Jewelry Photography Rates

CarlaB

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Hi,

I've been photographing jewelry for about 3 years now, and I still don't know how much to charge. I know, 3 years photographing jewelry and still don't have a set pricelist for it? I have to admit that I'm not a very good business person. I started charging my only client $20 per item, I believe the first time she gave me about 60-70 items. There is always a different amount, sometimes she gives me 50 pieces, and other times she gives me 20. Her jewelry costs about $200 and/or more, and she sells it to high end stores such us Anthropology & Fred Segal. A couple of years later, she came up with a new line specifically aimed at college students on a budget, they ranged from $10-$20 per piece. This is when she asked me to drop down the price to $10, I did since she is my only "jewelry client." She is very specific when it comes to what she wants, she wants her pieces to be shot on a clean white background with no shadows (something that I've been struggling with because there is always a natural soft shadow in the images, unless I get rid of the background in photoshop and this can take from 10 to 30 min per piece). The reason why she doesn't want any shadows is because these pictures go to magazines and this is the requirement).

How much do you think it is a fair price for both of us, the designer and myself? I know that she is trying to cut her expenses as much as possible, but I also know that she is my only client (at least for now, since I'm starting to work on promoting my product photography skills). Here is just one of my samples: Ok, I was going to upload a pic but they are not letting me, maybe it is because I'm fairly new here and they haven't approved me yet?
 
Do you have your pictures on a hosting site like flickr?
 
Thank you mjhoward. Yes, I do have a website and different galleries with my photos, but I would like to keep my client's identity private. But can anybody help me when it comes to rates please?
 
I am assuming these are production run pieces. If that's the case, It doesn't matter how much her item cost is in relation to your costs.

DON'T FALL INTO THAT TRAP!


Shooting jewelery on a blown background is difficult to set up.
Below, I achieved the blown background, but I failed to light the piece adequately. And if the piece is shiny, it reflects the blown background as well. Good luck.

5222716426_cb0a5a90fc.jpg
 
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Charge the same. Just because your client is adjusting prices doesn't mean you have to. You still do the same exact thing whether the jewelry costs 10.00 or 1,000.00. Your time doesn't cost any less just because her products do. Sounds harsh but it's business. You won't be in business long if you are basically doing work for free. You may actually be losing money by charging less.
 
Determine a reasonable hourly rate will allow you to cover all of your costs (Everything from insurance to lawyers, to book-keepers to transportation & fuel to equipment upgrades) as well as a decent profit for yourself. Let's say that based on all of that, you determine that $100/hour is a good rate. Now, on average, how many pieces can you shoot in an hour (I have no idea) and divide that into your required rate per hour and then present her with a [lawyer-reviewed] contract indicating a fixed-price-per-piece.
 
tirediron said:
Determine a reasonable hourly rate will allow you to cover all of your costs (Everything from insurance to lawyers, to book-keepers to transportation & fuel to equipment upgrades) as well as a decent profit for yourself. Let's say that based on all of that, you determine that $100/hour is a good rate. Now, on average, how many pieces can you shoot in an hour (I have no idea) and divide that into your required rate per hour and then present her with a [lawyer-reviewed] contract indicating a fixed-price-per-piece.

What he said... Also factor in editing time.

Sounds like you're charging too little. $20 for what sounds like about 30 mins total work per piece? Granted, also sounds like you can quicken the process with a better setup. I can't see charging someone more because I'm slow due to poor gear or setup.
 
I agree with the others that your prices should reflect your cost of doing business as well as your own profit, however:

The reason why she doesn't want any shadows is because these pictures go to magazines and this is the requirement).

Not 100% sure but is she simply advertising with those images in magazines or also selling them on to magazines?
 
