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Balking at Digital Fees
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George Mattei
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« on: November 05, 2007, 10:20:30 AM »

Hi All, I am working with an AD that is starting to balk at my digital processing fees. I am charging between $75-$100 per hour for the downloading of cards, developing through Bibble, and burning to a CD ( which is $25) He has even gone so far as to say, aside from "Other photographers don't charge that much"  "The computer is doing the work and you can do something else, so why charge that much" I have tried to explain what I do, and I must admit I am not the best at it. Somehow the words don't come when my blood is boiling. Our exchanges have gotten rather heated. Is there anything written explaining the digital charges that I can email him, before I loose my mind?
Thanks, George
« Last Edit: November 05, 2007, 11:09:46 AM by peterkrogh » Logged
peterkrogh
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2007, 11:16:49 AM »

George,
My first line of approach is to list what I'm doing.  Then I say that after reviewing my expenses over several years, it costs me about the same to provide digital services as it does to provide film services, but I can be about twice as productive on the shoot (I get more done for them).  If I don't charge for production, then I can't provide the service and stay in business.

I charge for Capture and Proofing - generally about $1/image that makes it out to the client in a web gallery.
I charge $50 for the Master Files (with only minor retouching) and that included burn to DC and/or FTP

In most cases the client understands that the capture/proofing/equipment needs to be paid for.  They also understand that the Master Files need to be paid for. They also know that I generally hire someone to do the work. 

On a job with a small budget, I can reduce these charges, but I try not to.

You can't get emotional about it, it's just business.

You might try to work through your local ASMP chapter (if there is one) to help raise awareness among your competitors that production charges are normal and reasonable.
Peter
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danaltick
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2007, 01:29:03 PM »

George,

I like Peter's way of doing this.  I think a per-image capture fee scales well with the size of the shoot.  However, I think I would put a minimum on it; probably something like $50.  Also, some clients want all the images for possible internal or collateral use.  If you are good at Raw editing and use the DNG workflow, you should be able to offer the client much better proofs than you ever could with film, and this should result in better Masters as well (some may argue this).  So not only can you get more done for them; you should be able to get more done for them better.

Dan
« Last Edit: November 05, 2007, 05:38:45 PM by danaltick » Logged

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Muzza
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2007, 03:22:57 PM »

George,
I only ever talk facts when entering a heated discussion with clients and I always keep my tempo. I have a contract which I use and adjust for most of my clients, I can forward a copy to you. For the last few months I have referred to http://freelanceswitch.com/ they have some excellent daily articles and discussion for freelancers alike.

Good-luck in the future Muzza!!!.
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George Mattei
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2007, 07:42:10 PM »

Yes, I would love to see the contract, but what I would like to find is a explanation of the production costs and why and how time should be billed to cover my time & profit as well as replacement & update of equiptment etc. Unfortunately getting all the facts together and thinking on my feet during a discussion is not my forte. Though we have to be both, I am much more a photographer than businessman.  If I can have him read something it might be better.
George
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Rick McCleary
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2007, 03:27:18 PM »

George,

Before you get into a disagreement with a client again, it would be good to clarify for yourself what you charge and the basis for those charges.  Then, in a negotiation (BEFORE any work happens), you can come to an agreement with your client on the various facets of the job and how they will be billed.

Regarding your specific question about post-production charges:
You are currently charging based on time ("$75 - $100 an hour".)  This is confusing to a client.  Change to a per/piece system of charging (like Peter suggested.)  It becomes very easy to explain that the $1/per capture charge directly replaces the old film/processing charge.  At $1/per capture, it's virtually a 1:1 replacement of the film charge.  (I used to charge $35/roll for a 36 exposure roll of slide film.)

Good luck.

Rick

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