Real World Estimates – Available Light Annual Report Portrait

By Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine Producer

The creative director of a small West Coast graphic design firm recently contacted one of our photographers asking for a quote on a portrait for use in an annual report. The client was a large insurance company and they needed a picture of a financial planner who refers a lot of work their way.

The designer said the picture needed to be a tightly-cropped, environmental portrait at the subject’s office (about a 20 minute drive from the photographer’s studio). They wanted to see a variety of situations: “…the guy at his desk, at the computer, on the phone, looking at the camera, not looking, maybe outside.” The CD told me that the image would be used as a “supporting image within a sidebar in an annual report.” “Supporting image” was a little vague for me, so I asked to see a layout of the page to get a better idea of the size, placement and context of the picture. Looking at that, I saw that the picture would be relatively small, among other larger pictures, and that it was going to be used inside the brochure (rather than on the front or back cover). I also saw that it was a nicely designed brochure with other good photography comped in.

Looking back at a similar estimate I had worked on recently, I first set out to establish the fee. In this other project, the actual shoot was comparable, but the licensing was more extensive. It included Publicity Use and Collateral Use for a year. The subject in that case was also much more prominent within the company. In this case, they just needed one-time annual report use and the subject didn’t even work for the company that was producing the report. Also, looking back, the previous fee was probably a little fatter than I’d expect to get in the current economic climate. So I placed the fee for this one at 1000.00. The expenses are fairly straightforward. We wouldn’t need hair or makeup, props, wardrobe or backgrounds. That left us with the basic expense items: assistant, digital capture, strobe rental, file prep, miles and parking (since it was going to be less than 1/2-day, there wouldn’t be any meals to bill for).

Here’s the first estimate I sent over.


After confirming that they had received the estimate, there was no word from them for about a week. When the CD finally got back to me, he wanted us to shave 695.00 off the quote. “The client feels it’s a bit high for a simple head shot (half-day shoot). Would you be ok with $1200? Take a look at the comp again. I’m sure the photographer can do this without an assistant and rental equipment.” I took another look at the layout. The picture they showed in the comp was clearly strobe lit. I confirmed with the CD that he’d be happy with available light only. He said yes; so I called the photographer to discuss whether he’d be comfortable working without strobes or an assistant. It was a little awkward for the photographer because he only shows lit photos in his portfolio. So even though he was confident that he could do a good job without strobes or an assistant, the job was becoming less interesting to him. The photographer decided that he was comfortable working without an assistant and strobes as long as the client understood that the picture was going to have a different look from the comp.

With that resolved, we were still 180.00 over what the client wanted to spend. There really weren’t any other expenses we could do without, so the rest was going to have to come out of the fee. I couldn’t just arbitrarily reduce the fee just to meet the “budget.” (Probably the single most important rule of negotiating is that you can’t reduce what you’re getting without reducing what you’re giving. If you do, you’re just demonstrating to your client that you were trying to gouge them from the start.) But again, it raises the question for the photographer whether the job was worth doing. In my role as producer/estimator, I’m working for the photographer. So while it’s my job to lay out all the information and help him weigh his options, it’s ultimately his decision whether there’s enough money in a project to make it worth doing.

There are certainly a lot of reasons not to work too cheaply. The first is opportunity cost. If you commit to a low-budget project (that doesn’t have some other benefit), and another more interesting or lucrative assignment comes up, you’re going to miss out on it. Another is that clients tend to view your value partially based on what you charge. If you work cheap this time, they might not think to use you when they have a more lucrative job. A third reason is that a photographer only has so much time and energy. It can sometimes be better in the long run to rest or get caught up on your paperwork or marketing or working on your portfolio, rather than get bogged down in projects that you aren’t enthusiastic about or don’t pay enough.

It seemed clear that the client was not going to pay 1895.00 for the job, but I thought there was a good chance that they would be satisfied with the concession of taking out the assistant and strobes and agree to 1380.00. An alternative would be to pull out the web use, which was about proportional to the 180.00 we would need to get down to the 1200.00 the client was looking for. The photographer chose that option. The subject’s availability and the deadline gave the photographer the flexibility to move it around if something else came up. And it was about as simple as an assignment can get. So he decided to meet the client’s price rather than risking not getting the job over the remaining 180.00.

