Business of Commercial Food Photography

 

Lesson Info

Calculating Price based on Rates, Usage and Expenses

What do the first letters of those three things spell? Rue, do not rue the day that you made a mistake in any of these three items. So, I told you not to be a turkey, and now I'm saying you better make sure you get the whole meal. Because you have to understand that the combination of rate, usage, and expenses is your pricing. This is the components of your pricing and every aspect of that, there are pieces that you can make money beyond a day rate. Because you can figure out things that you can add to your arsenal whether it be equipment that you can rent out, and add to your costs, whether it's propping that you can add out to your cost, whether it's about your studio that you pay for every month, but if you rent it out to your own clients, your making money on that, there's many many ways to layer your business in food photography to make money beyond your day rate. So that if your rates that you're quoting clients include and compensate for all of these things, you're giving them v...

alue and you're making money over and above what a day rate can do for you. This is um, If the price is the driving factor, then this is the solution, is understanding these three aspects of what we're doing in this business. So, I know that I've, I've offered you some very specific numbers, but I feel like the numbers are less important than the structure. The structure of understanding all of the pieces that go into what it is that people are expecting of you, and what you have to have as an expectation to charge somebody to do the work that we do. And, if that means you're just the leader of a collaborative team, you have to know those other people get paid. And what you can pay them, and offer them, and negotiate with them as well. Because if you don't know, and they're just throwing wild numbers at you, and you're desperate, and you need somebody and you end up paying that, and you can't recover it on the other end, because your client won't pay for it, you're gonna eat money, every aspect of this is razor sharp. You have to know what it is you're getting yourself into. And the final component, in talking about this, is your time, I put that there just to get your attention. Although it is not a turkey. Every minute you're not doing the things that you wanna do or have to do in your life, whether it be spend time with your friends or your family, or doing a hobby or improving your art, and you're doing your job, you need to be compensated to a lot for time. Because your time is in short supply. We only have so much of it, and if you don't understand philosophically, that when you're sacrificing, what you're sacrificing to work for somebody is more than just money, it's your time. And you have to value this, and put it into play when you're negotiating prices with your clients. Because if you're gonna take yourself, and offer it to a client at a price you're not happy with, every minute on that set is miserable. You're not gonna enjoy the work, you're not gonna enjoy the back end of it, and you're gonna feel like you wasted your time because you could've been at the soccer game or you could've been out at the bar with your buddies, or you could've been, you know, on vacation. Or whatever it might be, because you just poured all this energy into something you did not get the return of investment on. And this is what all of this knowledge that we're trying to share here is meant due, is to improve your quality of your life through your work. Because what we do we love, and you don't want that stripped away from you. You don't want the love of making imagery and being around food and doing the things we do taken away from you as an artist, because you have to be a business person. You need to be the business person to enjoy being the artist. In order to have that hamburger. And let the ketchup go over here and you just wipe it, because you like it. So value yourself, value your talent, and most of all value your time because there is no, there is no replacement for that. There's no replacement for the time you lose on a job because you just didn't, enjoy doing what you were doing. In New York, there was a local, guy who sold suits. And his name was Sy Syms, Ed knows what I'm talking about. And I went online to look for a quote, about this concept, couldn't find one. And this just kept popping in my head. And I was like "Why isn't that one on there?" Because nobody knows who that guy was, it was a local commercial in New York back in the 70s and 80s. But it's perfect for what we are talking about. And the more you can educate your customer, your consumer, your client, whatever C word you want to attach to that, The better off you're gonna be as a business person, as an artist, as a human being, all of it because you're gonna be happier, you're gonna be able to do things that you're proud of. You're gonna see progress in your work, you're gonna see progress in your art, in your life. Because all the things that photography has afforded me in my life, and it's been a lot, it's been an awful lot, and I'm hugely grateful for being able to be in this industry as long as I have, but one of the greatest things it has given me is quality of life. The fact that I get to come out here and do this stuff, and spend time with people, and experience it, and unpacking for me too, unpacking it for you, makes me better at it, too. So teaching it to other people, whether it be to your client, or to your group of students, or to your assistants or to the people around you, it makes you understand it better it makes you better at it and it makes you a better businessperson overall. And if nothing else we've learned or talked about, there are things in here you can use for the rest of your life. Especially the idea of being a calm steadying influence in the fray, in the middle of the group of chaos. Because photo shoots are like chaos. Unless you can be the steadying influence in the middle of it, because the minute you're not the steadying influence as the leader of that situation, the rest of that falls away and then nothing happens positively. But that is definitely a lesson I've learned, that in my life the calmer and the more steady handed I can be in every situation, the better off it becomes. And I know that that's a bit more of life lesson, philosophical kind of coaching thing, but that's what this is about, too. It's about somebody who's at a different level of their life and career helping people get to where I am. I'm throwing you the rope, I need you to climb up it. One of our students wanted to know how do you approach calculating relicensing? Do you offer discounts, is it a smaller fee than the original? Uh yeah, you can work it that way. You can use the original licensing agreement as a baseline, and then if you feel that they want to buy more than what they originally bought, you can always discount that price, and it's about negotiating you know, negotiating prices on these things is a bit like the Turkish market, it goes back and forth and back and forth, and if you want them to keep licensing the picture, give them a better price. I mean it's pretty simple to that degree, work from the baseline of what the original usage agreement was, and say to them, because you know there's a shelf life on imagery, right? So let's say you already licensed it to them for two years, for five grand, lets just say, for all you can see. And then they come back to you after two years, and they say they wanna re-up again. What's the rate? And you say to yourself, I know, this is probably the last time I'm gonna sell this picture for them, because after five years most likely they're not gonna use it anymore. So you say, can I make another five grand on this? Alright I'll give you three years this time, for five grand. So you're still making the five grand, you're giving them the fifth year, and you know by the end of that fifth year, you're not gonna resell it anyways. So you're giving a bargain, because they can stretch it out and get another year out of it, for the same amount they just spent on the two years, but you also know that the shelf life is running out on that picture so you make a calculated decision and you're still making the same amount of money. So that's kinda how I would handle that situation. Great, alright thank you. Oh we have a question. Sure. So I was wondering again about local restaurants - Lemme guess, you wanna work with local restaurants? [Audience Member] Well I do, yeah! (laughs) So if you are doing your day rate, and it's sort of, it's more than editorial, would you do usage as a separate line item or would you sort of include it, because they're just doing like web, and menus? How would you do that? Well, I would ask them how often they were planning on updating their menus and their web. Because you can say to them, hey, if you're thinking about doing like regular work as photographing your food as it changes on your menu, then you can kind of build that it into the appreciation of the price. Really, if it's a one off client, charge them as much as you can. If they're not a one off client, cut them a deal, lower them back into the fold, get them to do more, make suggestions about how you can be more helpful. Hey you know you look like you need some interior work, some interior photos at your restaurant. Or, I notice you got a really great drink program, but you don't have a lot of drinks on your website, do your homework, and you know what, when you walk in there and say that to them, they'll be like hmm, that's a really good idea, what would you charge us for that? And you already have that idea and you already have that number in your pocket. So, that's about being a business person, it's about figuring out what they need, and then selling it to them. Do any of your team members ever negotiate, well this is, [Andrew] With me, never! Do they ever bring up licensing? Do stylists ever benefit from photo licensing? Uh, that's a good question, I don't think so. Because ultimately the name that is on the picture and the person who owns the image is the person who takes the image. So I don't think stylists get that kind of intellectual licensing property, like the way we do, as photographers. I mean I've never heard of it, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Being confident in your photography is only the start of growing your success as a food photographer. Knowing how to pitch yourself to clients, communicate with vendors, and set yourself apart from a populated market are just some of the business techniques that are essential in seeing you profit from your work. Andrew Scrivani joins CreativeLive to help you take your photography and business to a place where you can start making it a successful career. He’ll cover: 

