Archive for November, 2007

Speaking of pricing

Friday, November 30th, 2007

I just got a link to this interesting article about compensation models for production partners. Note how the value of creative content is mentioned, how new technologies are changing perceived values and risks, and how shared ownership is being discussed (see Christopher Guest part).

Now, before you have a fit about shared ownership, take a breath and read the article and just think about it. Nothing has to be decided today–I’m certainly not taking a position yet myself–but with the change in business and technology and media, new models should be considered carefully and not rejected just because in the past something that sounded similar was the worst thing for creatives.

It may be that creatives could financially benefit in the long run from shared ownership–if you had designed it, wouldn’t you like to get a penny every time the Nike shwoosh appears? Or this may be a bad thing that will cause creatives to lose control and long-term income. It is just too early to tell.

But looking at new ideas and thinking about them is never a bad thing to do.

Remember, you can always say “no.” 🙂

I wish I knew then

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

EPUK has a wonderful piece about what photographers wish they had known when they were starting out. Great insight for old pros and newbies alike.

Standardized pricing

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

I think photography should have standardized usage licensing prices.


Yes, I really wrote that and I really mean it. And yes, it will tick off some photographers (and certain consultants) and they are entitled to their opinions. In fact, I welcome an open and respectful dialogue on this topic.

Here’s why I think this is a good idea and how it would work.

Very much like music licensing, standardized usage licensing prices would take the burden of one major aspect of pricing off the shoulders of creatives…on both sides of the equation. In smaller agencies and businesses, the buyers of photography often are creatives themselves and they aren’t really trained or qualified to negotiate fees the way professional art buyers are. Photographers hate the voodoo of usage pricing. So, standardizing the usage license prices would make that part of the business so much easier for everyone involved.

This is logical because the usage value of any image can be effectively quantified and is exactly the same regardless of the image. X usage = $Y; N usage = $Q.

Please note that I said the usage value, not the entire value of an image being used.

Think about it…a $2 million media buy will have exactly the same reach regardless of whether the image used in it is shot by Annie L. or me. The same number of magazines will run the same size ad, etc. The same potential eyeballs will be looking at the campaign.

Now, a client would be an idiot to hire me to shoot anything because I’m not a photographer and Annie L. can make an infinitely better and more effective image for their campaign. And that difference would be reflected in the Creative Fee we would each list on our estimates.

Creative Fees would remain completely up to the photographer. Each photographer would be free to set her/his own prices based on the complexity/creativity of the project, time required, and the name value of the photographer, etc. So my estimate for the hypothetical project listed above would list a low Creative Fee whereas Annie L. would surely have a very high one.

But the Usage Licensing Fee would be identical.

In most cases, a standardized Usage Licensing Fee will be higher than what the majority of photographers have been charging for that usage. It will raise the income for a large number of photographers and it will significantly reduce the effectiveness of lowballers. Here’s why.

The Creative Fee for most photographers will be a smaller part of the total set of fees on any estimate so when one photographer charges 50% of the creative fee of another photographer, in the whole estimate that difference will be reduced to a much smaller percentage difference. For example, let’s say Photographer A estimates $10K Creative Fee and Photographer B estimates $5K. The Usage Licensing Fee is a standardized percentage of the media buy (let say 3% for this example) and the media buy is $2 Million. That makes the Usage Licensing Fee $60K. So the fees for A are a total of $70K and for B they are $65K…a difference of less than 8%.

I think standardizing Usage Licensing Fees would not only help the lower and mid-level photographers, it would not in any way penalize the high-end photographers. They could still charge a high Creative Fee (as they should!) and they would still get projects based on their name value, etc.

Frankly, I can’t see a significant downside to such a system. The argument that clients will expect re-licensing to be a percentage of the original usage price does not hold up because usage is usage is usage. Of course the original Creative Fee would not get repeated for a re-licensing, but if the usage is the same as the original usage, then the Usage Licensing Fee will be 100% of that original Usage Licensing Fee.