I sent off this revision along with my standard terms & conditions, which the agency approved.


There Are 71 Comments On This Article.

  1. Thank you for sharing this info. It is very helpful to get a read on what is happening for other people. Just curious, if you would be willing to divulge
    what your cut of the job was/is?

  2. Thank you for posting. Do you really care at this case how the photo will be used? I mean web or report or together? This is something you’re doing especially for the client and there is no any chance you’ll use it somewhere. So what’s the difference? I can’t get it.

    • @Nikita Pavlov, The greater the usage, the more valuable the photograph is to both the photographer and the client. If it is more valuable, it makes sense to charge more. By the same logic, you can charge less, for less usage.

      • @Tony Gale, Exactly. The more the client uses the photo, the more they pay. Pretty standard pricing model. Check out some of the bidding software out there. I’ve benefited from using one of them to help establish a baseline for estimates. Thanks for the invaluable post(s), BTW.

  3. Very helpful post, but I am curious as to what kind of cut is taken by the producer/rep on a job like this and how that figures into the decisions?

    • @JS, File Prep is short for file preparation. Most commercial photographers deliver an online gallery for the client to edit from. Then they tweak, clean up, retouch the selects individually.

  4. FYI, Terms & Conditions link is broken.

    And thanks again for all your contribution and insight to the industry.

  5. @Eric Swanson, Wonderful Machine doesn’t take a cut/commission on any project we negotiate. We simply bill for our time, on an hourly basis, regardless of the size of the project or fee. When a photographer asks us to negotiate a lower budget project like this, it’s usually because they aren’t available to handle it themselves.


  6. Jess, thanks for sharing these with us. It is terrific.

    I wonder if I am off if I speculate that the photog is probably taken less than $300-$500 once he takes into consideration all business costs associated with this job, including production costs, transport, liability insurance, agent costs, and even taxes on the income. Prepping, editing, and uploading pics, and then having to work again once client picks, I’d say this is a full-day’s worth of work, when it comes down to it, so, yes, I think there is lunch involved, in my humble opinion. And, in most cases, they need to work the next day to finalize sending of the final pic. And I cant imagine a photog just sending over an image without some post-production work to make it look decent, so he can get hired again, hopefully.

    Am I really that inexperienced, or is this really a very poor-paid job? Is this honestly what we are now looking at in terms of the diminishing of a photographer’s value? Are we all giving in to pennies now and just constructing coded, negotiating language to palliate the raw reality of such low fees?


    • @marco aurelio,
      Have to agree. If you set the bar this low, then this is the rate you are setting for the industry. Hate to say it but I’ve turned down work recently where there was clearly not enough money to clear CODB.

      It’s just not worth it for me…OR the other photogs I’d hurt by lowering the estimate!

      I do have to ask, you say –
      “I couldn’t just arbitrarily reduce the fee just to meet the “budget.” (Probably the single most important rule of negotiating is that you can’t reduce what you’re getting without reducing what you’re giving. If you do, you’re just demonstrating to your client that you were trying to gouge them from the start.)”

      Isn’t that EXACTLY what you said you shouldn’t do…and then you did it?

      Not trying to be a smart ass here, but it appears you’ve just demonstrated exactly what you said you shouldn’t do?


      PS – Yes, this is not the same industry it once was…true enough, but people are reducing their fees just because a client can’t afford the costs! And when they reduce the fee, are they really looking at their CODB? If not they won’t be here 2..3..4 years from now and they are hurting the industry in the long run…just my 2 cents…

      • @Rick Lohre, I think they reduced the cost by removing assistant and lights. Then, web usage. Doesn’t sound like they lowered the price outright.

        @marco aurelio, Yeah. It’s tough out there these days. Many hobbyists out there are selling work well below CODB because they have second jobs that supplement income. Brings down everyone’s potential earnings.

