Friday, November 16, 2007


Ok so after my post earlier and the talk on the web I had another one fall through again today. The email/phone call discussion goes a little like this.

An editor/picture buyer is looking for a photographer so I call to get details. (I’m not going to say who is was but it’s not a small business but a very large big budget buyer IMO.I get voicemail and leave a message to email or call me with more details of what they need shot.

I get this email:
Hi Bryan. Thank you for getting back to me yesterday, and for following up this morning. Here's what I'm looking for. I need photos of a couple at their residence shot next week. This will include candids of them interacting with representatives from my office and possibly a few posed shots of the two of them. If you're available and interested in the job, I'd like to know what you'd charge. Also, do you charge for travel time, and if so, can you estimate how much that would be for this shoot? Do you provide all images on CD? I'm also happy to answer any questions you might have for me, as well.

I respond with this email:
Thanks for getting back with me.
If needed you can view my work at I am available to shoot on next week. It sounds like a PR, type of assignment.
FYI my fees are based on the creative fee to shoot the assignment and on usage of photos, not on time. Yes I can provide images on CD as well as via email or FTP. I usually do an edit to the best images of the shoot (photographer selects) and provide high resolution JPEG's, cropped, toned and sized ready for use. If you would need something different, just let me know.
So I know the what, where and when of the assignment but have a couple more questions.
What is your deadline to have a photo CD or photos sent by email/ftp?
How would you like the photos delivered?
Who, what company(s) will be using the photos?
How will the photos be used? (i.e. newsletter, website, press kit to newspapers, advertising, promotion)
What rights does your department like to license for the photos? (i.e. one time use, multiple uses)
Do you have a budget for photography associated with this assignment?
I am heading out to shoot an assignment but will look for your email after lunch and then email/call you. After looking your answers over I can email you a contract/estimate for the
I will talk to you soon!
Bryan Mitchell

They send this email:
Hi Bryan. This is indeed a PR-type assignment. We'd likely use the photos multiple times in company (name changed by me) magazines, with a press release, and as a personal gift to the subject. It would only be used by the company (name changed by me), unless another media outlet picked up the story from the press release, which is possible but not very likely. We may also keep the portrait on file and use it in the future. There's no strict deadline, but I think
receiving the photos within a week or so would be great, if that's not too much trouble. Delivery via CD or FTP would be fine -- FTP would be faster, obviously, but if it's more costly, we could wait for a CD. We have several photographers in the area who we often work with
on these types of shoots, and we usually pay about $150 for this kind of assignment.
Hope this helps you come up with the estimate. Let me know if you need more information. Thanks.

I always ask about their budget because many times they will tell you, some don't. Gut it tells you how serious they are. So at this point I know is probably not going to happen.

I send this email:
Attached is my estimate/contract for the photo assignment. It takes into account the creative fee for shooting and all the usage you requested. (unfortunately I can not shoot this type of assignment and usage for $150.00 that you mention) Otherwise if the estimate looks fine to you I would need you to sign the estimate and fax it back to me at (my fax #) along with the details of the assignment like the subjects names, your people, the location, who should be in the photos and confirm the date and time. I will supply a variety of images for you to choose from.CD or FTP does not matter to me. Whatever works for you, FTP is faster I agree. If you have questions please let me know. If you call and reach my voicemail or email I will get back with you by 5:00 PM today. I look forward to working with you! I hope you day is going well.

They send this email and end it:
Hello, Bryan. Thank you for getting back to me with the details. In this case, we are going to go with another photographer after all. I do like your work and appreciate your cooperation, though, so I'm glad we made contact. I will certainly keep your name in my rolodex and be in touch if another shoot comes along that I think you'd be good for. Thanks again. Have a wonderful weekend.

So for $150 they want:

  • A photographer to drive, set up, shoot the assignment, tear down, and drive back.
  • Using your own equipment, overhead.
  • Prepare photos and FTP or burn to CD selects, time and equipment.
  • Use the photos multiple times in different magazine both print and online
  • Send the photos out in press kits to other media outlets
  • Have prints made for the subject
  • Use the photos in the future whenever they want.

In my estimate I said I would do it for $300 plus expenses like mileage and shipping. This is still low. They could have the above uses for 2 years, which is VERY generous. I retain the copyright and no other parties could use the photos. I knew they wouldn’t take it. But it still amazes me buyers don’t even counter offer anymore.

Look I really need the money in these hard times as much as anyone but come on at $150 is basically 0 profits and I might even lose money. Wait I did lose money becasue of having to take time to email, call and write an estimate! Shame on them for only paying someone $150 for this and shame, shame on the photographer who does it!


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2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those cheap bastards!

Gotta love that crap. Luckily you aren't a chump working for a company, they know when you have the equipment and ask for stupid work...paying me with a $25 Meijer gift card is great! When I have to lug in $8k worth of gear...

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$150, that is crazy!

Even $300 is super cheap for what they are asking for, I'm surprised you didn't tell them they can have what they want for $2,000.

Sure, take the photos for us, and let us use them how ever, when ever, and where ever we want...

You're right... Shame on them!

10:25 PM  
Blogger David said...

Thanks for posting your interaction. As a serious amatuer looking to turn pro it is interesting to see how the business really works.

Great decision turning them down! How can you make a living earning $150 for all that work?

1:49 PM  

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