Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How much for that picture in the window?

Flatiron Building - Jack Aiello
copyright © Jack Aiello 2012
Being an avid -- you might even call me a semi-pro -- photographer, you would think I nailed the business end of my image making. Truth is, I love to learn about the craft, to improve my technique at every stage of the process, but my business sense is not so sharp.

Case in point: I was recently asked by a charity to volunteer my services at an awards dinner.  I volunteered for them once before, however, this time, I politely declined informing them that my photography, though not my sole source of income, helps greatly supplement what I earn to support myself.

Another time, I was asked by my employer to aid in a beautification project. I photographed various New York City skyscrapers whose prints were to adorn a bland section of corridor leading to a frequently visited unit (I work for a medical center). In this case, I didn't charge for my work simply because I thought it was poor taste to charge my employer, for one. But that's not all. I believed in the project, it got my juices going and with proper credit due on a plaque, I would be able to share my work with all my colleagues.

There are potential clients who say that they will offer you exposure in lieu of not paying you, and I really dislike that tack, but in this case, I felt it was justified.

Still, many people don't understand the time and resources it takes a photographer to scout and research a location (especially if you're a landscape/nature photographer), compose a shot, get the right exposure, white balance, etc.  This is not to mention the cost of the equipment involved. Then there's the time spent in post processing, particularly with dynamic range prints.

I never really knew how to broach the business aspect until I read Chip Phillips' piece. More than I could better articulate, Chip's article provides a lot of practical advice on how you need to determine the worth of your own work.

What do you think?  Should I have charged my employer? Do you consider whether a company will or won't profit at all from your images as a factor before you charge or give it away? What are your negotiating tips? How do you feel about rights managed images vs. royalty free images?