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Seeking guidance on commissioned work...

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Ray Sachs, May 21, 2014.

  1. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    First off, I'm not sure if the Watering Hole is the place to raise this question, but I didn't see a more appropriate place - so if this isn't the place and there's a better one, any moderator should please feel free to move this to the apporpriate location...

    So a friend of mine who runs our County's farmland preservation program really seems to like my photographs. I've done a bunch of shooting in one of our farmland preserves (because it's near my town and a beautiful place to walk) that he's seen and he's interested in commissioning me to shoot a LOT of the farms that they've bought up development rights on as part of the preservation effort. I think the use would be for their website, maybe an annual calendar, fundraising material, etc, etc. I'd love to do it - I'd be happy to get access to a lot of these farms to shoot even if I wasn't getting paid. And if I can get the County to pay my expenses (mileage on the car mostly) and a modest amount for the photography, so much the better.

    But I have no idea how much to ask. Is something like this generally done on a per-photo basis (and, if so, what would be reasonable to ask per photo?) or is it usually done as a flat fee for an overall project, with rights to use up to X number of photos? Would I retain the rights to the photos if I wanted to also sell a few independently (I'd imagine the visibility could lead to a few requests to buy prints) or would they own the work outright?

    I've never done anything like this before and don't have a clue how to go about it. I'm not looking to make a lot and I'm quite sure they're not looking to spend a lot, but there would be a fair amount of time involved and I would like to get paid for it.

    ANY insight from those of you who have done anything like this would be really helpful. I've really resisted doing any paid work up until now but this would be kind of a labor of love that would be used in my local community and I'd like to do it.

    Thanks for any of your thoughts,

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 2
  2. Year77

    Year77 SC Rookie

    10
    May 20, 2014
    Michigan
    Jim Basara
    When I was doing marine work. I would charge $300 per boat/yacht with a minimum 50 shots/boat. That included PP and uploading to the website with usually 20 keepers. I would do sometimes 10 boats at a time.
    You can charge whatever you want but I don't step out of the house anymore for less than $300 for any photo shoot. Keep in mind, there will be several hours of your time in PP.

    I would ask them for one site to do some test shots on and give them a sample or two of your work. If they are happy with the results, you can ask your price. Another way to price this is to estimate your man hours and charge a reasonable hourly rate for the entire job. I think you'll find that once you start adding up the time required, it gets significant. Another consideration is weather and light. You will need to shoot in favorable conditions which may limit your window of opportunity and add additional time to the job. You may also have to re-shoot some sites due to poor exposures. Real-estate photography is time consuming because you have to get a real good feel for the property to show it off nicely in photographs.

    It's always a good idea to find out what their expectations and resources are before you begin the negotiations. If they say "we don't know what a fair price would be", just tell them a professional would charge at least $600 for a basic wedding shoot and that doesn't include prints. They may balk at that right away and then you're left with the decision as to whether or not you want to do someone a favor and do it for next to nothing. I wouldn't. Assure the client they made a good choice in seeking out a professional and what that will do in helping to increase their bottom line. Be a salesman and make a buck!

    Have fun.

    Jim
     
    • Like Like x 3
  3. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Ray,

    I can't tell your about what fee structure you should have, but I have seen two different setups with regard to rights.

    1. (Higher price) The customer owns the images outright and is responsible for storing them, managing them, using them.

    2. (A lower price) You shoot the pictures for a particular use at a set fee and you keep and maintain the images. If the customer comes back to you for another usage, you negotiate the price for that. (I've seen this in the case of shooting pix for a news release and client later wants to use the same image in an advertising campaign.)

    Another thought: in my work as a freelance writer and marketing consultant to high tech firms, I would work under three different structures: per job (usually estimating a range ahead of time), a retainer (in which I would do a planned amount of work each month for a set monthly fee) and an hourly rate.

    I would encourage you to poke around the internet a lot to see how other photographers structure their working arrangements.

    Oh, yeah -- congratulations! It's a testament to your work, which I have admired.

    Cheers, Jock
     
    • Like Like x 4
  4. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    You will likely get some very good advice on how to charge and how much to charge. My only advice is to get it all in writing. It needn't be written in legalese, but write down what you will receive in compensation and what you will provide in exchange for that fee.

    FWIW, Jock's #2 suggestion is how I would do it. I would estimate how many hours it would take to do the "job" and what my time is worth. And obviously, it's a sliding scale when you enjoy your work. But I would certainly retain rights to the photos (although I would also be very free-wheeling with letting them use them in nearly any way they see fit......short of selling them).
     
