defending response to photo estimate

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by ginny_e, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. I'll try to be brief with the setup:
    I'm looking for advice on how to respond to an email I received after I sent an estimate for an advertising job with a potential client. After a lengthy phone discussion with them about what exactly they were looking for as far as shots, time commitment and usage, I sent them what I feel is an extremely reasonable estimate. Basically after our initial discussion, I gleaned that they want all the photos (which I will still edit out model blinks, bad exposures, and apply my standard set of "make the photo pop" adjustments to) in high resolution, on disc to use for both print and online regional advertising for an unlimited amount of time. Since I would really like to work with them, I quoted them a great price that included a very reasonable fee for shooting time, post production and what is basically a nominal charge for unlimited usage. Here is the response I got:
    "Thank you for sending me the bid. The total is a quite bit more than what we budgeted for this project, so I’m hoping we can lower some of the cost. For example, we can edit the photos here at the office instead of having you do post production. I know you were a little worried about this when I mentioned it last week, but if we don’t get the cost down I can’t afford to work with you. It may also help to know we’ve budgeted to take member photos every other month in 2010, so this will be the beginning of a year long relationship."
    Does anyone have any words of wisdom on how to sell them as to the value of the work I am providing to their advertising campaign and verbage that may help remind them, without being condescending, that I need to make a living too and I won't work for peanuts. I have major scruples about providing raw, unedited images to clients so I'm not too keen on letting them do the editing and post processing. It's not normal to allow clients to do that is it? Also, I am willing to throw a bone their way as to a slight discount for repeat business on future jobs, should I mention that? (Although I'm not stupid enough to give them a discount on this job based on the understanding that they will be repeat customers in 2010. It would probably be wiser to stick to my bid on this one and as they continue to hire me to offer future incentives.)
    Any thoughts and wisdom on this matter are greatly appreciated!
  2. You shouldn’t let them edit them - specially if they dont have the experience you do.

    How about a retainer fee, with monthly or quarterly payments? You can word it as;

    "These are the services that will be provided in a monthly fee of $XXX.00"

    Dont be afraid to ask what he has as a budget - then you can see if it is even worth your time negotiating at all....

    I wont go into a store asking for shoes if they only sell hamburgers....If he isnt willing to pay ANYTHIGN close, then you should not try to get the WHOLE package - but maybe you can work something else in...?

