Negotiation 101 for photographers

Tricia ScottTricia Scott is the owner of MergeLeft Artist Agents, an agency representing amazing photographers for 20 years in New York City.

As an agent, one of the top reasons a photographer comes to me is to help them negotiate with clients. A negotiation is defined as a mutual discussion and arrangement of terms of a transaction or agreement. A complaint I hear from photographers is that there is no negotiation, just them agreeing to whatever the client will give them. This doesn’t have to be the case. The best negotiators do their homework and ask questions. The clients who don’t like to give much info typically are not serious about you shooting for them.

You need to know what the goals are in the negotiation. What are both parties needs? Whenever I am approached about a job I ask, what do we want from this job? We have three criteria, and we hope they all apply, but this isn’t always the case. If one of these things is not in the equation, we pass on the job. No reason to negotiate if you aren’t getting something out of it.

  • Money
  • Access
  • Creativity

When you are estimating a job, ask the right questions. Negotiation requires discussion. They have come to you because you can fulfill a need they have. What is that need? What can you do for them that no one else brings to the table?

Things to think about:

  1. Is this is new client or returning client? If it’s a new client, the more questions you ask, the more you will know if are really in the running for the job. Most jobs are triple bid these days, with a few exceptions. Ask who the other photographers are, and who is the favored photographer. Some clients won’t tell you, but most do. This will give you an idea if you are all in the same league. It also will tell you whether they are looking for a “local” photographer, a cheap photographer, or if you are just an additional number.
  2. Ask for the budget. I find that most long time clients will tell you their budgets and ask what can be done. For new clients, if they say they don’t know their budget, try to find out if it’s a 10K job or a 200K job. This can quickly educate you on what type production it’s going to be. Ask about their history of budgets. What have they done in the past? Are they trying to up the ante or just get something done quickly and cheaply? This is also a place where some negotiating can happen so it doesn’t come out of your fees. If they want more than can be afforded, expectations have to be scaled back. Less number of shots, less days, less talent. What can be scaled back so they get the most for their money, and you aren’t feeling taken advantage of? Do you really need a video casting or can you do a stills casting? Can they back off on usage rights to bring costs down on you and the talent? Can you license additional images on the back end?
  3. Make them HAVE to use you. Jobs are awarded to photographers whose numbers are higher if the client really wants to work with them. Your discussions with the client about the job, your knowledge of their product or service and your enthusiasm to collaborate and create together can make the decision to find more money or negotiate with you much more palatable. Even more so if you are an awesome, nice person! And vice versa, if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, and you have to give a bit to do it, it’s not the end of the world. The three criteria again.
  4. Keep emotions out of it. Your work is personal to you, and putting a value on it is hard. But you run a business.

So first and foremost, know your cost of doing business. What does it cost you to run your business everyday? All money decisions and negotiations should be based on that. Ask other photographers or people in the business. Photographers are a private bunch, not wanting to give away their big secrets, but ask questions, find out what people are charging for certain things if you don’t know.

A few things NOT to consider in negotiations:

The promise of more work, and lots of it. That carrot is nice to think about but it’s not a guarantee. If you can get them to guarantee it in writing, go for it but it’s not a common occurrence.

Bigger fees next time. If they think of you as the cheap photographer once, they always will. Be careful of that. The same goes the other way, if you are immediately thought of as non-negotiable and way too expensive, you might get passed up on a great project that has a tight budget but great access or amazing photos.

In the end, you should walk away from a negotiation feeling good about how it was resolved, and both parties should feel content with the decisions. The goal is to make great photographs, make money, make the client happy, and enjoy it. And always over deliver. That will certainly put you in the “worth more money” category. Win-win.

Posted in Photography business | Tagged , ,

TIP // Get more visitor stats with analytics integration

Your PhotoDeck website comes with great analytics and timelines to keep track of activity on your site. If you’re hungry for even more data, you can also easily integrate with Google Analytics and StatCounter. Both are free tools that provide extremely powerful insights including visitor acquisition, in-page analytics, demographics, and much more.

