It happens very frequently. I receive an inquiry to provide event photography for a not-for-profit who is trying to put as much money towards their program and has a minimal budget for photography. Or the start-up with limited funds that would like to get corporate portraits of their staff as quickly and as inexpensively as possible.
I recently estimated an assignment that would require me to photograph two environmental portraits just outside of Chicago for a client that I have worked with a few times over the last several months doing portraits, corporate lifestyle and event photography.
When I submitted the numbers the response I received was: “but it’s only an hour so can you adjust the total to reflect this as we would like to continue to work with you but need to ensure that this is cost-effective for the company?”
I do my best to understand the financial position of the companies that seek me out to help them with their visual content yet it is imperative to consistently educate my clients about the value of what I do and the cost of doing business as a commercial photographer. So, in this instance I felt compelled to explain why I charge what I charge which goes like this:
“Although this is just a matter of one hour shooting on site, it is an hour commute one way, at least one hour of post-production and an Assistant is necessary whose rates are either a full-day or half-day.
In addition, for every day that I am shooting, I spend just as much time negotiating the assignments, replying to e-mails, writing up contracts, editing and enhancing images, archiving photos, invoicing and the list goes on. I also have extremely expensive equipment that is state-of-the-art for the industry and which has to continually be maintained and upgraded. The same applies to the computers, laptops and software.
I fund my own health insurance, retirement and sick days, have business insurance to pay for while also maintaing the vehicles that get me to each job site. And finally, there is the marketing, from SEO optimization to mailers, e-mail blasts and the myriad of other expenses that come together to make my business visible and equally valuable.
All of these factors in conjunction with the 15 years of experience I bring to each shoot ensure that you receive high quality work that not only meets but exceeds your company’s needs and proves to be of value.
Photography can be expensive. But excellent photography is an investment that proves its’ value over time.”
My business has been built over the years and sustained successfully through mutually beneficial relationships with my clients, a transparent approach when discussing budgets and of course, by creating those images that best illustrate the message that my clients are trying to convey.
And sometimes one of the ways that I help to maintain this is through education as we often fail to recognize the value of what others can do.