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Lesson 22 from: Concept-Driven Commercial Photography

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

22. Pricing

Lesson Info


Okay, so I get a lot of calls a lot of questions on pricey and the problem with pricing is is we don't understand how pricing works in the real world we kind of do but we have a problem and so john remember this picture this was shot at the workshop with scandinavian photo john's invitation that he came to sweden so thank you jon um all right so let's talk about pricing and um the number one goal if you're in business the number one goal is to what make a profit I had to say that who capitalism we're gonna make a profit the problem is is that as a young photographer and as a young businessman most of us don't know where our profit line is we don't know if we're making money or losing money so the number one thing you gotta do is say am I making money? Can I make money so you go okay? So when you price you got to say after all the dust is settled and I'm making a prophet now you gotta factor in your studio rental or whatever it is that you've got all these other things too not your hear...

t cost I used to be called hard cost I'm not an expert in all the terms of of you know this but you got to say where's my profit line so when you put a bid in you can't go under that you will be in business long so here's the problem that a lot of us make I'll give you a story I was about a year or so into my denver days knocking on doors and I got a call from the ad agency they said we like to have you come look at a project so I'm not per folio I was so excited I'm walking up the steps of the ad agency and out the door comes the number one photographer in denver at that time he's coming out the door with his portfolio I'm walking up here's no I am a p on a beginner and I watched him go buy good looking guy little grey on the side is of his sideburns strutting by me and I just go that's how our so called he's the big dog in town and I'm thinking, wait a minute he's here for the same job time bidding on or it being called in for my heart kind of does a little skip right there's no way I can compete with howard socal my knees get a little weak my confidence starts to shatter so I go into the meeting thinking ok let's, get this thing over with showing portfolio there looking through my portfolio they say would it cost for two days photography couple models bob I said I'm not five thousand dollars usually don't want to put a bid on it like that but in those days I did so I said you have five thousand dollars and so they count person and talking they said, well, congratulations you got the job I got what you got the job. I think I have a question for you. Uh, I just saw how are so could go out the building was here for the same job I wass they said yes, well, howard is like the number one dog in town. I mean, uh, why would you hire me over him? They said we really wanted howard, but we asked howard how much he would charge for two days in the models and whatever and he said, ten thousand dollars but we don't have ten thousand. We have to get the best photographer we can with the budget we got that shattered my whole world right there. I thought that the best photographer in town got the job it's the best photographer they could've ford, everyone has a budget. And so when you want let's say, you gotta buy used car and you go on that used car lot you're walking along and there's a mercedes sl what I running down the names three hundred z x something like what I love to have that price tags forty eight thousand and you got ten grand in your hand you got a budget ten grand so you passed that you go straight to little hondas toyotas used that's what a ten grand gesture you want that car but you can't buy it so when it comes down to the decision making in the real world the best photographer doesn't always get the job it's the best photographer they can afford so when you price I said five thousand dollars right? So my head I said okay I got assistant I gotta pay for this this this this this movement and if I charge here I can make two thousand dollars well, howard's got five people working for him you got a big studio he's the big dog in town he cannot do it for five thousand dollars. We're gonna go into that a minute here let's see what my next like this because it's important to understand about bidding and pricing um okay keeping your overhead cost down gives you an opportunity more competitive so a lot of fun I was going to get big studio I'm gonna have a big glass windows with a big huge dirt tran prince in it I'm gonna have a fountain of spits up soda you know, whatever it is woo the clients well yeah that's going to cost you and that makes you less competitive, so be careful on how big you want your image to be in terms of spending money on a studio in a staff and all that stuff because it makes you less competitive and when I said when I came in the eighties in denver we put out all the big photographers out of business all the big studio model models that were in town they're about five big dog studios in denver and they all went out of business because the sun young avatar was we shared studios we worked out the back of our cars or whatever it was and we started kicking butt I'll talk about that in a minute we're gonna get I think too that slide here in a minute all right in the marketplace there's always a slot to fill so this is so important to understand okay, so you wedding photographers here right here's what happens? I used to go to these meetings I'm gonna tell you what association was because I'm a filly with some good associations now I'm with people a and stuff but I used to go to these meetings and the photographers we'll all sit around a wine someone sells lowballing us this for different towns lowballing us why mumbai mother underpricing is undercutting us baba baba baba and I just could handle any more but wedding photographers do this all the time you get it but I'm in the room together they talk about all the photographers that are coming are they undercutting you know you think they are because you hear oh so also photographer just shot a wedding for five hundred dollars can you believe that and so here's the thing there's a slot to fill someone on lee has five hundred dollars and there's someone that can fill the slot now if you shoot a wedding and you say I got it I got to shoot a wedding for five thousand dollars does that person affect you at all? No, not at all they're filling a slot you're filling a slot you might go