Choosing a photographer
Vintage Photo Books

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Both the negative bag, Work sheet and the summary sheet have been reduced by 50% to get them all on the one sheet of paper.  The negative bag is shown as darker because it is brown manila.

The example shown here is from Kieran's Studios who has activated this system.

You will note that he has a large Job number on the negative bag which matches the costing card.  You will also note that there is a black spot on the month and the reason for this is that it is easier to identify the month being used by colored spots (like we use on the first run) so that when the jobs are sitting in the proof-out section of your negative filing system, and you have red as being January and you are already in May, all the reds are certainly stand out like sore toes.

Your time you will put on the card and you will work in probably 15 minute units.  This means if you work on a job for 5 minutes you record it as 1 unit if you work on the job for 65 minutes you record it as 5 units.  The important thing is that you set your own parameters and once you decide on them, you work strictly to those parameters until you change the parameters at any time.  You will have two columns on the card, one column for your staff and the other column for you, so you can see how many units of each persons time has been used.

The items that you use you may have to have a master sheet on which you can work out things like exactly what is your cost if you take 23 exposures and you use 16 on film, there should be a chart so that once you've finished the appointment you can go to the card, you know you have taken 23 photographs you slide your finger down and that's your cost on film and processing.

Each item you spend on the job gets recorded on your card.  Every time you receive money of some sort from your customer it gets recorded on the card. Every time you spend some time either talking to your customer, working with the negatives, doing something in connection with the job the units get recorded on the card.  You don't need a stopwatch, but you will always have a vague idea on how many units of time you have used.  For goodness sake don't cheat, because you are only cheating yourself.

At the end of the job when your customer has collected their order and you are ready to file the job envelope away, pull the card out and total up the items, put them onto another sheet.... the Summary Sheet....

You'll have a different summary sheet for every different type of job i.e. weddings, portraits, family groups, pets etc., again set your own parameters.

On this summary sheet you will record the job number, how much money came in, how much money gone out, and your gross profit, record the time for your staff and yourself in units and then you will be able to see just how many units of time you've worked for how many dollars of income.

I do feel that it is important that you do this costing on every job that goes through the studio, and I do feel that it is important that you list it because by listing it at the end of the sheet you can add things up and get your averages.

If you find that you are working for peanuts on a particular type of work then you will have the opportunity of increasing that particular part of your activity, you'll be able to put your prices up, or alternatively you'll be able to look at it and decide that you're spending too much time on it and will therefore have to reduce the amount of time you're spending with your customers, BUT if this is the action you decide to take first make sure your profits wont be affected.

By costing every job religiously like this, you will have your pulse on your business and you will be able to react the moment for some reason the costs get out of hand.  If you don't record all the time the money that you are spending and just record the money coming in, something may change that you are not aware of which will effect your profitability which may not show itself up for six months.  Should anybody need any further explanations on this costing system don't hesitate to contact the writer.

NEWSLETTER FOR FEBRUARY 1988                        VOLUME No 96

Talking to one of my relations the other day (I have them right throughout the country) and they were telling me of their daughters wedding.

They engaged a very good professional photographer one of my customers) and they were extremely pleased with the photographs.

On the grooms side he had a relation that was a practicing professional photographer and is now employed in photography working for a company.

Evidently this friend did photography over the professionals shoulder, went on back home had some 10 x 8's run off and sent them on down to the parents of the bride and groom, all for no charge.

He obviously thought he had done nothing wrong or he would not have done it, I guess the photographer that had covered the wedding would not treat it quite so lightly, and I guess when this guy was a practicing photographer he looked upon it without any sense of humor.  However because it was not now affecting him, he probably thought he was doing the bride and groom a favor.  They certainly thought he was as they had all of these wonderful photographs for FREE.

The brides parents are a reasonably intelligent set of people and now they know that if they shop around a little bit there is always someone who will do the photography for nothing and will give them the photographs, and it is all because this photographer, who must have a pin for a brain, decides to play the big image with his friends.

