Pricing for group shot and 75 head shots

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by christal|1, Oct 2, 2014.

  1. Hello! I'll soon be shooting pictures for an arts organization of about 75 members. I'll take a group shot and then individual head shots. I just came from photo school (Part 1), which didn't discuss the business side of things (that's Part 2), so I'd like some guidance about what to least a range.
    I am actually shooting this pro bono, which is my way of contributing to them instead of making a contribution to their annual fund. And frankly, being fresh out of photo school, I'm trying to establish contacts, and if this goes well it will give me a good start on that. But I want to place a value on my time for tax purposes, since donations to this non-profit organization are tax deductible.
    The group has a retreat on Oct. 11, and I'll be there shooting basically the entire day from 9:00-3:00 or 4:00. In addition, since some of the people won't be at the retreat, we've identified another day for me to do 'make-up' head shot sessions. I will be transporting all of my lighting equipment to their venue (twice), and I'll be doing the editing for all the shots.
    I have no idea how to place a value on that. I was thinking in the range of $1000-1500. Is that way off base? I would appreciate your help.
    Although I am not a seasoned professional with a lot of experience, I had a lot of studio experience this summer at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography....a 3-month 9-12-hour-a-day summer intensive program. So though I don't have a reputation yet as a photographer, I don't want to sell myself short because of that. I saw the head shots this group had taken last year, and I know I can do a better job than that. They paid him a fee, though I don't know how much.
    Please advise.....and thanks for your time.
  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    But I want to place a value on my time for tax purposes, since donations to this non-profit organization are tax deductible.​

    See page 6 of this document.
  3. I am sure someone else will know this better than I but I am fairly sure that you can't deduct time donated to a charity. Only actual expenses, such as paper and film. Your mileage is deductible too.
    Please check with an expert on this but I am pretty sure you are heading for shoals if you try to deduct your time.
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I am sure someone else will know this better than I but I am fairly sure that you can't deduct time donated to a charity.​

    That's what the link I posted (to a government document) says. See my response above.
  5. We must have posted at the same time. Good to have the right document.
  6. Jeff.....Well, it was a good idea while it lasted! :) Thanks for the link. I guess the bottom line is our tax advisor. We'll ask him what can be deducted as I try to start my fledgling photography business. I know you have to turn a profit within so many years.
    Okay, even if I can't place a value on my time, I'm still curious approximately how much someone would charge for this type of job. Do you have any ideas?
  7. Rick....yes, I see that now. Thanks for your response! Do you know who I could consult or if there is an online guide for pricing? I'd still really like to know about what someone would charge for a job like this.
  8. If the school you went to was a commercial art school for and didn't offer even basic courses in business I think that is
    malpractice and unethical. Hopefully you won't be paying off student loans for the rest of your life.

    If you are in the USA, look up a local Small Business Adnministration to find courses and mentors.
  9. There usually is a sliding scale for head shots. 75 people a $100 per person is fair. You can offer up to 50% discount for a non profit organization.
  10. it


    In addition to biz advice, make sure you have a step ladder for the group shot.
  11. Ellis, they do offer extensive business classes and accounting, web design, marketing....and on and on. But that's in the 2nd part of the course, and I could only take the 1st part because I had to return to work after my Sabbatical. So I plan to take that next summer. Also, the program is outstanding (Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, MT), but it isn't a 4-year college degree like Brooks Institute. (And it doesn't have Brooks price tag either!) It's a 3-month summer intensive.....9-12 hours per day. I learned a LOT, but not everything yet obviously. If I had stayed for the entire program, it would have been 6 months. So anyway, I just haven't learned all of the business stuff yet!
  12. Michael....gosh, that sounds like a lot of money, but that's encouraging. I'm doing this pro bono, but if I were to charge, I wouldn't charge that much until I get more experience under my belt. But it's nice to get a ball park idea. Of course, I see that you're in NYC, and I imagine everything costs much more there than in the Midwest. But I appreciate your info! Thanks!
  13. Ian......good advice......especially because I'm short! Thanks!
  14. <Of course, I see that you're in NYC, and I imagine everything costs much more there than in the Midwest.>
    Which is my point. You really can't ask for pricing on a forum where everyone is located all over the world. You need to find out in your own geographical location. If you are happy only charging $20 per person then do so. Yes experience also is factored in pricing.
  15. Get enough money so that you can buy us a camp dinner in the Smokies! LOL... Mike
  16. Hi Christal, glad to see you've made it through part 1 of the course.

    Don't underestimate how huge this job is. Shooting 75 people is an enormous task. Even if you only spend ten
    minutes with each person (which I would consider the minimum), that's 12.5 hours of straight shooting without any
    breaks and assuming nobody shows up late or takes a little longer than average.

    Then you have all the shots from 12.5 hours of shooting to edit and sort through. Presumably you will be retouching
    the final selects, so that's 75 retouching jobs unless you plan on farming that out to someone else. If you are doing
    this pro-bono as a way to drum up some business, you need to deliver really polished final shots, otherwise it's not
    worth it.

