Genius! Pure Genius!

I have a new found obession on the web. It's called http://www.shakodo.com and it truly makes me happy. 

Pricing for Photography is an ongoing issue that everyone is grappling with these days. It's truly terrible. No one knows what to charge for anything and Photographers are being taken advantage of left and right. Some Professionals who have been in the business a while get really angry, understandably so as their source of income is vanishing, and they lash out at who they think is responsible- all the new, up and coming photographers who don't know what to charge. Everyone is in a tizzy about this. For me personally, I have to say this problem has definitely affected my business. But I am not sure how wise it is to get angry at, and shake my fists at, and curse all the new people. After all, I was a new photographer at one point too. And all of these new people are not going away. They are excited about this field just like I was. I get this. That is why I am so excited about this new site. Instead of just trash talking all of the new photographers who are "driving down the market", it aims to educate these new ones and get everybody together on one side- as opposed to just creating an us vs. them situation which will benefit no one.

One of the things I came across today that I really liked was a question posed by a new photographer about day rates for commercial work. After a few people commented that you shouldn't have a "day rate" because it really depends on the job and what is involved, Professional Photographer Seth Resnick contributed this comment:

One of my first rules about providing a quote or a bid is to know how many other quotes the client is getting and ideally who am I bidding against. If there are more than 3 or 4 other photographers I decline to give an estimate because clearly it is not about the aesthetic perception of the work but rather purely about price. As I know my overhead is high there is no point in wasting my time and the clients time if the bottom line is price. Knowing who I am competing against is also important to me. It helps me to figure out if the job is really about creativity or just about price.
Once we get past that scenario the key is to look at what my overhead is and figure a base rate that includes profit. I then examine the usage and the total fee includes a fee that is based on my overhead plus usage. Most certainly I look at the client and what is involved. Working with a big agencies means higher pricing and sometimes that is simply do to the fact that they want a show. Producer, catering, trailers may be required more to impress the client than to actually accomplish the job but it is important nonetheless. On the other hand a corporate client may only be interested in the best images without all the hoopla. Every client and every job is different. 
I remember working with a friend who was a very well known art director and we gave an audience specs for a job and asked them to bid it as part of the presentation. It was a real job and the job was simple. It called for a beach umbrella and a kid underneath it with a blue sky and an empty beach. Many of the students bid $1000 or less but the actual bid from the photographer that got the job was over $100,000. The photographer that won the real job realized that they needed a guaranteed blue sky so the shoot would have to take place in the Caribbean and not New Jersey.. The beach would need to be released  and empty which took security and a large location fee. The umbrella could not be trademarked or a brand so one was custom made for the shoot. The list went on and on and the AD explained that the photographer got the job because every scenario was covered and most of the bids never came close to covering all these details...

I loved this answer. This is exactly the kind of things that come up when you have to think about what to charge for a photo shoot. As a Professional Photographer, you don't just take pictures, you have to create images. This means you have to think about what the client wants, what the Art Director wants, etc. and use your experience to take what factors may come up into consideration. This is true even when you are not shooting for commercial clients. You have to anticipate what will happen and be prepared for it. Once you have taken these factors into consideration, you will not only be making your clients happy, because you have them covered and you showed yourself a professional who thinks about them, but also you will be able to better understand why you simply cannot take a couple hundred dollars to do a "simple" shoot. You also have to take into consideration who your clients are, and what it takes to get them. If it takes more work to get these clients, more "hoopla", then it also requires more of your own money, time, and effort, and you should pass those expenses on to the client.

I understand though, that also for other businesses than photography, this is a rough time economically speaking. That is why for my clients I have payment plans, and for businesses that I work with I have created a Photography Subscription Service to make my services affordable for even small businesses (because I heart entreprenuers). 

However, I keep in mind that there is only so low that I can go with my prices, and that I do have to charge money to stay in business. After all, as my dad used to say, "You're running a business, not a charity organization!"

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