Robert J. Pennington (www.rpenn.com):
Vagueness is the first step taken toward low-balling a price. Suppliers and
buyers will continually have problems if there is a lack of communication before
a project begins or when initiating an image license. Most art buyers look to
the photographer to provide a comprehensive scope of the project. It has now
become our responsibility to define, develop, and (with graceful brevity) define
the needs of the client. Start initial contact by asking the client questions
about the assignment. Ask as many questions as possible and listen carefully
to the answers.
SB: How should photographers learn to price for profitability?
Annie Libby: I must reiterate that the need to learn business skills
is crucial! Sadly, I have seen many "professional" photographers
who create less than average images. In spite of this, their outstanding marketing
skills allow them to make a substantial living. In addition, photographers must
also learn how to accurately calculate expenditures and apply their pricing
accordingly. There are many nonprofit professional photography forums, such
as the American Society of Media Photographers (www.asmp.org),
Advertising Photographers of America (www.apanational.com), and Editorial Photographers
that help photographers learn the requisite skills. The emergent (and the seasoned
pro) can also learn quite a bit by staying "connected" with their
peers in these discussion forums. Also, classes at community colleges are inexpensive,
but generous resources.
© 2008, Marc Yun, All Rights Reserved
Allen Murabayashi: First, sit down and calculate a break-even
analysis and determine profit margins. When this is done, look at each image
and ask--what were my costs? What is the lifetime value of this image?
Of course, we are subject to the market conditions of supply and demand, but
I think it's a fallacy to believe that competition is based solely upon
price. There are many meaningful parameters. Quality, diversity, consistency--these
are all valuable components of photography.
Jock Fistick (www.fistick.com): I don't feel that photo
schools--be they journalism, art, or commercial programs--are doing
well with educating their students about sound business practices. It has become
on the job training, which is unfortunate. Students need to be proactive and
opt to take business courses in addition to their required classes. There are
also a handful of good books about the business end of photography. In my opinion,
one of the best investments a photographer can make in their business is purchasing
a copy of fotoQuote (www.fotoquote.com)
which has an industry standard pricing calculator--very useful for pricing
stock sales and assignment work.
SB: What variables go into deciding what to charge for a stock
Allen Murabayashi: Consider expenses and what the market will
bear. The cost of being a photographer has dramatically increased, while conversely
the sale price for stock photography has decreased. In all honesty, it's
impossible for a single photographer to understand all the aspects of pricing
different usages, so software tools are invaluable.
SB: How does software help photographers present the pricing to their
Allen Murabayashi: Both the PhotoShelter Personal Archive and
Collection have the rights-managed pricing module with fotoQuote information
available. Images need to be priced out before they go into the Collection marketplace
and Personal Archive users can add pricing profiles at any time. The rights-managed
pricing module enables photographers to determine where and for what usage their
images can be sold. Then they can set the price based on a percentage of the
industry-standard (fotoQuote) rate. There is a test price step to check parameters.
When a buyer decides they want to purchase an image, a price is automatically
generated and they can purchase the image immediately.
© 2008, Marc Yun, All Rights Reserved
Jock Fistick: A client can purchase anything in the archive,
which is driven by PhotoShelter; they simply input their usage parameters and
the fotoQuote-driven online pricing calculator conveys the appropriate licensing
The buyer can then enter credit card and billing details. Once payment is confirmed,
they can download the high-resolution file in real time. This is a totally transparent
and unattended sales tool for licensing rights-managed images. PhotoShelter
is using the same technology for their online agency/portal, The PhotoShelter
Collection. It really is revolutionary and simplifies the complex world of licensing
Robert J. Pennington: PhotoShelter is an online marketplace for selling
photos. It promotes an easily navigated format for art buyers to find a source
for their image needs. The tools and customization enable product branding.
The decision process for pricing is completely up to the user and the market.
It is very empowering to have the ability to control one's own success.