Quick Tip: How (and Why) to Push Clients for a Bigger Budget

Posted by on Wednesday September 5, 2018 | Business

©James Farrell
woman with parachute by James Farrell

Photographer James Farrell specializes in action sports photography for commercial and editorial clients. ©James Farrell

Clients are notorious for tight budgets and high expectations for photo shoots, or as art producer Karen Meenaghan says, “It’s beer budgets and champagne tastes.” In our story “7 Tips for Getting Clients to Pay What You Are Worth,” photographer James Farrell explains that he always asks clients who call to hire him what their budget is. “The answer tells me whether they’re working with real money, or with $1,000,” thereby giving Farrell vital information he needs to plan the shoot.

But Farrell goes on to say: “I always push to see what [money] they have.” One client, for instance, offered him a flat fee for a shoot, but it was clear to Farrell they expected higher production values than the budget allowed for. “I said, ‘Do you have money for lights?’” He told the client he needed an additional $500 to rent the lights required for the job. “They came back with $400.” It was $400 more than they originally said they could pay.

Farrell says he also pushes on fees for his photo assistants. Market rates for assistants range from $250 per day for editorial work to $450 or $500 for commercial work. Farrell pushes for two assistants at a minimum of $300 per day. Most clients resist, but he tells them that the assistants he hires are going to help make the client’s day run a lot more smoothly, with less stress, and with better images at the end of the day.

Usually, clients accept that reasoning, he says, “and when the job is done, they can see that being on set with my team is a smoother experience” than shoots they’ve done with other photographers. Farrell notes, however, that advertising clients are more easily convinced to increase a photo shoot’s budget. “Editorial budgets are a little more strict.”

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