Category Archives: Best Practices

A Bad Deal

I recently passed on job that was such a bad deal, I had to share. Below is the job description and my thoughts on it. Hi Lincoln, Thank you for the fast response! Below is the run down for the job. We’ll be putting together a list of (roughly) 60 venues (restaurants, bars, concert spaces)...

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

  • Mau Orozco09/03/2013 - 9:51 pm

    Unreal. I see similar “opportunities” come up frequently now. Long time ago I briefly worked in post production for a company that shot hotels to create virtual tours and they offered a similar deal (probably not as bad) and they had people lined up to do the photography.

    Of course the post production department would frequently have to save the day when the crappy images came in. Unbelievable they had the audacity to make this offer after looking at your level of work.ReplyCancel

  • Aubrie LeGauly09/04/2013 - 7:57 am

    Wow. It sounds like a horrible deal. Thanks for sharing this it was informative to see what you thought…and it taught us “newer” photographers to say no to bad deals.ReplyCancel

  • KW09/04/2013 - 10:52 am

    Holy smokes! I feel like even using my iPhone would cost more money to just produce a shot-unedited.
    Having the pleasure of working next you and your methods, this is very insulting. As I am sure they will get what they want from someone, Where do you go from here?
    Thanks for sharing this bit of insight. As a new photographer, all of your posts are very informative, a little scary, and extremely valuable.

  • Mary Anderson09/04/2013 - 12:11 pm

    Lincoln, wise move! Having worked with Philip for 13 years, I know how incredulous this job is. You’re exactly right, they want a button pusher who takes no pride in the quality of their work or building a reputation or portfolio. Good shooting takes lots of time…and whatever lighting is necessary to make that shot magical. Unfortunately their shots will look as good as $10 per.ReplyCancel

  • Lincoln Barbour09/04/2013 - 2:24 pm

    Hi everyone! Thanks for all the supportive comments. I’ve always felt that transparency is the best way to elevate the industry. A lot has change from the film days, but you should still be able to make a living as a photographer. Shooting jobs like this is sure way to lose money.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren Hall-Behrens09/04/2013 - 5:04 pm

    It is truly stunning that people compliment one’s work without any true understanding, interest or respect of its nature. That being said, turning away jobs can be difficult for people starting out in their careers – I’m glad you’ve posted your experience as a warning to them.ReplyCancel

  • Kindred spirit10/22/2013 - 3:01 pm

    I got the same pitch a year ago from Urban Daddy. What a joke. I like how they want you to do the cold calling too.

    They never launched in my city so maybe they haven’t found someone dumb enough to take it.ReplyCancel

  • Jaclyn Campanaro05/31/2014 - 3:37 pm

    Hello, just curious what your response was. When I get these kinds of “offers” I’m always incredulous and never know how to respond. A simple “no thank you”? A short explanation of why I’m turning the job down? Something inside me always wants to tell them “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”ReplyCancel

    • Lincoln Barbour06/05/2014 - 3:48 pm

      Sorry to reply so late, been busy with real work for real pay 😉 I was kind of rude to the guy who contacted me. I told him I don’t work this way and it was kind of insulting. Not my best response, but it really wasn’t worth it to me. It’s really hard to make cheap clients into anything but that. I’ve had other inquiries like this come in and I’ve just said I’m booked.ReplyCancel

  • Adrian Tan07/25/2014 - 7:24 pm

    Sounds like a job for real estate photographers. A quick 3 exposure for HDR, 5 image job can be done within 20mins. It’s actually worth it for them because they get anything between $150-250 for 20-30 images.

    Although the licencing is just a dead ripoff!ReplyCancel

Understanding Photo Insurance

Insurance – Liability, Shoot Insurance, and Riders/Binders “Liability refers to your basic insurance package you must have to cover loss or damage to your equipment, and to protect your personnel. Shoot insurance is a more costly type of insurance that will cover you in the event you need to reshoot a job. Riders/Binders cover the additional...

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

    How Much Should I Charge?

    Saw this on A Photo Editor and thought it was so well done I wanted it on my blog. The first few minutes are golden in explaining how much to charge. My only critique is that he’s basing is Cost of Doing Business on number of work days (250) but most photographers don’t shoot every...

    Add a comment...

    Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

      Digital Processing Fees

      Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of pressure to reduce my digital processing fees and, in some cases, even hand off my RAW files and let a third party deal with the post processing. Well, let me state this once and for all: I won’t do that. If I’m hired to create images that are...

      Add a comment...

      Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

      • Jen Wick03/10/2011 - 3:07 pm

        Smart. There are parallels here that allow a takeaway for other creative industries. I appreciate use of a formula here, which always helps in the bidding process. I only occasionally have to defend my rates, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor. When clients think something “shouldn’t take long” (and thus shouldn’t cost them much) they don’t consider what goes into the process: education, training, experience, equipment, rent, digital storage, etc. Very helpful.ReplyCancel

      • Christian Reed03/10/2011 - 3:24 pm

        Capture fee doesn’t make sense to me.

        Were I lucky enough to get an image as good as yours, it might take me 10x as many shots. Would I then charge a $1080 capture fee?

        Seems like you’re taking a roundabout path to an hourly rate.

        It doesn’t matter, though. This issue reminds me of Paul Rand and the NEXT logo. Wasn’t it along the lines of, “I’ll give you a logo. You get no input. It will cost $100,000”.

        Everybody and their half-ass brother thinks they’re a photographer these days. Clients are paying for your talent and expertise. You cost what you cost, but you’ll get it right. Smart clients recognize that and pay you your rate. Clients who don’t get that… Well, they’re not clients now, are they?ReplyCancel

        • Lincoln Barbour03/10/2011 - 4:00 pm

          The Capture Fee covers shooting to a card, downloading, basic adjustments, rating, and adding metadata. For architecture and food, I shoot very few RAW files, so a $1 a shot works for me. When I shoot lifestyle, I only charge for the selects and not the outtakes. I might shoot a 1000, but only give the the client 200 proofs. I would then bill them for the 200.

          I don’t like billing by the hour. If I were to bill hourly, I would buy the slowest computer on earth. Billing by the unit saves my client money and makes me more profitable the more efficient I become. It’s a win win.

          Like I said, do whatever makes sense to you. Just bill by the unit, not by the hour.ReplyCancel

      • lisa teso03/10/2011 - 3:35 pm

        perfectly stated, excellent approach.

        thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

      • Christian03/10/2011 - 5:50 pm

        Awesome post. I have been dealing with similar issues and think this is a straight forward approach. What are you thoughts about those “extra” processing requests that clients sometimes make, like cloning out power lines, etc? I usually charge a flat rate per image and any additional requests are billed hourly. Thoughts? thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

        • Lincoln Barbour05/06/2011 - 2:20 pm

          If it’s part of your vision to retouch the shot in any way, then that should be part of your creative fee. After you deliver the image and the client wants more retouching, then you should probably give them an estimate to do what they’re asking for. You could do it hourly or just charge a flat fee. Typical retouching rates are from $40/hr to $120/hr.ReplyCancel

      • Boone03/11/2011 - 11:49 am

        Great post Lincoln. Thanks for sharing.

        For me this is a super tricky thing to add as a line item. Honestly, it’s hard enough to work out licensing with many local clients who just don’t get it. But I appreciate the conversation and also encouragement to “stand firm” in practices that keep doing what we do sustainable.ReplyCancel

      • Erik Bishoff03/15/2011 - 9:55 am

        I’ve also been bouncing this stuff around in my head… for months. I even attended the ASMP SB3 conference in LA a couple months ago to learn more about pricing and fees. Everyone had a different answer, it was a little frustrating.

        I think yours is a good solution. It may not be for everyone, because we all have a different process to our work, but it’s important to address it and we ALL DO need to consider these issues.

        When you’re looking at the breakdown you use and the $1 increments… that’s something clients can understand. Bravo! (…and thanks for sharing this)ReplyCancel

      • andy05/06/2011 - 2:00 pm


        Hey I am a little late to the party here, but I just stumbled across this post after stumbling across your website/blog. By the way, I really like the layout of your sites. Inviting and easy.

        Anyway, my question is do you charge any other fees in addition to the $1 per capture to shoot digital and
        $1 per MB of final image(s) delivered? Model fees, digital storage fees, travel, insurance, permits, etc.? I assume so, but wasn’t sure if your pricing structure was intended to include all of this in an easy-to-digest way. And does this structure apply to commercial and editorial assignments equally?

        I appreciate you sharing your methods and for taking the time (hopefully) to entertain my questions.


        • Lincoln Barbour05/06/2011 - 2:12 pm

          Hey Andy,

          Thanks for commenting and the kind words.

