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Tips & Tricks

The Right Questions To Ask Before Giving An Estimate For a Photo Shoot

By Hanssie on June 6th 2015

In this day of texting and emailing, the art of the phone call is becoming more and more obsolete. Some people I know won’t even answer an incoming call. They will text that caller back and tell them to message them instead. I understand this to some extent as I loathe the phone myself. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I seem to only be able to express my thoughts through my fingers and not my voice. Even calling for take out makes me nervous.

So, imagine when the phone rings and it is someone who has heard of your wonderful photography and wants an estimate to book your services. What do you do? Better yet, what do you say? There have been many a time where I’ve stumbled through a call with a potential client, full of awkward pauses and silences because I was unsure of the right words to say or the right questions to ask. This is why the following video from The Slanted Lens is so helpful in teaching us some of the right questions to ask when we find ourselves on the phone with a potential client on the other end.




In the 8 minute video, Jay P. Morgan talks about 8+ questions you should ask before actually giving a potential client an estimate for a photo shoot. Aside from a few common sense tips that you should already be doing – like sounding interested and interesting – he gives a few tips that I’d never even consider asking before. Questions about usage and competition are great ones to help you develop the quote for your services and help yu be better prepared in your expectations of the shoot. In the past, I would just give a cookie cutter price and hope for the best. This video is definitely one I’ve bookmarked and will be referring back to again.

8 Questions to Ask Before Estimating a Photo Shoot

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ahana Choudhary

    Plz tell me this question is allowed in modeling profession (what is your figure)

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  2. Nasser Gazi

    This is excellent. Thanks for posting. I would also add, that a photographers website should guide clients towards making that phone call. Photographers should hardly ever post prices on their websites.

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    • Thomas Horton

      That can backfire sometimes. If someone is planning an event and they have say a choice between 150 photographers, they need to downselect as fast as possible. I have been in that very position concerning photographers and other logistic companies when planning a big event.

      It is a delicate balance to determine how much pricing information to include. You can’t run a photography business on a FFP basis, but to include absolutely no pricing information/guidelines may, in some cases, put the photographer out of the first cut culling process.

      I wished I knew the answer (probably there is no one answer), but I would think that including some guidelines about price might keep the photographer in the right side of the culling process.

      Photographers like to fantasize that their potential customers will be attracted to their obvious talent and awesomeness. But customers consider price in the “value” equation…. especially when trying to select a photographer among a crowd of equally talented and awesome photographers in a quick and efficient manner.

      A most difficult question for a photographer to answer.

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    • Stan Rogers

      That really depends on the kind of photography you do. If you’re doing the wedding/event/portraiture thing (and aren’t living in the upper stratum of “name brand” photographers, where you really don’t have prestige competition), then pricing, or at ;east an easy way to get to it, is important for exactly the reasons you pointed out, Thomas. If you’re in the commercial sphere, though, pricing on your site/promo material is a dead giveaway that you don’t know what you’re doing. Even when you take usage out of the equation, you won’t know your cost of shooting until you know the project, and experienced clients (buyers, agencies, etc.) know that. If they see prices, they’ll move on.

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  3. John Sheehan

    Not asking the right questions can sting you, especially on usage. I find that a lot of the smaller bands (that don’t have managers and do everything themselves ) I shoot don’t understand usage, and I have to educate them on it.

    I turned down a job recently because in asking my check list of questions I figured out the whole job wouldn’t be a right fit for either of us. Saved me a lot of time and heartache.

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