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Initiating Contact With New Clients


There are so many new clients I want to work with, but I’m not sure how to initiate contact with them. Do you have any tips on getting in with new potential clients?


Our industry offers a mixed bag of ways to connect with clients, from SEO to Instagram engagement and everything in the middle. My question back to you is, what are you good at? Can you take a client to lunch or enjoy an in-person (maybe Zoom) meeting? Sell yourself by completing the steps that sell you the best. Have new images – put them out in an email promo – cross-pollinate!

Bidding Prices Should Include Time Spent Working With The Client

Bidding Prices should incorporate the real cost of the time-consuming back-and-forth process because your business time = money. Just as we charge for the equipment you own, the same goes for managing your time.

Value your time in the bidding process. Part of the bid that is often overlooked is the time spent negotiating with clients and managing their expectations. While this time may not be explicitly spelled out in the bid, it is important to factor it into the overall cost of the project. We recommend adding this time to the creative fee, prep days, or production fee to ensure that it is covered. By doing so, we ensure that we are compensated for the time spent on client management, which can be a significant portion of the project. Ultimately, the goal is to have a bid that accurately reflects the time and effort required for the project, including the time spent managing the client.

Producer vs. Photographer


I’m a freelance photographer who recently took an in-house photo producer job because my area’s industry has been slow, and I need a steady income to get back on my feet. Did I just set my photo career back by taking a temporary in-house producer job? In the future, will clients hire me as a freelance photographer again after they may see me as a producer?


The plain and simple answer across the board is dependent on your branding, which is dependent on two sticking points:

  • Will you be branding yourself correctly for clients to consider you when looking for a photographer?
  • Will your photo portfolio be strong enough to impress clients?

How Specialty Impacts Commercial Photography Creative Fees

What is your specialty? One CREATIVE FEE component that may get overlooked in fee formula calculations is how much the client needs you for this campaign. The specialization you bring to a project goes a long way, and you should be paid for it. 

When setting a creative fee for a project, it is important to consider how specific and unique your creative skills are to that particular project. This can involve evaluating whether your look or style matches the needs of the project better than others and whether your particular skills and experience make you the best fit for the job. By taking into account these factors, you can justify charging a higher creative fee for your work.

How Honest Should We Be When A Client Asks For Our Availability?

How honest should we be when a client asks for our availability? Dates of potential jobs shift and change constantly. How to not lose one job because of a “hold” from another is what we are up against. I have learned that clients present their shoot dates and usually have more flexibility than we are receiving. One way I like to phrase it is, “Right now, we are not officially booked on another job at that time.”

A lesson we learned about holds and availability. A client we wanted to work with had mistakenly assumed that the photographer they wanted to work with was unavailable on certain dates, based on a previous conversation. The client decided to look elsewhere for a photographer. The lesson learned was that it’s important to be honest about availability but also to make it clear that a job hasn’t been bid on yet and that there’s still a possibility of availability. We suggest doing a “first hold challenge” to ensure that the job is secured before cutting off availability. 

Using a Rep for Larger Brand Clients


I want a rep to help me get larger brand clients. I’m working with good mid-level clients, but I’m at the cusp and ready to see which larger clients I can work with. What steps should I take to find the right rep to help me take my career to the next level?


Reps can open doors that may be tougher for a photographer to do themselves. The key is to find an agent who will see your talent as a potential income stream for both of you. Who are the reps who work with clients you can be working with? Do you match their branded style and fit within their roster? Do you have anyone in common who can recommend you to the rep? Have a short list, focus and engage, introduce yourself, and communicate on all platforms to see who is interested in your work.

Using Discounted Rates To Work With a Certain Client

You’ve been told the potential client’s budget, and you’d like to meet it but don’t want to be held to that amount in the future – use the words “Discounted Rate” as the best excuse not to guarantee that same rate next time. Even better, put a discounted percentage subtracted under your actual total to show the deal they are getting.

“Discounted rate” is a term used to protect oneself from future pricing when bidding for a job that has a lower budget than what it should actually cost. By taking off a certain amount from the total bid, one can still get the job, have the desired images for their portfolio, and protect themselves from future pricing demands. This approach is useful when the client is desirable and the type of images is beneficial for the portfolio. This way, the bidder is protected from being trapped into meeting the same requirements in the future. It is also possible to avoid listing out prices and just providing the total amount to be charged for the job.

Retouching Rates Can Be Ambiguous, Protect Yourself By Making It a Day Rate

Retouching rates leave ambiguity when it’s based on per image, so one way to protect your time spent is to make it a day rate. As you track your time, the client can be aware of the image(s) progression and even try to speed it along, helping them achieve more out of that 10-hour day they are paying.

When pricing retouching fees, it is important to be careful as clients and photographers may have different interpretations of what is being done, what is being supplied, and how many revisions are allowed. Feedback can become intense if not priced accordingly. One way to handle this is to charge a day rate for one 10-hour day, based on time instead of production level or the number of images. This makes it more about the retoucher’s time rather than the amount of images being worked on.

Cover Yourself Before The Job Begins By Getting An Advance

Cover yourself by getting a 50% Advance Invoice BEFORE the job begins. You have more power in the game with clients on your side to get you paid and not delay the photoshoot vs. trying to convince them to hurry up after the job begins.

It is important to get an advance on your invoices. It is recommended that 50% of the job awarded should be invoiced in advance, and this should be included in the estimate and terms before the start of the shoot. If the request for advance payment is made after the shoot has begun, the client may have more flexibility and less urgency to make it happen. Pushing for an advance invoice before the shoot begins shows a level of professionalism and sets clear expectations with the client. Clients are more likely to respond positively to a clear and organized approach, and this can help build trust and credibility in the business relationship. Overall, advance invoices are an essential tool in the photography industry, and their importance should not be overlooked.

Refusing to Sign an Estimate


When you tell us always to provide an estimate, what if they refuse to sign your estimate, saying legal will only allow them to work off their agreement? How do we respond to cover ourselves?


The norm is for larger clients and ad agencies NOT to sign our estimates/bids/contracts as their legal department controls the company decisions. We cover ourselves by carefully reading through their SOW (statement of work) agreement, not signing any terms contradicting our arranged policies. Our estimates still protect us if it comes down to a legal matter, so use the protection terms wisely as our backup.