  • How to get work in the Food Photography Industry 
  • How to promote and network yourself to grow your client list 
  • Techniques on communicating with your vendors and clients on set and off 
Make your photography work for you and make money while shooting what you love.  

 
 
 
 

Reviews

  • I highly recommend this course! Andrew is an engaging and thoroughly knowledgable teacher. This class is less about how to photograph food - although there are some terrific tips - and more about the "nuts and bolts" or rather, "bread and butter" of running a successful business. A lot of the information is relevant to business in general, but the specific tips about food photography are especially exciting to implement! I found the hands-on portion during the morning of day 2 especially helpful in assimilating the general or more abstract ideas covered in day 1, which laid a fantastic foundation. 5 stars!
  • Andrew is not only a funny, incredibly entertaining person, he's a seriously great teacher. Being in the live studio audience for this class was such a treat. I was able to learn a lot of the nitty gritty lived-in details of what it takes to be a successful food photographer. Things that are hard to come by in books and online! I would highly recommend this class for anyone who wants to take their passion to the next step: making a living.
  • While I'm not quite ready to focus my business on food photography, this class gave me a much clearer idea of what options and challenges there are in the food photography industry. Andrew covered everything from what jobs might be like when starting out on a tight budget to what options open up as the photographer becomes more experienced and successful. I already did my own internet research about the food photography business before the class, but this was more comprehensive and easy to understand in a short amount of time. Now I feel more confident about setting my business goals, who to look for to collaborate with on projects and eventually the kinds of clients I'd like to work with. He also gave many tips that are immediately applicable in my current photography business that isn't yet focused on food.