Ashley Morrison's Blog

August 28, 2014


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…
.. 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 much 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.
(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.

January 9, 2014

What difference does it make ?

Six months after Marie was pictured here smiling, in the living room of a new property…
Marie standing in Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. which she & her husband Alan had just bought – she was once again pictured smiling, as she sat on the stairs…
Marie McMillen on the stairs in her 1950's cottage in Belfast on the 1st February 2010.
.. of this exact same room.

Wow, I hear you say, what a difference !!.

But what is the real difference here, between this image…
The living room in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. and this one…
The living room in Marie and Alan McMillen's 1950s cottage in Belfast on the 1st February 2010.
.. from a Professional photographer’s point of view ?

A photographer [the Greek φῶς (phos), meaning “light”, and γραφή (graphê), meaning “drawing, writing”, together meaning “drawing with light”] is a person who takes photographs. A professional photographer uses photography to earn money; amateur photographers take photographs for pleasure and to record an event, emotion, place, or person.

So why on the 29th July 2009, when I took this image…
The living room in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. did I as a Professional photographer, not think it was worth my while to use anything more than just a basic point & shoot camera system – whereas when I took this image of the exact same room…
The living room in Marie and Alan McMillen's 1950's cottage in Belfast
.. I felt I needed to spend a lot more time – use a medium format ’tilt & shift’ camera system, thousands of pounds worth of lights and shoot to a laptop – so as Marie could then tweak things and style it to within an inch of her life.

What difference does it make to a Professional photographer?

Because let’s face it, from my point of view as a Professional photographer – what I’m looking at here…
The kitchen in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. and what I’m seeing here…
The kitchen in Marie and Alan McMillen's 1950's cottage in Belfast.
.. is just two pictures of basically the same room.

Okay, so the first images don’t look that good – and the other one looks really nice – but besides what Marie had done here…
The dining area in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. over a six month period, to transform this space into something very different…
The dining area in 36 Ascot Park on the 1st February 2010.
.. what’s the real difference between these two pictures?

Is this picture better…
The TV area in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. than this one…
The TV area in Marie and Alan McMillen's 1950's cottage in Belfast.
.. or could it be the other way around?

For example, if someone wanted to use this image…
The master bedroom in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. and was prepared to pay me for that – even though I didn’t spend much time on shooting and just used a point & shoot camera system – and no-one wanted to use this image…
the master bedroom in Marie and Alan McMillen's 1950's cottage in Belfast.
.. even though Marie had spent 6 months working on it and we then spent hours shooting it with top-end camera gear, etc – would that mean the first image is actually better?

Because you see, from my point of view – as a Professional photographer, rather than just someone who likes to take pictures in their spare time – the only real difference between this image…
The master bedroom in 36 Ascot Park on the 29th July 2009.
.. and this image…
The bathroom in Marie and Alan McMillen's 1950's cottage in Belfast.
.. is to do with the amount that someone else may be prepared to pay me for use it – and that’s really about it.

Sure, I’d much prefer to take pretty pictures – but being a Professional photographer isn’t really about taking pretty pictures – it’s about making money or making a living – from producing images that others will want to use, and use enough that they will be prepared to pay you some money for.

So in theory, as crazy as it may seem – from a Professional photographer’s point of view, Marie didn’t do anything here – besides provide me with something, which I now felt was worth spending a lot more time on shooting.
The reason being, because I now felt others may want to use these images and would, therefore, be prepared to pay for that use – so that’s why I went the extra mile.

Take that incentive away, and all you are left with is two pictures or two sets of images – that are worth the same to the guy behind the camera.

So to answer my own question here: What difference does it make ?
As a Professional photographer, the difference has to do with the use of the images and the amount that others are prepared to pay for that.

Little use = Little value.
Greater use = Greater value
… to both them & me.

Anyway, as a Professional photographer, I’d just like to say big thanks to Marie & Allen for making a difference here – because I really don’t think that anyone would have wanted to use those first set of images – no matter what camera system I would have used or how much time I would have spent on the lighting them wink

Smiling from behind the camera smile

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