      • @marty, I’d like to know what photog can bring the sun inside an office. kaboom! :) ha! better yet, do so when it is cloudy and rainy outside. and, oh, yeah, ehem, office background [doesnt exist] light, in the absence of a hair light, otherwise your subject’s dark hair and frame simply vanishes into the deep shadow you will find in an office. i haven’t even gotten to the fluorescent light (green skin) vs window natural-light (orange skin) issue yet, assuming this office space has a decent window somewhere, otherwise you are probably looking at a windowless cubicle space, which equals to more post-production that you can imagine (even with mask pro). and then, no way you can get a decent portrait without a high ISO, which means there is definitely more post-production work to kill all that noize.

        RAW picture: very, very bad. Even if you use a f/.9 lens, which forgetitaboutit as you will get a whole new host of challenges.

        @Jess. What I tell my clients is that there is a second-tier option to avoid the high costs of using studio lights, and you can still imitate a decent portrait. and that is putting up a couple of wireless nikon flashlights off-camera with lumiquest or any other small softboxes on a couple of lightweight tripods and you still get a much nicer pic than a completely ambient light pic inside the most despicable and absolute worse place on earth to take an ambient pic: an office that casts dark shadows from the top and across a subject’s eyes making them look like herman monster right underneath a 19th C street gas-lamp. look, this is just a single off-camera flashlight, and hand-held, to boot. Theses and about 20 portraits in total 15 minutes before models went off into the runaway.

        i think in this new setting where there is saturation of amateur photogs killing professional fees, it is very important for pro-photogs to educate our agents and clients on the technical aspects of what it means to take a decent picture. And what it means to take a really bad picture that will undermine the value of our client’s bottom line. and that is a job us photographers have to get our hands on. once i explain to a client, or the middleman, how the type of pic they are fitting into their bad-economy budget will make their talent look worse than herman monster on his worse day, and once we give them a brief overview of how one part of the face will look green while the other will look orange, and how the hair will not show (please email clients samples of bad pictures vs. good pictures), and once we as photogs design cheaper ways of getting excellent results by getting out our resourcefulness-rallycaps, then our clients will have a “oh, i see” moment and understand that they need to suck it up and go a little extra into their lousy budget. Because, otherwise what is happening is that the regular joe or jane now believes in her heart *truly* that any cousin with a pro-amaeutur camera can pull off a decent picture. and that is just not the case.

        we need to educate clients with brief technical aspects of what it takes to make decent pictures. that immediately separates pros from amateurs big time! And agents need to start knowing more technical so they can better sell our product. i never hear agents for instance say things like excellent pictures are responsible for an upgrade on a clients’ product, which translates into higher sales, and best out their competition. an excellent publicity campaign increases clients’ sales and image by more than 20% – 30% a year. More of selling client’s product back to them by showing them how good pics increases their value and bottom line and less at nipping and cutting photogs estimate and designing coded language to decrease our value. while us photogs… we need to get off the all-kliegz–lights of the high-production past, and begin becoming more resourceful with more manageable equipment. we need to push the hardware makers to start making portable, more efficient, less cumbersome equipment, and a lot less expensive.

        Key elements: resourcefulness with equipment and streamlining shoot design, educating clients and agents on technical aspects of shoots, and selling client’s products back to themselves. these are elements I have adapted into my estimates and selling points. And very key to keeping the saturation of amateurs outside the pro-fees. although, I have to confess I am one of those amateurs, still turning pro, and who came from the internet/amateur-dslr wave. so i have a soft spot for every kid, or late-bloomer like me, or “outsider” like me, pointing a rebel or coolpix to a friend’s face or meaningless landscape, cause that is where i started.

        please nobody complaint about my long posts!!! pleaseeee. with cherry on top!

        Saludos from the Andes!


        • @marco aurelio,

          Noise is extremely well-controlled on the current crop of bodies. Even if it weren’t, we’re talking about a 1/4 page image in an annual report. You could shoot at ISO 1600 on an original Digital Rebel, underexpose a stop or two, and still likely not need noise reduction. Noise disappears mighty quickly at 500+ pixels per inch.

    • @Jason D, I recently finished a project that was shot completely available light because that is what the art director wanted. I spent at least 10 busy years shooting reportage/fly on the wall available light so it was refreshing to visit my “roots”.

      I still had an assistant and the fees were no different than if we had lit it, but it did allow us to cover more ground. It was odd for me to use a tripod but I was very pleased with the results.

