Philly Vs Portland and a Look at Pricing

Pricing your creative fee is a mix of three things: experience, complexity of the job, and usage. I saw this estimate today to shoot a job for a Non-Proft in Philly and thought I would share it. The original post is about bribes and kickbacks, but I want to talk about the photographer’s fee.

The photographer, Bill Cramer, estimated total fees and charges at $32,525 (he got this job, by the way). $18,000 of that was his creative/usage fee. The usage was for unlimited local advertising, web, local collateral, and local publicity use of four (4) images forever. Bill’s been a photographer for over 20 years in Philly. He’s really good at what he does. I’d say that fee sounds pretty good. But, what’s interesting is that he based his fee on suggestions from BlinkBid and fotoQuote. Both those software programs based their suggested fees on averages of past sales all over the country.

In his explanation of how he got to his fee, he talked about how the client wanted to use the shots for billboard advertising. In Philly, one billboard ad costs $8,200 for 4 weeks (or $106,600 a year). In Portland, one billboard costs $10,500 for 4 weeks (or $136,500 a year).

When I originally started this post, I was going to try to justify why creative fees in Portland are (in general) so much less. I thought, surely advertising is less expensive here, thus fees here are less. But, in fact, it’s more expensive to advertise here. Overall, I feel that photographer fees here should be much higher than they are. Photographers are giving away shoots at less than $10 an image. It’s nuts.

In Portland, we are on a dangerous path. A lot of photographers are moving here and a lot of them are young and naive. I was one once, too. But, even then I knew my Cost of Doing Business and priced myself accordingly. Now that I have more experience, my rates have gone up. But my local rates aren’t even close to what Bill is getting

Food for thought.

If you’re an ASMP member, there are discounts for BlinkBid and fotoQuote. Visit for more info.

(Estimate by Bill Cramer via A Photo Editor)

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  • Matthew Brush08/16/2011 - 11:24 am

    Yeah Lincoln. I just also read the post via, and then decided to ask a question about whether he gave a buyout or just an unlimited exclusive license, thus retaining copyrights. What I found interesting was that he mentioned Blink Bid was giving him estimated numbers. I’ve been using Blinkbid for a number of years now, and I’ve never seen any “suggested” pricing feature in the app. Is this a new feature of it? I know fotoquote does this.

    Also, yes to the rates of PDX!!! Too many barterers and lowball estimates in this town. I just spoke with a new PDX photographer yesterday who is way underpricing. I’ve bin outbid numerous times, or should I say undercut.

    Why don’t we start a once a month round table discussion. Let’s just get a group of photogs together and talk about pricing and share experiences. This will get the wheels turning to start getting better rates and charging more. It’s gotta start somewhere.ReplyCancel

    • Lincoln Barbour08/16/2011 - 11:29 am

      I think that’s a great idea. We could even do a Google+ Huddle. That might get more people involved who can’t make it out.ReplyCancel

  • Boone08/16/2011 - 2:56 pm

    I’d love that.ReplyCancel

  • Boone08/16/2011 - 2:58 pm

    I’d love to be part of a conversation like that. Or beter yet, an on going place to get and give feedback. Plus as a group we’d all benfit just hearing from others experience.ReplyCancel

  • Keith Lanpher08/17/2011 - 8:02 pm

    Nice job Lincoln, thanks for posting this.ReplyCancel

  • Matt Neumann02/03/2012 - 2:14 am

    I’m a photographer based in Vancouver, Canada, and our city is suffering from a very similar situation as Portland, from the sounds of it. Being that it’s a liberal, artsy city, there are a lot of up and coming photographers, myself being one of them.

    I shoot some interior work, amongst other things, and while I know that my prices are not as high as the premium shooters in the city, I don’t believe that I’ve set them so low that I’m undercutting. I’m simply less experienced, with less high-end gear (I own no hotlights or tilt shift lenses, only flash and wide angles), and my pricing is set accordingly.

    A lot of photogs in the city do charge way too little though, and it’s definitely creating an atmosphere of expectation that we will work for cheap, or even worse, for free. “No pay, but it’ll be great for your portfolio”, is a common phrase heard here.ReplyCancel

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