    • Like Like x 4
  5. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Sounds like this could be something you'd really enjoy, Ray, for all the reasons you outline in your first post. I can't add anything into the mix, however I wanted to say I hope it works out for all concerned. I'd keep the rights to the photos.

    P.S. I suppose there may be some sort of charitable donation option involved in something like this but the work could turn out to be very time consuming.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Thanks for the suggestions. Since I'm starting from scratch, this is really helpful stuff. I like the idea of doing a flat rate (plus mileage on my car) for a given defined job of shooting X number of properties and producing up to X number of photos for their use, which they could choose from among however many good ones I shoot (my call in terms of what to process and to present to them as options). Then they could use them for almost whatever purposes they want. Surely for any online stuff, for presentations, for their own publications, etc. But I'd retain ownership and if anyone wanted to buy prints, they'd still be mine to sell, not theirs. A somewhat gray area to me would be something like an annual calendar or cookbook that they might produce for sale to raise funds. That's somewhere between using my stuff for their purposes and selling it for their own profit, so I'll have to think about that one. Then again, they don't generally raise money that way - it's usually coming from various public agencies and then it's more a matter of presentations and proposals, which they'd clearly be free to use the images in.

    I think I could work out all of that. I guess I'm not sure how much I'd want to charge them for a season's work for however many properties and however many photos. Keeping in mind I'm not a professional photographer and don't have any desire to become one, I wouldn't try to base it on my time at some theoretical hourly rate. I'd ENJOY the actual shooting and processing - it would mostly be the travel out to the farthest outposts of the county and the hour of the day I might want to shoot that might eventually start to feel like work and what I'd want some compensation for. But I can figure out an amount I'd be comfortable with and they'll figure out an amount they'll be willing to spend and if there's some overlap, this should probably work out. I'd probably work pretty cheap though because it would be a project I'd really feel good about doing and the benefits it could help bring about. So I'd ask enough so that I wouldn't feel bad about driving out to the western edge of the county for a winter sunset over snowy fields or something but nothing that would equate to actually making a living based on the hours spent.

    If there are more ideas, please keep 'em coming. But this is already very helpful stuff.

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 3
  7. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Ray, There is a blog called A Photo Editor that has good advice on just such things. But be aware that he'll harp every now and then on people doing work for free, which takes work away from paid photographers. That's really up to you, but in any case it's a great opportunity and a great opportunity to research the topic of fees, contracts, rights, etc. If it was me I would charge them a fee that you feel is feasible for them (a token fee simply to say "I won't do it for free because I'm providing you with a valuable service") while focusing on getting the legal angle in your favor. That said, if they are a non-profit they may be looking for pro-bono work. So perhaps focus on the legal aspect (ownership, attribution) and find a way to broach the topic of cost. But again, if it helps them fundraise the photos have value.

    As others have said, keep the rights in your name if possible so you can continue to use them however you like.

    Sounds great. We support a local land trust organization - Marin Agricultural Land Trust - and I've often longed to be able to photograph the farms and people working them. They focus on keeping land intact for agricultural use and protecting against development. It has been very successful and in fact a lot of the families younger generations are "returning to the farm."

    It's great that you can help support such protections in your community.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  8. Petach

    Petach SC All-Pro

    Oct 22, 2011
    UK, Essex
    Peter Tachauer
    Ray, your thoughts are exactly mine. I do some work for a local "realtor". I shoot their high end properties if the vendor wants a "special" job done. For me......it ain't work. It is fun and I get enough cash out of it to feed a lens or camera habit and take the fragrant Mrs T out for a nice meal. If it became work....I'd walk away from it. I nose around houses, meet interesting people and relish the challenge of how to present a certain room in the best way possible. I don't count time. I shoot until I am happy. I edit and put the edits on a dongle. I am a fire and forget guy. Job done and move on. I am never going to use those shots for anything else, so copyright means nothing to me. The whole thing could end tomorrow....may get no more work at all.

    I charge an amount where the vendor does not feel stiffed and where I feel instinctively that I have "done ok"

    This is one of my recent ones

    http://www.housescape.org.uk/cgi-bin/full.pl?&pry1&&PRY1000034&&
     
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  9. john m flores

    john m flores SC All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2012
    For photography, I have a day rate. I estimate, to the nearest half day how long an assignment will take and multiply that by my day rate. I include post-processing time in that estimate as well as travel time if it is significant. I usually retain the rights. By all means get it down in writing and make sure everyone has the same expectations.