      I personally believe that much imagery today is so over lit, overly re-touched and doesn’t come close to a beautifully composed, available light photograph.

  7. Thanks for sharing! It’s always great to see how other people are tracking in the negotiations game.

    I think if this industry would have a more standardised approach to pricing it would make it a lot easier for both our clients as well as us the photographers / agents / producers.

    @Jason D,

    No lights isn’t a problem… if you know the location where you are shooting and you are lucky enough to have some good light coming through the windows.

    What I am puzzled by though is why the photographer wouldn’t have a little portable speedlight setup with remote trigger. Even if that’s not what you usually shoot you can get that setup for very little money… most people that I know have this setup as part of their standard kit which is part of the standard fee. Especially a headshot of this size doesn’t need a full blown Profoto setup for good results.

    Or is that something the Photographer charges the rental fee for?

  8. I find it odd that the photographer’s portfolio shows lit portraits/headshots but does not own his own lights.

    BTW, if one does have their own lights one can charge a kit fee to cover wear and tear. A kit fee is very standard for video production folks I know and when I work on movie/TV productions I get paid a $150 per day kit fee for my gear.

    Terry Thomas

    • @Terry Thomas / Atlan,
      I have a set of 3 head/300WS per head ($500 on Ebay. Wireless. Best investment ever) that I use in studio. If I feel it’s necessary, I’ll rent the Novatrons etc…I think that this job could have been handled by the photog personally. Full disclosure, I was with Wonderful Machine for two years. It wasn’t the right fit for me, but I can’t imagine that this photog made out OK with the hourly fee rolled in. This was def on the low side. I just shot a mall facade for $1,200. While I dig what WM is up to, the photogs don’t really make out with the hourly fee at the end. Esp. on a job that pays this little.

  9. Thank you for this recent post. I found this job quite relevant since it reflects the average client I deal with in the tough economic environment.

  10. This agency was fleeced.
    $1000 or more for a headshot regardless of usage is expensive – especially if there’s no resale value to the image.
    The company, being a Graphics Firm would have had a lot of talent in the office to call on, and could buy a very reasonable SLR for a similar price, cutting out the need to call in a photographer for this or any future small photo: No File Prep fee, no Assistant fee (for a headshot?!), no restrictions on usage, no mileage, etc.
    Maybe the MD would have even laid on lunch…

    • @Charlie, I think you’re missing the point of this blog which is to help photographers price their time and work accurately. Sure any monkey can pick up an SLR and post their shots on Flickr but working to a brief, delivering a project on time to a client and producing great work in the process is why Pro shooters charge proper fees.

      • @Tom Broadbent, I’m not knocking the blog Tom, I wouldn’t be reading it otherwise, but come on – we’re basically talking about a headshot here.
        There are a lot of ‘monkeys’ out there with their digital cameras taking really quite stunning images, and doing it for the love of photography not the money.
        As a Photo Editor i’m acutely aware that there is a cost associated to photography, but it should nontheless be realistic.

        • @Charlie, it’s worth remembering that this was a commercial job as opposed to an editorial assignment. The fees are very different. ( And please don’t take this as me being patronising, I’m a photo editor myself..;-)

        • @Charlie, Of course there are a ton of talented people that will do a headshot for almost nothing. The point of maintaining a living wage for a PROFESSIONAL is that they will be here when truly demanding work arises.
          Look at the photo lab world. Almost no one prints photos anymore so the availability of local quality printers is zero in many communities.
          Applying this to photography means that one will only be able to choose from an array of iffy amateurs that may or may not be able to get time off work to do the job.
          At bottom it is like protecting the environment. It is far cheaper to strip mine for coal than it is to find alternatives to coal. Bottom feeding for price means that real quality will no longer be available at affordable prices when needed.

    • @Charlie,

      How much is the time of an agency employee worth? There is a reason people hire this out.

      I can do my own bathroom remodel. But I want to hire it out because my time has a value beyond the out-of-pocket.

