Ashley Morrison's Blog

November 23, 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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December 17, 2015

A ‘Work Made For Hire’ type of agreement.

A question that was recently asked on one the photography forums, in connection with coming-up with pricing to shoot for a Kitchen and Bath Designer, was this:

“What are your thoughts on setting an hourly rate for this type of interior shooting. Is there a downside to pricing it this way?”

My answer, since this is a question I have asked myself many times over the years too, (which I have now decided to post on my blog here, for others to read as well, who may be wondering the same thing) was this:

There are advantages and disadvantages to agreeing to do (what I would call) ‘Work Made For Hire’, versus just ask someone beforehand, to pay you for ‘the Rights to use the work’, that you are agreeing to hire yourself to do.

Understanding the difference and what one would actually charge for, if it was either one or the other, is (I believe) very important for an artist (like yourself) to understand.

One is basically where you would ask the client beforehand (when you are quoting a price), to agree to pay you (either before or afterwards) to do the work for them – and the other, is where you ask the client beforehand (when you are quoting a price), to agree to pay you afterwards, for the use of the work that you are agreeing (to hire yourself and possibly others as well) to do.

And then I went on to try and explain what my understanding of a ‘Work Made For Hire’ type of agreement was, by saying:

If I was wanting someone to help me for a day, to create some images for others to use, (an assistant or a stylist for example) I would (usually just) simply agree to pay them beforehand, for their time and expenses. So if I (their client) was wanting to keep their expenses part down to a minimum, then I (the client) would obviously need to supply them with anything and everything that they were going to need to do the work that I (the client) wanted them to do for me.

So unless beforehand, I (the client) had specified asked them to bring something along that day, like a camera or some lights or a computer or some cushions or some flowers, etc, etc – then for the most part, they would just turn-up with their two hands in their pockets and expect me (the client) to supply them with everything that I (the client) wanted them to use or work with.

So that’s what I would call, a ‘Work Made For Hire’ type of agreement.
(Please note: I do understand that in America, the term Works Made for Hire is a Legal Term; and so therefore, it may mean something slightly different as a result – but I believe it’s based along these same lines of thinking).

So what the actual work was used for (or even not used for), by me or anyone else, would therefore not come into it.
The assistant or stylist (or the person who was being hired) would still get paid for their time, plus for any expenses that they occurred during that day, irrespective of how much or how little the work was used or even by whom.

So that keeps it nice and simple​, for both them (the person being hired) and me (their client) to understand, what the deal is and what they are going to be paid for or will be paid for afterwards.

So with this type of deal, in your case, it would therefore be all about: Expenses, Expenses, Expenses – as that would be the only real difference between one job and another, i.e. what camera they wanted you to use, lights they wanted you to use, lenses they wanted you to use, computers they wanted you to use, etc, etc… because you could even take the pictures with your iPhone, if all they wanted you to do, is turn-up and take some pictures.

So not a bad way to work as far as I’m concerned – as you may actually get to play with some really neat stuff, like a Phase One camera system for example or some Profoto lights – IF you fully understand how it works, and they are prepared to pay for all of those things as well, as for your time to do the work.

However, it would all really need to be agreed to beforehand – and ideally put in writing too (a signed agreement) – because after all the work is done, it’s that pre (written) agreement that would be the all important thing here… as far as a Judge would be concerned, should they not pay you afterwards and you ended up in court over that.

As for asking someone beforehand (when you are quoting a price), to agree to pay you afterwards, for the Rights to use the work that you are going to (agree to hire yourself and possibly others as well to) create – that’s a completely different deal and/or thing altogether – so should you want to know about that, you can read more about what I have already said about that type of deal here: Licence to use.

In other words, I believe both ways can work and both ways can work very well in your favour too, IF you fully understand the difference between the two and don’t start mixing them up or try to exchange one for the other – because that’s when things can often start to go pear-shape, based on my own experience over the past 30 years or so.
Double page spread advertisment for a National Trust kitchen by Mark Wilkinson in the August 2006 issue of Country Living magazine.

