United StatesImages for use on a Small City Government Website?
I have been asked to submit a proposal for what I would charge a small city (population 6K) to shoot approximately 15-20 images for web use to update their city government website. Most of the images will be interiors and exteriors of buildings. All are in close proximity of one another (3-4 miles). I estimate that it will probably take 3-4 hours to shoot, edit and prep the images. However, I may need to make 2-3 trips to get all of the images. However, I am often in this city shooting sporting events so I would not have to make any additional special trips. The City updates their images for their website about every 3 years. I doubt they would go for a yearly licensing fee. This is a small town in SC and things are done considerably different in this part of the country. The city is the county seat of one of the poorest counties in SC as well so not sure what their threshold tolerance will be. Plus, this is the city that I do most of my portrait and sports photography business in so while I want to charge as fair a price as possible I also have to look at the reality that in a small town people can talk your business up (or down) very quickly. I have a very good reputation at this time so this is a bit of a sticky situation for me on how I quote this. If I undershoot on my quote then I lose, obviously, but if my quote is considered outrageous then I may take a hit and lose the potential for additional business from the city and county. This is the good and bad thing about living in rural America. I would appreciate any thoughts on this, particularly from anyone who has had experience with small city or county government in the Southern USA. Thanks - Shawn
I definitely understand your concerns regarding what the local market will bear in your area. It's easy for us, as photographers, to say what we think an image is "worth" but the reality is that for all practical purposes it is worth what the client will pay us for it. It's then up to us to decide whether or not to go with it or not.
But, let me answer your question with two of my own.
Do you know if there are other photographers bidding? If so, try to do a little research and find out what they're charging. I have found that in smaller markets photographers are more likely to put pricing info on their websites. If you can find any of that information, try matching up their portrait/wedding rates with what you would charge to do something similar. This should give you a reasonably accurate assessment of where your competition is.
Is this a formal call for proposals? In other words, are you bidding against these other photographers?
I whole-heartedly agree with others here who will say that you shouldn't try to be the cheapest photographer on the block. Why strive to be sub-par? The catch is that many government entities, when they formally bid out jobs, give a leg-up to three kinds of bidders: 1) Small businesses (all photographers are in this case); 2) minority and/or female owned businesses; 3) lowest bidder.
I'm not saying that this town is going through the trouble of a formal bidding process, but if they are than they're looking at you like you're providing plumbing services. It may suck, but that's just the way it is for many reasons. You can't change that.
What you do determine is the lowest price that you're willing to take and the professionalism in which you present your bid. Think of it this way, if you don't win the job the only people who will know are the ones that looked at the bid. That is, unless you act like a jerk about it in which case everyone will know.
So, pick the price that is the lowest that you're comfortable with, type up a nice looking estimate, double check your spelling and send it in. If yours is not accepted send an email thanking them for their consideration and to please keep you in mind for the next project.
As far as the number of shoot days, I think that you might be underestimating the time. Assuming that you're trying to catch the building exteriors (Court Square- am I guessing correctly?) at early morning or evening hours, it might take longer than you expect.
Give them a little insight into what you're doing. To the people hiring you, this might seem like the equivalent to walking around and snapping pictures. Tell them that you've checked with the courthouse and that you do or don't need a permit to set up a tripod. Or, there's no construction planned in front of the building on that day. Or, my personal favorite:" well, on Wednesday, July 27 the sun is up at 6:36 am so I can get some great images on the east side of the street before traffic picks up.
But the really great light on the city clerk's office (and the west side of the square) will be at about 7:30, an hour before the sun sets at 8:34 pm." (Seriously -check my math.) Give them the confidence that you know what you're doing and that you've anticipated all factors.
When you bid mention the fact that some of the work will take place before and after regular business hours. City employees understand the 40 hour clock more than us freelancers. In many cases any hourly employee is used to being paid time and half for the off-hours.
Having said all of that, they're only going to pay up to what they've budgeted for. Times are lean in the south east and I'm not sure who is going to be willing to go over budget on something like this, unless all of the photographers who bid are significantly over their budget projections.
I'd say that while your range may not seem fair to many of us, it's probably reasonable for the area. Defend your price based on the time that you'll spend on it. Negotiate in a language that they'll understand. Also play up your 15 years of experience and knowledge of the area.
Shawn; Where ever you live, big city or small town, word of mouth can help your business or kill it. People talk all over and trust me - if and when you screw up a job - word travels fast big town or small! Secondly, there are clients with big budgets and small budgets no matter what part of the country you live in.
Every time you put out an estimate it is a "sticky situation" and your reputation is on the line. Try not to have the attitude that a client is "small" - I'm not saying ignore their budget concerns but if you go in thinking that they can't afford anything, then you will probably never get what the job is worth. I'm sure there are other professionals in this town that have competition. One of them charges more than the other because they provide higher quality, better service etc. etc. You should strive to be the one who charges a bit more because you are worth the extra money.
For 15 - 20 architectural exterior and interior images, the low end would be around $2,000 creative fee and I would go unlimited usage for three years $1,000. You might want to rethink the amount of time this will take. To do that many quality images will take much longer that 3 - 4 hours.
Good luck - keep us posted.