Google Analytics

To integrate with these services, go to My Website / General Settings / General Options / Analytics. Enter the provided analytics code for Google Analytics or StatCounter, save the page, and you’re done! In addition, you can also set up Facebook insights.

It is normal to see significantly less visits reported via Google Analytics or StatCounter. Google Analytics uses Javascript for tracking, so visitors need to have Javascript enabled for their visits to be recorded. In addition, it is easy for visitors to forbid Google Analytics tracking.

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TIP // Editing your mobile design

PhotoDeck websites offer a great deal of customizability, and that also includes the mobile versions designed for smartphones. In fact, with the exception of custom code, the mobile design offers almost the same degree of customizability as the desktop version.

Mobile Design

Editing your mobile design is very similar to customizing the desktop version. First, head over to My Website / Design, then click on Mobile >, as seen in the screenshot below. Use the different tabs to access the styling options, just like you would for your desktop design.

Mobile Settings

Once you’re in the mobile design edit mode, you can customize anything from colors and fonts to icons and spacing. You can even choose one of our pre-configured color “recipes” by clicking on More Info just below the mobile theme. Try to keep a consistent style with your desktop design if possible!

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Essential characteristics of a successful Pro

Zoe_WhishawZoe Whishaw is a independent commercial photography consultant and mentor. She works with photographers on a one-to-one basis and runs seminars and workshops in and around London.

As an experienced editor, art director and commissioner of photographers, I thought it might be useful to consider some of the fundamental attributes I believe a photographer needs in order to build strong client relationships and so be more likely to be re-hired and recommended to others.

Now it goes without saying that everyone is different and this difference can be a powerful means of separating yourself from your competitors. These days it’s true to say more than ever that a photographer’s ‘personality/persona’ has currency and sway in terms of getting hired.

That said, there are a number of underlying characteristics that I think are essential for any photographer to possess if you want to be successful and get re-hired aside from possessing a stand-out body of inspiring work.

I won’t attempt to write a psychological piece here nor be exhaustive in my suggestions… rather I want to draw your attention to some strong top-level qualities that through my experience I believe to be important to cultivate and perhaps in some instances develop further in order that you feel secure in your practice. If you feel confident in these arenas there is every reason to have a loyal customer base and indeed find referrals coming to you via happy clients.

  • Show your professionalism: be dependable, efficient, timely, on budget, organised, polite, an expert in your field, committed, collaborative, flexible and not a clock-watcher. Keep your emails and invoices professional.
  • Be a good communicator: presenting yourself and your work effectively to clearly define your vision and services; handling and getting the best out of your crew (producer, stylists, models, etc). Pleasant and polite demeanour in all handlings with your client and your clients’ clients. Be responsive – pick up the phone and be a good listener.
  • Be solution-oriented: always a creative thinker and practical problem -solver willing to go the extra mile to work through challenges. You freely offer up ideas and solutions at the trickiest of times.
  • Be patient & tenacious: strong work ethic and you certainly don’t give up easily. Money can’t be your first motivator.
  • Have a thick skin: there will be plenty of knocks and rejections on your journey as a photographer. You need to feel able to embrace (and even welcome) criticism and be willing and able to learn from it.
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm and drive: this can be wonderfully infectious and can help you to stand out in what is an incredibly competitive industry.

Posted in Photography business | Tagged

TIP // Expiring Galleries

Expiring galleries make it easy for you to automatically revoke gallery access or free up server space at a time of your choosing. The built-in expiry tools are flexible and easy to set up. The idea is that you can “set it and forget it”. If you agree to make images available for a client for a certain period of time, you can set up expiry and not need to keep track of it.

Gallery Expiry

You can set up gallery expiry by navigating to the gallery in the My Images & Videos panel, then going to More / Gallery expiry. There are different kinds of behaviors you can set up for your gallery for different purposes.

Gallery Expiry

Gallery never expires. This is the default setting for all galleries. No changes are made to the gallery, and it will remain available to your clients indefinitely.

