Sending a photography quote out is always a stressful moment, especially if it is for a job you really want. Here are a few memorable reactions from potential clients.
Like most purchases in life, photography has a price range that goes from incredibly cheap to eye-wateringly expensive. I always liken it to food. You can get the cheapest of cheap food from a major supermarket or pay thousands for an extravagant meal from a famous chef. Both are great, but for very different reasons. However, in photography, it would seem like a lot of people do not entirely grasp this concept, so I thought I'd share a few of my experiences.
The blank look of shock and panic over the coffee table as you explain what the client thought would cost $200 is going to cost them $2,000. Even after breaking down the hours required to do the job and explaining that without owning any equipment that it would be less than minimum wage, they still seem shocked at the price.
I now have a document from a rental store in the UK that lists all of my kit and the rental price for what I use daily, which usually far surpasses the quote that I give people. Sometimes, they realize that their expectations were miles out and either align them with my fee, or I often help them find someone who I think could do a good job for less money. However, I have found these people three years later after they got a less than minimum wage photographer and then realized that they have had no return on that small investment, by which point they are happy to spend money on something that will actually help.
That Is (Insert Expletive) Ridiculous
The cost of an item can make some people angry, and this is often directed toward the vendor. To my shock, I have on several occasions had potential clients be aggressive toward me because of the quote I have given them. We have all been there at the bar when it's our round and the bill is three times what you expected, but the difference here is that the drinks haven't metaphorically already been poured. A simple “that isn’t in my price range” would suffice. Going nuts about how expensive they think it is doesn’t really do anything for anyone.
I Can See A Doctor For Less Than That
A few years ago, I gave a very reasonable quote of $500 for a band to have a two-hour sitting in my studio. It was a price that I was quoting for all sittings like it at the time. This particular band was very angry. The spouted that a doctor charged less, which where I live is true. Seeing a doctor for a 20-minute consultation would cost a little less, having them do two hours of work plus an hour's prep and two hours of post-production work however would cost considerably more, and rightly so. Needless to say, they found someone who would happily shoot thousands of images for eight hours solid for the grand sum of $150, which is absolutely fine, as I assume they were happy with them. But why ask someone who clearly charges more and then give a passive aggressive response to them?
The Last Photographer Did It For
The last photographer we used only charged X amount. We weren't overly happy with the work, so we are looking for someone new, but you are four times more expensive. Could you match their price?
This is bizarre, because in no other field would you find a product four times better for the same price as the original item. Photography is a tough one, as we charge a perceived value that is far less tangible than a buying a stack of wood. For some, they do not see the difference or understand that some photographers simply can not produce work of the same quality as others. If someone booked me because I was cheaper than Annie Leibowitz and for no other reason, they would be extremely disappointed when they received my work. But then booking Annie Leibowitz and expecting her to work for the same fee that I would just isn't realistic.
Can We Have a Discount If You Don’t Use Assistants and Stylists
I actually get this a lot. There seems to be an assumption that assistants and stylists are a prop to have in my studio rather than them adding any actual benefit to the shoot. I usually say yes, but then explain how the one-day shoot will now take 2.5 days due to the lack of hands, and that at the reduced rate, it will cost about double and the images won't look as good. These potential clients rarely book.
Why Don't I Own the Images
Usage is a tricky one to explain to anyone who started out in marketing in the last 10 years. Trying to explain that your day rate covers the labor and that they then have to license the image for usage does not go down well. Over the years, I have tried to educate clients, but they usually find someone cheap to do the job instead, which is fine. More recently, I have offered them a day rate with the specific license or a complete buy-out of the image/images if they would prefer. This seems to be far better received and something that I should have started doing years ago.
We Have Lots More Work Coming
This sentence is used in a lot of different ways, but often as a counteroffer to your fee. When they don’t think you are worth what you are charging, the promise of extra work comes up. Now, if someone wants to book more than 10 days in the space of a month, I do offer a small discount, but I also take money upfront, as it is a big chunk of work to be pulled in one go. But if we are talking about one day every other week, I just don't have the room in my pricing to budge on my fee. When I was a bit more innocent, I would often be bowled over by such offers, although I don't ever remember an instance where the additional work materialized.
Can We Pay a Bit More
Businesses, government, and tax years. Every February, I get a heap of requests to offload parts of budget onto photography projects. If it doesn't get spent, they won't get it the following year in the UK, so they need to empty the coffers. This might sound great, but it usually means an ill-thought-out proposal followed by re-shoots and general chaos. Whenever a shoot hasn't been fully thought out, it won't go well.
What reactions have you had to your quotes?