Ashley Morrison's Blog

March 4, 2017

Interested in this project.

One of the most commonly asked questions on the forums by other photographers these days is: “How much should I charge?”.

Never an easy one to answer, because there is no Rule Book to say: “This is how much you should charge” – and since you don’t actually need to charge anything, then you could say: “Just pick a number that you think is fair”.

The client would then say: “Is that your best price”, to which you would reply: “No, a better price would be twice that amount” wink.

Seriously though – trying to put a price on something that doesn’t even yet exist (except possibly in your client’s mind) isn’t easy.
Especially as there are more than 100 different ways to shoot any subject – from quick snap-shots using just a basic camera system, through to full production staged shots using larger format camera systems, lights, models, stylists, etc, etc.

Anyway, today I’m going to talk about one which I recently quoting on, just to let you see why the above question about “How much should I charge?”, isn’t an easy one to answer – even for someone like me, after 30 years of trying to answer that question, each time a new client asks for a price.

The original email from the client basically informed me, that they were currently redesigning their website and were therefore in need of some new photography, of all areas of their hotel – and they wanted to know if I would be interested in this project.
To which I replied:

“Good to hear from you – and yes we would be very interested in helping you with this project.

So as a first step, if you could let me know the number of images that you would like us to produce and then provide you with afterwards, I could send you through a quote based on that information.”

And so they sent me through their ‘wish list of shots’ – with a note to say that it would be great to get a price this, which they could then “review and revise if necessary”.

And so based on that information, I sent them this quote:
To produce and then provide 30 images of various rooms & areas for exclusive use for:- Worldwide web & promotional emails. Period of use: 2 years. Territory of use: Internet.

Which as you can see, is for the use of these images (which don’t yet exist) in 1 media for 2 years in 1 region – i.e. it’s the amount that I’d like to be paid, should I produce & then provide them with 30 images here, that they would then want to use for ‘standard use’ – which I would refer to as my Base Usage Rate (BUR).

So 30 x my BUR = the Total.
Which would be my usual starting point when it comes to negotiating the fee beforehand, as this would be like the minimum amount that I’d like to be paid, rather than the maximum amount that I’d like to be paid wink.

To which they thanked me for – and then asked “would it be possible to revise this quote to cover 70 images” – and also asked “if I offered a price for full rights without an annual licensing fee.”

Which naturally made me smile, as that would be a bit like asking them what the fee would be for 1 nights B&B for 30 people – and then saying how much would it be for 70 people to stay for as long as they liked and use all of the hotel’s other facilities too as much as they liked wink.

Anyway, based on that information, I sent these 2 Quotes to let them see what the fee would be for 70 images first – for 2 years web use…
To produce and then provide 70 images of various rooms & areas for exclusive use for:- Worldwide web & promotional emails. Period of use: 2 years. Territory of use: Internet.
.. and for unlimited years web use…
To produce and then provide 70 images of various rooms & areas for exclusive use for:- Media use: Worldwide web & promotional emails. Period of use: 10+ year. Territory of use: Internet.
.. which as you can see is: 70 x my BUR+% for the additional use = the Total.

So the overall price naturally increased due to them wanting me to not only provide them with more images here but also because they would want to able to use the image for a lot longer too.
(In other words, I’m also taking into account here, that these images would need to be better than just good enough for them to want to use for a few years here – hence the +% to cover what that may cost me, as producing better images will obviously cost me more.)

I also then sent them 3 more Quotes – this one was for me to provide them with 70 images, for 1 years use in All media…
To produce and then provide 70 images of various rooms & areas for exclusive use for:- Media use: Ambient, Billboards, Brochures, Magazine ads, Newspaper ads, Point of sale, Television, Poster, Press, Direct Mail, Worldwide web & promotional emails. Period of use: 1 year. Territory of use: UK & Ireland plus on the Internet.
.. plus this one for 3 years use in All media…
To produce and then provide 70 images of various rooms & areas for exclusive use for:- Media use: Ambient, Billboards, Brochures, Magazine ads, Newspaper ads, Point of sale, Television, Poster, Press, Direct Mail, Worldwide web & promotional emails. Period of use: 3 years. Territory of use: UK & Ireland plus on the Internet.
.. and this one is for 10+ years use in All media…
To produce and then provide 70 images of various rooms & areas for exclusive use for:- Media use: Ambient, Billboards, Brochures, Magazine ads, Newspaper ads, Point of sale, Television, Poster, Press, Direct Mail, Worldwide web & promotional emails. Period of use: 10+ years. Territory of use: UK & Ireland plus on the Internet.
.. throughout the UK & Ireland plus on the Internet.

Where once again as you can see, the overall price has increased quite a bit from the original Quote – as I’m now talking about the maximum amount, rather than the minimum amount, that I’d like to be paid here smile.

And so now I wait to hear what they have to say – because this is the part that will actually determine what I can afford to do or even think of doing here – as I know there are more than 100 different ways to shoot any subject.

So in a way, this is me simply trying to find out from them at this stage, ‘how good’ do these images actually need to be!

In other words:

Do these images just need to be ‘good enough’ for them to want to use on their website for a few years OR do they need to be ‘good enough’ for them to want to use them for the next 10 years in various printed media as well as on their website too?

Because producing some images that would be fine to use on their website for a few years, wouldn’t cost as much to produce as the sort of images that they would still be wanting to use in 10 years time, in various printed media as well as on their website – and so it’s this information that I would be taking into account at this stage – as I want to be sure that I’m able to afford to do what I’m possibly going to need to do here, to enable me to provide them with what they are saying they need at the end of the day.

Because instead of it just being 3 or 4 days job here (my BUR), it could in fact now be weeks of work – especially if they are wanting these images to be very good, rather than just good enough for now. And on top of the extra time that I may have to spend on this project, I may also need to hire a team of people to help me here – and so it would be the +% part on top of my Base Usage Rate figure here, that I would then be using to pay for all of these additional things that I may need, hence the BUR+% figure.

And so there you have it – that is the ‘first step’ as far as I’m concerned – because I am interested in this project; however like I said before, I know there are more than 100 different ways to shoot any subject. So before we go any further, I first need to know if they would be willing to pay the amount that I would like to be paid here, should I successfully manage to provide them with what they would like.

Which will hopefully help answer the question that many ask, i.e. “How much should I charge?” – because as you can see, a lot depends on what the client is actually asking you to provide them with afterwards – as it’s that information that you need to take into account beforehand – which could actually change at any point on time, like it did here – after I had first quoted them a price for me to produce and then provide them with some images, for them to use for 2 years on their website, as opposed to some images for them to use for 10+ years in All media.

And which after seeing the final results, could actually change again – because remember, these images that we are talking about here, don’t yet exist – which means they could look amazing or they may not – and so it’s like I’m saying to them here: “Well if they do look amazing, then the fee would be more than if they don’t.”.

So in summary:

If the images that I produced here, were of no use to man or beast, then I wouldn’t expect them to pay me anything. However, if the images that I produced here, were the sort of images that they would want to use a lot, then I would expect to be paid accordingly.

Which I’d see as being the only fair way to do this – especially since these images don’t yet exist and may never exist unless we can first reach an agreement over what the fee would be for the Rights to use them afterwards.

Thereby putting the horse in front of the cart, rather than the other way around – because I know there are more than 100 different ways to shoot any subject smile.

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