Composite Pricing Question

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JakeWarrin Forum Member • Posts: 72
Composite Pricing Question

I've been approached to make a composite picture for local city department.  The framed picture would be roughly 33"x43".  I would need to capture and edit 86 photos to build the image.  I would need to build the photo with names and titles.  I would be handling the printing and framing as well.  They said that they have $2,000 in the budget, but if that's not enough to let them know and they'll get it added to 2023 and we'll start the project then.

I would be trying to set up on location for a couple days to capture the majority of the images and handling the people that could not make the scheduled time in the studio.

Based on everything that I described, does that sound like a good number for that project?  If I need to provide more information, please let me know.

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thinkinginimages
thinkinginimages Senior Member • Posts: 2,060
Re: Composite Pricing Question
1

JakeWarrin wrote:

I've been approached to make a composite picture for local city department. The framed picture would be roughly 33"x43". I would need to capture and edit 86 photos to build the image. I would need to build the photo with names and titles. I would be handling the printing and framing as well. They said that they have $2,000 in the budget, but if that's not enough to let them know and they'll get it added to 2023 and we'll start the project then.

I would be trying to set up on location for a couple days to capture the majority of the images and handling the people that could not make the scheduled time in the studio.

Based on everything that I described, does that sound like a good number for that project? If I need to provide more information, please let me know.

Without knowing more I think that's a little low for two-three solid days of work.

Assuming you could knock off all 86 images in an 8 hour day (almost 11 an hour or 1 every 5+ minutes).

Then there's editing and type slugs, and finally proofing.

Sounds more like a montage than a composite, but that's just semantics. It depends on the software that you're going to use to create this. I see it as an "InDesign" or other page layout project. you could do it "Photoshop" or other bitmap editor but I think it would bog down with over 160 layers and setting a canvas that big.

Is printing and framing included? Did you price that out? That can be expensive, depending on the frame. That's a custom size, too.

Without knowing more, I think that's a little tight.

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tcphoto1
tcphoto1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,400
Re: Composite Pricing Question
2

You don't give enough information to give an educated guess but my base rate is $1500 per day for shooting plus usage and $125 an hour for time in front of the computer. Are you shooting headshots of Department employees, buildings, construction or something else? How will the images be used and for how long? The answers will determine my quote and $2000 even for the most basic project is lowballing it.

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ampimagedotcom
ampimagedotcom Senior Member • Posts: 1,017
Re: Composite Pricing Question

JakeWarrin wrote:

I've been approached to make a composite picture for local city department. The framed picture would be roughly 33"x43". I would need to capture and edit 86 photos to build the image. I would need to build the photo with names and titles. I would be handling the printing and framing as well. They said that they have $2,000 in the budget...

How does this compares to the one you worked on a few months ago here:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/66330514

Both in terms of the amount of time you spent on creating that image Vs will spend here, and the amount of money they paid you Vs the amount these people are offering to pay you?

A list of things to take into account:-

Pre-production time:
Photography time:
Post-production time:
Travel time:
Crew / Assistants:
Stylist / Hair / Make-up:
Back-up:
Prints:
Insurance:
Location / Studio hire fee:
Props, Wardrobe:
Rentals:
Sets / Expendable:
Courier / P&P:
Actors / Models:
Travel expenses:
Miscellaneous:

(Please note: some of these things may not apply - it's simply a check-list to help you work-out what your basic costs would be to finance the project).

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Cheers,
Ashley.
www.ampimage.com

Gato Amarillo Veteran Member • Posts: 9,193
Re: Composite Pricing Question
1

JakeWarrin wrote:

I've been approached to make a composite picture for local city department. The framed picture would be roughly 33"x43". I would need to capture and edit 86 photos to build the image. I would need to build the photo with names and titles. I would be handling the printing and framing as well. They said that they have $2,000 in the budget, but if that's not enough to let them know and they'll get it added to 2023 and we'll start the project then.

I would be trying to set up on location for a couple days to capture the majority of the images and handling the people that could not make the scheduled time in the studio.

Based on everything that I described, does that sound like a good number for that project? If I need to provide more information, please let me know.

How hungry are you?

For commercial photography pricing that sounds pretty cheap, but if your pantry is empty and the rent is due ...

Two to three days shooting, probably at least that much time at the computer by the time you edit the photos and build the composite, then proofing and final approval, then the printing, mounting, and framing cost ...

First thing to do is get a price on the printing and framing. Then you can think about how much time you'll be putting in and how much you want to clear for yourself.

Gato

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MoreCowbell Contributing Member • Posts: 754
Re: Composite Pricing Question
2

JakeWarrin wrote:

I've been approached to make a composite picture for local city department. The framed picture would be roughly 33"x43". I would need to capture and edit 86 photos to build the image. I would need to build the photo with names and titles. I would be handling the printing and framing as well. They said that they have $2,000 in the budget, but if that's not enough to let them know and they'll get it added to 2023 and we'll start the project then.

I would be trying to set up on location for a couple days to capture the majority of the images and handling the people that could not make the scheduled time in the studio.

Based on everything that I described, does that sound like a good number for that project? If I need to provide more information, please let me know.

