Architectural Photography Pricing

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by owen_dawson, Oct 23, 2017.

  1. Phil with all due respect, making negative statements like "it will never happen" or "wishful thinking" is not the best way to answer questions in a forum. Who are you to decide what someone can or cannot charge? You can only speak for yourself. We could argue the rate till we are blue in the face but in the end we all have to decide what our value and cost of doing business is. Geographical location, experience and the volume of work all play apart in our calculations. Unfortunately, I believe your right about the low rates that brokers will pay. We as photographers can only blame ourselves for allowing the rates to spiral down. The best way to recover from this is to say "no" to the next job that low balls our value. Of course this will only work if we all ban together.
  2. Architectural photographers' rates vary based on many considerations, among which are their cost of doing business, their market (which could be local, regional, national or international), their level of experience and expertise, the production costs to shoot a particular project, their ability to negotiate and the photo usage terms their clients require. To try to find your level, the best you can usually do is try to find out what those whom you consider your closest competitors charge.

    I typically charge a creative fee that takes my day rate into account but is not expressed to my client as a specific time-based rate. The creative fee will vary with the nature of the assignment and whether the creative fee accounts for the usage license. I may factor the photo usage/licensing into this creative fee or break it out as a separate fee. To this I will add the production costs specific to the assignment. Typical photo usage for architects and interior designers typically includes collateral and publicity usage, as well as submissions for design contests and editorial publication. However, actual usage of the photos by a design competition should only apply if your client wins, and the usage should only be to promote the award itself unless you are charging an additional fee for broader usage; and the photographer should typically be paid for editorial publication, for which the base commission fee may or may not account. Paid placement (advertising) is usually an additional charge that is negotiated separately. The usage may or may not be time and territory limited, depending upon what the client needs and is willing to pay for. Typically, third party usage and transfer of the usage license are not permitted without additional compensation for the photographer and require the photographer's written permission.
    michaelmowery likes this.
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    Owen, as an architectural photographer serving the Washington DC region I can assure you are low balling the market with a number such as $1,300 that's easily $1,500 to $2,500 below what other photographers are charging for the type of work you are describing. You have not done your CODB to come up with that rate, even up in Baltimore cost of living is rather high.

    I wouldn't listen to people like Phil S he refuses to do basic math or have any respect for our craft/services we provide.
    400 per building at 150 buildings?! That's $60.000.

    there are 365 days in a year, here in the mid-atlantic you could say 50% those won't be good for exterior. The going rate for a full time employed corporate photographer in the DC area is $70,000 plus (if you can find an opening) That includes health, retirement, and equipment. Being responsible as a independent business to produce images of 150 buildings around the region will be nothing less than a full time project plus you have all the responsibility of an independent business and it's expenses such as liability insurance, hotels, gas, etc. I know you did not do any viable math calculations with your low bid.

    These pricing questions always boil down to one common denominator and that is the person asking the question doesn't take even the slightest effort to figure out there own Cost Of Doing Business. It's a simple mathematical equation might take you two hours tops if you want to be thorough. Instead of replying why don't you figure out your CODB and report back on that?

    I'm a single guy living extremely modestly no kids, no vacations, rent is very cheap in a very poor part of town - I know for a fact you are way below the DC Baltimore CODB

    It would be great if for everytime someone starts a pricing question thread they would specify their CODB number and how they came to that number so we could understand their question better or where it went astray.

    CODB is not your price it's the absolute lowest you can charge
    michaelmowery likes this.
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    p.s. I've had a couple of prospects ask me to estimate big jobs and call me skeptical I feel that they think you'll reduce your costs in order to get the project or are afraid of big numbers. then when the project comes around it's scaled way down so now your proposal needs to follow suit. Somewhere between a game of Chicken and the classic "we have ten projects for you can you reduce the costs on the first one"

    Just saying, what manufacture truly has and needs 150 separate buildings photographed in a single region?
  5. A couple of very good points have been made here.
    Possibly the most important one is not to try to evaluate the price by what you think is expensive. Most of us think a $4.50 coffee is expensive .
    Your client is a corporate entity. As such, you have (in theory) professionals accustomed to purchasing professional products with other people's money. They choose vendors to make them look good to their bosses.
    Providing great work and advice on a job they may not have much expertise at is enormously valuable to them.
    $60,000 for the job is perfectly reasonable for the reasons others have pointed out. Just as one hamburger maybe $6, ordering one for everybody in Baltimore gets expensive.

    The issue here is not the individual price but rather the quantity the client is asking. In fact maybe they REALLY want all 150 buildings photographed. Or maybe not. You can find that out.

    A couple of years ago my landlord asked me to photograph all his properties in our area. I looked at his shot list and gave him a quote of $17,000. I estimated it would take 4 days to shoot with x images delivered. Another friend was also asked to bid and he quoted $24,000. I got the job.
    I was happy and so was he.

    I bid jobs on a combination of time, travel, quantity of images desired, and usage. All jobs are different.
    The worst is a day rate quote without any modifiers for quantity and usage. IOW Real Estate photography where prices are quoted by the house or square foot.

    Even if you are a beginner you have to charge the right price. Doctors come in all types but they are all expensive.
  6. I will add that the advice I have seen from most successful pros is to compete on value, not on price. Of course cost usually has a bearing, but we should not let it be the main thing on which the client focuses when deciding on a photographer to create some photos for them to use.
  7. I agree that you have to communicate to a client the value of what you're offering and which is something that goes beyond monetary value. You certainly can also make yourself stand out as being more exclusive by charging the highest price compared to competitors. For some consumers the higher the price the more likely they will buy which however still doesn't necessarily mean they will get the best quality. Most consumers will shop around based on price. If money was no object to the business mentioned in the OP they wouldn't have approached a photographer who by his own admission has little experience in the genre. So if you're the photographer in that situation you can decide to either take the job at a heavily reduced price (and see it as a means to build a portfolio) or to bluff your way into it by charging a year's salary for it (compared to the low to mid-range level of a professional photographer's net earnings in a year).

    The Uber model is now also encroaching into photography services. How do you survive as a professional non big shot photographer? 1. indeed by effectively communicating your value and 2. by adapting and not being stuck in old paradigms.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
  8. Photography is also more of a soft service. No-one has ever needed that particular photographer compared to any plumber when in need of either one.
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    I'm sure you can provide examples of companies in the AEC business that are surviving and prospering without any visual marketing material on their website or in their print collateral?

    If I want to fix my toilet I can hire a plumber or I can go to the hardware store, if someone wants a photographer to photograph their space: $3,000 camera, $2,500 lens (1), $5,000 in lights and grip, a vehicle to transport gear, insurance, $5,000 in computer, and software, years of learning software wether at a school or on photo forums/youtube/, etc...

    We provide a service and we should charge a fair wage.
  10. Tell me something I don't know. This doesn't mean that any company looking for a photographer thinks the same way.
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    not sure your point, can you provide examples of companies prospering that don't use visual marketing material in today's world as your post claimed?

    you're the one trying to scare young photographers into thinking they should cut their price and be happy to get any offer available because photography has no value in the business world
  12. I don't know which post it is you're referring to but I haven't claimed or said any such thing.

    I'm not trying to scare anyone but reality can be scary to some I guess. Any young photographer has to be realistic when it comes to pricing their services. Overcharging can be just as damaging as undercutting for the starting photographer in any field. Especially in today's image culture in which photography isn't perceived anymore as the alchemy it used to be. That's not me saying this, it's just simply how it is.

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