    This is going to keep you busy for a long time. $100/person is quite cheap. I break my estimates into the various
    tasks and charge fees for online delivery, retouching, shooting, mileage, assistant, license (which with head shots is
    usually very broad). Even if you charged a bargain-basement price of $25/shot for retouching, that's $1875 in
    retouching alone — and who can argue with that? I don't think you could get a college student to retouch a photo for
    less than $25.

    I'm not in a market anywhere near the size of New York and I would consider $10k the absolute floor for a job like
    this. For a little perspective, I shoot quite a few commercial portraits for trade magazines and $1500 for a single portrait
    without travel expenses is pretty normal. Generally, they are a little more involved than a headshot, but not much.
    Also, because of employee turnover, businesses frequently need to shoot new headshots. The price you set with
    this job will be used when this client needs just one or two new shots next year.

    If you are working for businesses as a business, you need to get rid of the price model you have as a consumer and
    employee. As a business owner you will have a LOT more expenses, self-employment tax, no retirement matching,
    gear depreciation, etc. $1500 for a huge job like this is completely unsustainable. I often suggest people do a price
    survey for non-photographic business-to-business services as a way to reorient their pricing perspective. What
    would a commercial auto mechanic charge for a job that takes this long? How much do businesses pay for CAM
    (Common Area Maintenance) on their buildings? How much do they pay for HR software and support? Once you
    start doing this, you'll see that $10k for a job like this is not that much money, especially considering how much use
    a business is able to get from a headshot and how important they are.
  17. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    She's not charging for the job. Read the original post. It's pro bono and she's just looking for a cost estimate, at least initially for the wrong reason but later changed. All this doom and gloom about her financial life is irrelevant.
  18. I understand that Jeff and addressed it. Nevertheless, she asked how we would price the job, which is the
    question I answered.

    What doom and gloom are you talking about? I don't think I mentioned her financial life — I did mention
    expenses, which at least in my experience are a pretty important part of determining how to price jobs.
    Maybe you do it differently.
  19. 10 minutes is a long time for someone to sit getting a headshot. 4 Minutes is more than enough for the most awkward person most people can be shot in 2 minutes. Full body shots or environmental shots can take longer of course but basic head shots there is not much positioning to do other than turn this way or tilt your head. 10 minutes is over kill in my opinion.
  20. I also charge up to $1,200 for one headshot and I don't feel I have to spend more than 5 minutes with them because of the $. They are paying for the know how not the time.
  21. In any case Mark is right it is a very big job to shoot for free. Just because it is non profit is no reason to offer free services. You can give them a discount but at least charge something.
  22. More power to you Michael — I've never been comfortable scheduling shots that tightly.

    There is definitely a history of great photographers working quickly. I was once photographed by Marc
    Hauser in Chicago. This was back in the film days. He took four exposures and told me he had it (he did). I
    still have that print on my bookcase.

    I also had the good luck to spend some time with a man in Texas who worked on some of the old Marlboro
    ads for Leo Burnett. He had all sorts of stories about photographers, including Ernst Haas who apparently
    would complain about 'bullshit photographers' always asking for 'one more shot' over and over. He said
    Haas would show up, find the shot, make a few exposures and call it good.

    You gotta respect that.
  23. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    In any case Mark is right it is a very big job to shoot for free.​

    I don't know how anyone on the internet can presume to know enough about someone they don't know to decide how much that person should or should not donate to an organization they care about. I know people who give away over half their income and work for months at a time for causes they believe in. Right now, I'm donating a lot of time to a local organization that builds low income housing because they had a fire they destroyed some of their construction. If anyone, especially a random person on an internet forum, was arrogant enough to tell me how much time and energy I should put into trying to improve the world, I would respond with stuff that wouldn't fly on

    Maybe I'm careful about how I choose my friends, everyone I know has been incredibly supportive. But most of them spend some of their time trying to make the world a better place rather than thinking about how to make the most money.

