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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February 10, 2011

Praise is indeed bread to an artist.

Noticed we have been receiving a lot of ‘hits’ recently, from different parts of the world – so decided to check-out where they were coming from.

There’s been a lot of worldwide debate over the past few years about US-style interior photography (which is often extensively lit in a ‘glamorous’ movie sort of way) vs European style interior photography (which is all about ‘natural’ looking light). And also Real Estate photography (showing space and USP’s) vs Magazine photography (which is more about lifestyle and decor). Different markets, different clients, different trends – but some of these recent posts show that there is certainly a growing interest in some level of crossover which I applaud.

Really pleased to see that experienced photographers have been debating how we shoot interiors and seem to like what we are doing.
Praise is indeed bread to an artist.

By way of background, I’m Irish and am based in the north of Ireland but I went to college in Texas, so I guess I’ve been fortunate to learn from both sides of ‘the pond’.

Looking at some of these recent posts, it’s both interesting and encouraging to read what others are saying about us – below are some of the comments from 3 different forums – which we hope they don’t mind us recording it here, for keepsake when we are old(er) and grey(er).

These comments are not really about us – they are about interior photography – a field that is open to interpretation. Because everyone sees things differently and sees different things when they look at a picture.
Anyway, we’ve had an amazing decade but are still learning – so we always love to hear what other’s are thinking and seeing – especially when they look at our images.

The recent posts:

DPreview / Pro Digital Talk – Interior design Photography.

Hi folks
How are the Pros doing it? HDR? multiple strobes? ambient lighting?
I’m currently scratching my head here hearing all sorts of stories into which type of photography for interior/real estate images. A lot of the images I have been seeing online look very ‘lucis art’ but then I’m told that people want to see ‘natural ‘ looking images. I have been toying with HDRs but can never get windows to look anywhere near natural.

If you’re going to get into strobes, you would not use anything on camera, which casts short harsh shadows. You don’t want to take a picture of a room from the perspective of a light bulb. And you need some modifiers, with the least umbrellas, a diffuser, and perhaps a grid. But really you need to set up a bit differently than you are now. Someone like Ashley Morrison might use 7-9 strobes, but you could not find any evidence of them being there. Small flash heads attached to a power pack make that a little easier, and having a wide selection of modifiers and rigging at your fingertips. And a truck, or at least a Subaru.

On Ashley Morrison’s site, have a look at the Before and After images. They give you an idea of some of the ingenious ways that he uses strobes. Notice how he uses strobes to make window light for example.

Amazing stuff! I just love those images. That’s 20 years experience for you rather than 6 hours, lol.

All would do to study up on Ashley Morrison, who sometimes writes here and at LuLa. On his site, or his Vimeo feed, he has time-lapse videos of several of his shoots, and together they are a master class in setup, lighting, etc. He uses lights, several of them, but makes it look so natural.
Notice the attention to detail used in getting the arrangements just so. It takes all day and a team of 4-5. He’s only making it look easy, but it isn’t.
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Bulletin / Forum – ufck photography thread the 3rd.

i’m trying to reverse-engineer some interior photos lately. not quite sure what type of modifiers are being used though, anyone has any insight? e.g:
Ivory with European Oak kitchen in Austin Baird's house near Holywood in County Down.

The sitting room in Sharon and Graeme Cleland's new-build house near Portstewart in County Londonderry.

High gloss white kitchen in Robinson Interior's Belfast showroom.
i love love love this guy’s lighting, but can’t seem to get anywhere close via my umbrellas or bouncing the light off of walls, joints, corners or ceilings. no idea how he fills a space so evenly and without any blatant falloff or hot spots.

Have you considered that maybe he isn’t using any artificial sources?

He states that he does in all of his shots, which I believe unless he is the Jesus Christ of exposure blending.

Why don’t you just ask him?

