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Photography - How/When Do You Charge for your services?

dbrunodbruno Member
edited May 2015 in business & marketing
I heard back from a vendor that was working a PBS event a couple of weeks ago, and I believe I am getting hired for my first paying job. It's not definite because he has to make sure it is OK with his customer. I suspect these guys are just starting out in the BBQ business, and they may want promo photos of them in action at a large event (this is all best guess). It will be for this coming Friday, so I have to get going on this, and concoct the illusion this is all old hat.

I have always worked for someone and collected a formal paycheck. I have never charged anyone for any kind of work, so bear with me while I ask some really basic questions.

I downloaded a canned, basic contract that I will fill out, the customer will fill out, and hopefully it will all be good with that part. Even though they are maybe just starting out, they have done the whole contract thing at least once, and I am trying to avoid them advising me. But, how do I avoid getting stiffed, and how does he avoid getting stiffed? We are not talking big dollars here, a reasonable amount. What is a typical way of doing things? Pay half up front, and the rest upon delivery of the photos; or "pay up if you want your photos"; or something else.

What do you people do? Also, what's the media? I know if it's a wedding, it's a book. If it's a political event, is it CD? Is it ever Dropbox?

Thanks for any and all advice or suggestions - Dave


  • I cant give you any advice, I just want to say Congratulations for reaching a milestone!
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    Thanks, Rany! Much appreciated.
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    So, I got hired. And, not surprisingly, I have more very basic questions.

    I can understand that, for a wedding, visible watermarks are removed. But what about other situations? Do you offer to remove anything visible? The company that is hiring me I believe will be using these shots in promotional material.

    On the payment - half now, half later? Payment upon delivery?

    I did ask how the photos would be used, so I could process the JPEGs for quality to match the use.

    I found a couple of basic photography agreements on line, so I think I will make some changes and go with it. I don't believe I will be seeing the owner before the event, and I know he will be really busy that night. Do I try to get it to him before hand?

    Thanks - Dave
  • For this type of small, one-time straightforward shoot I do not bother with contracts. And these days so much is done via email that the emails can often serve as de facto agreements if need be.

    I invoice them after the shoot and often after delivery of the photos in case editing needed to be done that I charge for, such as changing or fixing backgrounds. Don't do a half and half. Too much trouble. It's rare someone will stiff you and vice versa. If they do sue them in small claims (if it's under the threshold) and sue for triple damages. If you have reason to be concerned that someone will stiff you then hold onto the pix until they pay. That also speeds up the payment. I do wait for payment before I edit and order prints.

    What do you mean 'remove anything visible'? Like junk in the backgrounds? First of all, get rid of it before you shoot. But if you can't and have to edit out later, yes offer and charge. I charge $75/hr. for that.
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    Skip - Thanks. When I wrote "remove anything visible", what I meant was this: the company that hired me wanted to see a few shots of them in action at the PBS event. When I processed the images, I put in the lower left corner in small script, "Photo by David Bruno". I also ended the email with "If you, or any business contacts or clients ever need a photographer, please keep me in mind". And so, I got a gig.

    I'm not sure, completely not sure, if I do the same thing with the deliverables after Friday night. That, or a copyright? Like your advice for that big fundraiser Saturday, I left my name off all photos, just in case some were packaged or sent to the high rollers. I'm sure these guys Friday will be using some of the images to promote their business. Do I stick my name or copyright on them?

    On the contract: I'm thinking I have to start somewhere, and putting one together for this would be good because it's low pressure, you know? If it ever got slightly busy for me, I wouldn't want to scramble. Honestly, the piddly little business piece has got me more worried (maybe too strong a word) than going out and having a good time taking pictures of people having a good time.

  • I'd keep any name or logo or anything else off the photos, especially the digitals. It would be seen as advertising and I'm sure your client doesn't want it. A lot of pros foil stamp larger prints of say family portraits, headshots, seniors.... It's like signing a painting. But for the kind of event you're talking about here, for a business or organization, the digital images should stay name-free in my opinion. And the prints, if any, too, for the most part. Putting yr name on them won't get you work and could hurt you. A potential client might see that and say, well, he's not the guy for me, I don't want someone's logo on the photos.

    I deliver digital photos to clients on a usb flash drive. I got my logo printed on them so they look nice. Dropbox works well if there are just a few. Or I guess you could use that for a lot. But I like the flash drives.
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    Skip - thanks again. I will stay away from the logos on the delivered JPEGs. I use Dropbox for the volunteer stuff because that's what they ask for. But I'm wary of using it for a paid job. I'd rather 2-Day Priority of a CD/multiple CDs, or hand deliver if they are close by.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited May 2015

    Just one piece of advice regarding your last statement in the post above re CD/Multiple CDs. Don't put them on discs.

    1] They don't hold as much information as a USB drive

    2] The people would be required to have a PC/Device to put the CD into in the first place

    3] They are bulky

    4] If you use a large enough capacity USB it will be more economical to do the one, burning CD multiples takes a lot longer, even dual layered ones, you could use a Blu-Ray but then again it would require a Blu-Ray Player Device.

    5] .... and the most compelling, they can put a USB into virtually anything with a USB port, like an iPad, TV, whatever, the most convenient way to deliver images in my opinion like Skip says would be a USB stick.

  • dbrunodbruno Member
    Trev - It does sound good, but maybe for this first one I will probably go the CD route. But as I told the owner, unless something else is agreed upon. Maybe if he says something, I'll eat the cost of a memory stick (I have a stack of CDs). Also, if I go that route, I'll have to bump up my processing fee to include the cost of the stick, which I have to check on prices.

  • SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
    edited May 2015
    Ditto what Trev said. CDs are done. I get USB Flash Drives for under $5 each on the net, with my logo on them.
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    Skip and/or Trev - if you don't mind, can you tell me which brand you use, and any specs that would make a difference other than capacity, like speed (2.0 vs. 3.0). Do you have a separate company put your logo on them?

  • I bought a variety of generic logo-less flash drives on the net really cheap before I got the logo-printed ones. I forget the brands but got them via Amazon. I forget but I think they might have been in the $2 - $4 range. I get the logo ones from ipromo. It's probably ipromo.com but not sure. I think I pay in the $5 per drive ballpark. They do a nice job. But there's a lot of such services out there.
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    Thanks. I only asked because there are a zillion on Amazon, and I'm trying to avoid any of super low quality.
  • I usually pay more for good quality but I shopped by price in this case and they were all fine. I got the colorful ones if that helps. I chose one color. They took a long time to arrive and came in a funny package from China.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited May 2015

    I am in Australia, and things are different here, so could not advise other than to stick with known brand names and not some el cheapo ones.

    I use 8Gb Sandisk which more than accommodates for hundreds of jpeg files and on the rare occasion where I have to go to 16G I just pop down to local store and buy it outright.

    Regarding speed, you would pay more for USB 3.0 with the only difference being it would take longer to transfer files to a USB 2.0. eg: I can get USB 2.0 for around $6-7; USB 3.0 is around $10-15.

    I just stick with USB 2.0 since the little extra time to transfer around 800 files is marginal compared to actually burning Disc anyway.

    That's about all I can tell.
  • dbrunodbruno Member
    Trev - that's good information on 2.0 vs. 3.0. Thanks!
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