Pricing and Negotiating for Food Photography
Alright I'm going backwards because I'm spending money you don't have yet (chuckling) so we're all doing brochures and stuff but we need to get down to business and. I think, I'll do a quick, 'cause we'll need to get into the, the images, the review, but in a nutshell. Price and negotiating is, every single job is totally different, there is no single jobs, so what I do is when somebody calls I'll extract as much information out of them as I possibly can. I'll actually ask do they have a budget, nobody's ever given me a budget. I don't know why I ask anymore but, and they all, I mean yeah, there budgets is zero dollars, so I'd love to work with you you know so, hm, the, and the next question is, and there is, there is, there actually is a budget but they wanna know where you're coming in and how you're getting there. But what I'll do first is I'll actually calculate based on what the information, how many shoot days, will I be providing, will there be talent, will I be providing cateri...
ng or craft for how many people. Who's coming who's not coming, a need a representative from the actual brand there to okay images typically, or at least some, you know, an art director. Just tons of questions. There's a list of questions that I have that I actually wrote down, so every time I got a call I'd have it on my phone to read off and eventually it just goes in your head and you already know exactly the questions you need to read which is very helpful, 'cause you can't pull that out every time, that was early on but you need to learn how to, and also gauge the tone of their voice, are they serious. You get the most bizarre phone calls, and some really exciting phone calls, so I mean, I got a call who, from a producer in LA who wants to do a reality show based on what we do. And it's not really a reality show , like it's a legitimate sort of document style reality show and I don't think we're fully on board but, we get bizarre requests like that all the time. And, so. There's all kinds of stuff that you can do. You can travel and do cookbooks. Cookbooks are my favorite. And still not something I get asked to do because my style is so different, and I'm gonna, we're also in a market that doesn't have a lot of publishers and New York and San Francisco, cookbooks galore, even still now, 'cause people love to buy cookbooks and they should 'cause they're awesome, and they're heavy, that shelf's gonna come down. So, and they inspire you, they see what people do when it's just about the art form, they wanna show off, they want the food to look awesome, so, yeah. So I get a, my estimates are basically a creative fee which is the licensing plus my cost of doing business. So it's my cost of doing business for each day of shooting you know it's my cost of business, what I need to recover to stay in business maintain my studio, all the expenses, divided by the number of days I expect to work in a year and so that's my, that's what I need to make per shoot to stay in business and make no money. And on top of that I go through the licensing, which you can go, there's calculators all over I kinda use Get images sometimes, there's different things you can use so at least get a ball park figure of what an image might be worth to what they're asking for. Like we want usage for one year in North America for billboards only, so you can look that up. And that'll be at least, that'll be the price that you get for an image that already exists as a stock image and so you need to charge more, 'cause your image you're creating a custom image, but generally the licensing will be within the same rage. So you don't wanna totally overbid yourself. So it's generally in that relm. So you plug that into the creative fee on top of your cost of doing business, that's your creative fee. Then the second line item is styling fees. So that's the cost of the stylist, the cost of the food, the cost of the prop stylist, the cost of, anything style related, makeup or everyone. That all goes into the styling fees. And then so the third thing is the production cost. Any studio rentals you have to do off location the rental, I charge for the gear I use there's a small rental fee to maintain my gear 'cause it costs money to maintain, it goes out of date. All that stuff related to the production, catering, just everything, every logistical thing that happens like when we're doing this class here, there's logistical things involved, there's cost involved with actually producing that, so that's your production cost and then the last one is post production. So it's anything, hours related to Photoshop work after the fact, hours related to file delivery, cost of hard drives, just the act of getting the file to the and then the subsequent edits that you have to make that you have to charge, that they know they're gonna have to do so you say we're gonna have potentially three edit, edit stages during this shoot after this shoot so you'll return it to us, we'll do an edit, come back to you, you'll re edit it in Photoshop and then send it back. So all those go into post production. So what you've done is created this really complex estimate in your head and it's all right and it's all accurate and you have it written down that way but then you put it in the four neat columns so that they can wrap their head around and say how much is this gonna cost to do, oh, bang, bang, bang, bang, it's not this laundry list of everything that goes on, because they can get really stuck on small things like, oh we don't need that roll of seamless, we kinda do, but they'll get just hung up on that. If they ask for stuff I'll provide that. And then especially for bigger shoots where they have a cost estimate or somebody on set who's really in charge of making sure nothing is wasted that's when I really have to get in detail. I can do it if they want but sometimes they just wanna know what it costs to shoot. They don't, but you do need to break it down a little bit. So, and I'll put the amount of licensing, the licensing they want on there. I'll have terms and conditions that indicate what the terms are, those are individual to every photographer what you, need to cover yourself on. So you can look online and find terms and conditions that match and then maybe talk to a lawyer, is this right for my situation, 'cause I have a studio or I don't, and so I'll deliver those and, they will, I get back to them really fast, they love that when I do that. If I'm not on set I am all over it. Even if we have down time during the set I will actually quickly get out and I've gotten really fast at it so it's important that you know how much everything and everyone costs, so you can just go bang bang bang bang and be done. 