The Photography Service Business Methodology

This article is about how you can handle the business side of your photography service. Explaining how you can plan the projects from beginning to end and the questions you ask your clients to get the information you need.

You must prefer the initial meeting to be face to face whenever possible otherwise over the phone. This meeting is to gather information to determine the clients’ success criteria and budget.

Before production starts you can ask for either the production costs or 50% of the final cost. This is non-returnable, as you have to pay everyone hired and not lose money. When finished you can ask for payment in full before sending the files, as you don’t want to get ripped off. Rules are relaxed if you have worked with the client before and trust them.

Project Plan

  • Meetings (Phone or In Person)
  • Pre-Production (Celtx/ Evernote)
  • Quote (Emailed)
  • Contract (Emailed or Posted)
  • Production Costs or 50% Payment
  • Casting & Hiring
  • Production (On Location/ In Studio)
  • Post-Production (Editing & Retouching)
  • Full Payment
  • Final Delivery (FTP/ CD Post)

Initial Meeting Questions

1. Briefly outline your project?
A paragraph describing the main outcome of the project. A quick reference and a goal.

2. What is your budget?
What the client is able to spend. To make sure the estimate is within the budget. Decision to work with the client is based on profitability or publicity.

3. What are your success criteria?
Detailed list with all the clients demands. High level of detail needed for the checklist and to fulfill clients’ needs. Covering everything including amount of photographs, locations, outfits, layout, people required and etc.

4. Who is the target audience?
Describes the person who will buy the product or service. Based on gender, race, age, marital status, and location.

5. Where will it be displayed?
Where customers view the images e.g. website, magazines, newspapers, posters, internal reports, billboards and etc.

6. How much is your media buy?
Amount spent on advertising. Here is where you calculate the licensing fee.

7. Length of time they will be displayed?
How long the adverts will run. A facture in the licensing fee.

8. When is the deadline?
The completion date set by the client. You will finish a few days before to ensure you are on time and reduce the likely hood of problems.

9. Who is my main contact?
The person who approves all the work being carried out. When a question needs answering he is the person to speak too. Can be anyone from the owner to the creative director. The person you have to please. 

Example: 1-Day Photo-Shoot

1. Photographer Day Rate $1000
2. Pre-Production $300
3. Studio Rental $700
4. Gear Rental $450
5. 2 Models Fee $850
6. 1 Make-Up Artist Fee $300
7. Craft Services/ Food $250
8. Licensing: See Terms And Conditions $7,000

Calculating Licensing Fees

The three bits of information you can base your licensing fees on are media buy, advertising type and campaign duration. Media buy is the amount spent on advertising e.g. website, newspapers, magazine, billboards and etc. This percentage is on a sliding scale based on how much media buy e.g. 40,000 = 10% = $4000. A higher media buy equates to a lower percentage because the sale value is higher.

The next consideration is advertising type. This takes into account the media that the images will be displayed on. The costs are higher for billboards then a website because the investment is greater.

The final consideration is campaign duration. The duration is important because the longer the campaign last the high the media buy. If the campaign is extended the licensing fee gets renegotiated. You can also provide exclusive lifetime rights to images but this could increases the licensing fee.

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