So I hope that helps this photographer, answer their own question here – because at the end of the day, it’s thier business, to run it as best as they see fit – as there is no Rule Book for self employed people (or people who agree to hire themselves or employ themselves), which is what I am assuming, is what this photographer is.

Anyway, your thoughts on all of this, as usual, are most welcome too – as it is, like I said at the start, a question that I have asked myself many times over the years too, i.e. each time before I quoted a price smile

Cheers,
Ashley
www.ampimage.com

August 28, 2014

Classic

Interesting request in last week from a PR agency in England, who was looking for someone to produce some images for them to use to help them promote their client, who it seems “makes very high-quality doors for houses”… according to them.

Not sure how they came across my name, as they also asked to see my portfolio/website – but anyway, after sending them a link to it, I realised they probably wouldn’t see that many images on our website of just doors – which I assume is that they would want to see – so I quickly dug-out a few actually ‘door type images’ that I had on file, like this one…
Entrance hallway door
.. and this one…
Entrance hallway door
.. which I explained to them in an email, were images which were produced along with a set of other images those days, for mainly ‘editorial use’ in various home interior type magazines – both nationally as well as locally.

Which was basically the same market that they were hoping to target here too, with these images which they were asking me to produce and then provide them with for them and their client to use.

Also sent them this image…
Door by Hayburn Wood Products
.. which was produced almost 10 years ago, and is still being used by Hayburn Wood Products to promote the fact that they also produced beautiful doors too – to show a slightly different style, which is more ‘advertising’ like – being puncher, cleaner and eye-catching – due to a number of factors.

So in other words, I wanted them to see that even something as simple as ‘an image of a door’, could be made to look very different – which it may need to here, to appeal to her target market and get them the desired results.
Which is at the end of the day, is what it’s all about. i.e. me helping them get results.

So anyway, that all when down well and they loved what they saw – so then came the big question: How much?

Well as always, the answer is “it depends” – as there are more than 100 different ways to shoot any subject.
And so the questions at my end often are: “How good do the images need to be ?” and “How much are you prepare to spend ?”.
However, I know there is no point in actually asking a client those questions because I already know what they would say if I did, which would be: “We want them to look amazing but we don’t want to pay very much.” wink

So instead, I ask them what did they need to use the image for, as that will then help me to determine not only what they may be worth to them but also what I may have to do to ensure I get it right for them.

And in this case, they said they where needing them for PR use, as they would be sending them to the various home interest magazines (like the ones we would often submit our work to) for them to use in the “How to get the look” section – which you would often see at the end of a feature, etc.
Period of use – well forever naturally, especially if it doesn’t cost anymore – and the Territory of use would be Worldwide, especially if it didn’t cost anymore.
But it does – because producing an image which someone would actually want to use more, usually means it will need to be better and more timeless looking – which again I need to take into account – as well as, who their target market is, i.e. local people, national people or even international people – as what the style may need to be, to appeal to each of those could be very different.

So anyway, with this information on hand, I sent them through this quote…
Quote-00016856
.. to get the ball rolling here – as this is what I reckoned the minimum would need to be – both in terms of what I’d need to charge to cover my basic production costs; as well as, what they would actually be needing to use these images for too.

Which is based on what I would consider being ‘Standard use’ – that is, for me to produce and then provide them with a number of images here, that would be good enough for them to want to use in this one media for at least the next two years in throughout the UK & Ireland.

To which they relied:

“Hi happy with that but we don’t want a restriction on use.
Please can you look at that and take that off and re-send the invoice?
Thanks so much”

Classic, I thought rolleyes

So now instead of me producing some images that she may want to use for more than 2 years PR use, she now wants what exactly?

For me to produce some image here that she would want to use for in multiple media for the next 10+ years throughout the world, which would obviously cost a hell of a lot more OR for me to just take some quick pictures here that she could use if she wanted to… and stay within that budget ??

As it’s obviously the budget here, that will ultimately determine what I can or can not afford to do – which in turn will then determine how much she will actually want to use the images for afterward.

