Five questions to ask before you quote your next photography job

(Last Updated On: August 27, 2015)
photography interior
Photo by Rosh Sillars

It’s happened to you. You receive an email asking for a quote for photography work you have not attempted. Maybe you are nervous because the company or agency is larger than your current client base. Possibly, you are new to the photography market and you don’t know where to start.

If you are new, I recommend you start here — pricing photography 2014 and 2015. These are two of my most popular posts and they contain a lot of information related to pricing your photography. Yes, I will have a 2016 version in the new year.

Before you quote your rate you need to ask a few questions. The more questions you ask the better. Little details can make a big difference in how you approach an assignment. Below are five I recommend you ask every time.

  1. How are you going to use the photographs? Asking this question will help you kickstart the conversation and answer many more questions needed to properly quote the job. The answers will give you a sense of the clients needs, wants, and requirements. For example, a family portrait has a different value compared to a 50 billboard advertising campaign.
  2. What is the deadline? It’s important to know the timeline of the project. This includes when is the quote due, what days they want to photograph and when the client needs the images. I’ve noticed clients tend to call photographers back after they meet or beat deadlines.
  3. How many photographs do you need? I quote using per image pricing ninety percent of the time. So, this question is very important to help me estimate how much to charge. Creating one photograph over an entire day or making twenty-five images during a six-hour period takes different approaches.
  4. Do you have a specific budget range? You will not always get an answer to this question, but it doesn’t hurt to try. After I’ve asked enough questions I may ask if they are comfortable with a specific per image price range. At least it will give me a clue or an opportunity to further the conversation.
  5. What are your expectations for this project? Asking questions about the clients  vision is very important. What do they expect to receive when the photography is complete? What are their expectations on set? How do they wish to receive the images? This questions will help you gain insight, open new doors and opportunity to ask more questions. I like to ask, at the end of this project what do you expect to see.

After you ask your questions, don’t immediately give them a quote. Take time to review and digest the information. Request the opportunity to call back and email the estimate. It’s best to email the estimate after you have the client on the phone again. This way you have a better chance to address any objections.

Before you hang up, make sure you have their full name, company info, phone number, website and email. I’m guilty of not always asking for their full information and at times I’ve been burned for not following through on this basic business practice. Be sure to take the time to check their website, it will give you clues about how experienced they are dealing with photographers, how much they value photography and how often they need new photographs.

If you are not comfortable creating the images asked of you, refer the job to a photographer you trust. Always ask for a referral fee, it will help to build a two way business relationship and you will get something out of the deal.

The truth is all photographers run into road blocks when quoting a job. No two clients are the same. Some agencies will think you are too cheap, while other businesses will never think of paying such an expensive rate for the same job. You will win and lose great opportunities. However, if you ask the right questions, the odds of earning a new client increase.

What questions do you think are important to ask?

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