Gallery expires, make gallery inaccessible at expiry. Once the chosen date of expiry is reached, the gallery will be made inaccessible to visitors. You can make it accessible again via the Authorizations panel of the gallery.

Gallery expires, delete gallery at expiry. The gallery is deleted, but all images are simply “unpublished” and kept on the server. Get easy access to your unpublished files by using the pre-existing Not Published smart collection, found at the bottom of the left-hand-side panel.

Gallery expires, delete gallery and its content at expiry.This setting permanently deletes the gallery AND the contained images. This cannot be undone! Use this setting to automatically free up space on your account when the images are no longer needed.

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TIP // Spice up your buttons

You’ve chosen a design for your website, uploaded your photos, and added pricing profiles to them. To refine your design, you can customize the buttons on your website to make them more visible and enticing to your clients or potential clients.

Customized Buttons

Under My Website / Design / Style / Buttons and controls, feel free to choose a color that you like and think would go well with your design. Keep in mind that complementary colors can be effective in making them stand out, though you probably won’t want to distract from your images.

Button Options

Once you’ve chosen a color, you can proceed to change the look of the buttons. Less rounded corners, a darker overlay, shadows – all can be customized. We’ve already chosen a default color that matches the rest of your design, but you have total control over small details as well, so have fun!

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On Heartbleed and security

You’ve probably heard by now of Heartbleed, a critical flaw in the de-facto security component used by most web services. This flaw makes it possible for attackers to access part of the memory of servers using OpenSSL for encryption, and steal data from it.

Over the weekend, a few members have asked us where we stand on the issue.

In short, PhotoDeck relies on the affected component, but we took the appropriate steps swiftly, and don’t believe there is a meaningful risk to your data. As a precaution, it is always a good idea to change your password, and especially to make sure you don’t re-use the same password across different services.

This is not the first (nor the last) time in PhotoDeck’s lifetime that a major security bug surfaces. We actively monitor security issues on a continuous basis and make sure we are able to react swiftly when such issues arise.

As a result, we were able to implement a correction to our system as soon as it was available, within about 21 hours of the bug being announced. This is a relatively short window, and from a hacker’s viewpoint there were far higher-profile targets to exploit than PhotoDeck. We have no evidence of data being compromised.

Still, what is the risk exactly?

PhotoDeck does not process (and therefore we don’t store) credit card numbers, and all financial traffic goes directly to our payment providers, so no financial data is accessible through PhotoDeck. In fact, in our setup the affected component only has access to data in transit (active sessions), not to the database. Similarly, the image and video files are out of reach.

Nonetheless, in theory, some users login credentials could have been compromised. So as a precaution, you can change your password (ME / Change my password).

More importantly, make sure that you don’t reuse the same password across services.

We will keep monitoring closely the Heartbleed situation, as well as security issues in general.

Posted in Behind the scenes | Tagged

TIP // Custom order IDs

If you’re using your PhotoDeck website for ecommerce or download galleries, you know that orders are created on your website to keep an overview. You may be familiar with this view on your Orders page:


Now, the default system for order numbers has its time and place. However, if you want to create custom order numbers, you can. This may come in handy when your business already uses an existing syntax for order numbers, or when you want to simplify your bookkeeping.

Custom Order Numbers

Head on over to My Business / Checkout Settings / Advanced Settings and check the box for Use my own format. You can make the order ID’s as simple or as complex as you like. For example, if you simply want to use a running number for your orders, enter %@ in the ID format field. You can also incorporate the year, month, and day. The syntax is shown on the page, so head on over to your checkout settings and take a look!

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Featured Photographer: Eivind Røhne

Eivind Røhne

Eivind has been a professional photographer since the 90′s and a member of PhotoDeck since September 2013. He is based out of the Oslo area and photographs people, fashion, interiors and exteriors, as well as images for advertising or editorial use.

In addition, Eivind has written, photographed and published the book «The Joy of Photography – how to take better pictures» together with a good friend and colleague. The book is a 300 page inspirational and how-to book on photography, and has been a huge success on the norwegian publishing house Exlibris Media.

