Commercial Photography and Billing Insights and Questions

Started Nov 29, 2006 | Discussions thread
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Commercial Photography and Billing Insights and Questions
Nov 29, 2006

This is not a thread asking how much to charge, I'll make that clear straight away, too many exist already.

I own a small photography business, I'll pretty much do all types of photography. The city I live in allows for very little concentration in one area, particurly now that Best Buy sells 10 megapixel DRebels for $800, everybody is a photographer, and we all know that megapixels are everything (sarcasm). But, 75% of my business is commercial photography, particularly product photography. I have two large clients that attribute to 95% of that business. But I've recently had some interesting developements that have greatly affected my "workflow" for product photography and I would be interested to hear others perceptions of the matter.

One of my clients wants products shot on a white background, very few shadows, easily able to drop onto a website with a white background so that the objects appear to be floating, no big deal. The other large client doesn't care how the images are shot as they want each product cut out anyway. This is mostly due to the way that they use the images on the printed brochures, which are graphics intensive and each product has to float over some sort of line art or another product, you get the point. Here's where we come to the dilemma:

Only a few short years ago I shot all film, the final images were picked off the light table, scanned and retouched. Now the client seems to be getting more and more picky with regards to unretouched photos. By tradition, I charged for photography only, then retouching, so that the client would pick the images they wanted, I would then retouch them to spec. The problem is that my client is getting more and more picky, they want retouched images (every image shot), then they want to pick the best one. I usually would pick the best shot, show only the best shots and allow the client to give their input as to whether something needed to be changed. It seems however, now that we're in the digital age, they have begun expecting to see EVERY shot, completely retouched. Not only that, but now, I can't just nail a shot, even if it becomes the best shot, they still want more options. Yes, I have had to "reshoot" a product because the client didn't have enough options and they still chose the first shot.

Now we come to the conundrum, I'm going to increase my commercial photography rates, should I now include in the hourly rate the cost of retouching as well, so that the client sees one number, and only gets retouched images or should I continue to offer basic photography only and retouching separately? If one clients doesn't want or need retouching, then I'm making a little extra on that job. I guess I'm just getting to the point where I need to increase my hourly rate in order to take into account the extra work the client is requiring and I'd like to hear how other people are doing it. Are you only showing fully retouched images and how many of those people that do show fully retouched images client's require them to show all the shots?

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