'cause they love getting a response back really fast and that makes a lot, it shows that you are punctual and prompt, sometimes you just can't do it. But I've always gotten whoa, fast delivery you know, and so, and then the waiting game begins and they tell you if you are awarded the job and then pre production like I talked about earlier about the phases of a commercial shoot, go into effect. But it's really about marketing properly you'll get to a point in your career where you're not worried every month about money and it's not this massive survive, 'cause the economy's doing pretty well, a lot of agencies are still trained from the last dip to be working and doing double duty that never really recovered in its own sense. So there's still a lot of ad agencies really tight on money and they don't know where to put it and you can be, as a photographer you can problem solve for the agency you know, let's do cinemographs those are great for social media, they're extremely effective, and, but they are, they do have a lot of value, no more, no less than a billboard so you need to train them, eventually to understand that everything on Facebook has the same value 'cause it still gets the same traffic so there's no difference. But right now they do have less value as far as we can negotiate. Yes. How exactly are you making your estimate? Are you, do you have all this information in a spreadsheet somewhere and then you copy paste, or, what are you?
It's in an Excel spreadsheet, and, I can't, I won't provide the template because everybody's so different in the way they approach it. You kinda have to look at your own, and you can, a photo, a photo fling or a, there's a website that has tons of estimate examples I think it's found, aphotofolia's website or Rob Haggert, if you look at Rob Haggert's blog I think it covers tons of estimates that are real that have all the information blocked the, you know the names but you can see what they estimated and what they came back with, how the negotiation process went. 'cause there's no better resource for actually looking at real world negotiations and how, 'cause they actually show you the final estimate and the original estimate, so what they ended up at and I can't, there's not enough time to even go into that but that's a really good resource to look at for negotiating and what really happens when you charge a certain amount and what the response it.
Is it a photo editor .com ?
A photo editor yeah.
Rob Haggert, aphotoeditor.com
You know for just pricing 'cause I didn't see a sub header, but you cannot, it's a treasure trove of information and it tends to be a lot of those I found are a little, sometimes on the high side, to begin with, and they really come back. There's not as much negotiating that, I don't do a lot of negotiating. I have to guess very accurately, whether or not, it's not passive, agree, but they don't, there's not a back and fourth as much 'cause everyone's so busy. So either you kinda get it on the first try and you're in the ball park, or if you're outside of this realm they don't even reply. So there's like a bubble that you have to be within and it only comes with practice and experience on your end because my value and where I'm at, is different than your value and where you're at and where you could, you could have something so unique that you get these, you get fewer massive jobs that pay really well, and I'm more, 'cause everybody's completely different. There's no one, if you do only packaging, your scenario's totally different. Your estimates will look different. Your terms and conditions are different. If I'm doing tons of on location work, terms and conditions are probably four pages long. So it's, everyone really is different but hopefully, especially through reading that blog and what I've given to you you can at least know where to look and how to form, 'cause it does, just come with time, it, you get it after a while. 'cause when I first started I'm like do I really want, I knew I have the talent to be a food photographer and I have the background, and it's all coming together I'm like do I really want to do this, there's a lot of stuff that's not related to photography it's mostly not photography, so do I really wanna do this. And so, 'cause I knew very little. You just chip away at it, just like the marble analogy, and you just get it. Like one day you're just, my estimate, my estimate came back and they didn't take me. And it wasn't because of the estimate it was because I just wasn't a good fit. So it could be for various reasons, and it's okay to ask people why wasn't I chosen or what can I do better, I'm always asking people where they found me, what they read to find me or you know it's okay to have a dialog about that, they're fine with it. It makes you grow every time you have a failure, it's way more valuable than a success 'cause the success you don't know. Maybe they were totally in a pinch and they just had to use you. I've had that happen and they paid tons of money and then they come back and they're like, you're expensive, you're way too expensive. And so I had to like, yeah, I kind of knew that, so why didn't we have a negotiation and that just doesn't happen as much anymore. But it still does, you have to be ready to negotiate and that just comes with practice too, it's all about practice, there's no, you can read all the books you want but you just have to have a feel for people and what they're willing to budge and the tone of their voice, that's why the in person stuff is great and I find the bigger the job and the bigger the agency the more used they are to negotiate where as in house client just wanna know, and you can kinda, I usually come down, I usually, there's different concessions I will make based on who I'm dealing with, do I, especially if you're starting out. Give them, waive your creative fee for the first day of shooting sometimes they want a day rate. So I actually just take the total of the estimate that I've created that's not day rate based. 