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Author Topic: How to quote on a Commercial Job  (Read 8052 times)
dburdeny
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« on: July 17, 2008, 06:17:05 PM »
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Hi All,

Iím a Vancouver based fine art landscape photographer(i.e. I make my income through gallery sales),  who has been approached by a well respected graphic design office to produce a series of landscape images for a residential marketing package in Mexico.

From what I can tell they are looking for images that carry the same aesthetic as my gallery work. Samples here www.davidburdeny.com.  Based on the scouting images they sent, Iím confident  I can deliver what they are looking for.

The time frame is 4-5 days plus travel. Iím equipped with MFD and a gyro for aerial work.  I won't need to rent anything (at this point) and I never use an assistant. The design office will send two staff durring the shoot.

They havenít asked for a quote yet,  but when they do Iíd like to be mildly prepared. Any advice on the best way to itemize the quote - typical charge out rates  - day rate (creative fee), travel expenses, usage rights, post production, digital capture fee, and anything else I might be missing?

Thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2008, 08:47:08 AM by dburdeny » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2008, 01:39:41 PM »
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Hi All,

Iím a Vancouver based fine art landscape photographer(i.e. I make my income through gallery sales),  who has been approached by a well respected graphic design office to produce a series of landscape images for a residential marketing package in Mexico.

From what I can tell they are looking for images that carry the same aesthetic as my gallery work. Samples here www.davidburdeny.com.  Based on the scouting images they sent, Iím confident  I can deliver what they are looking for.

The time frame is 4-5 days plus travel. Iím equipped with MFD and a gyro for aerial work.  I won't need to rent anything (at this point) and I never use an assistant. The design office will send two staff durring the shoot.

They havenít asked for a quote yet,  but when they do Iíd like to be mildly prepared. Any advice on the best way to itemize the quote - typical charge out rates  - day rate (creative fee), travel expenses, usage rights, post production, digital capture fee, and anything else I might be missing?

Thanks in advance.
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I guess you are facing the photographic version of how long is a piece of string. The photographc reply, unfortunately in your case, is more of the same. In other words, if you already had an established commercial client base, then your rates would be established - more or less - and you could just quote along the same lines as before.

Pricing is one of the most difficult things to get right, probably as much in every other discipline as it is with photography. Perhaps you should think of this problem from a different perspective: are you intending to do much more commissioned work; are you happier doing your own thing; do you really want to work alongside " two staff" from anybodyīs organisation? This might sound funny, but it isnīt funny at all. From the fact that you never use an assistant, I get the impression that you prefer to work things out on your own.

If you have been reading about the travails of the people-shooters over on the thread about the new MF back, then you might get an idea of the stress level that outsiders can create for you, even if the outsiders are part of the client!

If you do want to increase commissioned work levels then accept the additional baggage.

Pricing, however, will determine where you end up with the original client: undercharge now (whatever that may mean in money terms) and your chances of raising the stakes later are dismal, to say the least. Perhaps your best try would be to have the client agree to pay all the expenses such as travel, hotels etc. and leave you to charge for photography alone. Why should you be expected to finance them? By this, I mean that you might charge rental at the going rates for your equipment - I gather that many MF users have to do this - charge computer time as you would be charged by an outside service and then just add in the cost of prints (if prints is what they seek) at the same rate as you would charge anyone else. For the actual photography, offer an inclusive fee which covers the working days as well as the travelling days and donīt split hairs with the client about what the difference is between days - just make it inclusive.

I believe that there are sites which offer guide-lines for press work, i.e., recommended day-rates; maybe somebody on this site can put you in touch with one of these. I did have access to one, but that vanished with my dead laptop of some year or so ago.

Good luck - donīt go cheaply, it jusy devalues your work if you do.

Rob C
« Last Edit: July 18, 2008, 01:41:32 PM by Rob C » Logged

Aboud
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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2008, 03:59:09 PM »
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You are being commissioned because of the quality of your work, so charge accordingly, and don't forget to estimate post processing time. I bill post processing at the same rate as shoot days and as a rule of thumb they are on a 1:1 ratio. What you charge for your gallery prints may be a basis for what to charge for commissioned work.  If you want to discuss this directly, email to me at dweckphoto@comcast.net.
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MarkKay
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2008, 10:15:59 AM »
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i am not a professional photographer but I do get asked to do consulting of different sorts. Sometimes I am paid a lump sum for a particular job plus travel but other times an hourly rate.  If i am traveling, I charge for the travel time where I am precluded from doing other work and when i can work during the trqvel, I bill for the hours I actually did work for the   client. So if i am on a plane and I can work on the job I do so. If i am on the plane and doing something else, I do not bill for those hours. If i am spending time in a vehicle to get to the location, and precluded from working on anything, I do bill those hours.