    Sounds like an interesting assignment. One thing to think about as you take the photos - a hundred years from now your photos may well be the best documentation of the farms as they were in 2014. Maybe check the local library or historical society for old photos of the farms and try to identify where some of them were photographed. Also take notes (GPS coordinates?) on where your shots are taken. Some historian 100 years from now (or longer) will thank you!

    Best of luck.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  10. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    a couple great points here......seriously. All that stuff will be gone sooner rather than later.
     
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  11. Landshark

    Landshark PhotoDog

    Jul 15, 2010
    SoCal
    Bob
    Ray, there are many different ways to look at this.
    Professional photographers can basically looked at in three categories, with a number of sub categories.
    First is the traditional wedding, portrait; they charge based on a delivered product, the wedding album, and the portrait. They do not separate their fee from the delivered project, usually delivering a promised number of images, they mostly retain their photo rights, so they can bill the client for any reprints, but rarely use or sell the images to anyone else. The sad thing is this the photo business model most amateur buyers and clients know, it is their reference point.

    Next is the project based assignment photographer, hired to do a travel piece, a story about coal miners, a company annual report. They usually charge for the project or with some magazines it is a small fee and then a fee for each image used. Their fee covers the creative time but not any expenses, rights usage are negotiated, as to how, how many times and ownership, each impacting the final fee.

    Lastly there is the advertising/ general photo model, they charge a day rate, sometimes a half day, the day rate is based on the job, what it is for, national add or company newsletter will affect the fee. It is also based on the experience or name of the photographer, the client’s budget, final usage and ownership.
    Most amateur clients have more difficulty understanding paying someone a fee with out an attached number of images) like an album). Anyway this category usually splits down the line into limited rights usage and “work for hire” (a buyout”. Most clients prefer a buyout, whether they use the images in the future or not, they do not like dealing with the photographer again, paying again in the future. The only problem here is they also do not like paying the fee increases that a buyout brings. Most photographers charge any where from twice to four times their normal rate for a buyout. Even in a buyout situation most still retain limited rights for self-promotion, just no commercial use. Also again expenses are always extra.

    As to what to charge it is whatever you feel comfortable with and they are willing to pay. Also as Luke said always put everything in writing, even an e-mail, for whatever reason people seem to forgot what was said in the beginning when it comes time to write a check. Hope this helps
     
    • Like Like x 4
  12. Archiver

    Archiver SC Top Veteran

    618
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    To add to the excellent advice here: every condition must go into email/written form, and preferably be signed and dated by the commissioning party. You could try the squeaky way and add the clause, 'proceeding with the work outlined indicates understanding and acceptance of these terms and conditions', but that may not be legally defensible.

    Take into consideration:

    - travel costs and wear and tear on your vehicle
    - estimated time of shooting
    - estimated time of post processing
    - the somewhat nebulous question of what your own time is worth
    - what the client is willing to pay - if your fee is significantly more than what they are willing to pay, do NOT take the commission, as lowering your prices too much will devalue the market's perception of the worth of photography.

    Think carefully about:

    - rights and ownership - for example, I NEVER surrender my ownership or copyrights to work I do. I retain all all ownership and copyrights, and the client gains varying levels of distribution rights depending on how fee structure.
    - rights to edit your work, or on-sell your work. Personally, I would never allow this, unless specific permissions and a royalty fee was involved.
    - the circumstances under which your work will be used, and for how long, For example, online presentation, printed promotional material, prints to be displayed, advertising etc. You may wish to limit the amount of time that your work can be used, and you may also wish to limit the kinds of media in which it can be presented.
    - attributions if desired
    - number of images
    - delivery format and method, eg, jpegs uploaded to Dropbox

    Your written contractual agreement should allow for all of this and cover how much you will be paid, payment terms including deposit and remittance period, and anything else you can think of that will cover you.

    Add indemnity clauses that protect you from damages to property in the period of your work, or from anything that may arise as a result of your work. You don't want the client suing you for damages that might come about from the use of your photographs, or for you losing the photographs, however remote that possibility.

    Another thing to consider is model and property release. These are easy to find on the internet, and I use a combination of model and property release. Keep release forms short and simple, and as general as you can make them. Make sure you get these signed. Scan them and include the scanned files in your records. Again, you don't want some senile farmer turning up years later and saying, 'dad gummit, ya'll never had mah permission ta shoot mah propertay!'

    Lots to think about, I know, but these are very important issues for anyone who wants to sell their images, time and work. There's more, but this is what comes to mind as most important.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Wow, a LOT of very good and very detailed advice here, but a bit overwhelming as well. I'm not a pro and, frankly, a lot of the detailed advice you folks are giving me confirms to me that I have no desire to go in that direction.

