I generally prefer if the photographers do not know the budget since the estimates are often an indication as to how the photographer likes to work.   If I say, “we have $100,000” then all the estimates pretty much come in at $100,000 and I don’t know if perhaps the photographer could have done it for $75,000 and they are just padding it since we seem to have the money.

via Sharing Estimating Insights from Amy Rivera of DDB LA | Notes From A Rep’s Journal.

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  1. And photographers do not like to “leave money on the table;” it’s a “dance” every time we create an estimate. “What’s your budget?” is my first question.

  2. Actually I just read that whole interview there after commenting on a prior quote posted here, and these quotes on APE are being taken largely out of context. I recommend that anyone commenting go read the whole thing first. It’s pretty balanced from a business point of view.

  3. I agree with the AB. One role of the buyer is to get the best work at the best price. I rarely ask the budget at first unless I think its going to be really low for some reason and thus putting together an estimate is a waste of both our time.

    You should ask for amounts you’re happy with at the production level you believe it requires. Asking for a budget up front is the wrong foot. At best, you’re talking about money instead of creative (bad impression), at worst you look like you don’t know how to produce.

    If I’m car shopping the salesman doesn’t want to leave money on the table either, but I’m definitely not telling him my budget.

    Now, if following the estimate is a dance about dropping the numbers, then I ask for a target and go from there.

  4. This is a great interview to read from top to bottom.

    I agree the quote comes across tougher than the interview itself is – it’s in itself very balanced and fair.

    I much appreciate these links on the sidebar to articles I otherwise may have missed.

  5. Wonderful, honest interview, great read. From the photographers pov, the reason to get a budget idea is to understand what kind of production value the client is looking for. The same layout can be $100k or with cutting corners come in at $75k. It comes to experience in production. We sometimes have to pull rabbits out of hats for a production, so how big a rabbit and how big of a hat do I need? Sometimes the rabbit is too big, and the hat too small. meaning $100k is not enough for what is needed. Why wast the time doing a complicated $200k estimate when the client only has $100k? But the reasons stated for not giving a budget are valid. Budgeting and estimating is a dance and works best when both sides are honest with each other.

  6. I think it’s just ignorance on the part of any art buyer to play the game of cat and mouse with photographers and a budget. If you are direct and all estimates come in around the given budget then all there is to do is decide on which style of photography is best for the job. Photographers are taken advantage of all the time and if there is a major ad campaign the art buyer should know better and be willing to pay the photographer a fair amount (without all the back-and-forth). This is how photographers’ work and creativity gets undervalued.

    Many art buyers do not come from a shooting background and this creates the misunderstanding of what a photographer’s work should be valued at. Art buyers should be defending photographers and standing up for the amount of work that goes into creative calls, prep, shoot, post, etc. Many clients and art directors only think of the actual shoot day and don’t really care what goes into the production for ads/campaigns. The cost savings is working with the photographer to examine line items and any extraneous expenses that could be eliminated. Also by being upfront with a budget you know right away if any photographers are not willing to work within the specified amount and can move forward with other candidates. The art buyer should always know the production level of any photographer by looking at their samples and work.

    I’ve had reps ask me questions why their photographers didn’t get the job and it’s better to be honest with them so they can figure things out and understand why their photographer didn’t get it. Who cares if you tell them who got the job? Reps ask the art buyers questions because their photographers want to know who they’re competing against and so they can probably analyze their photographer’s style or estimates/bids (if the art buyer didn’t give a budget). I have never had a rep argue with me when I’ve answered questions.

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