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DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> Pricing for commercial work
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03/29/2010 10:43:46 AM · #1
I just picked up some commercial work and have no idea how to price. I have heard that there are pricing guides available for assignment photography that are based on the type of license (size and placement of image and number of reproductions), but I have not been able to find one for less that $100. I'm curious if anybody has found a guide that is useful.

FYI.. I'm trying to price 3 images to be used on a commercial web site. The assignment took 2 hours to shoot plus one hour of retouching.

Thanks!
03/29/2010 12:41:52 PM · #2
You could simply price it based on your time. I'd recommend using a rate of not less than $50/hr. At that rate, you'd be asking $150.
03/29/2010 12:52:31 PM · #3
Originally posted by kirbic:

You could simply price it based on your time. I'd recommend using a rate of not less than $50/hr. At that rate, you'd be asking $150.

By the hour might be the simplest, and I think pro photographers these days charge somewhere between $50 - %5,000/hr. If you want to price the actual photos (as stock) you can try this Stock Photo Price Calculator. Good luck!
03/29/2010 02:13:25 PM · #4
Thanks guys! I wanted to make sure I came out between $50 and $70 an hour on this, so just pricing by the hour does make the most sense for right now. For the most part I wanted to make sure I didn't under charge because that leaves a less than professional impression and your hourly rate of at least $50 seems like a great place to start.
03/29/2010 03:30:50 PM · #5
Not sure the time taken to get the image is that relevant..... I would be looking for more $$ from an image that Coke intends to use on it's web then an image the local pizza corner shop intends to use :-)
03/29/2010 03:54:46 PM · #6
Originally posted by robs:

Not sure the time taken to get the image is that relevant..... I would be looking for more $$ from an image that Coke intends to use on it's web then an image the local pizza corner shop intends to use :-)

I agree... but when I don't know what either coke are the local pizza shop is paying today it's hard to me to set an appropriate price. Economics says it's what the market, but I have no idea what that is and cannot find any relevant information. So I'm stuck... price to low and I don't seem professional or price too high and I don't get any more work.
03/29/2010 08:33:15 PM · #7
$50 p/h? Pah!

Charging per hour is FOOLISH. If you take your car to a mechanic, and you want it done quicker, do you pay more or less? The per-hour ethos has NO BEARING in commercial photography, except event photography, and if you charge per hour for your commercial work, you're doing it wrong- you may as well bring a barrel and pull down your pants. thing is, per hour, you'll make less as you get better.

Does that compute?

If I had a photog calling himself a professional for $50 an hour, I'd guess his confidence wasn't high, or he wasn't very good, and if his confidence wasn't high, I wouldn't work with them anyways. Assistants? fine, that's a great rate for an assistant.

Per hour = silly, very silly.

Anyway, as for the rate? Depends, how big are the images? How long will they run for? Are you credited? Linked to? supported in any way? I lower rates if I get a link (if it's not as standard, and even then, not by much).

I'd call it $400 with licensing for 12 months on web only, no third party licensing, copyright retention and that's about it.
03/29/2010 08:45:49 PM · #8
Originally posted by Tez:

I'd call it $400 with licensing for 12 months on web only, no third party licensing, copyright retention and that's about it.


Not that I know anything from the selling side, but as a purchaser for websites, I could agree with the $400, but not the 12 month thing. And much depends on how much better your images are than the competition (i.e. microstock). Since you said you spent time shooting them, I assume you shot them specifically for the website project, but then I wonder why you are just now trying to decide how much to charge. Perhaps I need more info.

I definitely agree with Tez on the anti-hourly thing, particularly the point of "you'll make less as you get better" - flat project rates and factors related to the specific market and scope of use (i.e. Coke vs. Bob's Pizza) seem to make more sense.

for what it's worth anyway.
03/29/2010 08:52:33 PM · #9
Thanks Tez... It does compute, but as I said before I have NO idea what market value would be for this type of work. And... while I didn't clearly state this before, I wouldn't give an invoice that says 3hrs @ $50 per hour. I think the hourly rate idea was to help me establish a price since I had nothing else to go on. This is why I'm hear asking the question...

Since you mentioned it, there is one large image, maybe 500x200 for a main page and two smaller portraits, maybe 150x200 to be used on supporting pages. I did not ask ask for credit or links to my site and I feel that is appropriate given what I was shooting and how it will be used. The license is only for web use and they will come back to purchase a license for use in print media if the campaign expands in that direction.
03/29/2010 09:03:44 PM · #10
If you shot specifically for their project, personally, I would not charge less than $250 for the web use, but I would give them half a dozen or so from the shoot for that price and let them use what they want. Not seeing relevance in sizes for web use either if they are specifically licensed for the web not print.

As a side note - something I had to learn the hard way (like most people) - when you are trying to figure out an hourly rate, even to come up with a project fee, you have to consider many more tasks involved: travel time, billing and administration, time spent on sales & marketing to get the deal, etc. Usually when you factor all that in, your hourly rate starts looking like the federal minimum wage. ;-)

...whatever happened to Prof_Fate?? I feel like I am channeling him.
03/29/2010 09:08:36 PM · #11
Originally posted by Art Roflmao:

Since you said you spent time shooting them, I assume you shot them specifically for the website project, but then I wonder why you are just now trying to decide how much to charge. Perhaps I need more info.

