Friday, December 14, 2007

Please Welcome fotoBiz & fotoQuote As Our Latest Advertiser!

One of the pieces of software that I find as indispensible as Photoshop and Firefox, and thus, is parked right on my Mac's dock next to them is fotoQuote - simply put, the best and most up-to-date pricing solution for photographers, and one which I rely on. I've been saying this for years in my presentations, and believe it to be just as true then as it is today, so, there's no quid-pro-quo here, I am a true-believer when it comes to how great fotoQuote (and it's larger sibling fotoBiz) are.

Back in 1992, Cradoc Bagshaw began a quest - to solve the pricing dilemas of photographers everywhere - and he has succeeded (and re-succeeded since then) in providing top-notch, real-world information. In 1993, after painstaking research, he released what I honestly feel was a landmark tool for pricing photography. The first tool was the ASMP pricing guide, which, while a milestone back in 1982, but which became problematic for them, as an organization, when the Federal Trade Commission slapped them with concerns about price-fixing. Further, for over two decades, photo buyers and photo editors have pointed to the now outdated pricing guides, that ASMP was prohibited from updating. Not Cradoc. He regularily updates his software.

(Continued after the Jump)

So, what's his story? Well, Cradoc began when he was just 15 working for the Anchorage Daily News as...get this...Chief Photographer! Following that, he worked for Life, Forbes, Time, and countless others, as well as having his work represented by Black Star, West Light, and others. Cradoc really has earned his stripes as a photographer.

Aside from that pedigree, he maintains a very active and engaged life, speaking at NYU, the International Center of Photography in New York, UCLA and Brooks Institute of Photography.

At right, is an example of the over 200 pricing categories that fotoQuote has - this one is for a retail book cover stock photography use.

But the software doesn't stop there, there's an entire coaching section, which is a must-read before you engage in a phone conversation with a prospective client or buyer. And it coaches you for every use category/type, it's truly a remarkable opus, at your fingertips, dealt to you piecemeal, just what you need for what you're negotiating on.

In one instance, in fact, one that appears in my book, I was negotiating with a educational textbook publisher, and I used the software to ask the right questions and, as you can see by the negotiations that ensued between myself and the client starting on page 192 of my book, I was able to move an offer from $275 to $950 each, for two images, all based upon insights from fotoQuote.

This was remarkable, because, in part, the negotiating coach section was developed with the help of a past ASMP National President, Vince Streano. In a prophetic citation from the a 1999 Central Virginia Newsletter "....How do you smoke out actual usage and budgets, and how can you tell how badly the person on the other end of the phone wants your image? Are you prepared to let a sale go for $200 that you might have gotten $900 for?" This is just what I did, and the ending numbers are remarkably similar. Crazy. But, crazy good.

Back in February of 1994, promoting one of the software updates, a press release from the company noted:
FotoQuote automates the process of creating a quote for stock photography submissions. “Our research has shown that when a price quote is given in writing instead of verbally there is a much higher chance of getting the asking price,” said Bagshaw. “ There are fewer problems, including copyright infringement or rights grabs, if the photographer is willing to take the time to send the client the correct paperwork outlining the exact details of the job, including usages and rights that are to be granted."
It goes on to report on how the pricing figures are researched:
All of the prices have been carefully reviewed from actual sales records, and raised or lowered to reflect the current market.
Their website goes on to note:
To get accurate prices we reviewed thousands of confidential sales records from national stock agencies and photographers all across the US. We built a price grid and then checked back with experts in each category to be sure the prices were accurate. As a last step, we again checked the prices against thousands of actual sales records from agencies and photographers.

We scoured all of the available online pricing that we could find, looking for new patterns and checking to see whether or not there was any consistency in those patterns or if they seemed to be a quick and dirty solution to the new pricing situation. We worked with a pile of our own email requests for help from users looking for pricing solutions that were new to the industry and finally we monitored stock photo news groups to see what kind of pricing problems photographers were having and the possible solutions that were being offered. Finally, after building a greatly updated pricing model we started calling industry sources to check the prices we came up with. As a result, we "rewrote the book". You won't find the pricing information in the new fotoQuote anywhere else.
Now, Cradoc has decided he wants to promote his software here, and advertise with us.