          To answer your question, yes I charge for all expenses on top of my creative fee and digital processing fees. This includes (but not limited to) assistants, stylists, producers, equipment rental, travel, props, craft services, catering, location/studio fee, special effects, and so forth. The blog post was about what I charge for shooting digital (as apposed to shooting film).ReplyCancel

        • Lincoln Barbour05/06/2011 - 2:13 pm

          PS: I don’t charge for digital storage or archiving. I just charge for pulling out of the archive if someone wants it.ReplyCancel

      • Anthony03/01/2012 - 4:01 am


        Thank you for the sharing of information. This is one step forward to educating both clients and new photographers. I arrived in the country several months ago and nobody could tell me a rate structure that they were following. With respect to the industry one should always find that out so that you don’t undercut the competition and thus undermine all of us in the process. So thank you for sharing…

        In South Africa we get paid a day rate and a process fee. However, we don’t get paid usage and the law states that you don’t own your own pictures. the person who commissions the job does. The publications are demanding the RAW files there to do away with the process rate and to control all images… therefor only wanting a monkey to point and shoot.

        It is only when you have explained what the costs are in order to maintain the best equipment and up keep thereof, does a client fully understand the role of the professional photographers fees.


      • Jerry03/15/2012 - 3:53 pm

        I’m colour correcting a sandwich. It’s looking like a damn good sandwich – after 45 minutes. Processing fees make that happen!ReplyCancel

      How to Become My Assistant (or Not)

      I get a fair amount of emails from assistants moving to Portland looking for work. I totally get it. Portland is a cool place to live and being a photographer is fun. With NYC, LA, and San Francisco very expensive and hard to break into, Portland seems like an obvious place to start your career....

      Add a comment...

      Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

      • Bitna11/02/2010 - 11:56 am

        Hi Lincoln,
        I too emailed a few months back asking to be your assistant, and guess what? You not only WROTE ME BACK, but gave me a great advice and encouragement. I really appreciated your response. I am still working to establish myself as a photographer who can make a living, and I visit your blog to be inspired and informed. Thank you!ReplyCancel

      • Taylor Cunningham03/20/2012 - 1:10 pm


        Wonderful post. I have to admit I’ve probably been the first emailer on occasion, but I’m improving 🙂 I wish I lived in Portland; it would be great to work with you. Your mix of lifestyle and food is something I would like to achieve. My favorite image of yours has to be the bacon that won PDN.


        • Lincoln Barbour03/20/2012 - 3:25 pm

          Hey Taylor, thanks for the kind words. It’s not easy breaking into the assistant world, but once you find someone you click with, you’ll definitely get hired. I think personality is way more important than any skill or experience. I used to use a bunch of assistants and then I found my go to guy and he’s always who I call first, mainly because we get along really well. I get a ton of emails from people wanting to be my assistant. I wish I had enough work for all of them, but I don’t.ReplyCancel

      Protest New 1099 Legislation

      I was alerted this morning by ASMP that (unfortunately) part of the new healthcare reform legislation will seriously create a huge and unnecessary amount of paperwork for photographers or any small business. As of now, for any sub contractor (assistants, stylists, producers, etc.) that I pay over $600 in a year, I have to write...

      Add a comment...

      Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

      Pricing Etiquette

      Read this today and it really struck a chord with me. Just replace “sweater” with “photo.” From Lauren Venell of Biz Miss. Originally posted here on Design*Sponge. “Pricing Etiquette” Yes, Virginia, there is a polite way to price. Here are a couple of common pricing faux pas to avoid: Changing your prices too often: yes,...

      1 comment
      Add a comment...

      Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

      • Grayson02/24/2010 - 3:49 pm

        So true! You should charge for what your worth. If someone wants cheap, cheap quality is what they’ll get.ReplyCancel

      Please Don’t Take My Images

      Dear bloggers, writers, designers, illustrators, anyone that wants my photography on their website: Here’s the deal. If you want to talk me up or talk up my client, I don’t mind if you use my photography in a bloggy editorial kind of way. I just want a heads up. If you take my photography to...

      Add a comment...

      Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

      Would You Take Something That Isn’t Yours?

      If you’re an artist, you should protect you work. Via:

      Add a comment...

      Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

      • Creative ideas01/21/2010 - 12:16 am

        Nice. Love this postReplyCancel

      • narra01/21/2010 - 10:51 pm

        It is not so much about what other people will do if they believe they can get away with it, but what I do when I believe that I can. I do not take “things” that belong to other people, although I do take away ideas. After some brain composting these ideas work through my thoughts and become parts of new works or ideas of my own. I guess that is my work being informed by the work of others.ReplyCancel

      Join Mailing List

      Let's stay in touch! Join my mailing list and I'll send you the good stuff.

      Recent Posts



      [email protected] | 503-467-9470 | RSS





      [email protected]