I do these for police departments regularly.

A couple of points based on the people I work for:

  • In this jurisdiction, there is a state law requiring cities to go out for competitive bidding on anything over $3000, so I'm always just a hair below that
  • You also can't do part of the work and come back on a different purchase order to do the rest, that's a violation in this state.
  • You want a really, really BASIC project this is it.
  • The people wanting the work done have a very low level of interest in the project. It's something they would really prefer not to be bothered with doing. Competitive bidding is a royal PITA for these people. They will jump at the chance of getting someone to do the work without it. But you have to have an in to get the first one.
  • As long as I am below the $3000 threshold that's pretty much the limit of their interest in pricing
  • The Departments buy these things on a schedule, and as long as the work is good they have absolutely no interest in shopping around for alternate providers. That's more work for them. And a repeat business opportunity for you.
  • If you're doing something for police officers wearing uniforms, 9 out of 10 don't know the proper wearing of Class A Uniforms.
  • I do cattle calls like this with probably more employee interaction than many people since I know a lot of them and having been doing their stuff for years, but high end portraiture it ain't. The men get what they get and the women get a very basic automated retouch at a very low level. If you get a couple of the ladies telling the Chief they like the results you got a customer for decades.
  • They are not the sort of item where they ever want reprints. It's one and done. And I don't offer to do the prints anyway. I give them the digital file and point them in the direction of a lab that does appropriately sized wrap prints and the individual employees get to make their own prints if they chose. I'm pretty sure they never get viewed other than on a cellphone. The only place the images ever get used is the one hung on the wall, retirements, funerals, and the rare newspaper.
  • Confidentiality is a potential issue. I make sure they understand I do not maintain the images after they have gotten theirs.
  • Adding the name and position takes a LOT longer than you think.
  • I get them to assign a senior supervisor to heard the cats and get everybody to show up. Otherwise, I'll be doing makeups till the cows come home.
  • I'll give you an absolute iron clad guarantee that they're going to come up with something extra they want you to do that's not in the contract. Know in advance how you prefer to handle that.
  • These people are mission oriented and appreciate guys who do whatever it takes. Might be something to be aware of if you have to think on your feet.
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OP JakeWarrin Forum Member • Posts: 72
Re: Composite Pricing Question

ampimagedotcom wrote:

JakeWarrin wrote:

I've been approached to make a composite picture for local city department. The framed picture would be roughly 33"x43". I would need to capture and edit 86 photos to build the image. I would need to build the photo with names and titles. I would be handling the printing and framing as well. They said that they have $2,000 in the budget...

How does this compares to the one you worked on a few months ago here:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/66330514

Both in terms of the amount of time you spent on creating that image Vs will spend here, and the amount of money they paid you Vs the amount these people are offering to pay you?

A list of things to take into account:-

Pre-production time:
Photography time:
Post-production time:
Travel time:
Crew / Assistants:
Stylist / Hair / Make-up:
Back-up:
Prints:
Insurance:
Location / Studio hire fee:
Props, Wardrobe:
Rentals:
Sets / Expendable:
Courier / P&P:
Actors / Models:
Travel expenses:
Miscellaneous:

(Please note: some of these things may not apply - it's simply a check-list to help you work-out what your basic costs would be to finance the project).

Hi Ashley!  It's a totally different in scope and I haven't done the work yet 🙂, which is always good.  It's a much larger project and a lot more time commitment for sure.  It's exciting to be asked to do different types of work and I'm willing to jump in and figure it out.  This group is great for picking the collective brains of folks that are a lot more experienced than I.  Thanks for the response!

OP JakeWarrin Forum Member • Posts: 72
Re: Composite Pricing Question

Gato Amarillo wrote:

JakeWarrin wrote:

I've been approached to make a composite picture for local city department. The framed picture would be roughly 33"x43". I would need to capture and edit 86 photos to build the image. I would need to build the photo with names and titles. I would be handling the printing and framing as well. They said that they have $2,000 in the budget, but if that's not enough to let them know and they'll get it added to 2023 and we'll start the project then.

I would be trying to set up on location for a couple days to capture the majority of the images and handling the people that could not make the scheduled time in the studio.

Based on everything that I described, does that sound like a good number for that project? If I need to provide more information, please let me know.

How hungry are you?

For commercial photography pricing that sounds pretty cheap, but if your pantry is empty and the rent is due ...

Two to three days shooting, probably at least that much time at the computer by the time you edit the photos and build the composite, then proofing and final approval, then the printing, mounting, and framing cost ...

First thing to do is get a price on the printing and framing. Then you can think about how much time you'll be putting in and how much you want to clear for yourself.

Gato

Thanks Gato!  I don't have to go cheap.  Definitely not starving, but want to get paid for a quality job.  I appreciate the comment.  I stopped in and checked out the existing photos and frames and called a frame shop yesterday to get a quote on the frame and mounting.  I'll verify the printing cost tonight through my lab.  I appreciate the response.