'cause I don't like day rates. And I just divide that by the number of days we're shooting there you have a day rate there you go. And they're like oh okay that makes more sense and they're fine with it and it's a day rate and it's expense, I mean it's not your normal day rate, sometimes, but if they demand a day rate I just divide that by the number of shoot days. That way it doesn't get to be about the time. It gets to be about the number of images that you're expected to shoot and the value of the license of those images. The actual creating of the images is meaningless as far as the price, it's all about what they're getting out of it so don't be afraid, if a big dog comes calling, to charge, even if it feels weird, 'cause they're expecting that out of you if you charge like a thousand dollars they're gonna be ah, okay, they're getting started obviously they don't know, they're gonna lose some respect and they won't know so I charge a little higher and say okay you're a new client, we'd be happy we wanna work with you honestly so instead of just saying oh I'll do it for less I just want the exposure, all that stuff, which can happen and I've done (chuckling) hm, you know, that's okay in the beginning, especially to work for free. I'd rather work for free than work for a little bit. 'cause it undermines what you're trying to become. Oh we didn't discuss the business cards. You should have a few business cards. (audience laughing) People still use them, believe it or not.
I guess we skip the social media I guess.
Yeah social media's another, yeah, sort of, thanks for bringing that up, let me make sure oh okay so guess blogging is another one. So when I got started and I wanted really good SEO, I guest blogged on numerous, Creative Live I guess blogging along a while back and it helps bump your SEO and it also helps people to know you that's really the, good SEO and the website ranking is really just about you getting out there and wanting to get out there and genuinly you can't just force it and you can't say oh I'm gonna do this for SEO. But sometimes I've done it, but I guess, probably, around food blogs that's a good way to do it. Team up with a blogger, who's local and wants someone to bump up their images and quality a little bit work with them get some great shots and they'll write about you and that really brings up your reputation, social media I use, I use Instagram, I kinda use Facebook but it's sort of semi, Facebook's what you wanna see if you wanna see my kids and then start falling asleep and being like okay, he has a kid, kids. But Instagram is my tool of choice. Because it still is a platform that people follow, it's image friendly, image based. It allows you to compose a good image because it looks curated and it looks like you put a lot of effort to create this aura about you but I still think people wanna see good images I don't think they wanna see. I had a hard time with Snapchat I've tooled around with that in New York and I just couldn't make it happen I couldn't, you know, I guess I'm not exciting enough on a daily basis to be broadcasting everything. I do wanna work, I do wanna share cool behind the scenes image but I'm gonna go in and I'm gonna make sure the colors are alright and I'm gonna make sure that 'cause I wanna release something that's of value like a blog, so blogs are really well thought out. You would do a lot of research to do a great blog post. Then you know, social media, then the instantaneous stuff of the live stuff which can be of value depending on what business you're in and, if you're doing a shoot and if they allow it. Sometimes they don't allow any cameras at all you just do your shoot. So a lot of major photographers aren't on social media 'cause one they're busy, two they can't show us stuff they're shooting, three, they're busy. They just don't need to impress anyone who's on,but, I like to maintain that, I like to, I, regardless of how busy I am, marketing is important to me, very important, but I choose wisely I just choose Instagram 'cause Twitter I just don't have a conversation on, and, Facebook I will post stuff, but tends to be all my Instagram stuff, I know people hate that but, double post. And yeah, so social media's important it does drive SEO too. I mean it drives. And Linkedin's really crucial. I use Linkedin as my go-to 'cause it shows, it gives you, if people connect with you on Linkedin, it's because they think, if you're in the same industry I feel comfortable reaching out to people I haven't worked with before if I plan to work with them, and they see the same in me if I have enough stuff on my page that I know they're gonna be interested and I've done my research on them, I friend them they friend me back almost all the time, unless they're, I don't target creative directors, they're too far above what's going on in the photo part of it so just art buyers and art directors and design directors. Linkedin's crucial to me yeah I love it. It's replaced in a kind of email service. Cu they update their information and you follow them throughout their career it's not just some outdated, they move a lot, in fact a lot of my meetings got canceled in New York, and I have to reschedule because people either left or different, you know, it's a fluid industry.