    In terms of lowering my fees devaluing the market's perception of the worth of photography, that's an important generalized market concern but this is something that a friend of mine dreamed up because he likes my photos of similar farmland and thought he might be able to do something cool for me and for his agency by working something out. And also I think part of it is just the chance for the two of us to work on something together again - we worked at the same place about 20 years ago for a few years before going in slightly different directions professionally and before I completely left the field about five years back. There's absolutely zero chance that he'd put this out for bids from professional photographers - if I do this it could be good for both of us, but it I don't it simply won't happen. And if I asked for anything close to what a pro would ask or if I charged based on my time at anywhere close to a rate a pro would use or anywhere close to what I would have been paid hourly during my professional career, it also won't happen.

    This is a government agency that essentially helps local farmers who want to stay on their land by buying development rights to their land. So the farmers get a cash infusion by selling the rights, they're not subject to the temptation to sell out to development and their property taxes go down because the land is taxed only as farmland rather than based on it's development potential. They use governement funds (it's a county agency but most funding comes from the federal and state government, so they have to do their share of begging/marketing). They also work with a lot of private conservation orgianizations like the Land Trust that Andrew mentioned a few posts back, who can sometimes take an easement against future development which provides other tax benefits to the farmers, both in terms of property and estate taxes, so that they can actually pass the farms on to the next generation. Its often a combination of this agency and one or two private organizations that gets a deal done to preserve a farm.

    The bottom line is there's not a lot of money floating around for marketing - probably next to none. There's probably a little bit of money available for consultant fees that he may be able to tap into, but not a lot. If I can help them out, it would largely be a labor of love. I love the area I live in, I rely on local farmers for much of what I eat, I've spent many years riding my bike through the beautiful farmland in this and surrounding counties, and I'd like to see it continue if there are legit ways to make it economically viable for the farmers who want to stay on the land to do so.

    I would absolutely insist on the County's mileage rate for wear and tear on my car - I don't drive much, I expect my current car to last another 20 years at least (assuming I do!), and this project will actually be the most consistent use it's gotten since I bought it six years ago. I'd also like to make a bit of money just to validate the work a bit and to give me that last little bit of incentive/motivation to head out to one of these farms to shoot when I might not optimally feel like it. But I wouldn't be looking for anything like a living wage, even if extrapolated out into full time work... I think I can work out the rights and attribution stuff easily enough. Basically they can use the images they get for as long as they like and for whatever they want short of directly selling prints - if anyone actually wants to buy a print, that would have to come through me. But the one thing I just have to figure out for myself is how much is fair to me and fair (and possible) for them. It isn't gonna be a lot and if I went with some of the very well-intentioned advice given here, the project just wouldn't happen. So, that part I'll figure out...

    But there are a lot of details covered in the advice here that I'd have never thought of - the GPS thing makes a lot of sense although I'm not sure Google Maps won't do a better job of documenting changes in land over time.

    So, again, THANK YOU all very much. There's tons here for me to think about. The basic question of what to charge is still down to me and the guy who runs the agency. But this will help me work out a lot of details of whatever agreement we come to.

    -Ray
     
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  14. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Keep us posted, Ray! From a strictly selfish point of view, I do hope you'll be allowed to share your photos via the Internet because I know I'm not alone in wanting to see these places! I think it's a great project and one that will make you feel very good.

    I'll be waiting in the wings.:drinks:
     
    • Like Like x 3
  15. Fiddler

    Fiddler SC Veteran

    241
    Dec 5, 2010
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Colin
    I can't offer any advice Ray, but I can say that your work is right there amongst the best I've ever seen.

    Good luck with this project.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Landshark

    Landshark PhotoDog

    Jul 15, 2010
    SoCal
    Bob
    Ray at the end of the day all one can do is charge what both you and the client are happy with. Good luck with the project
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    maybe you could start the conversation asking how many zeros would be on your check....then based on that answer, you can suggest the number that comes in front of the zeros. :biggrin:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Briar

    Briar SC All-Pro

    Oct 27, 2010
    Scotland
    Karen
    That's a sensible approach for this type of project. It's what I would do.

    Congratulations on this opportunity Ray. It sounds like a worthy project which I'm sure you will enjoy. I hope too we can view your work. As always, it will be great!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. PapaDee

    PapaDee SC Regular

    57
    Apr 18, 2011
    Springfield, Virginia USA
    David
    A great conversation. You guys are the best and I also would love to see the pictures.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. john m flores

    john m flores SC All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2012
    Or you could say, "$100"

    and if they don't blink, add "per farm"

    and if they still don't blink, add "per field or building"

    Just keep going until they blink.