In this interview Eivind shares some secrets about his work and his business. Don’t forget to check out his PhotoDeck Website,

“PhotoDeck has given me a website that is far easier to maintain and update than all my previous ones.”

Where do you live / work ?

I live just outside Oslo in Norway, but I do commissioned work all around the world.

Photo by Eivind Røhne

How would you describe your photographic style? How does your personal work differ from your paid jobs?

Wow, this is a tough one, and I think it is easier for others to decide whether or not I have a photographic style or not. What I aim for though, are pictures with strong compositions and good use of colors, that tell a story or evoke some kind of mood. I do some personal stuff, but I probably should be doing more. The personal stuff I do is mostly for fun and for myself, but I try to find some commercial assignments each year that I can treat more like personal work.

Can you describe your workflow?

For me, workflow means the big picture, with all the research, preparation, meetings, some actual photography in the middle, and at the other end the digital post production part. Others seem to think of workflow as just the post production part, and that part starts with downloading files from the memory cards and making triple backups (on and off site) before even touching the files! Then I do file renaming, attach some copyright info and keywords, and make a first selection of all the shots that are good enough, and rate them with 4 stars. I do all this in PhotoMechanic since it is blistering fast at this. The next step depends on who’s making the final selection. If it is the client, then I make a PDF and send them to choose from, but if I’m doing the final selection, I go through the 4 star files a second and third time, and upgrade the best to 5 stars. Then I start working on those in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop if necessary. Delivery is usually made through some sort of file delivery service, since the total file size usually is quite big (I usually deliver 3 different sizes JPGs as well as full res TIFFs).

Photo by Eivind Røhne

How would you define your photo business? Who are your clients?

My photo business is a full time business. And in addition to commercial photographic work, I also run photographic courses, workshops and training. Not for professionals, but for amateurs and enthusiasts. I love sharing, teaching and talking about photography, since it is my passion. I’ve also written and published a 300 page how-to and inspirational book on photography, and appear regularly on national television talking about photography, giving tips, tricks and inspiration. My photographic clients are commercial clients that need images for commercial or editorial use, advertising, internal or external PR etc. I do fashion (editorial and catalogue/commercial), as well as people (lifestyle/portraits), portraits, interior & architecture, as well as corporate & industrial work.

When and how did you start photography as a business?

I started delivering pictures professionally in the mid nineties. At that time I had a “real job” as well, working as a project manager in the IT/computer business for quite a few years. But after a while that job just didn’t have anything more to offer, and I didn’t want to spent my life doing things that I weren’t passionate about. So I quit, and haven’t looked back.

Photo by Eivind Røhne

How do you market yourself and your work?

A lot of my clients have been with me for a long time, and I’ve built everything step by step from scratch. Most of my clients have come to me through word of mouth, and I am happy and grateful for that. My website is my primary marketing tool, but this spring I’m trying out Production Paradise as a new channel for getting my work marketed. Apart from that, it’s been about making phone calls, having some good shoes and a portfolio, and trying to get to know new people.

Best business decision? Why?

I would say keeping my photography as a well paid hobby besides a real job for some time was a smart move. That gave me lots of experience from both worlds, and I didn’t just jump into photography young and innocent, thinking it was all happy times and drinking Champagne.

Photo by Eivind Røhne

Worst mistake? What would you have done differently?

Oh I’ve made many mistakes. A wise man said something about if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing anything at all. But I try to learn from them and move on. So I don’t go around remembering all of my mistakes and getting negative about it.

How do you see the future?

If I could see the future, I’d probably make a career change all over again and be a weel paid fortune teller instead… Just kidding! These are exciting and challenging times for sure. For me it’s important not to lose sight of what I’m doing, and why I chose to do this for a living.

Photo by Eivind Røhne

Any advice for aspiring photographers?

