Why I Won't Ever Price-Match

In this video, I talk about my rejection rate for jobs and my ethos on pricing and price matching. I also go over a real-life quote that I sent off and got rejected for and give a breakdown as to why this happened. 

When you are in full-time employment, unless you work on a sales team, you may well be completely unaware of how many times your company gets rejected for new jobs, and you will continue to plug away at your workload without any additional stress. Once you become a professional photographer, you have sight of the entire company, and it can be terrifying for those of us who were blissfully unaware before. 

We also find that on social media, photographers talk about the jobs that they get, not the jobs that they get rejected for, and boy, do we get rejected for a lot of jobs. In this video, I give a full breakdown of the number of quote requests I get, the number of rejections and/or times where I am completely ignored, as well as my success rate. I then go on to break down a real quote that I sent out that I got rejected for and talk about why I think I got rejected and why I decided not to price-match. 

I think that this ethos for photography business can be scaled up and down depending on where you are in your career currently, and it can certainly help make sure that you don't end up being busy for the sake of it without making real money.

How do you deal with quotes and price-matching?

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19 Comments

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Honestly, I wish ALL photographers did what Scott does, it would get rid of the bottom-barrel feeder clients and get them to understand, hey, we don't work for minimum wage, or worse, for "exposure" or "likes" on IG!

Cool Cat's picture

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

sam dasso's picture

I normally don't watch videos, but this title intrigued me. I have retail business and I never match competitor prices not do I ask for the price match when I shop product or service for my personal use. I was wandering who would ask for the price match for photography. Didn't get answer to that, but I think I have an answer why 16 out of 17 potential customers rejected Scott's quote. If I wanted to hire a photographer to take pictures of my products and got a quote asking licence fee for the results of the job I'm paying for, I would just ignore the quote. If I payed you I would expect full copyright and I would allow you to use some of the pictures for your portfolio only. Total amount you are asking for the job is irrelevant. If I have the budget and if I think I get my money worth, I will hire you. But if you insult me by asking for license fee for the product I'm paying you for, I would find somebody else to do a job.

Pete Whittaker's picture

In commercial photography, negotiating licensing is not insulting; it's normal and based usage.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Sorry it's not an insult, and if you'd interpret it as such, I wouldn't want to work with you even if you DID agree to the terms.

Photographer owns the copyrights to all images he/she captures, in most areas / countries of the world, and the client does, in fact, need permission from the photographer to use the images in certain ways, and potentially pay licensing fees for them.

This is normal. Your belief that asking for this is an insult, is what's actually an insult to photographers.

Mike Ditz's picture

Sam, do you hire photographers for commercial type work?

sam dasso's picture

No, I don't. But if I did, I would never agree to the licensing fee. If I hire a plumber (licensed professional unlike photographer) to build or rebuild my bathroom I don't want to pay for license to use it. If I commission an artist (real creative unlike a photographer) to paint my portrait I do not want to pay for the license to hang it on my wall.I'm pretty sure that I could find somebody to take pictures of my products for reasonable prices and have full copyright to the images that result from a service I payed for.

Mike Ditz's picture

Yes I am sure you will find one.

rob ashcroft's picture

One (there are many) of the things wrong with the capitalist economy is that everyone has got so fixated on the cost of anything that it destroys other important aspects of a transaction, such as quality. Customers want the cheapest possible but still want quality.

Jan Holler's picture

That's very true! And it's true, not only with regard to photography, but with regard to any profession as a self-employed person. The higher your quota is, the higher your reputation is (if you deliver, of course). That's a pity, but that's the way it works most of the time.
My questions are: Will you explain your prices? And if so, how detailed? What about customers who try to take advantage of you and become harsh or sometimes even insulting if you politely stand up for your interests?

Mike Ditz's picture

Those are "usually" the lower end clients.
Ad agencies and large corporations are aware of what things cost.

Jan Holler's picture

Agreed, but photographers have also clients as architects, artists, organizers of cultural events, individuals, small newspapers, governmental agencies and so on. Not all large companies have departments and people there who behave as you say. I am still interested in the answers to my questions. Would like to know how to avoid critical situations.

AC KO's picture

I’m happy to see your estimate included a licensing fee of 13,500 Pounds! Many commercial photographers skip this part, or cave when they’re asked to match another photographer’s assignment price.

mad xam2's picture

Are there any guidelines out there how much you should charge for licensing or is this something you decide on your own?

AC KO's picture

mad xam2 wrote, “Are there any guidelines out there how much you should charge for licensing or is this something you decide on your own?”

I purchased fotoQuote to help determine photo licenses and even assignment fees ($150; also for Macs): You enter the medium, number of prints being sold, time-frame, etc., and the software generates three tier pricing: Low, middle, and higher fees. This provides you with a ballpark of how much to charge. There should be tutorials on its website or on YouTube. cradocfotosoftware.com

The software also provides coaching on how to justify your licensing fee and other tips.

Cradoc Bagshaw authored fotoQuote; he also sells fotoBiz, a photo invoicing system.

Though it’s unlawful to collude on pricing (e.g., “Hey everyone, let’s set our minimum licensing fee at $875.”), you can contact other photographers to get their general input. Joining ASMP.org is a good place to network with other pro photographers in your area.

However, if you’re skilled in a particular type of photography or there are no readily available substitute stock images for licensing, you should certainly up your licensing/pricing fee.

Mike Ditz's picture

Theoretically the client will be bidding similar level photographers so it will be somewhat close. If there are 2 mid level photogs and a high or low level shooter that will throw off the bids.
Never price matching is probably good advice if it is just a request to lower a fee to match another bid. But I might explain why my quote was higher.
Then if they still want to work with me I would redo the numbers and the deliverables or expenses to be closer to what the client's budget is. Can't just lower the price and give the same sized pie...there will be a slice out of that pie if the money is reduced
But if someone is not charging license fee then I can't compete with that.
On the other hand I know a guy who just gives a total cost with no breakdown, fees, expenses and usage rolled into one number. Take it or leave it.

sam dasso's picture

I like a guy who gives me total cost. Take it or leave it is a way to do business in my book.

AC KO's picture

As Scott Choucino did, sharing pricing helps push photo rates higher. If we keep our pricing confidential, that tends to keep photo pricing stagnant or push them further down.

AC KO's picture

Scott Choucino itemized his photography and licensing fees to the client. This practice has benefits when pursuing US-based copyright infringers; the breakdown of licensing fees can be most helpful when the infringed images were not timely registered with the US Copyright Office.

Leslie Burns, a US-based copyright attorney, pushes(!) creatives to SEPARATE their assignment and other fees from the licensing fee. She writes,

“The best business practice for now, and to protect your values in the future, is to separate out your fees on your paperwork and, very importantly, to make your license fee the higher portion of those fees. Later on, you can use those higher numbers to support getting higher actual damages [in copyright infringement disputes]. Also, if you do timely register your work, the courts will often look to the actual damages in setting statutory ones (like doing a multiple of actual damages). If you can prove up substantial actual damages, you are more likely to get higher statutory ones. Proof of higher fees will make it easier for your attorney to argue for higher pre-suit settlements as well.”

Leslie provides examples in her blog article: https://www.burnstheattorney.com/2016/11/03/lift-separate/