As a long-time registered owner of the software, I was upset to learn, in the same ASMP Central Virginia article: -
On a sourer note, the program’s author reports that there are many unlicensed copies of fotoQuote in use by photographers and agencies. If that is the best behavior we as professional photographers can muster, then we deserve what we get. Come on, you know who you are and just howhypocritical that is. Buy the program.
Yes, buy the program. Don't steal his efforts he's made for our benefit. Don't steal his software, it's just as much a creative endeavor as a picture you've made, and when someone steals your photograph, you get upset, so do the right thing and buy it. If you are using a copy that's not yours, now is the time to order your own legitimate copy. It's good karma (and the law!) to do so.

fotoQuote - $139.95 full version, with upgrade pricing.

FotoBiz -" If you need to get your paperwork out, keep track of your images, keyword and caption them, then this is the program for you." $299, full version, with upgrade pricing. (this includes fotoQuote in it!)

UPDATE: For our foreign readers, fotoQuote has listed the conversion rates for currency. Those shown at right are the default figures, but what with exchange rates fluxuating, you may change the rate as markets change. In addition, if for whatever reason, you think that these real-world surveyed rates need a tweak, you may make an adjustment to a specific use, or an across-the-board percentage increase to all the rates!

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

[More: Full Post and Comments]

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Your Photography Business: Get In The Mix

There are several different dishes I enjoy at restaurants around town. I have become a "destination diner", in that, I'll suggest we go to a certain restaurant because I am craving, say, Tortellini Rose from Paolo's, Tuna Tartare from BLT Steak, a Floating Island from Bistro lepic,  Pho from Pho 75 in Arlington, or my latest, Butterscotch Mousse from Johnny's on the Half Shell after last night's "after gathering" following the White House News Photographer's Holiday Party at the Capitol. However, if I had those dishes even once a week they would loose their appeal.

If every assignment I made was of a concert performance, or a lit portrait, so too, I'd be less excited by them. tonight I scouted a location for a book cover shoot on Monday, and photographed a holiday party for an association. Tomorrow (as you're reading this), I am doing a magazine portrait in the morning, and a corporate portrait in the afternoon, followed by a client's holiday party drop by (sans camera) and then a prospective client has called me to meet with them while they're in town to "look at my portfolio". Meanwhile, two of my colleagues are shooting a corporate assignment for me in New York City that has taken them and the biggest SUV I could rent along with a G5 tower and iMac and my Post Production Manager to deliver on-site files and immediate uploads for the client's review in Texas. (cha-ching!)

Diversity of a client base is one cornerstone of success as a photographer.

If all I did was portraits, or weddings, or events, or news, or documentaries, get the point...just one (or a few things)  I'd have established a client base that is one-sided, or of just a few clients. An exceptional photographer friend of mine has just one editorial client. He's a freelancer, and he relies soley on them for all his work. Sure, it's a high profile client with sufficient work, but he's at the whim of that client's decision, and he could get the ax at any time.

How do you mitigate this situation?

(Continued after the Jump)
A mix of clients.

Yes yes, there are tons of photographers who specialize, and there is a wide cacophony of voices telling you you should specialize. And, well, yes that's a nice goal, but I've held to the belief that "have check, will take picture", works pretty well. Does that mean I don't try, on my own schedule, and on my own projects, to have a style/genre/etc? Maybe. But, as with too much Pho, or too much Butterscotch Mousse (I stopped after two last night), it begins to loose it's wow factor. 

Perhaps, for some people, portraying the family dog is a calling. For others, babies and their new moms, and again for others, their own muse. Yet, everyone from Ansel Adams to Bill Allard, to know what I'm saying - all the greats - they do not do just what we know them for, but the school portraits (I've lost the image of Adams doing an outdoor school portrait that I once had, but it was a revised perspective that my young eyes once looked upon, seeing that in the lab at Black & White one day when I was processed...) and even Annie does corporate portraits (rumored to run $65k) when someone calls.

Who knows what I'll be known for some day. To me, being known as "...the greatest dad in the whole-wide-world..." by my daughters is what I hope to be most proud of, but maybe a picture or two will be remarkable. Then again, maybe not. I, however, sure enjoy the spectrum from Robert Plant to BB King to The President to a bush flight into Alaska for a book project to, well, again, you get the picture. Diversity not only rocks, it can ensure your longevity, and it's about the journey, not the destination.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

[More: Full Post and Comments]
Newer Posts Older Posts