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Your chance to help the industry
John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 1:54 PM on 06.28.12
->> OK, here's a post on another message forum that goes to the heart of a lot of angst on this site about people charging the "right" amount and such. I also realize many members of sportsshooter have opinions but don't actually negotiate these types of deals (myself included). So, for those who do negotiate this type of work - here's your chance to help the industry by giving this person some guidance.
Here's the thread:
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John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 8:03 AM on 06.29.12
->> Very curious about the "huh". What, exactly, do you find unclear? Someone new to the industry is trying to figure out how to negotiate an appropriate price and usage contract. People on this forum complain all the time that new people undercut the market. Now's your chance to actually do something positive about it and help someone new do the right thing. What is unclear?
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 10:36 AM on 06.29.12
->> Don't worry about the "Huh" John. I am guessing that whoever posted was asking why we would want to get involved. I hate having to register on a website I'll never go to again, but your point was well taken; those with knowledge should be willing to encourage to help those who would need the knowledge.

I posted a response. The offer is BS. 12-14 hours a day, 3 days and hand over the cards with no assistants?

The sponsor wants to pay this guy virtually nothing. I gave him some leads (ASMP and John Harrington); where to look and warned him.

If he takes this job for $150 bucks, he will regret it. Warning flags all over. All you can do is lead the horse to water.Let's hope he's smart enough to drink.

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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 10:50 AM on 06.29.12
->> John, I didn't give you a "huh" but I have to say after reading that guy's post something smells funny. looking at the requirements by this purported "major sporting goods clothing company" I have to wonder just why if they are so "major" they want to hire a guy, who shot something as a spectator, for what looks to be a big job. I can bet money if he quotes a professional rate they won't think he's that good anymore. looks to me they are trying to get out on the cheap. also I'm unclear as to why you would think this guy is a professional....
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John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 11:04 AM on 06.29.12
->> Chuck - I never said the photographer was a professional. Sounds like he's doing work on the side -just starting to make some money - just like thousands of other photographers out there. Exactly the type of person people here complain undercut the industry. Absolutely I agree the company in question is trying to get by on the cheap. I mean let's face it, if the photographer were a full time professional he wouldn't be making a post like that.

Which is also what makes this a potentially interesting case study for this board.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 12:39 PM on 06.29.12
->> John,
If he posts a response, let us know how it goes. I'm with Chuck, if he quotes what this job is really worth, they'll drop him like a hot potato. I'm guessing this major clothing athletic clothing manufacturer, who no doubts manufacturers their clothing in China, got quoted $3000-$5000 for the job. It's not like they don't have the margin to work with, but....

Like I said, they are looking for someone to do it for 1/10th the price.

Let's hope the guy takes my advice... if not, he'll get an education all right...

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Rick Rickman, Photographer
Capistrano Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 10:50 AM on 07.02.12
->> John:

It's good that you gave the guy some good suggestions instead of just spewing negativity about what a client might want and how the client could possibly want to hire a certain type photographer. Positive suggestions certainly are better than a bunch of negative huey that doen't advance anything for anyone!

All businesses are always looking to save money. Especially in this economy. It's not surprising at all that any business would be looking for a way to save money and offer less than market rates for the work done.

John, I think its great that you felt compelled to try and help. It only helps the industry to try to educate people to understand how to price appropriately.

Some people on this site actually make a difference by helping others in productive ways by making viable suggestions. Good on you.
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 11:30 AM on 07.02.12
->> This line is a serious red flag to me:

"You would need to work alone. No crew or assistants. We are going to get you as close as possible to the action so we can get the best shots. At the end of each day we would be looking for you to hand us a card so we can start making selects and getting images out to the right people."

How the heck does the client know whether you need an assistant or not? They don't - they just want this cheap.

Also, handing a client a card at the end of the day is a huge mistake for several reasons.

