPF Noob!
Mar 9, 2009
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South Africa, Johannesburg
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I have been approached by an artist who specializes in ceramic artwork. She wants me to photograph her work for her new website.

I do not know exactly how many pieces there are, could be between 15-35 items. All of them will be able to individually fit in my mobile DIY light tent.

My question is, how do you propose one charges for something like this? Per hour or per item?

At the end of the day, if I stay within our industry regulators recommended rates, the hourly rate for "advertising" comes in at R500 - R540 per hour.

How many items should I realistically target to photograph per hour?

  • If I can do a great job quickly, I shoot myself in the foot as I will earn less.
I think I should target 4 items per hour - 7.5 minutes to photograph each piece, and another 7.5 min for post processing. That should work out to R125 per piece. Will one item per 15 minutes be frowned upon though?

Oh, by the way, she also has 2 or 3 paintings... will those be charged at the same rate?

What is the best way to approach a job like this?

I'm not sure how much help I can be other than:

1) I charge by the hour with a minimum of 1 hour. I charge $50-75 USD/hr depending on the client and the subject matter, in 1 hour blocks.
2) We agree on a Not-to-exceed ahead of time -- this is where the estimate of my abilities comes in to play. If I blow it, I suck up the difference. If I say NTE of $300 and the shoot takes 5 hours, it's my loss. The NTE requires that the number of objects and prereqs being good-to-go. If I'm sitting around waiting, clock is ticking.
3) In general, when doing product shots in a lightbox, once I get things calibrated and the first shot dealt with, I can usually knock off the rest of the images really quickly. The largest shoot I've done to date was ~100 objects and the post took maybe an hour?
I would've suggested a per-item, but I have no experience doing this. How much does she sell the stuff for? I wouldn't think it's realistic to ask more than, say, 5% of what she plans on getting for them (for example, if she sells them for $100, then I wouldn't charge more than $5). But, that's me.

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