How to Negotiate a Shot List

We have all been there, a client stating how long they need you to do a job with no real understanding of whats required. In this video I go over how to work around this. 

Photography is a very broad area and being a professional photographer doesn't really tell us much more than that you use a camera to make money. Within this there are so many genres, then within each genre there will be photographers who specialize in specific niches. 

When clients come to me, they do so in a few ways. Either with a problem to be solved looking for a cost, which is always a little stressful to calculate. Some come with a clear idea of their budget, but being unsure as to exactly what it is they need. For me personally, this is less stressful as I have a pretty good understanding of my market and I can usual advise pretty well on how to spend that money. Finally, we have those who know exactly what they want, how long they want it to take, and how much money they are willing to spend on it. This can go one of two ways. 

I have clients who I regularly work with that come to me in this manner, they know the price of milk, they understand the time taken, they do a quick check with me to make sure I agree, and off we go. These shoots are a dream, no difficult negotiations, no awkwardness, and a very straight forward shooting day. 

However, not everyone joins this camp. There seems to be a influx of marketing companies who are moving into dealing with photographers as they start to grow. Some of the shot lists for a days shooting that I have seen have required a weeks solid shooting to complete. As frustrating as this is, you can often turn it around to something that leaves everyone feeling happy. In this video I go through my logic in regards to negotiating a shot list. 

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Lee Christiansen's picture

I like clients who ask me how long will it take. They're people who may not know, but are willing to learn.

I'll reply by saying it may typically take X amount of time. I may offer them different options on delivery because not all jobs require the same.

And I'll often suggest a contingency budget in case the job takes longer. So we'll have an expected base rate, but no unhappy faces if circumstances exceed this.

I rarely charge by the hour because people aren't paying me to take photographs - they're paying for a result.

Scott Choucino's picture

yeah contingency budgets are a good shout, then if not used its kind of fun money for the client haha.

Charging by the hour really cheapens what we do. Especially once you get good at it and can do it really fast. Paying for results is certainly the best way to go.