What to charge

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by TGardner1378, May 11, 2017.

  1. TGardner1378

    TGardner1378 TPF Noob!

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    I am an amateur looking to rise through the ranks to professional. Last month, I displayed at a bakery and put out business cards. In doing so, I received a message from a couple who have an online ribbon business. They would like me to take photos of their products and teach them how to use their new digital camera. I've never done any kind of photo shoot before. My photos are mainly of nature. I have no clue as to what to charge...?? What is reasonable being that I'm an amateur?? If they have a price in mind, I'd like to know what fair. Please help...


     
  2. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Honesty is always the best path. I would tell them of your dilemma, 1st client, not your genre, et cetera as opposed to winging it. I would have a frank discussion that you don't want to charge them for your "learning time". When I was starting out on the professional path, I wouldn't charge for my time but for the prints. Another route is for them to decide, at the end of the project, what your time and skill are worth. Usually product/commercial require lighting and often a studio. Do you have the hardware and/or access to the hardware for the job? I wasn't a commercial photog, so I cannot comment on rates. I'm sure some commercial guys/gals will jump in with more in-depth info.
     
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  3. table1349

    table1349 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What's fair is based on you costs + making a profit. There are lots of things to consider. Once you start making money there are a lot of other entities that are involved. You need a business plan. Professional photography is only about 10% shooting and 90% business.

    You may need a business license, depends on the laws in your area. You will need to set up an LLC at a minimum. You will need insurance, on your gear as well as liability insurance. You will need to pay taxes, sales taxes, state and local income taxes. Don't forget FICA if you make more than $400 a year.

    What is your time worth? What is the annual depreciation on your gear? What other business expenses do you have? Electricity, heating, gear you may need etc.

    Once you know the costs of all of those things, how much profit do you need to make to stay in business. Finally what is the basic going rate for photographers in your area and can you compete with that rate and stay in business.

    We could tell you to charge a dollar or ten thousand dollars but that won't serve a purpose for it would be based on a S.W.A.G. The PPA would be a good resource to start with.
     
  4. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The potential customer doesn't know what is involved, and apparently you don't either. I think you're a long way from setting a price.

    The subject has been discussed at length here in a number of threads. You could search the forums for more information.

    Additionally, if it is going to take someone potentially years to learn, teaching someone might take more time and effort than either of you can guess.

    I see product photography as a distinct type that involves experience, equipment, and artistry. This is not something you can get good at trying it one time. You will need staging, lights, and depending on the product, possibly another lens. You can start with the customer's suggestions, but if you wish to make this a profession, you'll have to make the photographs into an art form. This is what will make whatever you decide to charge worth it to the customer.
     
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  5. TGardner1378

    TGardner1378 TPF Noob!

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    Professional status is a ways off. It's a dream to work towards that may take years. They have all the lights, etc. Product photography is not necessarily the direct path I was planning on taking, but its worth trying. I really enjoy landscape, macro, nature, and architecture. I appreciate all the input so far. Thank you.
     
  6. table1349

    table1349 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    "Professional status" is a couple of words that mean nothing. If you make money from your photography no matter what "level" you call yourself the game changes dramatically. You need to know the game going in, not in the middle of the game. Owning a restaurant and owning a photography business are very much the same. You may be the greatest chef there is, but if you don't cover your bases, know you food costs, other expenses etc. you are not in the restaurant business long because you either loose money, or fail to do the things you are required to and end up in court for failure to pay taxes, have licensing issues or someone decides they don't like your product and sues you.
     
  7. Dave442

    Dave442 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    It sounds like this client is interested in learning from someone (you in this case) how to take pictures of their products.

    It could well be that they searched and bought equipment recommended for product photography. Along with the lights they should have a seamless background or maybe just a simple lightbox. They could be running into any number of problems and so they have the their expensive photographic equipment sitting around while the get by with cell phone photos of their product.

    Instead of trying to make an offer for images of their products I would lean towards offering photography lessons. This will also be a crash course learning session for you if you have not done any product photography. I would offer something like three one hour sessions for some very reasonable amount. The first session would be to see what they have and go over camera basics and try and find out what issues they are having so you can address them over the next sessions. Second session continue with camera settings and basics on lighting (your crash course is between the first and second session so make them at least a week apart). Third session taking some pictures.
     
  8. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Are you in a position to accept money for services? Do you have a business license? Taxation paperwork? Business insurance? Are you 100% (or at least 80%) confident of your ability to deliver the product? As mentioned, the minute money changes hands, things take on an entirely new dimension. If you answer 'No' to any of the above questions, than my suggestion would be to simply do it at no charge, with the understanding that if the client is happy he/she can treat you to a nice meal out or some similar compensation.
     
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  9. Light Guru

    Light Guru Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Its quite clear they are not really wanting you to hire you as a photographer but want you to teach them.

    You NEED to be HONEST with them and tell them that you don't have any experience in that type of photography!
     
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  10. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What's with all the negativity? She is not opening up a "restaurant" ... using that analogy she is selling some cupcakes to a person who liked her cupcakes and she is teaching them how to makes cupcakes. She doesn't need an LLC or a corporation of any type and most likely at the level of revenue even a DBA or a Business license. You can check with your local city/county/state on minimum requirements of gross revenues before a DBA and/or business licenses are required. Check with a tax person on reporting requirements, I suspect that under a certain amount of money, all you need to do is to do is report the additional income with your regular tax filing(s).

    Most likely, if you want to start hiring employees, take tax deductions, receive government contracts and such, then yeah, at a minimum you'll have to have a DBA and what your local/regional/state jurisdictions require. But just speak to a tax expert and a chat with the city just to be on the safe side so you'll know the rules are for going forward. I suspect we're talking less than a thousand dollars here.
     
  11. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    Commercial photography - "would like me to take photos of their products" - entails 2 charges:
    One charge for your time and talent and a separate charge for the commercial use of your copyrighted images. The particulars of the allowed usage are defined in a Use License that you create. :: PLUS :: License Generator

    A use license is a sort of rental or lease agreement. You can limit the duration of the use, the geographical area of the use, the size(s) the images are used at, the various electronic and print media the images are used in, and more. The more images they want to use the more the use license costs.
    Don't fall into the trap of treating your photographs like bushels of corn - a commodity. Each individual photograph has an intrinsic value - your exclusive copyright.
    U.S. Copyright Office
    Photo Attorney

    How much is charged for the use license is based on the scope of the usage and there is pricing software based on rates in the US. The American Society of Media Photographers endorses the following: fotoQuote

    I highly recommend you look the ASMP web site over.
     
  12. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    That's a heck of a stretch, Dave442!

    Here; read this part again:
     

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