Quote
You are being commissioned because of the quality of your work, so charge accordingly, and don't forget to estimate post processing time. I bill post processing at the same rate as shoot days and as a rule of thumb they are on a 1:1 ratio. What you charge for your gallery prints may be a basis for what to charge for commissioned work.  If you want to discuss this directly, email to me at dweckphoto@comcast.net.
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patricksmith
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« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2008, 08:12:57 AM »
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Hi David,

I've seen your work and it is excellent.  While I do
wide angle landscape photography, my main income is
from computer programming, and as a consultant, I
charge an hourly rate to develop a program.  I give a
discount if I can use the programs for my own purposes
after the job is done.  

So, in your case, I'd charge them an hourly rate like
any consultant, say US $150/hour or whatever including
processing plus expenses.  (Make them know what you
are worth.) Then I'd give them a discount if you can
sell the images yourself (without competing with
them.)  If your fee is too much for them, the job
would probably not be worth it anyway unless you get
some sort of side benefit such as free advertising.

Good Luck!

Patrick

patrick@patricksmithphotography.com
http://www.patricksmithphotography.com
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Jonathan H
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« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2008, 11:37:41 PM »
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I would strongly caution against billing an hourly rate.  While it may be appropriate for consulting, it is not appropriate at all for photography (or any creative endeavor, really).   You'll notice that both individuals who suggested the hourly rate don't actually list "professional photographer" as their primary source of income.  I'm sure they were trying to be helpful, but their advice is misguided.

If the Craigslist photographer with his 20D takes 10 hours to shoot a job that I can shoot in 5 hours, should he be paid double?  It would be ludicrous to accept a job or enter a career that pays you less and less as you become more skilled and efficient with each passing year.

You've got the right idea in your OP.  A base creative fee for the project, travel fees, pre-production and post-production days, etc.  I would also strongly recommend that you not have the client handle your travel arrangements.  Some clients will book you on absurd red-eye flights, crappy hotels, etc to save a buck.  Even if that isn't the case with this specific client, I'm very particular about flying with $50K+ of gear.  They may not be familiar with which airlines charge very high extra baggage fees (a reality in our industry), not budget enough lead time, etc.  Additionally, if you handle all your own travel, it can actually make your quote easier to produce.  Your planning is part of your pre-production and you can include travel time in your base creative fee because you know exactly how much time you'll spend on the road.  The more itemizations you have on an invoice, the more your client might be inclined to nickle and dime you on specific itemizations.

We have no idea who your client is, but a lot of the fashion in which you design your quote depends on him/her/them.  If the client is used to dealing with the creative world, usage rights, licensing, etc it makes your life a lot easier.

I'm based in NJ, but most of my work takes me into NYC.  The occasional call I get from local NJ businesses often takes an extra 20 minutes of phone time for me to explain the way the industry works and why I charge what I charge, versus that same Craigslist photographer and his 20D, kit lens, and ebay Halogen lights who'll be happy to shoot the entire job for $250, all in.

The trick is to phrase your quote in a way that will be amenable to the client.  It's not too hard to negotiate the exact same fees as you would get from an experienced art buyer, as long as you make the charges palatable to your client.  For instance (and this probably won't apply to your case), if they're in an industry which sees frequent rentals, like Rob C suggested, add an equipment fee.  I shoot for several construction companies who have gear (heavy machinery, special tools, etc) rentals as part of their daily business.  This makes it very easy for me to invoice an equipment fee, even though I own 95% of what I need for any jobs that come my way.  Your gyro is a specialized piece of equipment - I would invoice it.  

I've got to get back to my actual work, but hope this helped your planning and thought process.  I'll try and answer any more questions you have.

One last warning - I'm pretty young and fairly new to the world of commercial photography, so take all my advice with a grain of salt  
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Long walks on the beach, nights by the fireplace, and sushi.
Jonathan H
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« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2008, 11:42:30 PM »
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Oh, and just went through your site.  Your "Drift" series is spectacular!
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Long walks on the beach, nights by the fireplace, and sushi.
PeteJaxon
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2009, 03:04:23 AM »
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Hello,

firstly, I came across this thread whilst searching the internet for advice/information on commissioned work (I'm a long time visitor to the Luminous Landscape website, but until now not it's forums). I'm basically in a similar situation to the OP, in that I have recently been approached by a private buyer who has commissioned me to produce a number of fine art pieces for his new house.

I'm an LA based semi-professional artist/photographer (from N Ireland originally), I primarily shoot B&W infrared panoramas of city/landscapes, and up to now I've sold large format fine-art prints through a couple of galleries I've exhibited with. It's still fairly early days in my photography/artistic career, and this is the first serious commission I've received. What I specifically require advice on is how to deal with the business/paperwork/contract side of the commission. I'm fairly confident about producing the pieces, printing them, and determining the potential prices of the final pieces themselves, but I'm not sure how to charge for all the other work and expenses involved in producing the final work, and what kind of paperwork/contracts I should be using.
The timescale is 4-6 weeks, and will involve a number of trips to various locations, should I expect all travel/accomodation expenses to be covered, as well as the time spent in the 'digital darkroom' working of the image files?


