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Tips & Tricks

Commercial Photography Rates & Negotiating Strategies | Charge What You’re Worth

By Shivani Reddy on March 10th 2016

Have you ever come across the struggle of negotiating with company or corporation; playing tug of war with giving up your artistic integrity in order to make a sale? We teamed up with our friend Jay P. Morgan of the Slanted Lens, to discuss the negotiation strategies needed in order to land a commercial photography deal.

Commercial Photography Pricing Video


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The Art of Negotiation – Understanding the Client’s Needs

When it comes to commercial photography budgets, there is usually more room for negotiation compared to that of a wedding or portrait photography client. Gauging your commercial client’s price range is the first step in determining what steps to take next in your workflow. If the client chooses not to disclose their price, generate questions that prompt them into providing their budget before simply declaring your estimate offer.

Now that the conversation regarding money is flowing, garner their interest by showing your interest: the more involved you are in helping them solve potential issues or create needed content, the more likely they are to hire you and trust in your confidence. Finding ways to educated the client is a great way to set yourself up as the professional they wish to hire.

Crafting Your Commercial Photography Rates

After analyzing their advertising budget, determine the scale of your client’s company. Figuring out where the client stands in their specific market and whether or not they have the necessary funds to allocate for your work are pivotal factors in negotiating their budget. When you finally develop an estimated budget, you will most likely exceed the client’s budgetary limitations.

Here is when understanding how to negotiate helps you from losing the client completely. Start off by building a package with more value in order to, later on, reduce your price for good reason. This tactic will help the client validate the need for every aspect of your service provided. At the end of the day, commercial photography is based on selling the usage, not the imagery itself. Understanding the client’s need for the images, primary usages, and additional usages will allow you to set yourself up for future sales.

We’ve recorded a few videos with Jay on The Slanted Lens Youtube Channel as well as the SLR Lounge Youtube Channel. Be sure to follow the series, as we’re diving into some fun topics.

Shivani wants to live in a world where laughter is the cure to pretty much everything. Since she can’t claim “Serial Bingewatcher” as an occupation, she’ll settle for wedding/portrait photographer at Lin and Jirsa & marketing coordinator here at SLR Lounge. For those rare moments when you won’t find a camera in her hand, she will be dancing, eating a donut, or most likely watching Seinfeld.

Follow her on Instagram: @shivalry_inc

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ryan Peterman

    How do you explain useage rights to people that don’t know. I have a couple different pitches but they come with mixed results.

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  2. David Eichler

    A couple of additional things that could be expanded upon. 1. What if the client’s representative seems to avoid having a phone conversation and only communicates by email? and 2. How to overcome client resistance to a full licensing model, with specific limits on period of use, territory or use and the type of media?

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  3. Chad Andreo-Photo

    These articles rarely ever discuss specific rates or budgets.
    Real expamples and budgets from previous jobs would be a great addition to these types of articles.

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    • Marc Weisberg

      Great video Pye. With great negotiating tips. My favorite is: “Who am I bidding against?”
      I you’d like first hand info check out A Photo Editor. Comb through his posts…there are redacted and full contracts on his site with discussion and commentary from the contracting photographers. http://aphotoeditor.com/ brilliant site.

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