My First Commission.
December 7, 2007 7:04 AM   Subscribe

I’ve been commissioned to take a photograph. Their subject, my “vision”. I’m a student/aspiring pro photographer.

I’ve had a few paid gigs, a gallery, and a small show.
I’ve already got a license/payment system in place for weddings, portraits, events, etc, but this one is a little new on me. I’ve calculated my cost of doing business, so I know my general day. I also know the theory of not pricing yourself so low that you’d never be able to make a living at what you’re doing. The idea is to make this my professional line of work.

Some one has commissioned a piece of art. The commissioner really likes my style, but this isn’t a cold call. They work with my sister. I could stand to get a lot more business from her, but I don’t want to set poor expectations that I’m going to be a $50 per assignment photographer.

How much do I charge?
posted by fnord to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You know how much an hour costs you, but you have to pay for the hours you aren't on assignment also.

As a thought-experiment, I'd start with throwing out your time, and pretending the work is fait accompli, and estimate how much it's worth. "I have a photo in this box that is exactly what you want. How much are you willing to pay for it?"

If the answer multiplied by the number of assignments you can expect is greater than your costs, then you're set!

That also gives you the price you should set on an individual.

(Of course, price affects how many people are willing to commission you, but two-value algebra with the unknown coefficient is an exercise left to the reader.)
posted by cmiller at 7:27 AM on December 7, 2007

One way to think about it is, 'at what bid price will I feel okay about it whether I get the job or not?'

Pick a price out of the air and imagine the possible outcomes...

If you bid this imaginary price and they take it, will you be happy to do the work for that price? If so, the price is at least high enough and could be too high. If not, then you're bidding too low.

If you bid this hypothetical price and they turn you down, will you be bummed out? If so, then your price is probably too high. If not, your price is not too high and may be too low.

I wouldn't worry about creating long-term low-price expectations. Charge what you're worth now now. Charge what you're worth later later. I doubt there's a meaningful market rate for "student/aspiring pro" photography.
posted by jon1270 at 7:43 AM on December 7, 2007

There are a number of photography forums out there that discuss this issue all the time. In general, people tend to suggest charging as much as the market will bear. Also, it seems that commissions in general pay higher than some other jobs. It seems like you are well on the way to becoming a pro, so you should get paid like one. I don't have any idea what exact number you should use, but you should have an idea what the others in your area charge. By the way, I checked out the website in your profile and like your stuff.
posted by TedW at 8:18 AM on December 7, 2007

Thanks to everyone that's responded, and thanks for the compliments.

I submitted an estimate based on several factors, and some of the advice that was suggested.

I'm also picking up a copy of the book that krautland suggested.
posted by fnord at 11:54 AM on December 7, 2007

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