Thursday, September 9, 2010

Specify terms explicitly before starting a job.

Let's face it, photography is often undervalued and mis-understood by the clients.  They see that the results are great, but don't understand what it took to achieve that look.  It's easy to undervalue your work as a photographer as well because the image was quick to shoot and edit.  Remember that your expertise is what makes it expensive, it's the years of training and skills that you've learned.  That's what the client doesn't see.  You walk in, set up, shoot, and are out in an hour.  In the standard business world, an hour of work equates to a fairly low dollar amount.  Photography is not like this!  Don't undervalue yourself!

That's not the end of the rant either....  As a photographer, you MUST specify terms explicitly before you start a job.  It's the difference between hours and hours of frustration and smooth transaction.  I've messed up many times.  That's why Today, you are going to take this advice to heart, and arm yourself with a whole new knowledge.  Don't get trampled over by your photography clients.

This bike rider is clearly upset after dealing with a bad client because he never specified terms.

The single most dreaded and feared term for the photographer?  FREE RE-SHOOT!  There are clients out there who expect the shot re-taken from a new angle, even though you captured an amazing shot with great lighting and a perfect edit.  Or maybe they wanted to change something slight that would involve re-shooting the whole picture.  On top of this, they expect you to do it for free since they "decided" that the angle they originally wanted was not as good as another one. Add to that the fact that it's an outside shot, and needs to be re-taken at sunset.  There goes another sunset for a stupid free re-shoot.... 

Stating your limits, and creating boundaries for a shoot up front will save hours of hassle and pain later on.  Don't re-shoot for free unless YOU truly did poorly the first time around.  When the client hasn't paid you, and expects a free re-shoot, you will probably have to do the shoot.  Try explaining to them that you charge more for a re-shoot first and see where that gets you.  Hopefully they are reasonable and willing to work it out.

Find the perfect balance with your clients through great terms.

This is where the up-front payment comes into play.  Ask for at least enough money up front, to cover all of your expenses.  I would typically ask for about 50-70% up front.  When you send them the invoice for this payment, include all of your terms (length of image use for client, exclusive or not, if a re-shoot is included, how many shots all said and done, if photo credit needs to be on each image, etc.)  This is not a bad practice, and will not scare your client off (unless they were planning on not paying ever, so scaring them off is a great thing!)

There's another approach as well.  The advantage to business as a photographer, is that you can send small samples, but hold the full resolution images until payment is received.  Watermark your low-res images so they can't just throw them on their website, and send the high-res images upon payment.  This also get's you paid MUCH faster since the client is wanting the images right away!

Not only does specifying terms save you when the %#$@ hits the fan, but it also makes you appear more experienced and professional for the client.  It's a Win-Win situation!  Don't let your art be taken advantage of.

That's the BUZZ for Today!  Please check back soon for more.


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