Any advice or information would be gratefully received.

thanks
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rcdurston
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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2009, 03:50:31 AM »
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Hi Pete
I would start a new thread for your question.
I've just moved from LA to Northern Ireland and have been in your similar position.
I had a large project management and urban design company contact me for the same reasons (like my art stuff can you do it for us?). I spent 3 weeks back and forth, scouting on my own (realize its my own time) just so I can feel confident I give them a fair quote.
What I based mine on was the fact they were getting ORIGINAL commissioned art. It was not just my regular inventory stuff so it was definitely worth more. At this point its good to ask yourself whether or not it will be exclusive to them. Obviously if it is exclusive to them then you will be losing out on any future gallery sales if the images are of caliber.
In the end with my quote the client came back to me after I had quoted in the high 5 digit figures, to tell me they had no budget and no money for the project. So it might be worth while, right up front to make sure they have a budget and how much it is before you potentially waste your time.

r
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Roskav
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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2009, 06:59:44 AM »
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I think that the replies on this thread have great practical advice but I would always say to students just starting out that they should base their prices on a business plan.  If you have a well thought through business plan you should be able to fix your rates and decide how to structure those costs.  Every photographer works slightly differently than the next .. a good business plan puts it all down in black and white and helps you figure it all out based on those hard facts.

Ros


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Craig Murphy
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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2009, 09:22:29 AM »
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How about giving Seth Resnick's estimate service a try at D-65.com.  Its $25 but might be worth the money.  At least it will give you specifics as to how one photographer would look at your situation.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2009, 09:23:29 AM by Craig Murphy » Logged

CMurph
PeteJaxon
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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2009, 05:02:51 PM »
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Quote from: rcdurston
Hi Pete
I would start a new thread for your question.
I've just moved from LA to Northern Ireland and have been in your similar position.
I had a large project management and urban design company contact me for the same reasons (like my art stuff can you do it for us?). I spent 3 weeks back and forth, scouting on my own (realize its my own time) just so I can feel confident I give them a fair quote.
What I based mine on was the fact they were getting ORIGINAL commissioned art. It was not just my regular inventory stuff so it was definitely worth more. At this point its good to ask yourself whether or not it will be exclusive to them. Obviously if it is exclusive to them then you will be losing out on any future gallery sales if the images are of caliber.
In the end with my quote the client came back to me after I had quoted in the high 5 digit figures, to tell me they had no budget and no money for the project. So it might be worth while, right up front to make sure they have a budget and how much it is before you potentially waste your time.

r

LA to Northern Ireland, eh? that's an unusual one. do you mind me asking whereabouts you moved to? I lived in Bangor before moving here.

Yeah, I've considered the original commissioned art, exclusivity angle. Most of the stuff I've sold (depending on size) has been priced between $700 to $3000, and most of those are in editions of 20-25, so for example, I figure if a piece sells for $1000 per print in an edition of 20 I can make potentially up to $20000 off that one image. I'll be taking this into account when it comes to pricing the actual prints and what the client wants, so I'm not too concerned about that side of it. It's all the other time/monetary expenses incurred during the production/post production process that I'm not sure how to charge for, and what sort of paperwork I should doing.

I'm also wondering whether to negotiate a kind of 'package deal' that'll cover the whole commission rather than itemizing all the expenses and totaling it all up.

thanks guys.

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rcdurston
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« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2009, 06:20:55 PM »
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I'm in Magheralin, outside Moira.
I wouldn't do a package price. Make sure they know what they are paying for because if you just throw out a big number, it will scare them off for sure. If you have the big number but all broken down then it will be less of a sticker shock. It will take some time but I would definitely slant the whole quote to having it all done at once in one bundle; meaning it would make sense for them monetarily to be prepared for you and for you to do the whole job as one complete quoted job.
So, slant the printing towards you supplying it, and the processing and everything else, taht way its just not worth it for them to job any one piece of the shoot away from you.

r
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PeteJaxon
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« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2009, 08:25:00 PM »
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ah, good ol' Co. Down. can't say I miss the weather though. we spent 6 weeks in N.I. last summer and it rained every day but 2.    

I'll play it by ear next time I meet the client. He's seems to be pretty wealthy (the commissioned work is to decorate his second (massive) 'getaway' house), so I don't think he'd balk at a big number, but I don't want to undersell myself if especially if he's willing to pay big money.
As I said, it's more the paperwork/contracts/business side of things I need advice on.


cheers.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2009, 08:27:06 PM by PeteJaxon » Logged
Snook
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2009, 08:11:57 AM »
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Dave Charge them what think, Your images are REALLY nice and look like a lot of work has gone into them. I guess when your pricing you have to state maybe that the images you sell will be one of kind and not sold anywhere. That might make the client feel even happier.
A quick side note. On a lot of your images the reflecetions in the water (specially) the icebergs do not look like they are reflecting the skies? Are you replacing the skies on most of your images.??
There are a few skies that the waters looks bright white and the sky is Dark black.. They loook great, Just not Natural.
Are you switching Skies on many images?
Nice work by the way
Snook
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