      Also, agencies typically mark up the cost anyway and pass it on. There’s no reason to waste your own employee’s time…

      • @craig,

        To further expand, all of the line items are there because they have a cost. Time has a cost, equipment wear has a cost (and future cost toward replacement). Comments above all note these as cost of doing business. The agency has its own cost of doing business as well that is likely as high, if not higher, than the photographer’s. Taking time from doing their own work to do this is no way to run a business. Penny wise, pound foolish as the saying goes.

        Then there is the value of the image toward the client. If the image has little value, then sure, have someone’s nephew come do it. The reason that established clients don’t do this is because there is less risk in hiring a known professional vs. someone who posts only their interesting photos on flickr. Or might not even show up on time, act unprofessional etc.

    • @Charlie, The agency was not fleeced. Even if the agency has a person who could produce the portrait, they should charge for it and the fee is reasonable. Why would there be no file prep fee? That would be the equivalent of not charging for type.

  11. As always, thanks to Wonderful Machine.

    I think it is important to note that this is a “small West Coast graphic design firm”. This isn’t Pepsi and it’s not New York City. Cost of living, demographics, CODB, etc. need to be taken into account here. Pricing is according to what the market will bear. Smaller market – less fee. There is no “industry WIDE standard”. The fact is that some photographer in Ames, Iowa will not command the same fee for a corporate portrait that someone in Los Angeles will. That is not to say that the photographer should get what the Nordstrom shoe salesmen might receive, just a thought.

  12. I agree about the light rental fee. For a simple head shot like this, you would not need more than 1 or 2 speed lights. Wouldn’t a professional photographer normally already have these and simply charge for wear and tear on the equipment, reducing the fee by a good amount?

    I can understand if the project actually required the rental of many lights or specialized modifiers, but a couple of speed lights for a head shot?

    • @J.T.,

      I don’t own speedlights. They’re not particularly useful in our line of work and, despite what some internet blogs might tell you, look pretty unprofessional when someone is paying you good money. I also just don’t care for their quality. We do own studio strobes, but we rent them to ourselves as a kit fee to cover their considerable cost + wear/tear.

      I can think of situations when a speedlight would be useful, but since we don’t encounter them often… I’d rent it ;-)

      • @craig, Thanks for the clarification.

        I can definitely see where you’d want monolights or studio strobes over speed lights. Now that you’ve clarified that you “rent them to yourself” as a kit fee it all makes sense.

        I was envisioning you actually going out to rent them and it seemed counterproductive for something you should already own, which you do ;)

        • @J.T.,

          In my experience when I was an assistant, it wasn’t at all unusual for some photographers to not own any lights or even a camera. This makes sense if you prefer to use medium format digital and, at the time, such outfits started around $50,000 and were obsolete in two years.

          In fact, in film, this is almost always the case. Much of the time the cameras aren’t even for sale.

  13. eric scott

    You screwed them good didn’t you. I could have done the entire thing in 1-2 hours for a total of $500.00 and still made a $400 profit. I am a commercial pro since 1981 and I love it when people send out quotes like this all the time and then I get a call. Maybe that is why my studio will gross over $450,000.00 this year. You see I am not AFRAID to work for a living.

    • @eric scott,

      It’s called “value based selling.” They wanted and got a $1200 photograph. If they wanted a $500 photograph they would have called you. It’s a pretty simple concept.

      • eric scott

        @A Photo Editor, you can call it what you want. I call it making a customer happy and making a profit. You see we would have sent out a shooter at $225. per hour and let the client decide what they wanted. You can attempt to make fun of me all you want, I MAKE MONEY, and that pisses people like you off. Just keep sending me the $500 jobs.

        • @eric scott,

          No not pissed off at all. It’s business 101. I was simply explaining how “You screwed them good didn’t you” makes zero sense. Would love to see the cheap-ass motorcycles you ride since you don’t buy into “value.”

          • eric scott

            @A Photo Editor, Please feel free to come look at my motorcycles. I will most likely be on the news this weekend. You see me and my cheap ASS motorcycle participate as Patriot Guards. We escort soldiers to their final resting place. This weekend I will be escorting 150 motorcycles and a beam from the 9/11 twin towers into a city in North Texas. So if it makes you feel better to make your stupid ass comments then keep on proving that when you open your mouth you prove the world how idiotic you are.

