Digital Outback Photo Resources for the Digital Photography Workflow 


Photo Marketing #003

"Market Your Images" Part 3

Pricing: Don’t Sell Yourself Short

by Byron Jorjorian

Pricing is one of the most difficult areas of managing your photo business. Before we actually quote a price lets look at what goes into the images that you take. There are the hard costs, like your equipment cameras, lenses, tripods, etc. But what about the storage of your images, the computers, hard drives and software?

Not to mention the cost of where you store your images. This includes the heating and cooling, and electricity, as well as the cost of the physical space in your house or office. Travel to the destinations can also add up to a lot of additional expense.Then, there is the learning curve cost. This area of cost is often overlooked. What about the time you spent learning your art and its associated crafts, such as using Photoshop and computer skills? How much did those mistakes cost?

The years that a doctor spent in school are reflected in his prices, likewise your prices should reflect your learning time, be it from sweat equity or photography school or the combination of both.

That having been said, your prices will often be dictated by the industry that is using the image. If, as in our example, you are sending in your images based on a guideline for submissions that you requested, the price will usually be stated in the packet that they send you. Generally it will be stated as a price for certain rights for a certain size reproduction. It may also indicate the number of languages and or the geographic area where publication will occur. It will probably read like this "we pay $150 for one time North American Rights for 1/4 page." Once you have submitted images on speculation based on guidelines like we have discussed you should follow their stated prices.

However, if you are contacted by a buyer for your images then you should refer to some of the pricing guides and software for pricing. Always try to ask for their imaging budget before you quote any prices and refer to a pricing guide for the specific use that the client has requested. I generally make it a rule to ask what the clients stated need is and what their budget for photography is and then tell them I will call them back with a price. Then when I call them back I am armed with what the standard price is for their usage based on my pricing software. He who mentions the dollar amount first loses! Always get them to state the price they are willing to pay first then you can inform them of the standard rate for their desired usage. They will usually go up to that standard rate or at least split the difference with you, between what the pricing guides say and what they stated as the price that they are willing to pay. You can learn more about the art of negotiating image pricing in my 2 day Marketing seminar which is held each year.

Remember these words: "One time nonexclusive rights"

These are the rights you want to try to negotiate with your client so that you can sell the same image over and over again. This is how you can create your own little image oil wells and rack up some impressive earnings over time with your images as we discussed earlier in this series. In this scenario, though, we are submitting images to a client on speculation based on their submission guidelines and as such there won't be any price negotiations. We will simply follow the publishers stated prices.

Submitting Your Images

I recommend submitting your images in digital format whenever possible. This is safer for you and there is also a growing trend among editors to only accept digital submissions for liability reasons.

If you are planning to submit images that were taken with film (as I sometimes still do), you will need to scan them in order to submit them digitally. All else being equal the higher the quality of your scans the more likely it becomes that an editor would want to use your work.
If you choose not to send scans of your slides on cd then you will need to send the slides themselves. Most editors will not accept duplicate slides. So you will need to send originals. (Note: Some editors will accept the "70mm Dupes" that are produced by pro labs but these can be quite expensive.)

If you are sending your originals you will need to send them paged in the 20 pocket pages and individually sleeved in 2x2 slide protectors. Sandwich these pages between 2 pieces of corrugated cardboard secure the package together with rubber bands. Be sure to include a delivery memo which states the value of lost or damaged transparencies. These forms print out automatically from programs like Inview and Stockview or can be purchased in books of photographers forms which are widely available.

Enter the world of digital photography. Now we have it all, high image quality, control of the image after we shoot when using raw, and unlimited original copies. A word of warning though, many photographers have done such a poor job of processing their raw files and submitted images that did not reflect the true quality that their cameras were capable of producing. As a result many editors have become cautious about accepting digital camera files. It is important, therefore that you learn as much as you can about how to prepare high quality files from your digital camera by taking workshops, reading books, and ebooks, and referring to websites such as Uwe's. It is an excellent source of information to help you get the best that is possible from your camera.

Though there are a few exceptions, typically, the 6mp is the minimum resolution SLR that can produce images suitable for most major publications. When submitting your digital files generally you will want to send a cd with 8 bit Tiffs or Maximum Quality Jpegs at a resolution of 300ppi. The dimensions of the file that the editors need will vary from publication to publication and will often be stated in the guidelines that you received earlier. Be sure to embed your copyright info in the IPTC field of the files you are submitting
for added protection for your images.

It is important also to track which images have been submitted to a particular client so that you don't create a problem where you have promised, for example, 6 months exclusive rights to an image to a particular client and then submitted the same image to a competing client. This could cause embarrassment as well as potential legal problems not to mention losing a hard won client. Once again, the Inview and StockView program by Hindsight is an excellent way to see who has your images, what rights have been purchased, and manage your stock photo empire.

I always send my submissions via either Fedex or UPS for next day delivery. Doing so insures that the publisher will have to sign for the images and adds some importance to your submission in that there was obviously some urgency and expense involved in getting it to them.

In our next and final installment we will take a look at using the internet to build your business and have some final pointers for getting your business rolling. In our brief time together here it is impossible to cover every aspect of building your business.

For more information on Byron's, " Marketing Your Images" 2-Day retreat, go to


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