    Repeat work that is guaranteed is great!
  3. Ginny -
    First off - rarely, if ever is your first offer accepted. It sounds like they are trying to negotiate.
    1. If they want to edit - I say let them.... Seriously... You're giving them a CD of the images anyhow right? So what's to stop them if they really want to edit them? Nothing... (Yes, I know all the arguements about editing from Jpeg vs RAW etc... yawn...) Besides - not many product / catalog / etc... photographers do their own edits anyway...
    2. How important is the business to you? Is turning this down - going to break you? Do you have other work to fill in?
    3. A bird in hand is worth 2 in the bush... Guaranteed work is rare in this economy.
    Do as suggested - ask what they have budgeted. The worst they can do is come back and say it's none of your business.
  4. Dave - that made me chuckle - none of your business...I can only imagine that coming from people..considering it is just that - your business...LOL
    you never know with ppl though :)
    I also agree, after thought, drop the edits. If they have the image, they will edit it anyway - your right dave.
  5. David: So most advertising photographers hand over their images straight out of camera?
    My concerns over editing are less about cropping and picking which images as they are with making sure they are color correct, saturation and contrast perfect and so forth. It's hard for me to justify selling them what I consider to be an unfinished product. I feel that it's part of the photographic process and is paramount to the quality of the product I provide. I mean, otherwise, why hire a professional photographer who knows how to optimize their images?
  6. Also, would it be appropriate to provide an example of what a photo looks like straight out of camera vs. an optimized image?
  7. most high end photographers work for a WORK FOR HIRE - which means they own them anyway - if you have the correct lights, you should be alright.
    ask for creative approval or somethign in case your worried---
  8. GIA, Work for Hire means the photographer does NOT own anything, and cannot use the photos for any purpose.
    Few if any pro photographers work in WFH situations, mostly just staff photographers on magazines and newspapers.
    WFH is the worst possible solution to propose for this situation.
    As others have suggested, find out the budget and decide if you can afford to work for that price. If you can't then it's clear they can't afford you.
  9. I know what it means , which is why I said the above - they own them--------meaning the company.....
  10. and i did not suggest it -
    good luck on your endevour
  11. Okay, so here's how I think I will respond:
    -First inquire as to what their budget for a photographer actually is
    -I will most likely cut down the post processing price a bit but I absolutely won't give them straight out of camera images. And I'll explain the importance of this part of the creative process.
    -I will suggest a narrowed shot list so as to spend less initial time shooting.
    -I will offer them the opportunity to purchase the usage for a shorter amount of time. Thus incurring less of an initial cost.
  12. Luck! and a Happy Thanksgiving..
    let us know how it turns out :)
  13. Ginny,
    If I may suggest — cut down your list to this:
    • As how much they can afford to spend on your services for the project.
    • If you feel you can offer them something worthwhile for that amount, put together a revised proposal.
    • If you don’t think you can afford to do anything they would consider worthwhile for that price, politely refuse (and ideally refer them to somebody who you think might be suitable).
    If you offer them a package that doesn’t include post-processing, it would be perfectly appropriate to include with the disc (or whatever) you send them one of the pictures fully processed, and your fee for providing the same treatment to the rest of the pictures.
  14. Ginny, in regards to your last point, if they go over the usage time limit, you can burn your total project revenue paying for a lawyer.
  15. Do your own edit, particularly mistakes, blinks (but not brackets) etc., and renumber the images before handing them over.
    You know how low you can go $-wise, and beyond that, you shouldn't go. Unless you're starving, that is, or desperate to get a job like this for your portfolio.
    The extra carrot of the monthly portraits is likely to also end up with you providing substantial discounts, so bid those accordingly higher. You'll likely be always getting "negotiated" by this client. What guarantee is there that you'll get those extra shoots?
    Clients almost always post-process for printing, so that's not an issue.
    Your error was in being extremely reasonable. A little less reasonable in the future. No matter what the starting price, they'll attack it.
  16. Good thoughts all, thanks a million. I will post on how it all turns out.
  17. More to think about. They want unlimited use of your photos but don't want to pay what you think they are worth. They hint that more opportunities may be forthcoming. And does all the photos on hi-rez disc mean all the photos or just the ones you think are good enough? Hmmm...
  18. Promises of future work based on discounting your price up front rarely work out. Even if the future work does materialize, they will beat you down even more. I know, I've been there. Stick to your terms. I hope it all works out for you.
  19. It sounds like your most serious concern is about someone in their organization botching the postprocessing and then, even worse, blaming you for supplying poor images, ruining your reputation, etc. For this reason, I think that this concern must be explicitly and immediately dealt with in your ongoing discussions with them.
    Find out if it's an organization with little experience in PP, or one with staff members or another organization already under contract to them to handle PP. Your response should depend dramatically on this.