And that, in my book, is fair.

Contest Reminder!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Tomorrow (Wed. 11/28) is the LAST day to register for the BAP ASMP SB2 free tuition contest!

Lest you forget, details and entry links here.

New Lube!

Monday, November 26th, 2007

New Creative Lube podcast is available. Download it now! Available also on iTunes, of course. Free, as always.

After a break

Monday, November 26th, 2007

After taking a few days off, I’m back. I’ve mentioned before about the need for vacations and, while I didn’t go anyplace, taking the days off was very helpful.

One thing I definitely noticed was how difficult it was to “come down” from the usual stress of running my own business. Monday I felt like I had things I had to do (though I did not do them). Tuesday, same thing. Wednesday, by the afternoon, I started feeling less like I needed to do X or Y, but it was still there in the back of my head. Thursday was taken with other things to do (family stuff, of course, it being Thanksgiving) and by Friday I started to feel like I might be getting a break. That gels pretty well with what people who study work, vacations, and productivity and/or stress have found–that is that it takes at least 4 days before you even begin to feel the reduction in chronic stress in your body.

Yes, I got emails and calls for work. Yes, I ignored them. And yes, the world (my business, that is) did not end because I took some time off.

For many of you, this is a slower time of year for your business. Take some of that down-time to plan for next year (like planning on going to the ASMP SB2 event near you and/or booking a private consultation in those cities with me) and then take some time off to recharge your physical and emotional batteries.

As for me, I’m back and ready to work! Look for lots of posts and info from me soon (like a new Creative Lube podcast VERY soon). 🙂

Oh, and by the way

Friday, November 16th, 2007

…I’m going to be out of the office all next week. I’m taking some time to recharge my batteries. You won’t see posts from me until Monday the 26th so you’ll have to find something else to do with your time. 🙂

So, a bit early, Happy Thanksgiving (to the US readers)!

Look for a new podcast about the same time as my return, too.

By the way, when was the last time you took time off? It’s one of the best things you can do for your business. You’ll be more productive and energized.


Friday, November 16th, 2007

There is a great rant by Harlan Ellison going around on video (for all of you who have emailed me about it, yes, I know about it already).

I don’t like to link to it because I don’t know if the people who posted it on YouTube had the rights to do so and don’t want to encourage IP infringement. The gist is that writers should be paid and he says, less politely, that he never does anything without getting paid.

Good advice for all creatives.

Btw, NPR yesterday was discussing the WGA strike and said that in polling across the US the general public is overwhelmingly on the side of the writers. Yipee! This is great news for all creatives.

Walking your talk

Friday, November 16th, 2007

It’s important for all businesses to have a set of ethics. For some photographers, shooting for tobacco is right out while for others it’s fine. There are no “right” answers to setting your ethical rules, but set them you should and, more importantly, back ’em up with action.

Sometimes, walking your talk is difficult. It can mean not taking an assignment when you really could use the money, for example. Or, as so many of us don’t like confrontation, it could just be really uncomfortable to do the “right thing” as you self-define it.

I just encountered the discomfort of standing up for my business’ ethics AND the loss of potential income. I had a photographer contact me about working together. One quick glance at this person’s website made it absolutely clear that this business sold royalty-free stock and that, for me, is a big problem.

I had a choice to make: be honest and tell the photographer that I don’t work (at least knowingly) with RF-selling photographers or weasel out with some lame excuse or pursue the job. The last option was impossible for me. The second one would have been easier on my nerves, but the first option was the best one.

By being honest, I have honored my business. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fun, but it was, absolutely, the right thing to do.

Great short video

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Don Mirra sent me this link to a TED presentation by Richard St. John: 3 minutes on what leads to success. You’ll notice some familiar themes here…even the word crap appears (one of my favorite words), though I wish I had thought up his definition. 🙂