I'm sure to get some crap for this, and might deserve it, but I'll give you the honest answer and maybe it will help some other people as they end up in this situation.

I got a call from a company in a large city, about an hour away from me, asking if I could shoot some portraits for their web site. The store is about a specific individual that benefited greatly from their product and she just happens to live in my town. They were looking at photographers in the area and liked my work. The work was within my comfort range, so I took the project. It was clearly that the individual driving the campaign had worked with commercial photographers and they asked if I needed a check at the shoot or if I would want to bill them. At that moment I had no idea what to charge and I wasn't about to ask the client... so I bluffed and said I would bill them when the work is done. Bad practice yes, but I have the job and I have no doubt they will pay typical commercial rates. Real life isn't always by the book and sometimes you have to take risks. I have heard many people refer to pricing guidelines for commercial work and figured I would look up the rate and stay on the lower end of the scale. But... I cannot find these pricing guidelines I've heard about and now I'm asking help.
03/29/2010 09:09:11 PM · #12
PF canceled his account here because he had to work harder to pay the bills... ;-)
03/29/2010 09:27:55 PM · #13
Originally posted by Nusbaum:

I'm sure to get some crap for this,

I'd be the last guy to give you crap for it - I probably would have done exactly the same thing. Now part of me thinks that if they have worked with commercial photogs and were ok with you billing them without even asking how much, I would lean toward the higher end - $400 - $500 and see if they balk at that.
03/29/2010 09:30:22 PM · #14
Originally posted by pineapple:

PF canceled his account here because he had to work harder to pay the bills... ;-)

His hourly rate for providing photography business advice on DPC worked out to about -$100/hr. <-- red

He was a great asset to the site though. I miss his responses to these threads.
03/30/2010 12:47:02 AM · #15
I do commercial photography for web sites/brochures as a side business and charge by half days (except for property photography). Any job is minimum half day and approx. 500 USD. The customer then get to download his own images on a password protected website. Keep in mind that this is in Norway where prices are somewhat higher than in the US.

I thought this was going to be a business that would just give me enough $$ to cover my own gear. But as it turns out I keep getting more and more requests and find it difficult to balance it with my full time job and family. February alone (my best month so far in 5 years of doing this) brought in around USD 4500 - in addition to my full time job :D
03/30/2010 01:09:31 AM · #16
Originally posted by Art Roflmao:

Now part of me thinks that if they have worked with commercial photogs and were ok with you billing them without even asking how much, I would lean toward the higher end - $400 - $500 and see if they balk at that.

I totally agree. And when you tell them your fee, be bold and be confident. As long as you're realistic and know you can deliver, it will always work for you. People know that they usually get what they pay for, so if you're too cheap you place yourself in the lower end.
03/30/2010 02:44:22 AM · #17
Originally posted by TrollMan:

I thought this was going to be a business that would just give me enough $$ to cover my own gear. But as it turns out I keep getting more and more requests and find it difficult to balance it with my full time job and family. February alone (my best month so far in 5 years of doing this) brought in around USD 4500 - in addition to my full time job :D

I am moving to Norway. Do you have a spare room, TrollMan?
03/30/2010 03:11:04 AM · #18
Originally posted by TrollMan:

Originally posted by Art Roflmao:

Now part of me thinks that if they have worked with commercial photogs and were ok with you billing them without even asking how much, I would lean toward the higher end - $400 - $500 and see if they balk at that.

I totally agree. And when you tell them your fee, be bold and be confident. As long as you're realistic and know you can deliver, it will always work for you. People know that they usually get what they pay for, so if you're too cheap you place yourself in the lower end.


Thank you for sharing with us... I have a website to which i have to add shopping cart facility. How much money i need to spend for that??
Can you please reply me if you know...
Thanks in advance for any kind of reply.....

Message edited by author 2010-03-30 03:12:19.
03/30/2010 03:39:03 AM · #19
Originally posted by Art Roflmao:


I am moving to Norway. Do you have a spare room, TrollMan?

Sure - come on over. But then you would have to put up with living in the forest. I'm sure it would be terrible. 21.gif scarbrd actually stayed in 'your' room once.

Trollman's humble abode:
Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_863882.jpg

ETA: View from the kitchen:

Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_847241.jpg

Message edited by author 2010-03-30 03:42:22.
03/30/2010 12:22:56 PM · #20
here's a handy-dandy tool for calculating your hourly rate.

i always look at work from two perspectives: how i value it and how the client values it. first, i have to get enough details for me to accurately determine what's involved, so that i can calculate a production cost. then i find out exactly how they want to use what i give them. next, ask the client what their budget is. the client is probably thinking of just the bottom line number, and that's ok. i separate out the shooting from the usage and evaluate both independently to come up with my number. then i'm able to decide if their number will work for me, or if i need more.

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