What Expenses are Associated with a Shoot
Alright, just charge it as much as you want whenever you want, and see how that works out. Okay, I'm done! Clearly not done. Okay, being versed in all of the related expenses attached to food photography is sort of the first thing you need to learn and understand when you're deciding how you're gonna price your work as a food photographer. The simple, there is no simple equation, there is no magic bullet, and I know that ultimately, that is something that everyone wants just to have in their pocket, and say, "I know what I wanna charge". But, as you've already learned throughout all the lessons that we've taught so far, this is a complicated industry. And that you need to have a lot of base of knowledge for different things to understand how to appropriately price a job. Because effectually, you're learning how to be a producer. Because as a first starting out, or younger photographer, you'll have to learn what it means to build the entire production, and that's not always the case in ...
other forms of photography where you have to kind of act as your own producer in a lot of ways, because there's usually not as many moving parts as there are in food photography. You know, in fashion, if you have somebody that is a model, knows how to do their own makeup, you go out with a bounce card and a camera at the beginning of your career, you could probably make some pretty interesting pictures. And that obviously, industry gets increasingly more complicated as things go on and on. But just the starting point as a food photographer, if you're not the person cooking, styling, propping, all your own stuff, you're already into many many more things than as a beginning photographer in another venue, or like if you're a landscape photographer, go out and take pictures of pretty landscapes. You know like, it's not that complicated as far as production is concerned. But, this is, an understanding that landscape is why it's so impossible when someone says to me, "what should I charge?", or "what do you cost?" So we're gonna go over a lot of different kind of pieces of this puzzle, and understand that client needs, budgetary constraints, the venue they're operating in, all the things that we've talked about, all the language that I've been throwing at you, and it comes to these things all really matters. And before you create art for a client, and you have to understand like what you're selling to them as far as your rights are concerned, and we talked about that already. So we're just gonna keep layering it on and layering it on until we have a full understanding. And then you should hopefully be at the end of this, be able to stand there and think, "okay, I know what I have been charging, "I know what I should be charging". Because you already have a baseline. If you're already getting paid to do work, you already have somewhat of a baseline of what you've already charged people. Now you might be way off, and that this might help you figure out a better way to do that. Or, at the very least be able to consolidate those instead of trying to piecemeal it out and be able to say and offer clients a flat rate that everybody can make money on and be happy about. The other thing is also about in the act of negotiating pricing and understanding compensation is not only money, there's trade. You can work, you know, sometimes you can even work with stylists for trade. But you could also work with clients for trade. If it's something that you want or need. So, sometimes when you're building up a portfolio, it works to your benefit to get things that are branded in your portfolio, and maybe you'll do work for comp, because it works to get it in your portfolio. But you only do that once. You know, you don't do that all the time. But in that case, you don't make money on the job, but you get something that's valuable to your portfolio. And that's compensation. But there's also things like exposure, which I talked about, this kind of myth of exposure. Where people are trying to tell you you're gonna get exposure to get work for free. But if you're doing that on your own terms, and you're saying I want to get published in this magazine or newspaper, I want to get my work shown on this particular website, you have a game plan, then you can make compromises based on that game plan, instead of it being thrust upon you with an empty promise of exposure. And things like bylines too, is the same thing as exposure or credit, in that having a byline in a major magazine or having a byline in a major newspaper is a feather in your cap and it's something you can build upon. And when you are building your pricing structure, you have to understand that like in any industry, a client is gonna get what they pay for, right? And if you're a lower level photographer, that's just starting out, and you don't have a tremendous amount of experience or things in your portfolio, client understands that that's not worth the same as hiring somebody who has a tremendous amount of experience with a lot of infrastructure behind them. So you have to price yourself appropriately, which goes to the tune of realistic. Right, what we talked about earlier about being realistic. The other thing about is your time, and what time takes to build into a photo shoot. So a photo shoot isn't just the day you step on the set, the photo shoot is all the stuff that goes before that. So if you're taking time to do prep work, if you're propping it out yourself, or your prop style is just propping it out, and your food stylist needs to two days of prep for shopping and mise en place, all these things need to be calculated and communicated to your client when we're talking about how much time and energy it's going to take to do your photo shoot. So as the shoot gets bigger, you can't just lump it on, and I think when you express that to a client and you be clear in your expectations about what you can do for them, then they can be clear with you about what it is they are getting. And it's not like you get a call the day before and it's like, "oh you know, we just added five dishes to the shoot." and you're like, "no, we can't do that." or but you may not know how to correct that situation. Right, you might not know how to have that conversation. Because, a lot of times I hear from photographers that they get boxed into a price, and then the scope of the job changes. And that's why it's really important not to throw a number at somebody before you understand the scope of the job. So, good portion about what we're gonna talk about is understanding the scope of the job that you're pricing before you throw a number at somebody because the tactic for lots of, you know, creative art buyers is to box you into a number and then get you to work more for that number. And if you are more coy about how you present numbers to clients and you are more communicative about how you want that to play out, you will be able to have a more successful relationship with the client and you will make more money in the process. So, and we've talked about this earlier too about don't just be the cheap photographer. Don't get the job just because you're the one who will give the lowest price, because then they're not really respecting your art either. They're just looking at the bottom line, and what it means is that the art's not important to them It means that they need to have photos for their website, but they're really not as worried about quality. They're like what can I get, I need this many pictures, and I have this much money, and then you're the only photographer that'll do it for them. And you're not in a great position to make good art in that situation and it's not gonna be something you can use to build your career off of. You know, you need solid work to build your career and if you're constantly being put into positions where you're being asked to do things at low budgets that are not gonna be able to, you're not gonna be able to shine as a photographer because you can't put together a production that's gonna, that you're gonna be really proud of, then you're never gonna break out of that, you're always gonna be in that, you know, hovering in that same spot. So we've talked a lot about educating your client about the cost of stylists, and props, and food costs, and space, and deliveries, and transportation, and equipment, and all these things, and we're gonna continue to talk about those. And then how the rates exist in multiple venues. So we talk about editorial, publishing, advertising, branded content, direct client access, all of those things.