            So now let me explain how it makes sense. The client might have felt pressured this time to go ahead and buy into this 1200 portrait but doing so will leave a bad taste each time they think of that photographer. Us we would have given them the choice of purchasing exactly what they needed on an hourly basis. And educated them on what they should consider. Then I would have sent out a shooter to cover the job. So you can take your so called business 101 and run with it. By the way my least paid shooter on staff makes $98,000.00 a year, what do you make?

            My cheap ass $12,000.00 motorcycle, well I paid cash for it. A suzuki that is used for 100% charity work. Now continue to try and take cheap shots at me, I love it.

            • @eric scott,
              …completely over your head… obviously… Do you value the motorcycles that you claim to purchase and ride in the patriot guards. Do you buy the cheapest one around? I really don’t care what you charge. I’m giving you a little education on value based selling… since I make more than you, you should listen up.

              • eric scott

                @A Photo Editor, that is right I will bet you $5k I make more then you. And I am proud of that. I am proud that instead of sitting around bitchen about how tuff it is and why people don’t think my so called art is worth what doctors charge. So called value based selling is bull shit. It is only valued by what another person will pay for it. Consumre reports can tell me all day long a certain brand television is worth X dollars, but if the public is not willing to pay for that then the value is not there. That is what value based selling gets you.

                I base my purchase decision on my motorcycles by what is needed to get the job done.

                have a great day and you really should stop getting so angry. It makes your writing look bad.

                • @eric scott,
                  my point exactly. you and your clients make a purchase decision based on “what is needed to get the job done.” so, you should understand that people find value in other things besides “getting the job done.” They value things that do not appear rational to you or your clients. and, no, I don’t think you should charge more I think other people have every right to. it’s not bull shit.

                  I’m not going to take your money since you already told me how much you make it’s not a fair bet.

                  I will have a nice day. thank you.

          • eric scott

            @A Photo Editor, oh by the way next time you make fun of someone maybe you should look at what the Patriot Guards do, I did six funerals last week. How can I afford to do this, because I charge a fair price for my work and have 100’s of repeat clients. Here check us out

            Now chew on that for awhile, I sleep very good at night charging what I do, cause I have no debt.

              • eric scott

                @A Photo Editor, why do you think I do what I do for a living. So I can do charity work. I love making snarky comments to people who act as though they know how to make a living at photography. Photography is no different then any other job. Tell the client you are going to do something for them and then do it. Deliver to them more then they expected and they call you back. Make a mistake and be big enough to admit it. Leave your clients feeling like they always get the best end of the deal.

                Yes I love doing charity work, and in order to do as much charity work as I do you must be able to make a living. And to make a living in photography you MUST have customers who trust you and keep coming back even 30 years later.

                  • eric scott

                    @A Photo Editor, I have never a doubt that people make more then me. I have a friend who shoots in Chicago. His studio does a million a year, way more then I make. And that is exactly my point, I want everyone to make a good living at this job. But you cant do that and complain all the time.

                    And you and I agree that value selling is a great thing. What people need to understand is that it is not the seller who determines the value. It is the person with the money.

                    A great example of someone with a product that should have made millions based on value would be Ansel Adams. He had a product that I would say is a gazillion times more valuable then mine. Guess what if you do your research you will see he struggled daily trying to figure out why his commercial clients could not put the same value on his work that he did. He struggled to make a living not because he was not a GREAT photographer but because he did not understand that the customer just didn’t see the same value. Now if a person could shoot like Ansel and learn how to figure out what the public valued it at he would be the richest photographer in the world.

            • @eric scott,

              You are cheapening the mission of the Patriot Guard when you use it to boost your own supposed moral high ground. It is good that you are active, in the PG, but remember: it ain’t about you.

      • eric scott

        @Norman Maslov, No not really. You see I would have charged them $225 per hour. My 1st shooter would have went and done the job and we would get a repeat client because we empowered them to get exactly what they wanted and NEEDED.

    • @eric scott, After perusing the banter back and forth on this topic, I have to interject that any professional merit that your business approach would hold is deeply overshadowed by your immature and unprofessional retorts and comments on how much money you claim to make, how much work you claim to do, how much your motorcycle costs, and how many computers and cameras you have. Bluntly put, you sound like a fool.

