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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Photos for work - should I charge?
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03/24/2003 02:37:47 PM · #1
People at my work have recently realized that I am an amateur photographer. Many have seen my work, and think it is pretty decent. Of my own initiative, I took several pictures of our new brewery.(example)They liked them and paid to have 12x18 prints made to put up in our offices.

I have now been asked to take a photo shoot of a display and some promotional items to be used for an upcoming promotion. I will mostly use my own equipment (camera, tripod, lighting), but the shoot will be on company time, in our warehouses. Here is my question:

Should I charge and if so, how much?

I know that is a hard question to answer, but any comments or feedback based on similar experiences would be greatly appreciated.

Message edited by author 2003-03-24 14:38:14.
03/24/2003 02:44:26 PM · #2
I would think that if taking pictures isn't part of the job they are already paying you for then you should definitely be compensated for your work even if it is on their time.
03/24/2003 02:45:17 PM · #3
You may not be able to ask for pay for the photos if you are doing them on company time...
03/24/2003 02:46:37 PM · #4
Tough question. I would say do a market survey in your area of freelance or architechtural/promotional photographers. Then, decide the minimum of what you think you are worth, and come up with a commesurate price.
I did that in my area of studio and on-location portrait photographers, and then prices according to that range, keeping in mind the cost of my supplies.
Hope this helps.
:0)

Also, my company just asked me to photograph for some promotions in the studio where I work. They paid me by the hour per usual for the time I spent there, and then I billed them for the prints.

Message edited by author 2003-03-24 14:48:23.
03/24/2003 02:47:58 PM · #5
I would try and get "/ photographer" added to your job title... Your boss will likely do that in a heartbeat and it could open a door down the road.

Since you are already an employee, you probably couldn't get "extra" pay. Just a guess though.
03/24/2003 02:50:58 PM · #6
Let's take another similiar example. Let's say you are a brewer at the brewery and you have been doing Toastmasters on the side for your own benefit and enjoyment. If the PR department asks you (as a fairly good amateur public speaker) to do an interview during company time with a reporter at your warehouse, would you charge them?

My opinion is that just because photography isn't your main job fucntion, if you can do it and it's on company time and you agree, you are just doing your job, not anything more.
03/24/2003 02:54:36 PM · #7
Please note that if it is "on company time" the company will own the copyrights to the photos as a "work for hire."
If you want to own the copyrights on the photos you should/must have a separate (written) contract with them for this project specifying everyone's rights, responsibilities, and compensation.
I highly suggest cruising over to the US Copyright Office, and also to Nolo Press, purveyors/publishers of (good)legal books for the "do it yourselfer."
03/24/2003 03:00:31 PM · #8
yes, this is a tricky situation. I think it all depends on the relationship you have with your employers. I think mygyl's suggestion is excellent and if you want to try for that I would still encourage you to present it in a formal letter even if you and your boss are good friends. They could easily claim that it was done as a part of our job, but it's definitely worth a try. Good luck!
03/24/2003 03:11:53 PM · #9
I distinctly remember one of my former employers asking me if it was alright if I moved some boxes around when we were moving office...as they said, they hired me to make maps (I'm a digital cartographer) and not to move boxes around. It really depends on your contract...if it says anything about general help, you're most likely obliged to do some photography if they want it. Still, you're not typically expected to use your own equipment.

I see an opportunity to *write off the cost of your camera and equipment* on your next income tax statement, as a business-related expense. Have your employer write up an invoice for the work and attach it to your T4. Drool...can you say Canon 1Ds?

Also, as myqyl stated, having photogrpahic work on a CV is never bad, and can open up freelance work for you.
03/24/2003 03:27:44 PM · #10
Congratulations! You're a pro now! Ask to see what other photographers of your
calibre are getting for their work and charge that, or perhaps a little less since
you are just starting.

But please, for those who are professional photographers trying to make a living: Please
do charge! Would they hire a plumber and ask for the work to be done for free?
This is your work! You're an artist! Charge!

david


03/24/2003 04:50:23 PM · #11
Thanks for all the replies. I am however still thouroughly confused about what to do.

The fact that it is on company time, leads me to believe that I should not charge.

On the other hand, I am using my own equipment and my expertise (photography not being a skill for which I was hired), as well as the countless hours I have spent on DPC trying to learn proper photography techniques (wouldn't it be great if somebody payed for that). For this I feel I should charge.

I want to do this, as it is a great way for me to start my photo career, as it were, but I don't want to set a precedent of being easy.

What to do, what to do?
03/24/2003 05:02:00 PM · #12
It really depends on two things; do you want to own or merely use these photos, and do you want to become truly "pro" -- which will involve changes in your tax status, require licensing, sales taxes, etc.

I would offer the following deal:
1) You get a perpetual, non-exclusive, unlimited-use license for the photos, but they own them and can use them however they want as well, without further compensation.
2) They attach a standard photo credit to printed reproductions, and give you a few copies for your own promotional use.
3) They reimburse you a small amount for materials and incidental expenses (CD-R, electricity) related to getting them the files. If they want you to edit and prepare the images, you should agree on an hourly rate and total limit ahead of time -- they are then hiring you as a freelancer/independent contractor to edit the images you took for them as a "regular employee."