So that could be like the difference between me providing her with something like this…
Preview use only
.. or this…
One time only editorial use
.. or even this…
Multiple media use for 10+ years
.. depending on how money I had to play with.

So, since I know I can take some quick shots for her – should she not want to spend much money – and I also know I can produce some images which she may want to use a bit more or even use a lot more (if I really ‘go for it’ and bring in a team to help me) – then what are we talking about here now !!

Or let me put it another way, for £510, for me to produce and then provide you with 4 images for you to use – which of the above 3 images do you think you would be getting from me at the end of the day, for you to use for whatever you liked?
(keeping in mind that there is at least 2 or 3 hours traveling involved here too).

In other words, what would your exceptions be here? – because I sure wouldn’t like to disappoint you and get this wrong !!

Now obviously if what they were simply just asking me to do here, was to take some pictures – and it was all sitting-up camera ready, and perfect to shoot – then no problems at all. However, after looking at the recce image that they sent me of what the door actually looked like ‘as is’ – it was very obvious to both of us, that for me to create some images here that they would actually want to use a lot, then a lot was going to be needed to be done. Otherwise, they would just end up with some images which they could use a lot but probably won’t want to use very much.

So the question for me is: What do they want me to produce and then provide them with here ? – and: How much would they be willing to pay for that ?

Well if they are only prepared to pay £510 and where wanting to use the images as much as they like, then obviously I’d need to stay within my budget and keep my costs down to a minimum – especially if I was wanting to maximize my profits.
So naturally I’m not going to want to do anything more than I would absolutely need to – because this for me, is all about making as much money as possible at the end of the day – as opposed to me wanting some really great images here, because I personally needed to use them for something.

So really, the only reason why I’d want to go the extra mile here and produce some amazing images, is if either:
(a) I needed to use them for something.
OR
(b) If I felt that would increase the value of them, i.e. the amount that others would be prepared to pay me for the use of them – because then there would be a real incentive in place.

But obviously if you remove that incentive, by saying something like: it’s a fixed fee for unlimited use, then trying to produce better images that others would want to use a lot more, all becomes very counterproductive – as this is like saying: it doesn’t really matter how good they are anymore.

That’s obviously not really a great way to work, especially for a creative person, who will naturally always want to do their best – but since I’m a ‘professional’ photographer (who is a person who takes photographs to make money, rather than an amateur, who may take photographs for pleasure and to record an event, emotion, place, without a monetary motivation) – then taking photographs to make money means, that the money side of things needs to come first – otherwise, what I’d be doing, would really be no different to what an ‘amateur’ would do.

So the question for me is: If you want me to provide you with more, how much more are you willing to pay ?

Which in this cased turned-out to be a lot more, for the same amount of money that I had quoted here.

Sorry, but that doesn’t work for me – and so that was basically the end of it – as there is simply no way I’m going to provide something that is possibly worth thousands of pounds, for just a few hundred.

So would love to hear from others here, as to how you go about handling requests like this – whereby a client specifically asks you to give them a price for one thing but then says they want you to provide them with something totally different afterward… for the same price.

March 2, 2013

An analogy would be.

In a recent discussion on a photographer’s forum, about how one goes about putting a price on what ‘we’ do – this is the analogy I gave, in reference to a job I have recently been asked to quote for – whereby the client was wanting to know what my ‘day rate’ was, to take some pictures at a nearby hotel.

So to try and explain why I, like them (the hotel), quote the way I do, this is how I explained it – so as the hotel could see, that how I put a price on ‘my thing’ is very similar to how they put a price on ‘their thing’ – should someone ask for a quote.

There are basically 4 things that will determine the fee:

1. Number of images: 15 images – is like saying: 15 people.
2. Media use: Worldwide web & promotional emails only – is like saying: Bed & Breakfast only.
3. Period of use: 2 years use (ends 31/3/2015) – is like saying: 2 nights (ends the following day).
4. Territory of use: Internet only – is like saying: their hotel only.

