Thursday, November 18, 2010

Real World Estimating... Wading Into the World of Fine-Art... Book Signing Schedule...

Always an educational & informative read, today's entry at the blog A Photo Editor gives us another glimpse into the process of estimating and bidding an assignment. Jess Dudley, producer with the production company Wonderful Machine, takes us inside the process of estimating a still life product assignment for a national brand glass manufacturer who's products are sold through big box stores.
The client needed pictures showing several variations of each of the bowls, plates, and cups so that they’d have different options for use on packaging, point of purchase displays, and on their e-commerce site. They wanted everything shot on white background. Their in-house designers would process the raw files and handle the silhouetting and any retouching. The client would plan to bring a hard drive with them and simply take all the raw files with them at the conclusion of the shoot.
 Additional information going into the thought process in preparing the estimate:
Whether I quote the high end or the low end is going to depend on how prominent the brand is, the complexity of the pictures, how prominent the photographer is, how busy he is, and the exact licensing. The number of shoot days and the regularity of the work is a factor as well. If a one-day shoot suddenly becomes a five-day shoot, I would probably discount the additional days.Location of the photographer and the client can also factor in. If the client (even a big one) is in a smaller market and you’re competing with other photographers in that small market, you might not be able to charge as much as for a similar project taking place in a bigger market. In this case, the client and the photographer were in a big market, and I felt that all of the other factors together pointed to about the mid-point of the range, so I quoted 4000.00/day. The client specified the exact usage they needed, which I quoted on the estimate. 
Jess includes in his estimate fees for a digital tech and one assistant, studio & equipment rentals, expendables (set-paper backgrounds, etc.), milage, and fees for shipping & delivery of the work and catering for breakfast & lunch. The client planned to provide the stylist. ( I also note that no fee was included for digital post-production to prepare the image files for delivery & publishing. For this particular assignment, I am assuming those duties fall to the on-set digi-tech who will correct the Raw files, color correct, sharpen, etc.)

For some time now, the trend among mainland photographers has been to charge fees for studio & equipment rental, even when the photographer may have his own shooting space & gear. This is a trend I would like to see happen here... especially the equipment rental which suffers much wear & tear and is very costly to purchase & replace.

As for catering, it has been my customary practice to include expense items to cover meal per diems on shoot days for myself & crew. Catering would be quite a luxury and something I don't think most Hawaii producers or photographers include in the estimate budgets. Fortunately for me, the bulk of my work involves either food & beverage or architectural photography for resorts, hotels & dining establishments where food is easily accessible. For us, it's simply a matter of breaking for lunch in most cases. For major resort assignments with large crews, talent and early, pre-dawn call times, it's always a good idea to plan ahead and have the F&B folks and/or Room Service deliver to the location an assortment of juices, coffee, teas, fruits & pastries.  This helps to insure that the cast & crew are always on set when you need them and are fed, happy, awake and ready to work. When the body is nourished, feeding the creative hunger is much easier. 

The APE post should be an eye-opener for many of the up & coming photographers around this state. Though much of the assignment work generated in Hawaii is, for the most part, for local & regional brands where a day rate of $3K-$5K would never fly for a myriad of reasons (local or regional brand & marketing, lack of education-self confidence-Wall Mart pricing strategies and rabid undercutting amongst out newer talent pool). There are many new additions to the talent pool here that have never had the opportunity to work on or be exposed to productions of this type and simply haven't had the opportunity to be educated as to real-world values of the work they produce. Information like this post by APE provide some of those opportunities to educate yourself. Please take the time to read it here.

In other asides, I'm feeling a bit schizophrenic these days as I float between the world of commercial assignment photography and the world fine-art photography. The weekly gallery set-ups & sittings at the Four Seasons Resort & Spa in Wailea has been a learning experience indeed. 

While I could argue that what passes as a fine art market in Hawaii is more of an expensive souvenir market (and do argue this point frequently with the Art Hash Harrier gals), the point is a moot one given that I have been given the opportunity to get my personal work in front of a large & captive audience of very well-heeled and very pre-qualified potential buyers. I am further enthused by the fact that my sales thus far have been of work I am emotionally attached to, feel very proud of and has been anything but "Hawaiian" in subject matter. That I haven't yet resorted to producing tropical sunset pics or ripping off the wave photos of Clark Little, like so many others, is comforting. Mrs. NC insists that I need some of those types of images in my display and I think she may be right. Gotta get right on that! What a great luxury it would be to be generating income in this manner, freeing me considerably from the concerns of the commercial side of my business to pursue work of a more personal nature. 

And I'm enjoying my time sitting the resort gallery too; enjoying getting to know the other artists working in other mediums, enjoying the people watching, getting to meet the celebrities visiting the resort, watching what images people seem most drawn to from week to week. I'm paying close attention. My first five weeks of sittings has been during the traditional pre-holiday slow time for tourism in the islands All the better... allowing me some time to develop the learning curve as to what works , what might work and what doesn't. By Christmas peak season, I should just about have things fairly well wired. Already, new work is being produced to meet what I'm beginning to sense is the market. New work will be on display this coming monday and I will get a chance to evaluate how well it will potentially be received. Drop by on mondays between the hours of 7:00am & 1:30pm to say "hi" and check out the new work if you plan to be near the Four Seasons.

Old dog, new tricks...

I will be joining authors Mark Ellman & Barbara Santos next weekend for two books signing events as the launching of the just published Practice Aloha book continues. Next Saturday, November 27th, we will be at Borders Books & Music on Dairy Road beginning at 2:00 pm.  Word is that legendary drummer, book contributor and old friend Mick Fleetwood will be joining us for the event, signing copies of the book and greeting fans. Here's an opportunity to pick up a few excellent gifts for friends and family as you prepare for the holidays. 

On Sunday, November 28th, we will again be signing books at the Maui Ocean Center in Maalea beginning at 11:00 am. Please come & join us!

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