How much does a photograph of a piece of jewelry cost?
How do you put a price on a lovely photograph of a piece of jewelry or other product. It should be priceless, right. Not quite. Over the last 35 years this has been an endless question that has come up. So to give some insight into how one figures the cost of a photo I am about to give more information then you ever want to know. Enjoy.
Traditionally there has been three different means for setting a price for taking a photograph.
The first method is fairly straightforward. A photographer is offering their time to perform a creative service – taking a picture. As with most service projects or jobs it is normal priced by how much of a photographers time it takes to perform the task. So it is often billed by the hour or fraction of hour. In photography we also have day rate or a half-day rate which a photographer charges per day to be on the project. Now there might also be materials or other expenses that are needed to complete the task and those get added on (in the past film and processing would be a significant material cost). Sounds simple time plus materials and expensive equal cost of a photograph but it starts to get complicated real fast.
How do you figure what to charge per hour or per day? This time period fee can make a big difference on what a final photograph will cost. As with any service base job, whether it is photography, jewelry repair or custom jewelry design, you look at operational overhead and expenses and reputation. There are college course taught (having taken a few) on all of the factors that go into calculating this so I won’t attempt to go into it here. But the calculation for operational overhead and expenses is pretty much just a break-even analysis. The calculation for reputation gets more complex. If you are a jewelry designer you may already have a feel for what goes into this. I will note that two important factors of reputation are quality/creativity of the photographer’s work and speed of completing a project. Through all of this you come up with an hourly rate or day rate for taking a photograph. It is not just pulling a number out of the air but is based on sound business practice.
There is a sub category of time and material pricing which is piecework. This would be a fix price for doing a certain type of photograph. This type of pricing is often used for portrait work. There is often a fix sitting fee that is charge or a package price. With this type a photograph it is something that is done repeatedly and has certain boundaries for what is done. The photographer knows how long it will take and how much materials are needed to complete the project. In product photography this might also occur and for me this is my Classic Photo Service.
Next post will be on licensing.