I love it when my clients network for me. It doesn’t happen all the time but few things make you all warm and fuzzy inside like having people who hire you recommend you to their friends. It goes back that that reputation thing I mentioned a while ago. So the other day I get an e-mail about a potential commercial client from a good regular editor. I send a note to the lady in question and later on got a reply that she had already found another photographer but she wanted to keep me in your database because she really liked my folio. She asked about my pricing and would I work at a reduced fee for non-profits.
So I sent the following reply:
"Thanks for keeping me in mind. For non-editorial work I
don’t quote hourly but by the job. Hourly rates are bad for everyone
when it comes to photography since an efficient photographer will get
done faster than an non efficient one. So given that the "pro" will make
less than the "amateur" while the client pays more for lesser quality
work. I do work on a sliding scale depending on what is required and who
the client is. If I’m hired buy, say, Megacorp International then I’m
going to charge a whole lot more than for a shoot for Bob’s Corner
Boutique. Non-profits are a tough thing as many of them have plenty of
money and know full well that they have to get rid of it by the end of
their fiscal year. However just like the corporate deal above many are
small operations and I take their budget into consideration. I will
bring out of my pocket the "Starving artist/startup discount coupon" for
people/clients who I want to work for but they can’t afford my regular
rates. If I believe in the client then I often want to make my fee work
for their photography budget. So the short of it is: give me a call, get me excited about the project and
let’s see if we can make it work out. Very likely the answer will be
"Sounds like fun … let’s do it!"
I swear two minutes later she called me and after a quick discussion I got booked for it. The job in question is for the website of an assisted living community and the lady is their new PR person. I gave her a good quote for web only use both of us knowing that they will most likely want to use images from the shoot for print ads later for additional compensation. I’m thinking "stock" for my agency since they whole aging baby-boomer thing is starting to hit hard in the news cycle. Bonus all around.
Negotiation is always a rough thing for us artist types. We don’t like to put a monetary value on our work since it’s something that we love yet it’s so necessary. Business sense is usually the thing that photographers, like any other artist, either lacks or doesn’t want to bother with. I try to always keep them simple but have plenty of contracts on hand to pull out if necessary. Personally I want to work for fun and understanding people who will let me "do my thing" without any fuss on either side. I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to get work because I was: available, cheap, or good enough to emulate another photographers style. I want people to hire me for what I do and how I see the world. Price is a matter of what value the work has to the client – pure and simple. But still I often cringe when I quote a client especially when I’m excited to be considered for a cool project.