A while back I was involved in shooting a magazine cover for a national woodworking magazine. At this time I was rather green about negotiating my fee for such jobs, but I had done it in the past so it wasn't completely foreign to me. As a rule, I knew it was forbidden to blurt out numbers upon an initial phone conversation. It's just not done. To do so is a clear indication that you are green and ill-prepared.
Basically, the first couple of conversations are all about gathering information. Then I would collect the data and using past experience and other information, I would form a quote for the job.
Well, in my excitement and early morning stupor I broke my own rule and spat out a number.
When I was done with the call and had put the phone down I felt like kicking myself in the head. I knew I had broken my own rule, had probably lost respect of the client and at least 2 times the rate I could have gotten.
I have not worked for that client since.
Negotiating a rate for a job is an art. It also takes skill and experience. Having flubbed that quote I am reminded of those requirements every time I see a magazine cover. Especially a wood working magazine.
Today, I was reminded again as I looked over a post by a photo editor who recounted a project that a photographer was quoting on. This particular project was a book cover with an initial printing of half a million copies. The fee that was finalized was impressive and could easily pay my mortgage for 9 months. We don't see those types of fees here in Peterborough. But I can dream, right?
Shooting to spec is something that I really don't enjoy doing anymore. The stress of making an image to another person's specifications, under a deadline is not what I consider a good time.
I still envision creating amazing art and people clamouring over each other to buy it. What artist doesn't? Photography is my passion, art is my expression. I love to make images as I see them in my head based on what the camera is capturing. Knowing that others share my love of imagery is a wonderful feeling. Shooting to spec is too much pressure to perform. By the way I don't do weddings anymore either.
The site where I found the article about Pricing and Negotiating a non-fiction book cover is here. It's a good read if you are interested in learning about the real world of publishing and photography. I'll continue to create interesting imagery, doing it my way. If people find a liking to it and feel that it is a worthy investment then great. Maybe I'll pay the mortgage after all.
Photo-Artist working a personal vision.
For those of us interested in better marketing techniques, get this book.