The final pricing method that is the ultimate decider “what the market will bear.”
The last and perhaps the ultimate way to figure a photograph’s price is “what the market will bear.” The must answer question for this is “for someone seeking a photograph of their jewelry or product or person how much are they willing to pay or what is it ultimately worth of the photo to them?” This ultimate marketing question they teach graduate business school classes on so to much to try and answer completely here. If you want to know it all sign up for an MBA program and all will be revealed. But here are some simple “fly by the seat of your pants” ideas. The basic of this is your supply and demand situation (in economics photography is considered a sick industry – easy entry, easy exit so easy for a lot of people to get into it and easy to fail and get out). Also this is your “everything is negotiable” situation. You can do a nice job of figuring out what you need to make for your hourly or day rate but if no one will pay that much because they can get it for less elsewhere you will go out of business. To stay in business you must figure and charge at least your minimum hourly or day rate price. This also applies for usage fees. There are a lot of factors playing against this right now and those factors will prevent you from being able to charge enough to stay in business. What are some of those factors – to start with is changing technology and how we communicate with one another. This is having a big affect on quality of photos needed and pricing (think selfies rather then professional portraits). You can also add on foreign competition (Photoshop work going to India or if they make it in China photograph it in China) and changing cultural values along with shifting economy to the mix (why not just go to Walmart for everything). Other factors can include an over supply of photographer (this has always been an issue but more so today), location, clients willing to use lots of bad photos (if everyone is using selfies who needs a professional portrait), less advertising dollars being spent (small business has cut way back), internalizing of service (I will get my assistant with her iPhone to shoot everything), fewer clients (especially in manufacturing), all lead to a downward spiral of price per photo. This is our current state.
I can tell you that in the last 40 years I have never seen such a flux and uncertainty happening in the this market place. All of this is having an effect on photography prices. So how much does a photograph of a piece of jewelry cost – everything is negotiable – lets talk about it.
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.