Yesterday’s price is not todays price

A fellow photographer recently contacted me to ask advice on how to price a job she had taken on, a product shoot she was doing for a brand.

Unfortunately, she had already sent the estimate/breakdown in to the client when she contacted me, and it was immediately apparent that she had a massively undercharged this client for what she was doing - which included art direction, set design ideas and fees for her assistant, studio hire (she was using her own but should have charged more than she quoted), retouching (including rounds of editing/feedback) etc.

I appreciate that pricing jobs in our industry is not easy (it’s not like how say, a plumber or mechanic would price their work, there are many more variables at play).

I would however urge people who are new to working with brands or agencies to please, please please to talk to someone, be it fellow photographers, an agent, a photography consultant or any friend-of-a-friend you think can run an objective eye over what you’ve come up with before hitting the send button.

Because unfortunately, as soon as you’ve come up with price that is too low, it is always, ALWAYS hard to negotiate up.

Lemme insert the disclaimer here that I’m not an agent or manager, but through making my own mistakes in this area, these are the things I’m always wanting clarification on when starting talks with a client:

  • What’s the creative - does the client have something put together already or are they relying on you for creative ideas, input and art direction?
  • Shoot duration (especially if it is more than one day) - time is money.
  • Shoot location - are they shooting on outdoors (for which you may need to factor in travel outside of your immediate living area), hiring an indoor location or studio or do they want you to provide the studio/lighting (this should also be charged for).
  • Number of images - important one, this. Best to clarify and agree early, because if the client ends up liking more images from the shoot than was agreed, they should incur additional costs for the additional images.
  • Usage - where are they gonna use them and for how long - you wanna know that if the client just wants web and social usage, you don’t get sent a picture from a friend who has seen one of your images on the side of a bus.
  • What retouching is required - is it light stuff or more involving (you need to know if you need to outsource the process to someone else - another cost they need to take care of).
  • Get a percentage of the fee upfront - you get a monetary sign of their commitment to the shoot, you can cover production costs and crucially not be totally out of pocket if they turn out to be a late paying client (I’m sure we’ve all had experience of THOSE clients).

We photographers do have conversations around money, fees and usage, but not nearly enough to see that knowledge filter down to newer entrants, and this needs to change, because these newer entrants without any of this knowledge are inadvertently screwing it up for themselves and the industry by accepting crappy terms or not charging enough for the work they’re being asked to do.

Let’s resolve to talk about this more, please.

New Balance shoot

I have a confession to make.

I only own one pair of New Balance, a collab they did with the musician Donald Glover/Childish Gambino (does that count???).

It turns out that NB (as I’ll refer to them from now on) have this thing called Grey Day, in which every year they make a lovely song and dance about releasing a bunch of grey designs of their sneakers. I was commissioned to shoot the images for their latest edition of this campaign, in collaboration with END Clothing.

It was an opportunity to work yet again with the wonderful creative director, Livvy who I’d worked with previously on a campaign for the NSPCC. The concept was for us to shoot four setups (dubbed Friday/TV Chill, Saturday/Party, Sunday/Brunch and Monday/Work) featuring four different models. 

The assets we needed to shoot included images of the empty setups, the models (of course) in the gear and close-ups of the footwear. Big shout out to the art designer and set designer, Michelle and Hara who did such a great job of keeping the grey brief so strong (yes, we had grey popcorn and grey tea).  

This shoot was my first time trying out a new feature on my go-to tethering software Capture One, which is its Live feature. Put simply, you can now share a folder you’re shooting images into directly with someone simply by using their email address. They get an invite, which gives them access to everything you’re shooting in realtime with the ability to rate, colour code and add comments on the fly. You an adjust access based on what privileges you feel are appropriate to the person you’ve invited. The best thing is that if you pay for the monthly add-on, you can keep shared access to the session for up to a month. 

No more having to export and send across gigabytes worth of jpegs or contact sheets. It was especially useful on this shoot, as we were able to get NB to see what we were shooting in realtime and give us immediate feedback without the delay of having to take screenshots of the computer and potentially delay getting through all the setups we needed to shoot. 

Amazingly, NB were so happy with the images that we had to get their final selections edited and over to them more quickly, because they wanted to have them up on their website a week early. 

I have to say a really big thanks to everyone who worked on the shoot. We were on a pretty tight deadline and everyone worked incredibly well together on what was a really fun shoot. It was also a joy to work with the agency This Here, who I look forward to working with again in future. 

You can see images from the shoot here.

Jam N Vegan re-brand shoot AKA Fashion Meets Food

I was recently approached by Kyle, the founder of the food brand Jam N Vegan, whose mission is to deliver culturally rich meals to consumers throughout the UK (in an increasingly crowded ready meal food space, one recent reviewer described them as being ”so much more exciting than anything else that’s on the market right now”). Kyle said he reached out to me because of how much he liked what I did on a previous shoot with the brand Misfits.

Previous branding
New branding

Kyle was planning a major rebrand. The previous packaging for his products was variation of functional brown packaging. The new design was based on street art that represented the regions from which his dishes originate. After several initial talks, it was clear that he wanted new imagery, short videos and model photography based on a 60’s/ 70’s aesthetic. We managed to nail down the concept he wanted - at a risk of sounding cheesy as f*ck - “fashion meets food”. 

Seeing Kyle’s initial moodboard, ideas and drawings, I recommended the Set Sisters to build the set. Having enjoyed working with them on the Misfits shoot and the fact that they are incredible designers, it was an easy decision. They in turn recommended Deimante Sprainaityte, a lighting designer and technician they had worked with on previous projects.

Everyone had been sent the moodboard and deck in advance of the shoot date to ensure we were all on the same page. The studio booked was Hackney Studios in East London.

On the morning of the shoot, the crew got to the studio an hour before the models, chiefly because the Set Sisters had to finish installing the first set, and to enable Deimante and her team to position lights for the first setup, the product shots. 

It quickly became apparent that we were up against it from the get-go, as we needed to do a number of lighting adjustments to get angles on the product that we were happy with. 

Also, in hindsight, the studio space we had been booked in was not big enough to accommodate both set designs (and crew). We ideally would have fared better in a larger commercial space, where we could have each set at different ends of the space to go between each one as we liked. We therefore needed to factor in a hour to change to from the first set to the second, and with it the required change to lighting.

Unfortunately, one of the main lights hired was discovered to not work. We spoke to the hire firm, who although profusely apologised said they would not be able to get a replacement over to us sooner than an hour. Deimante was quick-thinking enough to create a workaround whilst we waited for the replacement, so we could continue shooting and not fall behind schedule (honestly, she and her team were exceptional and I can’t recommend her highly enough).

In what was a challenging shoot, Millie from the Set Sisters ended up having to take on art director duty, which really helped us get through the day and get the required results.

This has been one of my fave shoots this year, purely based on the concept, the team and the way everyone worked to ensure that not only was the day productive, but incredibly enjoyable for all involved. 

The models were all excellent and really brought the kind of personality we needed from them. We captured plenty of great stills and video content (courtesy of videographer Jake). Big thanks to our stylist Katie and Olivia, our makeup artist for doing such a great job creating the looks for the models that Kyle was after from the beginning. Also not forgetting the food styling by Nitisha Patel award-winning chef and food consultant, no less (the food was the important element of this entire shoot, let’s not forget!).

You can see more images from the shoot here.

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