Portions of this column were originally written for the January 2008 edition of News Photographer Magazine.
Mark Loundy is a media producer and consultant based in San Jose, California. Full bio.
The opinions in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Press Photographers Association.
January 2008, Volume 64
By Mark Loundy
"Why rent the cow when you can buy the milk?."
So they're grabbing your usage rights. Fees haven't gone up in a couple of decades. Oh woe is me!
Yet there are photographers who are surviving, even thriving in editorial photography. How do they do it?
Putting the costs of production on the client (where they belong) is increasingly becoming a critical part of business survival. This can take the form of charging rental fees on your own equipment or (gasp!) not owning any equipment to begin with and simply passing the actual fees on to the client.
Some editorial clients even have preferred providers. The PPs are companies that have agreements with the client to provide goods and services at pre-arranged fees. Often the PPs are advertisers in the client's publication. Travel should be arranged through the client's own travel office. This means zero out-of-pocket travel expenses for you.
It is utterly reasonable to charge a couple of hundred bucks a day for a basic shooting kit. Check out the supply houses and see what they charge to rent lenses, lights, grip gear, etc. You're saving the client money by renting your own gear to them.
Remember, your fee is for usage — not for production infrastructure. Yes, you're going to get the inevitable all-rights assignments. But there is no reason that you should subsidize the cost of production. The key is to minimize your costs of doing business to offset the freeze in editorial rates.
Please let me know of any particularly good, bad or ugly dealings that you have had with clients recently. I will use the client's name, but I won't use your name if you don't want me to. Anonymous submissions will not be considered. Please include contact information for yourself and for the client.Leftovers
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