Pricing a job like this is (or should be...) based on licensing a specific number of images. Giving them the whole take (unprocessed and unretouched at that!) means you've just switched your pricing model from professional to hourly event photographer. But hey, maybe that's all they want to pay for.

If you can't control the number of images they are using, where they use them, or the way they look (processing the raw files) then you really are cutting yourself off at the knees and setting a bad precedent for any future professional jobs.

The one shining light here is that they are asking for only 1-2 years of usage. That tells me that they've priced this job with real professionals before, and they didn't like the line items for assistants, other crew, or digital fees....they are attempting to cut out those line items by hiring someone who probably won't know any better.

Kudos to him for asking though - many people would just do the job for peanuts, never realizing there is a real money making opportunity here if he structures it correctly.

My advice, as always: Learn about the market before you start doing these jobs, talk to other professionals, join ASMP or APA, read Harrington's book, buy a copy of Blinkbid and Fotoquote, and don't undercut everyone else in your market "just to get into the business." It is very hard to raise your rates once established, clients talk to each other, and you'll be forever branded as the idiot amateur who doesn't know any better.
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Joseph Zimmerman, Photographer
Howard | Pa | USA | Posted: 5:34 PM on 07.02.12
->> I'm in a situation presently that kind of falls into this. I have a shot of a band that is arguably one of the biggest bands in their genre right now and the drummer messaged me on facebook asking about getting a high resolution copy. Thats all he said. No details. Anyone have any ideas on how to approach this wording wise. My weakness is definitely in writing and how to be nice yet firm in my responses. I personally feel this a big impact image that the band could certainly use for more than standard website shot that is forgotten next concert. Here is a link to the image. Am I over estimating the image? :
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 5:44 PM on 07.02.12
->> Joseph - ask to have their management contact you. The band probably isn't very well versed on doing business.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 6:36 PM on 07.02.12
->> Joseph, I had Lady Gaga's lead guitar player send me a message after her concert here last year. From his email: "it's the best photo of me that I have ever seen of me, can you send me a hirez copy?" I told him I would be glad to but I would have to speak with my boss about how much we would charge and, of course, it would be according to how he was going to use it as to how much it would cost....guess it wasn't as great as he thought. after realizing he would have to PAY for it I never heard a peep out of him.
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Sid Hastings, Photographer, Photo Editor
St. Louis | MO | United States | Posted: 7:00 PM on 07.02.12
->> Joseph, here's one way you can approach things....

In response to their inquiry thank them for their interest in your photo, then inquire of them for as much detail as they can provide on how it's to be used. Armed with that info you can offer them a polite but firm statement on the market rate for that kind of image use. Services like Cradoc fotoQuote ( are a great resource, both to determine that value and as an outside source to reference during the discussion.

From that point on it's a negotiation process, just like many other business transactions. Know your range and price points going in, offer substantive information on the market value, and while being polite also make clear that you, as the copyright holder, have the last word in the process.

Good luck.
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Doug Holleman, Photographer
Temple | TX | USA | Posted: 7:20 PM on 07.02.12
->> There's an industry?
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Joseph Zimmerman, Photographer
Howard | Pa | USA | Posted: 7:35 PM on 07.02.12
->> Thanks all. The final negotiation part i think I could handle ok. I know about fotoquote and other resources. For me I never seem to get to that point and wondered if there was a better way of approaching it that I haven't tried. Like Chuck, I've got the best photo ever thing before and once they hear they actually have to pay for it, like they want us to do for their music, then all goes silent.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 8:54 PM on 07.02.12
->> Joesph, you're looking at this the wrong way. So you never hear back from them. Guess what - that happens a lot. Be polite, be willing to listen (that's the key to selling) and be firm.

I've trained a lot of people in the art of selling. The selling doesn't start till the potential client says "no". Don't give it away.

And if they just want it for free?

Well, look at it this way: You're one "no" closer to the client that says "Yes". Thank them for the opportunity and move on...

