Commercial Photography and Billing Insights and Questions

Started Nov 29, 2006 | Discussions thread
john g Regular Member • Posts: 440
Re: Commercial Photography and Billing Insights and Questions

I can't wade through all these posts, but I"ll post somethings off the top of my head and try to get back to clarify.

I've worked for many years doing commercial and catalog.

First of all, be very aware of Usage. All photography should be billed based on this. Because it sounds to me like your photos are being resold and going into 'who-knows'what'. Some for web and some for catalog and perhaps some for advertising. You should get a handle on that first.

If you aren't billing based on usage, it's hard to get into it with a client. Sometimes only a new art director will help, but that's why it's always important to make the client aware that you do base your pricing based on Usage, no matter what the 'bread and butter' work is from them.

Regarding turning the angle, head on, 7 degrees, and 15 degrees. Again, sometimes only a new art director will fix that. Otherwise, it sounds like they are using all these shots on the web. This is a large part of commercial photography now, as a matter of fact, it's all I've been doing for the past three years, shooting a product twelve times from every angle. Frankly, I couldn't come up with a cost for it, so I went to work for them as an employee!

Regarding pricing: If you are getting paid by the day, then what is the problem? More time= more billing. (Did I miss something there?) If that's so, then you just have to reorient yourself towards that.

Regarding retouching and prepress. The best thing you can do is get yourself an assistant and bill seperately for him or her. The most profitable place for a photographer is always behind the camera, not at the computer. When it comes to creating clipping paths, you should NOT be doing that. It don't pay (that is, if you have other work to do or are interested in getting more).

To the end of working with an assistant, you should be working on at least two sets. I work on three, with one assistant, and another freelancer working on another set. We work in burst of shooting, banging out a ton of shots and then building up to it again. Meanwhile, the assistant does the automated and basic processing and I review iit in the morning, correcting stuff he might have missed.

But it's hard to correct a poor business situation. You should not be bickering with them until "their eyes glaze over". Find out what they want and what they are doing with your images. Figure out what you need to make more money. I kinda sounds like (and I might have missed something) that you are just unhappy with the work, the workflow, and the relationship, but not so much about the money. If they paid you twice what you were getting now, would you be happy? BTW, never say or suppose that a client is rich, "so they can afford it", or that "discounts are not taxable income". Those are strange and bad attitudes that I don't have time to go into.

My advice is to throw off some of this work that you don't like. Either put the silos back on them, or get them done in China, for G-d's sake, or hire someone else to do them.

I don't know if I'm clear, like I said, I'll have to go back and reread what you wrote and what I just wrote, but these are some basic feelings I have, for whatever they are worth, sincerely, good luck!

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