    Hopefully Christal will do what she thinks is right, ethical, and productive for her rather than thinking about how much money she can make.
  24. For the record, I didn't suggest she shouldn't shoot the job pro bono.
  25. Mark she said she was shooting it for free. You said it was a big job and I agreed.
    Jeff she did not post that this was a save the world charity kind of thing where she wanted to give her heart felt time. I am all for that as well. She asked what one would charge but was reluctant to charge for reasons that she described and went on to say she would rather make contacts for future personal gain in her business. Not exactly what you are implying in your last post.
  26. Okay, guys, here is a little more info. Yes, it IS a big job....probably bigger than I realized when I agreed to do it. But I do have a passion for this group. This is a men's exceptional one in which my own son sings. I know a lot of the guys in it, and they have been following my photographic journey. Though it's a non-profit and they do have to watch the bottom line, they offered this job to me thinking I may want the experience, being fresh from photo school. We discussed what they wanted, they asked if I felt confident doing a job like this, I showed them some of the work I did this summer, and I decided that I would do it. They offered to pay me, but I just decided I would do it for free.....originally hoping that I could write it off on taxes, which turns out not to be the case. Though I'm a perfectionist (by profession as a classical violinist) and intend to do a great job for them, I also realize that doing a big job like this (under pressure with time constants and all day long of shooting) is something I haven't had experience with. So I'm doing this as much for the experience as I am for the connections. And by so doing, I'm helping out people who mean a lot to me. Since I've been home from school, I've already had 3 people or families contact me about doing their portraits, just by word of mouth. I have no idea what to charge them either.....gosh, I really wish I had taken the business portion of the school. But I know there are online resources, and I'll also get online and take a look at what some photographers are charging.
    FYI.....I can't shoot each guy for 10 minutes because I have a concert of my own at 5:30 on that day. They realize the time constraints. I was planning on 4-6 minutes per person, and I've asked if 8-10 of them could start earlier at 9:00. If I'm set up and ready to go, and get someone to facilitate the flow so there are no long waits, I'm confident it will be long enough for me to get several good shots.
    At any rate, I appreciate the dialog about this. It's interesting for me to 'hear' different perspectives. Thank you gentlemen!
  27. ML M......Mike, you're ON! :) I'll call you soon!
  28. Christal, If you are confidant enough to take the job you should be confidant enough to accept payment that they have offered. It is a payed learning experience. This in no way diminishes your passion for this organization.
  29. A bit of wisdom from a really old guy. Don't undercharge because of your lack of experience -- it is really hard to raise your price later. If there are other photographers in your community, you need to work with them. When I was doing this back in the day one of my best sources of work were my colleagues. Though we might seem competitors, we would work as assistants for each other and provide a surge capability when one of us could not cover a job. To get experience offer to work with the others as an apprentice. Never undercut the price that others in the community charge -- that is a disservice to everyone. One of the big mistakes photographers make getting into the business is not understanding the business. Taking the picture is a small part of the "business" of photography. Like any other business you have all of the administrative costs and more than your share of customer relations costs. It is easy to estimate the direct costs, but it is the indirect costs that will eat you alive and make the difference between success and failure. If a customer cannot afford to pay you, there is no reason for you to subsidize their costs.
  30. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Don't undercharge because of your lack of experience​

    Does nobody read the OP's stuff any more?
    it is really hard to raise your price later​

    I'd like to see some hard evidence on this. There is plenty of evidence that says the opposite. Most people I know took low cost or free jobs starting out.
    Never undercut the price that others in the community charge​

    Unless "the community" is taking care of fledgling photographers, there is no reason to do things for "the community." This is business and people can do what they want. There's no union or professional association enforcing pricing.
    If a customer cannot afford to pay you, there is no reason for you to subsidize their costs.​

    1. There are plenty of reasons including charitable ones. 2. Some photos requiring access are quite sellable to a variety of clients and getting access as a trade is a good deal. I made thousands of dollars from individual fight images while agreeing to shoot free for a gym that gave a lot to the kids in the area.
  31. Jeff, my advice was general and based on years of experience. Try raising your price to a customer you've dealt with for years. It is far easier to price reasonably and offer a discount than to set the price lower and raise it. My experience is that the "community" does a pretty good job of taking care of fledgeling photographers and squashing those that don't want to be members of the club. Doing something for charity has no relationship to subsidizing a customers' expense. The two should not be confused. You confuse shooting for yourself as the customer and shooting for the customer. I used to do a lot of travel photojournalist work. The magazines I shot for did not really pay much more than expenses -- but I got rights to many of the images and all of the ones they didn't use. I would accept these assignments to get the other shots -- but in that case I was a "customer" as well. You conflated my discussion in ways that it was never intended.
  32. time! :) I'll start researching the local area's pricing. Thanks!
    E.J......advice accepted. Thank you! I realize what you say is true about so many other factors being involved in pricing. Fortunately, I don't need to make a living at photography. I'm in the position of being able to shoot what I want when I want, but making some money in the process wouldn't be such a bad thing! :) Mostly, I just want projects that fulfill me in some way.
    Jeff.... As in your situation, I think doing charity (or pro bono) work can lead to good more ways than one. I'm actually going to shoot for an organization called Help-Portrait.... And I'm exploring a couple of other options as well for donating my services to worthy causes.
    Thank you all!
  33. Christal, a good thing to do. Doing something pro bono, makes you a good person to everyone. Cutting rates rarely makes real friends and can hurt you in the long run.
  34. Christal, a good thing to do. Doing something pro bono, makes you a good person to everyone. Cutting rates rarely makes real friends and can hurt you in the long run.
  35. Hi Christal,
    I read your passage for doing a 75 Headshots to a corporation which is a huge undertaking, you were fortunate to have a few people offer great advice. Michael for example seemed quite experienced in this area... Now, that I assume you went ahead and did it! What did you learn from it? What would you have done differently?
    Thanks for sharing,

Share This Page