OP JakeWarrin Forum Member • Posts: 72
Re: Composite Pricing Question
1

MoreCowbell wrote:

JakeWarrin wrote:

I've been approached to make a composite picture for local city department. The framed picture would be roughly 33"x43". I would need to capture and edit 86 photos to build the image. I would need to build the photo with names and titles. I would be handling the printing and framing as well. They said that they have $2,000 in the budget, but if that's not enough to let them know and they'll get it added to 2023 and we'll start the project then.

I would be trying to set up on location for a couple days to capture the majority of the images and handling the people that could not make the scheduled time in the studio.

Based on everything that I described, does that sound like a good number for that project? If I need to provide more information, please let me know.

I do these for police departments regularly.

A couple of points based on the people I work for:

  • In this jurisdiction, there is a state law requiring cities to go out for competitive bidding on anything over $3000, so I'm always just a hair below that
  • You also can't do part of the work and come back on a different purchase order to do the rest, that's a violation in this state.
  • You want a really, really BASIC project this is it.
  • The people wanting the work done have a very low level of interest in the project. It's something they would really prefer not to be bothered with doing. Competitive bidding is a royal PITA for these people. They will jump at the chance of getting someone to do the work without it. But you have to have an in to get the first one.
  • As long as I am below the $3000 threshold that's pretty much the limit of their interest in pricing
  • The Departments buy these things on a schedule, and as long as the work is good they have absolutely no interest in shopping around for alternate providers. That's more work for them. And a repeat business opportunity for you.
  • If you're doing something for police officers wearing uniforms, 9 out of 10 don't know the proper wearing of Class A Uniforms.
  • I do cattle calls like this with probably more employee interaction than many people since I know a lot of them and having been doing their stuff for years, but high end portraiture it ain't. The men get what they get and the women get a very basic automated retouch at a very low level. If you get a couple of the ladies telling the Chief they like the results you got a customer for decades.
  • They are not the sort of item where they ever want reprints. It's one and done. And I don't offer to do the prints anyway. I give them the digital file and point them in the direction of a lab that does appropriately sized wrap prints and the individual employees get to make their own prints if they chose. I'm pretty sure they never get viewed other than on a cellphone. The only place the images ever get used is the one hung on the wall, retirements, funerals, and the rare newspaper.
  • Confidentiality is a potential issue. I make sure they understand I do not maintain the images after they have gotten theirs.
  • Adding the name and position takes a LOT longer than you think.
  • I get them to assign a senior supervisor to heard the cats and get everybody to show up. Otherwise, I'll be doing makeups till the cows come home.
  • I'll give you an absolute iron clad guarantee that they're going to come up with something extra they want you to do that's not in the contract. Know in advance how you prefer to handle that.
  • These people are mission oriented and appreciate guys who do whatever it takes. Might be something to be aware of if you have to think on your feet.

Thanks for the detailed response!  This is exactly what this project is for.  The Captain told me if the $2,000 was not enough, to let him know and they would budget appropriately for 2023.  He admitted that they don't have a good idea what a project like this should be worth.  What you shared has truly been helpful!  I'll run with it!  This entire group is a great help!

OP JakeWarrin Forum Member • Posts: 72
Re: Composite Pricing Question

tcphoto1 wrote:

You don't give enough information to give an educated guess but my base rate is $1500 per day for shooting plus usage and $125 an hour for time in front of the computer. Are you shooting headshots of Department employees, buildings, construction or something else? How will the images be used and for how long? The answers will determine my quote and $2000 even for the most basic project is lowballing it.

Thanks for the response.  I thought it was low too, just wasn't sure what is reasonable for project like this.  It will be 90 headshots for a police department and I would have build the composite. I will have full day of shooting on location and any one that couldn't make the main, I would handle in the studio.  The composite would be printed, framed and hang in police admin office for about two years.

Gato Amarillo Veteran Member • Posts: 9,193
Re: Composite Pricing Question

JakeWarrin wrote:

Gato Amarillo wrote:

...

How hungry are you?

For commercial photography pricing that sounds pretty cheap, but if your pantry is empty and the rent is due ...

Two to three days shooting, probably at least that much time at the computer by the time you edit the photos and build the composite, then proofing and final approval, then the printing, mounting, and framing cost ...

First thing to do is get a price on the printing and framing. Then you can think about how much time you'll be putting in and how much you want to clear for yourself.

Gato

Thanks Gato! I don't have to go cheap. Definitely not starving, but want to get paid for a quality job. I appreciate the comment. I stopped in and checked out the existing photos and frames and called a frame shop yesterday to get a quote on the frame and mounting. I'll verify the printing cost tonight through my lab. I appreciate the response.

I hope I wasn't too flippant.

A person could make some money here, probably clear a thousand or more, which to a lot of people is pretty nice money.

But I'm thinking this could add up to 60 to 80 hours of work, especially if you have to oversee printing and framing. (The last really large print I ordered for a client arrived with an obvious defect, which meant I had to deal with negotiating a reprint. Not fun, although the lab did make good.)

So a week and a half to two weeks work in an economy where a photographer needs to make 100K a year to support a family -- $2,000 a week.

I doubt that your client would be willing to pay a full commercial rate, but it can still be a profitable job. So it becomes a matter of what can work for you.

Gato

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