Hi,

I've been a Jewelry Photographer for 4months now, and I am still learning. But, if you are talking to the rates, it depends who is the designer. I am a freelance photographer but Im focused right now on jewelries, some of the company I work, I charge $6/piece because it doesn't need much editing as long it is white b/g and focus enough just to see itis details, and the other one I charge $25/piece, because they want all the sides of the jewelry to be focus so its takes time, and not to mention the color correction also. If her business is going down thats her problem, you have to know that you are also doing business with her, you must charge from the time you shoot the jewelry, uploading it on the computer, and the post process (photoshop) not to mention, your equipments ( If its your own equipment you used for her photographs). It's up to you, but the $10/piece. I don't know about that, but you should charge higher.

And about the equipments, if you don't want to have shadows on your jewelries, you should use 2-3 soft boxes, 2 on the same opposite sides, then one on top. (NEVER USE A LIGHTBOX... I tried it many times, but it won't give the whiteness I want no matter how I adjust my settings, It has always a green or yellow color) and use a reflector (Foil or Mirrors... it helps me a lot)

I hope this will help you. ^_^
 
First you can not achieve the floating "white" background without Photoshop, EVER! In order to get the background pure white you have to blast the area causing the subject matter in your case jewelry to blow out in some sort of fashion. So the on pure white background trend that is all over the internet and what every jewelry business owner wants is not possible with photography alone, because like you pointed out there will always be some kind of shadow no matter how soft the light.

Part of the job of a photographer is to inform clients how long it actually takes for something. People see things in magazines or online and don't realize the time and effort or even methods involved to pull something like that off. The biggest example is the pure white background, people just assume that it is photographed that way and don't realize there is Photoshop involved. Which cost time and money and you should charge for it accordingly.

You need to be charging for post production, no exceptions.

As for estimating or quoting...
First you break it down per from a photography stand point. Base it on per photograph, not per piece. If they want 3 angles of 1 piece of jewelry that is 3 shots. Figure out the amount of shots and roughly how long you expect each shot to take. Then price in a hourly figure to get an accurate estimate for Photography. Second you have to figure in POST PRODUCTION and add a second figure on your estimate that calculates the post production amount (again figure in how long it will take per piece and use an hourly rate to calculate the flat rate).
 
First you can not achieve the floating "white" background without Photoshop, EVER!

Not true at all.

Glass table, soft white back drop for light absorption of the back light, 2 lights under the table with key light, no strings, no bleaching on the ring from the back drop make sure there is a there is good distance between the subject and the back drop(white ceiling is perfect), use a prime lens with low F number to Bokeh the back drop so it's more matte, tripod your camera, use a remote and place all items on the table as you need basically allowing you to batch.

That would be my make shift solution and 0 photoshop.


View attachment 6726

I did a picture of sort of what I am on about but don't have a macro lens, so I popped my 18-135mm lens on back to front to capture this in macro and used the glass of a small lantern to set the ring on, perched it on my windowsill and used a static light to give the foreground light, the back light is the sky the focal range is pants because my lens is docked backwards but you get the gist.

Someone with more time and better kit could utilise this technique to the full extent.
 

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I just seen a video on youtube by some european guy and he said he sends his files off to some company *the link is on my other computer* and they charge $5 per file to do the clipping for you. It doesnt sound like he does any post work other than that.

This has inspired me to contact the local stores to see if they could use my services. Im not sure what to charge either, but ive seen it suggested to charge an hourly rate for your photography time, and then a per file rate for limited licensing. They they can renew it the year after if they still want to use it. I'll prob end up charging $100 per hour with a minimum of 4 hours/half day. Then $20 per file which covers the $5 fee to do the clipping.

As for a white background, I made a home made softbox out of a Styrofoam box with the sides cut out and interfacing material covering the sides, and flashes put around the sides for even light. :) put a flash under the box, put something on the fabric and the flash gives a pure white base. I'll probably make a larger version for larger things if I get into this. :)
 
I am assuming these are production run pieces. If that's the case, It doesn't matter how much her item cost is in relation to your costs.

DON'T FALL INTO THAT TRAP!


Shooting jewelery on a blown background is difficult to set up.
Below, I achieved the blown background, but I failed to light the piece adequately. And if the piece is shiny, it reflects the blown background as well. Good luck.

5222716426_cb0a5a90fc.jpg

Amazingly detailed shot..
 

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