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
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
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
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.
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
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.)
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
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.
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
of 300ppi. The dimensions of the file that the editors need
will vary from publication to publication and will often be
in the guidelines that you received earlier. Be sure to embed
your copyright info in the IPTC field of the files you are
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 potential legal problems not to mention losing a hard
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
For more information on Byron's, " Marketing Your Images" 2-Day
retreat, go to