The highlights are clearly coming from the windows, which leads me to believe that either A he isn’t using much artificial lighting and it’s very bright outside, or B he is blasting some really high powered sources through the windows and doors. The bounce in the room all looks very natural to me, which is obviously the goal, but I think the best way to get natural looking bounce is to use natural bounce. Would he have the budget to have some 5-10k HMI sources placed outside? If that’s so he’s still probably using something else for the one with the giant window (unless it’s a crane), but that one also looks like it could easily be entirely natural.

Thinking something along the same lines outside of the windows or just natural light on bright sunny days.

I actually found a before/after page of his:
http://www.ashleymorrison.com/behind-01.htm
they are definitely all lit from the inside. this dude is pretty big and does international assignments all over the place so I would not be surprised if he had the budget for some serious lighting. it’s also impossible to squeeze that much dynamic range (outdoor sun to interior shadows) in one shot out of any camera unless the natural lighting is perfect and you aren’t directly facing any windows – if you were, you’d get some serious light bloom around the window frame.
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Flickr / Real Estate Photographers of America™ – A Master At Work: Ashley Morrison.

Each of us has a few favorite photographers that we admire. Ashley Morrison is a high-end interior/advertising photographer from Ireland who sometimes posts images on Flickr. He is a true artist and gets paid handsomely for his creativity and hard work by clients who know and appreciate his work. If you go to his website, you can view some of his “before and after” images. I’m sure that many REPA shooters will be inspired and appreciate viewing the links below, plus his many other YouTube videos.

Love his pricing page.

This is great – thanks for sharing!

I’m a big fan.

I’m interested to see and learn about the lights and specifically the modifiers he’s using.

Andy,
I think that Ashley is pretty secretive about his lighting and techniques. From what I can tell from viewing some of his videos, he uses a lot of available light with large reflectors to create soft shadows, bounced monolights, sometimes adds warm CTO strobe lighting through exterior windows to simulate window light on gray days, large diffusers on windows to soften hard mid-day light, an occasional grid-spot, and exposure blending. I do know that he uses a Mac, CS3 and a P-25 Phase 1 camera.

What makes you think he is secretive about his lighting techniques? Have you tried asking him?

In any case, I imagine he uses the usual truckload of strobes, hot lights (spot and flood), and light modifiers (snoots, grids, barn doors, gels, scrims, silks, Cinefoil, etc.), and that his use of this equipment would vary widely depending upon the subject and his client’s needs.

I believe that he only uses a Phase One digital back and that the “camera” is a pre-digital-era Hasselblad Flexbody (basically just a bellows; the shutters are in the lenses).

If you want to get an idea of what kind of lighting kit interiors photographers typically use, try this Luminous Landscape discussion:
www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=23264.0

David, I probably should have used a word like “reluctant”; yes I did ask him. You’re right, we all use the same basic lights and modifiers etc. Back in the late 90’s, when I retired from school teaching, I hired myself out on a per-diem rate as a photo assistant to several Boston location commercial photographers for a few months and am very well aware of what professional commercial shooters use daily. These were pre-digital days and we were using 4″x5″ view cameras and 30-pound Elinchorme strobe power packs. I’ve experienced the same equipment being used by different shooters and was amazed by the slight variation in use and the difference in light “quality” achieved by different shooters. Using a giant sheet of translucent “Rip-Stop Nylon” duct taped to a giant picture window can create a soft /directional light quality that cannot be matched by a commercially made softbox or umbrella. These are some of the nuances that some photographers have discovered that make their work a cut above the rest. From my experience with working with commercial photographers, I found that they are the shooters who really know and study light quality and this made some of them stand out amongst their peers. Some people think that if they own a hammer, a saw and can pound nails, they are a carpenter. The same is true in photography. Studying the work of others that we admire, much can be learned that could make a difference in what our images look like.
I’m not sure if he is using the H’Blad Flexbody or the Arcbody or not. He mentioned the Phase One P-25. If he is using one of the H’Blad bodies with rising and fall movements, it’s an incredible tool that is the next best solution to using a view camera for perspective control.
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I hope I did not over-step my boundaries here by using their words – but if I did, I will remove them.
In the meantime, ‘Thank you’ all for your kind words – they mean a lot to us – as we work very hard at producing these sort of images, for our clients to use.

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