  14. eric scott

    and just so you know. Yes I do have a store front studio, yes I pay insurance, yes I run multiple Mac’s and yes I have multiple Canon 1 Ds Mk III bodies that I shoot with.

    I just like to shoot and I like money to purchase motorcycles.

    • Two Shits

      @eric scott,
      Thanks for sharing that you have multiple computers and cameras. I was curious.

  15. Justin Gadley

    @eric scott, just so we all understand where you’re coming from, is this you:

    If so, I promise you, that with the kind of clients normally talked about here, they won’t be coming back to you or your first shooter for another $500 job for the same reason that people who buy Versace jeans don’t want Walmart jeans, even if they are made in the same factory in China. It doesn’t matter that they’re cheap—they want and will buy $500 jeans not $15 jeans.

    It’s great that you’ve found a market that will support this work, but this kind of work is the reason people shouldn’t be charging $500 for jobs unless they want to shoot weddings and family portraits. If you are a shooter that can to handle high-end commercial jobs and you bid $225/hour, buyers will assume they will be getting something similar to the photographer behind It’s not what they want—you won’t even be considered.

    If you want a reality check, you should take your portfolio into a big ad agency in town and try to sell them on being cheaper. I suggest the the hyper-touch-up job with the guy in the blue tie.

    I love that you’re making money, really, but most photographers want to make money and do interesting work.

    • @Justin Gadley,

      Walmart makes billions and billions of dollars… can’t argue with that… I get Eric’s point though, and it’s not wrong. I’m going to guess he doesn’t give two shits about what some ad agency thinks. On the other hand, you are also right. Not everyone wants walmart.

      I think the purpose of anyone, photographer or not, is to achieve what makes them happy. If it requires a big ass ad campaign and a bunch of ‘attention’ (however fleeting or vacuous it may be), perhaps it’s time to rethink your priorities.

    • @Justin Gadley,
      Please tell me that it is him! got to love the crop job on the dogs

    • @Justin Gadley, Wow. That’s gotta be the most excessive use of the blur filter I’ve ever seen.

  16. hey Eric Scott, @450k a year out of a $400 per job, i got a brooklyn bridge to sell you, pal. and i’d want cash, too. ha!

    say, with all that dough on such a humble portfolio and in such a tiny market, why not get a real bike — so you can chill out a bit and spare us your charitable trolling — starting @75k, take a look:


    big abrazo, amigo!

  17. @eric scott just does not get it. I was recently approached by a large statewide Medicare Part B provider in Florida. They are starting a statewide newspaper ad campaign using full and 1/2 page ads, two to three times a week. They wanted a price to shoot several senior citizen couples for their advertisements.

    The art director called me and asked for a price over the phone for a couple of “portraits of seniors”. He was very reluctant in disclosing the use of the images only saying he wanted the digital files.

    Long story, short, I finally got it out of him just what they intended to do with the images. Now, I am a family portrait photographer in Florida, not a commercial photographer. I knew right away what he was doing. He was looking for a portrait photographer that would photograph the couples for a couple hundred dollars and relinquish the files.

    They will spend in excess of $100,000 on this ad campaign for a multi-million dollar company and they are hoping to find a starving photographer willing to do this job for a couple hundred dollars.

    The photos used in that ad campaign are certainly worth far more than a couple hundred, or even $500 in my view. I gave them my price and will never hear from them again. Some poor family portrait photographer that is finding it hard to make a living in this economy will undoubtedly just go take the shots, take $300 – $400 and know he can make his car payment that month.

    This, unfortunately, does nothing to promote proper fees for service, or value based selling as has been stated.

    I feel sorry for you commercial photographers out there. I get these bid requests regularly and have never been hired because I believe in “value based selling”.

    One more thing @eric scott, I am retired from a law enforcement career and do see photography, in my heart, as something other than an income generator. I just don’t treat it that way. It is not fair to my fellow photographers.

  18. @eric scott WOW… What a jack-ass. Do you spout off around clients like this? Or, do you save it for your ‘anonymous’ world online? You could have at least supplied your URL to add at least a drop of validity to your little rant.