It sounds complicated, but I think it will actually simplify all the legal relationships in the long run...
03/25/2003 09:55:16 AM · #13
Let me see if I get this straight...

I was not hired as a photographer. If I take photos on company time, but using my equipment, who owns the photos? It seems to me that I own those pictures, since it was done on my stuff. I see that they would not have to pay me for my time, but if they want to own and use the files, should they not have to pay for them.

Now, it is possible that I might need to do some stuff at home. For this they would definitely have to pay me extra. What is the going rate for a starting photographer.

Thanks again.
03/25/2003 10:01:06 AM · #14
Why not talk these points over with your employer. You never know how they will look at it until you ask.
03/25/2003 11:10:50 AM · #15
Certain companies have in their company policies that any ideas/products/things generated during company time and on company property become the property of the company unless other wise stated. If you want to hold the rights to the images you better make sure up front.

To really eleviate the problem of pay. Ask for the day off without pay (usually possible in a company) and then set a rate for the shoot.

Dave
03/25/2003 11:17:28 AM · #16

I'm sure that among the skills listed as requirements when you applied for this job, they didn't state 'photography'. This is a separate line of work entirely.

For me personally, deciding on whether to charge for the 'service' you're providing or not would depend on how much time you would actually have to spend taking the photos. If it's just a basic morning shoot (for example), I'd do it for nothing, but if you're talking about something that could last for days I'd definately consider charging them. It would also depend on how difficult the work was too, I suppose. And if you had to do any extra work outside normal work hours I would DEFINATELY charge.

If I were you I'd phone around a few local photographers and get some quotes for how much they'd charge to do this sort of thing themselves. After all, if you refused to take the photos yourself they'd have to call someone else in to do the job anyway. This might give you a better idea of whether to ask for money or not.

With regards to the 'ownership' of the photos, I have a feeling that the company would still legally own any work you do for them, regardless of the equipment it's done with, as long as it's done on company time.


Hope this helps.
03/25/2003 11:45:09 AM · #17
Originally posted by pixar:

With regards to the 'ownership' of the photos, I have a feeling that the company would still legally own any work you do for them, regardless of the equipment it's done with, as long as it's done on company time.

I agree, that's why I suggested having them license them back to you, maybe with the limitation that you can't sell them to a competitor.
03/26/2003 01:59:21 AM · #18
Originally posted by KarenB:

Also, my company just asked me to photograph for some promotions in the studio where I work. They paid me by the hour per usual for the time I spent there, and then I billed them for the prints.


The excitement I showed in this post has unfortunately been squashed.
I sold them the prints, but they recinded on the payment that was in agreement. I am very upset about them having taken advantage of me. We all live and learn. This time I learned that you need a written contract no matter who it is. I don't believe I will be interested in doing business for this "client" again in future.

Just a warning along the lines of "side business with your employer".

:0(
03/26/2003 02:57:12 AM · #19
I'm really sorry Karen, it must make it a little strange to be working there. Perhaps you can add a "personal notation" to your personnel file, so you have a contemporaneous record of events for the future...
03/26/2003 04:39:03 AM · #20
Originally posted by jimmythefish:

I see an opportunity to *write off the cost of your camera and equipment* on your next income tax statement, as a business-related expense. Have your employer write up an invoice for the work and attach it to your T4.


Note that you don't actually have to be paid for your equipment to be a business-related expense; there just has to be reasonable belief that the product/service/whatever is actually saleable, i.e. you are pursuing a viable business opportunity.
03/26/2003 07:02:21 AM · #21
I have been in this position many times. It is difficult.

GeneralE makes many valid points. Ownership of the images will be an issue. I took a photo 25 years ago that is still in wide commercial circulation today and I earned nothing - ouch. Other employees have taken images of our engineering projects, then they have changed jobs and continued to make use of the images claiming the projects as their own - double ouch. Finally, we took images on a government project and used one image for the agency's cover of their own staff magazine, in which we placed a $5,000 advertisement. Subsequently, we were reprimanded under the government's rules for taking a picture of their asset without their written permission (highly debatable) - triple ouch.

At the hospital where my wife works, they pay an employee for semi-professional photography work. But, then, they often ask her to bring in one of my Nikon D1x cameras to shoot events too, so they can avoid paying anyone. We agree willingly as they are a good employer and offer her other forms of reimbursement (flexible time off). As well, they use the paid employee regularly, so he is not really hurt either. In all cases, they demand title to the images.

You must make the final call on this question yourself as you are in the situation and can "feel" what is best to do. But, it might be easier and best to avoid it all together. Sorry that I can not offer a more precise answer.
03/26/2003 11:41:12 AM · #22
This is happening to me in a somewhat similar fashion. I'm not hired to take photos, but I'm beginning to now, so I had a talk with my department head (my boss), and he is probably going to include this in my job description now. So while I won't be "paid" for my work, I essentially am because it is now a part of my "job."
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