I would suggest that if you ever get invited to a wedding you leave your camera at home.

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If you get asked to bring your camera along to take some snaps and you know a professional has been engaged, forget to take it, or if you do take a camera take a 110 or something like that.

If you consider yourself to be a professional just ask yourself have you seen any doctors performing operations at parties?

If you consider yourself to be tradesman do you often see a plumber installing a sink at a party?

Ethics is the subject and you should have a strong set of ethics whilst you are operating a business.

The common method of pricing is to multiply the lab price by a factor and that gives you selling price.

This is a good technique but it has a few drawbacks but let us work our way riqht through it    

First of all the factor, you can obtain this factor from the balance sheet by seeing how much money you spend at the lab, divide that by your turnover and that gives you your factor.  If you make the factor a larger number it will give you more money in your pocket.  If you make the factor a smaller number it will give you less money in your pocket.

Once you have this factor and let us say it is 6 (I am not recommending this figure, I could have just have easily chosen 5 or 10).  If you apply the factor of six to the sizes of 20x16 and larger and you include the price for the lab to do the mounting, you work out the Prices.

You will find that between a 25x20 and a 30x40 there is a reasonably large step and if you are trying to sell a person a 30x40 print and they cannot quite afford that much and they make a decision to spend less money in spite of all of your efforts, the next size down is $200+.

Now they might be prepared to go down $50.00, however by going down to your next size print they drop $200+ and they are very happy and you lose out.

The way around this is to introduce new sizes for your price list, so that instead of having four sizes you in actual fact have eight. 

20x16,   22x18,    25x20,  27x 22,   30x24, 32x26,  35x28,  40x30

I have given you some examples below however you may wish to come up with your own.  I have shown them in inches to make it easier for you to follow.
*      Diff = difference between W size & X Size at a retail level

Now you can achieve these variations in sizes by realizing that you are selling at a retail level.  Your price structure will naturally be guided by what the market dictates and so on some sizes if you are using a factor of six you may be able to up that factor to nine and make the steps between the sizes $120.00 and in other cases you may have to take your margin down to four.

It completely depends on what your particular market circumstances are.

To carry on with these new four sizes, if you make your pricelist have easy steps on it so that your customers can easily step from one size to the other, it will also allow you to increase the price of your largest size print.

Now if you are selling a 30x24 print and they feel that is a fraction expensive you step down now to a print that is a fraction smaller and has a differential of $120.00.  If this is still too expensive you step down to the next size smaller which has another $120.00 off it and so on down the price list, I achieve this by multiplying out my straight lab sizes then dividing steps between the standard sizes and dividing the price evenly amongst those.

This is a good promotion for the quiet period of time or for around the end of the year.

You are so used to doing sports teams why not carry the group photo concept on into the commercial field.

In your town you have a lot of businesses that employ people and each one of these businesses at some stage  will be a prime sitter for a group photograph.

Here are a few suggestions, Accountants, Lawyers, Factories, Truck Companies, Manufacturers, Farm Produce Companies, the list is endless.

If you are photographing the local Trucking Company you may need to be there early one morning or over the weekend and you will probably need a high vantage point, looking down on all the trucks with the drivers outside the drivers door.  Possibly a cherry picker may be the answer to get high enough or they may have a two story building which you can shoot out of the window.

Once you have done the group photograph then move in and do a photograph of each "Truckie" with his truck.

Be prepared for some big groups, our local Accountants have 50 on the staff, others of course may have just three or four.

Do not ignore the local retail merchants, this may call for a 35mm camera to photograph the three or four of the staff just outside their shop.

The local engineers with their fitters and turners etc, perhaps you should always include the company vehicle, perhaps whilst you are doing that you do an interior of the business to record this particular point in time.

And whilst you are there do not forget the concept of doing a roll of 35mm film with a wide angle lens, just process it only and give it to them to keep at home in case of fire.  If this happens all they need to do is get the film printed and they have a record of what is in every nook and cranny so they can make a suitable insurance claim.  This could be an assignment for you to do on a yearly basis.

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