Chuck, whenever someone makes me a stupid offer (like "free") I will sometimes respond " I assume you're not working for free? Are you expecting me to?" Smile when you say that and resist that overwhelming temptation to strangle the SOB.

When they offer up some BS excuse, I'll say something like "I'm a professional, you're a professional, let's keep it on that level, ok?"

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Rick Rickman, Photographer
Capistrano Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 11:33 PM on 07.02.12
->> Joseph:

One of the things that's hardest to come to grips with in this industry is that fact that business is just business. It's not personal. Most of the high end businesses and celebrities have had so many photographers willing to just send their work without feeling a need to be compensated that it's just become the norm for them to ask. It's that Pavlovian principal being actuated.

Just accept the fact that people are always going to ask. It's up to us to figure out how to entice them to want the picture so much that they will pay your price.

One of the masters of getting their price was a fellow I used to work with and his motto was, when talking business don't talk business.

In your conversation with your musician, you might have talked about an image you took another time of (Pick a Band) and how that picture was so good that the lead guitarist laminated a copy to the back of his guitar and the band manager like it so much that they made it the cover of their 2nd album. They paid me a nice fee for it's use and let me have several copies of the album as well.

I really like covering music and it's how I keep my business running. Hit them with a question related to the picuture. Were you planning to use the picture for something special? Just an example of indirectly getting to the fact that you are a successful business person who expects to be remunerated for their work.

My friend Steve always said be friends first and share some insights into yourself. If you can personalize the conversation it makes it harder for someone to say no to you. Get good at being conversational.

Ask the potential client about something that might give them a chance to share with you. It pays dividends. For instance, if there was special moment with the audience during the concert bring it up and ask the guy about what he thought about that situation. If he has a chance to share some personal insights with you it further connects the two of you.

When the conversation does turn to price, as someone said previously, have a price in mind and then be firm. Don't however get your feelings hurt if they don't want your work at your price.

Way too many photographers let emotional stuff get in the way. They forget that business is just business and it's not ego connected unless you allow it to be.
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JD Malave, Photographer
FPO | AE | United States | Posted: 8:07 AM on 07.03.12
->> Sounds like he didn't get the gig, but he was prepared to put a good value on his work. Glad he reached out.

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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 9:23 AM on 07.03.12
->> VERY well stated, Mr. Rickman.

The most successful salespeople I know ALL put a little bit of themselves into the sales process. The process is called RELATIONSHIP SELLING and I'm a lifelong believer in it because it works. Building a relationship with people IS the secret. Maybe someone can fake it in the short term, but ultimately that fails.

On the other hand, when people know you can deliver and that you'll take care of them, it's priceless. I'm not trying to brag, but on the other side of my life, I've been responsible for mutli-millions of dollars worth of sales.Like I said, the process works.

Do I make every sale? Not hardly nor do I want to for any number of reasons. I may grumble to myself when I lose a sale, but when I do, I turn it into a teaching moment: What could I have done better? What did I miss? In other words, you don't let your ego get to you - you turn it into a learning moment so you're better next time.

Selling is SIMPLE. But it's exceptionally HARD WORK. As Rick points out - it's business and although passion is important - you can't let passion get the best of you. As the old sage admonished "the harder I work - the luckier I get." People with good business plans who work hard generally speaking are luckier - a lot luckier. It's that simple.

One last thing. A lot of people feel that right brain creatives have a disadvantage in selling. Actually, it's just the opposite. If you're a creative you typically can "feel" something long before you have concrete information that confirms things. When I started "listening" to those "feelings" - that's when I started to become successful.

If someone has a sales problem, feel free to contact me. I'll do my best to assist.

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Joseph Zimmerman, Photographer
Howard | Pa | USA | Posted: 7:16 PM on 07.03.12
->> Thanks everyone for all the great insight. Its appreciated.

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Thread Title: Your chance to help the industry
Thread Started By: John Germ
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