    The more difficult case will be if they have one of their own people doing post processing, but it isn't their "real" job. You would be amazed how many small and not-so-small organizations are like this. If this is the case, or else if it's otherwise clear that they don't have a clue as to the importance of post-processing, I like the earlier suggestion to send them one of your images before and after PP.
    I would add that you should then suggest to them that before they make a decision about who does the PP work, they should consider giving the same raw file to their PP person and see how well they process it. Unless the organization is National Geographic or an organization (or subcontractor) with good PP skills, they can hardly argue with this approach. You might feel that this approach might seem condescending to them, but OTOH, I would argue that it demonstrates your own confidence and might really land you a long term relationship with them, doing even more than just photography.
    FWIW, a few years ago I went through a similar dance with an organization and wound up post processing all of my own images & being paid for that work. Like most non-photographers, their publicity person sat isolated in a cubicle, and thought that if you had a "good camera", your image could go be immediately plopped in their page layout program and be sent straight to the printer. Ha! :-(
    Good luck.
    Tom M.
  20. Above all get a signed contract.
  21. I would ask them what their budget is; having raised the issue themselves and pointed out that they have one they can hardly refuse to tell you.
    Then you can decide what you're prepared to offer for that budget. Fewer photos, perhaps.
    I totally agree that you save the discount for the second and subsequent jobs; otherwise they have a great incentive to pick someone else next time and play the same game on them.
  22. I ran across this article the other day. I think you might find it helpful.
  23. As others have suggested, you need more information before you can intelligently deal with your potential client. What's their best alternative to dealing with you? (I.e., how badly do they need you?) What's your best alternative to getting this deal? (I.e., how badly do you need them? Is there other work available? Is there some reason you boxed yourself in with a very low initial offer?) Do they have to meet some sort of deadline? (That could make them more eager to deal with you, but they certainly aren't going to tell you that up front.) How much do they know about your situation? How much do they expect to gain from the use of your images? (They're probably quite aware of the value of advertising images to them; they just want to see how low they can get you.) The answers to those questions will help you decide whether this deal is worth it, and how much it is worth. Also, it would seem that it's time for them to make an offer to you, not for you to cave in and come up with an offer more favorable to them. If you make them a new offer, you're just giving them more information about your desperation level, and you're learning nothing about them. Read Marty Latz's book on negotiation theory, "Gain the Edge!" for a detailed discussion of how not to negotiate blind.
  24. I copy Alec Myres advice 100%
    Be cool, calm and collected. Be dignified. Don't haggle. Be professional in your response, as though you know what you are worth.
    ... not stand-offish and arrogant. You can do this in a friendly way that is offering to be helpful.
    But you take the shots, you call the shots ... when it comes to commanding respect for your industry.
    Read Alec's words again and do it.
  25. I certainly understand your desire to edit your own images and the ability to bill for the service but you have to think more like a business owner. If the potential client balked at your initial estimate, you must think about their best interest since they are paying the bill. I would make sure that the files are as close to the white balance and tonal curve that you intend and confirm with them that the person editing them has sufficient experience. Discus with them that they will most likely save money by having you edit the images and their person will most likely perform minimum adjustments before going to press. If the client is firm in their position you will need to decide if the shooting fee is acceptable and simply shoot the job and let it go or walk away. As David said, a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.
  26. If you want the business go for it if not I'm sure somebody else will,in these times alot of people are hurting,and would probably jump at this,plus work for the future is always nice!
  27. but it cant just be a verbal promise, or hint...
    get it in writing.
  28. Ginny,
    It boils down to whether you want the job or want to stand on principle. If you want the job, then you're going to have to make concessions, but if you structure this properly, so will you. If you want this job, you probably want the rest, so get them to commit to it. Otherwise they're playing you with a promise that may have no substance at all.
    Think about the big picture.........-Aimee
  29. "If you don’t think you can afford to do anything they would consider worthwhile for that price, politely refuse (and ideally refer them to somebody who you think might be suitable)."
    Wrong move.
    If you should send them to a photographer laking the skills or willing to do no/little PP at a much lower price. Tell them you get what you pay for. If you need to meet the budget # with the terms and conditions you are looking for you need to go to a plop and pop house. You'll get the images but need to reshoot many. Why do auto garrages buy quality tools? They can't afford to have junk. Can they?
  30. As others are noting, it'll come down to how badly you want the work. I've done work for free (not photography, but graphics/3D/design) to get the foot in the door. So far, it has always paid off ten fold.
    If you don't want the work, someone else will, particularly in this economy.
    I'd just do the work, hand over the images and call it a day. You get paid and have a happy client. If you dont' need the work, then don't take it (guessing you want it, or you wouldn't be worried about them wanting to bring the price down).

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