So, just as the price that they would quote you, would also be based on the above information – so is mine…
Quote-00016764 by Ashley Morrison for producing and then providing 15 images of various rooms at a Hotel in County Down for them to use as stated.
.. which means, if I would like them to pay more than this, then it would then be up to me to try and produce some images that they would actually want to use for more than this…
Quote-00016764 by Ashley Morrison for producing and then providing 15 images of various rooms at a Hotel in County Down for them to use as stated.

.. if I was to expect them to pay me more than this afterwards (just as they will want their customers to use their hotel for more than the minimum amount too) – which is therefore my incentive (or their incentive) to go the extra mile for my clients (or in their case, their guests, who want to use their hotel).

So the more that other people want us to provide them with or the more that they get from us to use afterward, then the more I would charge – which I believe is only fair.

And that’s basically how I go about it these days – as times have changed and most of my clients now just seem to want ‘some images to use’ – rather than specific images to use for a specific ad – which is how it would have been back in the days of film, when I would have quoted a ‘day rate’.

Anyway, just thought I’d share this analogy – which is based on a real example – of how I put a price on what ‘we’ do – before any images have been created or produced, for others to use these days.

ampimage.com… just for you!

March 23, 2011

All Media

Filed under: Licence fees — Ashley Morrison @ 7:17 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Recently a photographer asked what he should charge for ‘All Media’ use, in the UK for 1 year.
He knew the AOP’s guidelines recommended +750% for ‘All Media’ use; however, he felt that was totally wrong.

He claimed his BUR was £2000 (“my basic day rate for advertising is £2000.00, which gets them ONE yr UK, 2 media”) – but reckoned for ‘All Media’ use, £2,500 would be about right i.e. an additional £500.

So is the AOP’s BUR system wrong !!
Your BUR+750% = All Media.

Well, let’s look at it the other way around:
All Media-750% = your Base Usage Rate (BUR).

So if one says £2,500 is for ‘All Media’, then £2,500-750% would suggest one’s BUR is only £333.33 i.e. your basic rate for ‘standard use’.

Garbage In, Garbage Out – as they say.
If the figures don’t stack-up, then obviously your BUR figure must not be right – is the way I would see it.
The figure you are referring to may be based on something, but it should be obvious it’s not your Base Usage Rate – and if it is not your BUR, then naturally the AOP’s pricing guidelines will not make any sense.

So if you are wanting to use their pricing system, to help you work out what the fee should be, then obviously you need to get this bit right first.

Now let’s look at what ‘All Media’ actually covers.
Media use is broken down into the following sections and the recommended percentage figures for each media can be found in the AOP’s book Beyond the Lens:-

. Ambient (includes: garage forecourt, airport and rail station screens and all public areas where advertising is screened).
. Billboards / Posters (includes: 96/48/16/12/4 sheet, superlites, escalator panels, bus sides & panels, taxis wraps & seats, bus backs, tube, underground).
. Brochure / Catalogue.
. Direct Mail (includes: door drop leaflets & postcards).
. Inserts / Prints.
. Marketing Aids (includes: umbrellas, ashtrays, beer mats, exhibition panels, trolley panels).
. Magazine ads (includes: advertorial features, ads & PR).
. Magazine editorial.
. Newspaper (includes: advertorial features, ads & PR).
. Packaging.
. Point of sale.
. PR (includes: images used to promote within a press editorial/advertorial or trade handout).
. Press (includes: trade, consummer, local, national, magazine & newspapers).
. Television / Cinema (includes: interactive TV, Video, mobiles, CD ads).
. Worldwide web ( includes: email ads & internet use).

So if a client says they need to use the images in ‘All Media’, then this is all the things they are saying they need to use the images for. Which would indicate they are about to spend a lot of money here, over the next 12 months. Naturally that needs to be taken into account when you are quoting a fee, because clearly these images are hugely important to them.
Hence the +750% figure.
Which is there to help you meet their needs.

A useful link to terms used by Ad agencies and information on usage: A PhotoEditor.

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