How/what to charge? Please read...

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by With_Eyes_Unclouded, Aug 4, 2012.

  1. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Real Name:
    I need the help/opinion of experienced pro/semi pro members on this.

    For the next months, I'll have the opportunity to get a number of assignment photo jobs, plus a number of shootings that are not exactly an "assignment" per se. Let me explain.

    In the first category, there are a couple of field jobs for publications, possibly some product photography and a series of shootings for a 2013 thematic calendar. I can find how much to charge for these and they are not so much of a problem.

    In the meantime, I'm planning on some portrait/promotional type work for up-starting bands, singers, aspiring models, actors/actresses, and the like. I bet you all know about the economic situation in Greece, where I live/work. There is simply no way I can charge "what it's worth" for these jobs. Furthermore, I'd like to view these as an opportunity to build my portfolio and extend my visibility, kinda self-promoting work.

    It still remains a lot of work and effort, plus standard expenses, for each and every shooting. The question is, how would you try to consolidate this? I want to work in the most "ethical" way possible in this respect, while not wasting my time or loosing money. Would you think a "symbolic" fee would be appropriate, or perhaps an arrangement for mutual possible profit would be better? E.g. if photos of a band were used in a promotional campaign by a company, then the company pays a fee. This would raise issues with copywriting, of course, in short, who owns/sells the photos.

    Please keep in mind that we are talking a very limited and stagnant financial environment, which isn't going to change anytime soon... Subjects I describe in the second segment, usually simply cannot afford to "order" a photo-shoot and pay whatever is in their budget.

    I'm open to any suggestions and insights you may have on this. Thanks in advance.
  2. landshark

    landshark Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 27, 2010
    SO CAL
    It would seem to me the most ethical thing to charge these start-ups, is either just the expenses or some form of expense split, with you retaining the rights to the images, this way you both gain from the process, you add to your book, they get images to promote themselves, By retaining the rights you protect yourself in case they ever become successful and the need the images for advertising,album art, etc.
    The one heads up I will caution you with, is that more times than not this type of work will not lead to work from these clients, if and when they become very successful, because there is usually a lot of pressure put on them, from agents, managers, publicists, agencies, etc once they "have made it" to hire the biggest name they can afford. It is just the nature of the business. Good luck and have fun with this project.
  3. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Real Name:
    Promit Roy
    I've never been a professional photographer, but I've done engineering consulting and never, ever touch those deals or even consider them. If you want to predicate your pay for an already done job on somebody else's ability to deliver, fine, but I think that's insanity. May as well do it for free, or spend the time finding something that actually pays.
  4. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Real Name:
    0dBm and landshark thank you for the tips and wishes!

    I had involvement in the music recording industry as a producer, which is not much of an "industry" today (for better, if you ask me...). My work was always for friends and fellow players and any compensation was on a "handshake" basis, as you put it. Work as a session player was different, but that's besides the point here.

    Today, as you probably very well know, 99% of all recording projects are done in a "project studio" environment and moved through Indy channels. Any financial considerations are dealt inside a "team" mentality. It's one of two things: either everyone agrees on a percentage should the final product starts making money, or asks for a predermined fee for his work and then takes his own way.

    Photography is a little different, since it falls under "promotional material" (same goes for videos) most of the time, and can be used regardless of a finalized product. The "product" is the band (or model/actor/artist, etc) itself. Most of them need a small book to make posters, promote online, etc. It's seldom we are speaking of, say, a CD cover/sleeves, or similar.

    Same thing for a model that needs a few nice shots for her website, or to take to an agency. It's not always clear where and how this work is going to be used.

    I see what you mean and TBH I'm leaning to this method at the moment. For the most part, and since most initial subjects will be friends and acquaintences, the only "real" prospect of making any money is getting more "real" clients from their environment and through promoting my work "through" their exposure. Dealing with copyrights will certainly be a challenge in the long run though...

    Thank you again! If anyone else has any more tips/experience, I'd be very happy to listen!
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Upstart musicians and aspiring models?
    Take what you're charging for all the other shoots, then split that in half. Take one of those halves, and split it in half again. Repeat a few more times, and you'll have a price they can afford.

    I'm a well established photographer in both the entertainment and modeling fields. The models and the musicians are not my paying clients, it's the ones who are supporting them who pay me. If they don't have reputable managers and agencies backing them, then don't bother.
  6. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Real Name:
    Thanks again for the insights! It helps to solidify what I have in mind and focus in the best way possible to handle this.

    As I said, there is really not much money to be made from this. I don't even see it, at this point, as a way to increase my income. To be brutally honest, I'd be glad if, at some point, this parallel endeavor paid for some of my photography expenses.

    Concerning portraits, my goal is to try and offer something fresh and original for each artist that I'd work with, something they can count upon to represent their identity and vision. It remains, and I want it to remain, a labor of love and art, before everything else.

    I will certainly update on these projects through my pages/blog and from this forum, where appropriate. Thanks everybody for your time and interest! :smile: