Archive for November, 2008

On Proposals

I read this really awesome post over on freelance folder recently, and immediately took to the idea. Basically, the idea is that you should offer customer tiered services options, like small, medium, or large. It’s not just tiers, though, it can also be varieties of service, like chocolate, vanilla or strawberry.

I’m interested in the idea now, but I haven’t always been. For example, I was wary of limiting my portrait services to a few chintzy packages because I didn’t want to limit my offerings. I pride myself on the unique nature of each portrait session I perform. I didn’t want people to think I could *only* do the things listed on my sales sheet.

My experience has shown, though, that this “I’ll do anything you want” mindset is flawed. More often than not, I have had people tell me that the idea of figuring out what prints to order was daunting. And so, they don’t order. The problem is that people have no idea what they want. Not until they see it, at least.

Create options that scratch a majority of your customers’ itches, and you save your customers the trouble of figuring out what they need, and then effectively communicating that desire to you. I am still offering my unique portraits, but I am now framing that offering as a set of choices. The uptake, I hope, will be that customers find it easier to order from me. Once they’ve decided to buy, we can then discuss the details of our portrait session. Much easier than trying to negotiate prices and logistics on the fly.


Earlier this year, I did a few shoots for a local magazine in exchange for advertising space. The advertising went no where, and the tears were crap, so I broke off the relationship. My wife picked up a copy of the magazine and was flipping through it. I happened to look over her shoulder, and happened to saw one of my images smiling back up at me from the advertising section. Here’s how things went down:

In March of this year, I did a shoot for a local restauranteur for the magazine, and heard the editor say to the client “we’ll be happy to turn these images over for you to use” or something like that. I pulled her aside and told her that that was no bueno. I told her I was licensing the images to her magazine to use for one issue. She said that was fine. The next month, I did another photo shoot for the magazine at a Montessori school. This is the shoot from which the unlicensed images came.

Shame on me for not getting a nice contract signed for this work. I chalk it up to inexperience, and now I’ve learned that I don’t press the shutter until I have a signed contract.

So, I reached out to the magazine this morning, but the editor was in a meeting. At this point, I need to know how long the image has been running so I can bill the school for it appropriately. I spoke to a manager at the Montessori school and she was completely surprised, which surprises me not at all. She said the editor handed over the images specifically for her to use in the advert. I told her the next person she should call is the editor who handed over my work. She seemed to understand my perspective, which is a relief.

The publisher screwed the pooch here, but it’s the school that owes me money. I told the manager at the school that the publisher really took advantage of both of us. It’s unacceptable for a publisher to act with such disregard for photographers.

Just got off the phone with the publisher, who apologized, but she’s pretty clearly miffed, saying that she hasn’t had this issue with other photographers. that’s unfortunate. She is going to get back to me with the number of issues in which my photo ran.