down to four thousand dollars if you really are getting tight and you want to get work if you're really busy here so hates eight grand man I'm booked so solid you gonna fluctuate little bit but you could never do it for five hundred bucks so is this person undercutting you know there's always a slot to fill we understand that there's always a honda than that low and honda there's a high end honda that is acura there's volkswagen's and there's portions there's out ease there's always a slot to fill there's cars you can spend a million dollars on they make three of the year whatever company that is but you know lamborghinis and whatever there's a slot he's howl know heck is someone afford a million dollar car because you're a billionaire but we in our mind believe that that's competition is not competition because you have a slot to feel what you have to do is this sermon where in your slot is that's the hardest part and so part of the slot is thatyou overtime you work your way up the food chain you started out in a college doing weddings for five hundred bucks then there's a thousand bucks you get better than preaching the demands of two thousand bucks. Next thing you know you're shooting for ten thousand dollars a wedding you work your way up, you don't start at ten thousand dollars so you feel the slots as you get better and as your reputation gets better and as you understand the industry better but you have to work your way up, you can't start at the top of the food chain and so that's a misnomer people want to go and you know, so this whole idea of low balling and underpricing is this negativity ism in the industry that everybody wants to sit around and wine so here's the thing if you go and you are priced at five thousand a wedding and you're not getting any weddings, you got two problems one is you just may be too high the market value's not really it's just there's not enough five thousand dollar weddings out there maybe that's part of problem or your work hasn't increased enough in quality to snag in the five thousand dollar weddings so you've got to go back and start working on your techniques go and take models, put him in a wedding dress, go on, create some of the really cool content and then start marketing it and I'll send pretty soon people go oh ho ho I want what is it was a cost for a wedding you say five grand oh, no problem ten grand or whatever one hundred grand for a wedding you build your way up by new quality your work and you might wantto market uncertain magazines you put an ad in the back of a magazine draw attention get work but, um this whole idea lowballing drives me crazy because there's no such thing really oh it's all so I've had photographers call b up they've been on the same job I did and I was a little lower and they chewed me out why? Because they thought I underbid them no, I don't have a biggest duty like you I'm not paying the same amount of money you're paying every month I could go less does that make me a bad person? You know that makes me a smart person so this whole industry gets so wrapped up in this under my bidding on ball bawling all this stuff is crazy be competitive, cheaper cost down work your way up the ladder so I have a thing about bidding okay, so in the um in the actual like when I had a phone call right now and someone will say to me here's what we want could you give us a bid? Okay, we have five days we got this this this this this this ok, do you give us a quote? So I have a thing says bidding the bidding process there's no different than playing blackjack in vegas so I don't know what their budget is now people ask me, do they ever give you your budget? Yes, they d'oh about thirty five percent of time. They will actually give me the budget or I ask him what's your budget. All right, what do you say we don't have a budget lie now? They may have not an actual budget, but they haven't understanding because they know their client, so they know that they're gonna put me put a bid in and they know that clients spend a hundred grand for this. Let me spend thirty grand for it so they haven't understanding, but but really everybody has a guideline or a budget that they're gonna work off. And so when I go and put my bid together, I have to number one, I think it's my next question my next slide is I have to ask all the right questions, so if there's any art directors listening out there this is a little game that they play and that is this is they're going to give you his little amount of information as possible so I go wait do we need a helicopter for this well yeah well he didn't ask for that okay so I gotta put in for a helicopter did know that okay so do we need you know blah blah blah blah all these things ward do we need a wardrobe stylists well yeah ok well I've cost you know eight hundred bucks a day for a person to come out do we need this we do this and so what happens is when I do when I get a bid I have to ask all the right questions sometimes it's annoying when I do that I called marjorie okay do we need a helicopter uh well uh well I have to know that do we need the wardrobe stylist we knew this and it's like that's all the questions then I can give it accurate bid if I don't get all the right information then I'm gonna put a bid in and they're gonna go you're hired then if I find out there's a lot more in I needed that I thought john lee and what aboutyou given like a basic been plus expenses well not normal well okay so what we do here in the states is we'll say we have a day rate or we'll call it a creative fee or photography or per usage per image things like that and you say how many images need five inches okay let put it cost together some cost you prima much per image but so there's lots of ways of doing how you gonna actually word it but in the end there's a bottom line so if you want to have you have your creative feet plus uses right so we could spend another hour on usage rights here talking about that um but the bottom line is I need to know everything they expect from me so when you're doing a wedding you sit down the bride put it in a fridge a bride and the mother you would probably say what your expectations what do you want and then they say we want a picture of grandma would want this what that whatever then when you get all done you give the pictures to go what about on uncle henry? You forgot to get a picture of uncle henry. Well, did you ask for that? No. Well, uncle henry he's a character he should have gotten a picture of uncle henry. Well, okay, so you didn't ask if you can expect if you didn't ask so you got asked all the