Stop dreaming, and wake up! Making it as a photographer is extremely hard work. Probably the toughest job you’ve ever had if you’ve ever had one. You have to really want this. It’s long hours. Hard work. Fighting every day to keep the money coming in. And it’s all about running a business. You just happen to shoot some pictures now and then. People seem to think photography is 99% photography and nothing but fun, partying and drinking Champagne and the money just pouring in. When actually it’s something like 10% shooting pictures and 90% running a business and doing other stuff. Sadly, quite a few people wanting to be a photographer, seem to think that it’s just about going out and buying a half decent DSLR. If you really want it, go for it!! If you just want to be a photographer so you don’t have to find a job, stay away! By selling yourself for nickles and dimes you’re screwing up things not just for yourself, but for a whole industry. Don’t misunderstand me. There’s lots and lots of great shooters out there, and some amateurs produce amazing work! But shooting and post producing one amazing picture that you spent 3-4 weeks on, doesn’t mean you can make it as a working professional. As a professionla you have to produce good stuff every time you click the shutter, and other people dictate what you shoot, and you have to charge enough doing it so you and your family can have a life and pay for it. That’s a lot harder than it actually sounds…

Photo by Eivind Røhne

What is your current biggest challenge and how are you addressing it?

The biggest challenge is that too many people seem to think they can make it as a photographer today just because the equipment is cheap and available. What’s worse, is that more and more companies also seem to think that a person with a camera is a photographer, and since there are so many “photographers”, pictures should be cheap… I’ve had big international companies offering me nothing more than pennies for huge jobs. I’ve sat across them in meeting rooms with a calculator, showing them that what they’re willing to pay have been as low as 1/10 of the lowest salary pr hour that’s even LEGAL to pay anyone in Norway! But they just call someone else, and they always seem to find a desperate soul with a camera taking the job for basically no pay. And then they come back to you and say “Well the last guy did it for a lot less than you want…”. It’s just like going into a Mercedes dealer, saying you want their most expensive and brand new car, but you’re not willing to pay more than $500 for it. Trick question: Do they give you the car….?!

What do you use PhotoDeck for?

I mainly use it as a portfolio. I tell my clients they can register and log on, so they can proof, rate and get the files delivered there. But they seem to still prefer getting a PDF via mail and doing the selections there. But I’ll definitely explore more of the possibilities there!

Photo by Eivind Røhne

Have your clients commented on your website? What did they like?

I haven’t really spread the word about it yet, but hose who have visited the new site have said they love it! Clean design, fast, and very easy to navigate.

What main problem has PhotoDeck solved for you?

PhotoDeck has given me a website that is far easier to maintain and update than all my previous ones. I’ve designed all my previous ones myself, and used Dreamweaver to code them, doing all that stuff that a photographer really shouldn’t have to be spending time doing…

Photo by Eivind Røhne

What improvement would you most love to see?

What I want most of all, is more choices of great looking templates! Good and up to date design, and a high-end looking website is very important for me, and beeing able to update the look and feel of a website over time is essential. So keep those new and great looking design templates coming!

Another thing is the proofing and rating system. I have just started out testing it, but it seems you can’t use the keyboard for rating/assigning stars, but have to click with the mouse. Since you can navigate backward and forward with the cursor keys, it would be great to be able to assign stars/rating with the 1-5 number keys as well.

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TIP // Defining your studio address

Something you’ll want to do when setting up your account is define a Studio Address. The studio address is a physical address. If you connect to a partner lab, they will be automatically provided this address for billing and shipping. It makes sense to set it up regardless of whether or not you’re connecting to a partner lab. Keep in mind that your Studio Address is not displayed publicly on your website.

You can edit your studio address under My Website / General Setting / General Options / Studio address. If your billing address and studio address are the same, place the corresponding checkmark and enter your company EU VAT number, if applicable.

Studio Address

Your addresses can be managed via ME / More / Addresses. Remember you can set up separate addresses for billing and for your studio.

Billing Address

Please remember to include your phone number in your profile – it makes it easier for us to reach you in case we need to get in touch. You may also be interested in our Privacy Policy.

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