right questions expect what what it is that they want and then you put a knackered bid in and so it's a lot of work to put a bid in it's not easy can just punch in all these numbers go there's a bid magical not the door goes I have programs that help assist me but the problem is is if I don't ask the question and they think later it's a general expectation that I want to eat it there goes my profit so be careful when you're putting a bit and that you asked all the right questions is going to save you a lot so learned the art of negotiating so when you're in a bidding process so let's say I go to aa meeting and I and they say joe, we really like really wants you to do this and we have a budget of ten grand and you bid at twelve and and we got another photographer that could do it for ten but we like to see if we could get you to ten and you sit there going really tanked you think that's a little tight, you know? But I'm kind of hungry I could use the work and so the art of negotiation is you say you don't say ok you say here's what I'll do you give me this and I'll give you that so let's say it's um uh magazine and you say you give me one hundred magazines with my cover on it that way I could send out to all my clients has a problem peas you get something back that's no garden negotiating so um or you say look, I'll do it for ten grand if you haven't any report coming up you hire me to tow the report I'll do this project for you for ten grand ok? So that's the art of negotiating I learned that is that you if you give up something you get something in return somehow and and that's kind of a fun thing to dio but uh you know when you are working with someone who has the art of negotiating and they keep on getting the stuff out of you because they know how that works and so but give us something for free and even on the set if I'm doing a shoot and they go oh, can we do this shot over here is not even a part of the whole bid you say well that's more than what we asked for oh yeah okay, yeah, I'll do that but here's what I want return so uh maybe they don't have the budget to send you money but you get something get something that's the art of negotiating in the end prices a single greatest determining factor who gets tired hired man we talked about that me walking out the door in the door with uh howard socal so I'll leave it at that any questions on the internet there one quick question you mentioned programs that you used to help you figure out costs and all that too. I want to mention which programs well, yeah. Um let's see? It's called. I'm drawing a blank on the other lights here. It's called bid bid um why can't remember right? I use it all the time. Um let me get him to give us a thought. What I did though. There's a lot of them out there if people follow you on facebook on the ground in photography yeah. It's called uh you can't think about it in the next two minutes. Yeah, I'll come to me in a second. But here's the thing over the years, I actually with a friend of mine we built our own one time it took us two years. I used it for about twelve years. It did everything. And then it was all the old west nine. You know, an apple back when you guys probably know apple existence and then I had to switch. And, uh it's been it's been a challenge? Um, I don't do weddings and things like that, and so they have some programs that are really designed for wedding photographers, the commercial advertising photographer not as much available, but there are programs out there that it can assist you in the bidding process linc bid blink bid there we go that's it how did you know someone in the chat room uh let's see ncl okay, so blink that this is not a very expensive program but it's enough to get you through the steps and it's really simple and, uh bleep it okay love it all right with that I think we are pretty close toe ending here do you have any final thoughts for these two days? I mean, obviously you're back tomorrow but jeff any final thoughts on this kind of subject of commercial photography of this creative expression the lighting, the photography all that I hope that as a whole if you've been able to tune in for the last two days that you get a sense that number one it's possible whether it's lighting um photoshopped or getting out and created income it's possible it's not easy but it's possible and the beautiful thing is is that if you have a love for it like I do yes work but it is not it's kind of fun you know I make a fun even marketing I make fun if I don't make it fun. That is a lot harder for me to do so like for giving example real quick I get emails all the time they asked me, do you stock photography for your backgrounds or do you buy your backgrounds and I say, well, let me ask you a question. Are you an artist? Yes. Would you want to use somebody else's, art, work in your work? Not really. Then go do your own backgrounds. Well, what does it take to get your own backgrounds is a lot of work, so I'm out all the time shooting backgrounds, but there's a love in it. In fact, when I shoot backgrounds now, I'm like a little kid starting in photography all over. I got my tripod, my camera, and I'm roaming the streets or wherever it is, walking the beaches. I'm having a blast, shooting backgrounds, so the good news is I'm an artist, and that forces me to do my own thing, and then there's a love in the joy of it.

Ratings and Reviews


Fantastic!! He is so down to earth and humble. His work is unique an exceptional and he shares his techniques, experience, tricks, and best of all his life stories that took him to where he is now. One of the best instructors in CL. I love how he checks the ego at the door and just shares his art and techniques with us. I definitely recommend this course and I was lucky enough to get it at a great discounted price but it is worth its regular price imho.


He's my new favorite instructor, there are many CL instructors I really like but the second I watched and heard him I bought the course, love his style, love his knowledge and the way he conveys it. His way of Frequency separation is fantastic and pretty precise and takes care of a lot of flaws. Learned lots! Thanks Joel! Thank heavens I am not color blind ;)


Joel makes it easy to follow when it comes to editing and shooting. He is a wonderful teacher and very easy to learn from. I enjoyed the photoshop techniques he taught as well as his approach to lighting. My favorite part is his advice on business it's very motivating and inspirational. I thoroughly enjoyed this course!

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