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Can we discuss a commercial job?

Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:46 pm
by Steven G Webb
There is an independent jeweler here with three stores in small rural towns less than 20 miles apart. These are the shops where the snobbish locals go for wedding sets, pricey gifts and repairs. There's not a definite vibe like a posh boutique jewelry store but for sure not the credit jewelers. They do have a fairly active web presence and are active on Facebook. I'd like to work with them and up their game on the product photography they are currently using.

One area I am weak in for this sort of endeavor is knowing just what to propose and what a client like this would find valuable. I'm not looking for specific pricing but some idea of what is offered and how the pricing is formulated. Ultimately I'd love do comprehensive photography for them. In no particular order, executive portraits of the owner and head shots of key employees; stock photographs of items and seasonal photos ahead of retail generated holiday promotions.

So, if I contact the owner and demonstrate to him how I can improve the photography. What do I suggest as an initial offering? Should I offer to do up to a certain number of unique pieces for a price, then add numbers of pieces pro rate? Arbitrarily say up to 12 pieces for $XXX initially and if we continue 12 pieces for the same $XXX and additional pieces at a price per? And how about if I want to come by periodically and do 3-5 time sensitive pieces (quarterly or monthly), do I propose a year long contract with so many visits and so many pieces per visit?

This is a pretty small business and that's okay with me. I'm not too worried about licensing images for less than perpetuity. These folks aren't going to be buying ad spaces on city buses or billboards. One potential might be in including the upkeep of the social media, but that's not much of a photography concern.

Someone chime in and tell me what the possibilities could be and the language retailers in high markup goods speak.

Thanks in advance.

Re: Can we discuss a commercial job?

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:51 pm
by minniev
Gee I wish I could be of more help but we really need folks like Duck for this kind of question, since he has the most experience with product photography. I know nothing about pricing, and am dismal at sales so you wouldn't want my advice.

What I would appreciate if I were the business owners is someone who could show me something different. I'd be impressed with an approach that offered to take some free sample shots to convince me to pay them for a service, before I engaged in a discussion about money. I'd want to see sample shots that looked more compelling than whatever I was using now. If I absolutely loved them, I'd be more willing, ultimately, to part with more of my money to obtain the service.

It would seem that knowing that others do in the area would be of prime importance. You can't afford to over or under price yourself right out of the gate. And you want a unique product. As for packages, you might offer a few alternatives for the customer to choose from. Humans prefer to have choices, it gives them more of a sense of control rather than feeling like they're being cornered.

I have a friend who has a product photography business and does jewelry photography as a specialty and I've seen some of his work, so I'm somewhat familiar with the look of such products, though I'd have little idea how to go about doing it.

Re: Can we discuss a commercial job?

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:14 pm
by Duck
Steven, there is no simple answer to your questions. I did a search an I think I found the jeweler you are talking about. I went through their website and FB page and I can see a wide variety of imagery. For their jewelry showcase, they seem to be simple white tent product shots with no 'wow' factor to them. Yeah, they're rather bland and many of the highlights are blown out with some awful edge definition. More than likely these might be supplied by the manufacturer. Something to ask your contact. The other type of imagery I found on their site look more like in-house opportunistic snapshots, images taken by someone at the time of the event (while working on a custom piece, advantageous moment for a headshot, snapshot during a store event). The last type are stock images culled from wherever, mostly used in their Facebook feed which is fairly typical.

Next thing is to place yourself into the client's shoes. I can see the last two examples as being well deserving of an upgrade. The white tent shots may be a harder sell if those are done in-house since they are cheap to produce, give a consistent look and (for most people) are decent enough to do the job. Yeah, you and I can see a ton of flaws but most people won't.

As for the pricing question; here is a situation where one structure won't apply to everything. You have to identify the types of photos needed because each will have their own needs. A portrait headshot requires different equipment, setup and processing than a tabletop jewelry shot or an event shot. The one thing you can relax about is that you don't need to have a price structure to initiate a meeting. Your first meeting, after doing your own homework, is typically a discovery meeting. This is where you present your services but also find out what they are looking for.

In your case, you have identified a specific deficiency in their marketing which you can present to them, explain how your services will help their business and increase their bottom line and then show them examples of comparable images from your custom created portfolio geared to this client. This is the first step. Once you explain what you can do for them you can then ask them, "what else can I help you with?" This is where you can get the inside scoop on what images they source out, what are done in-house and determine how you can fit into that infrastructure. Don't be afraid to ask them how much they are paying for the services they are currently using.

Once you have collected the necessary information you can then run the numbers against you cost of doing business and create your pricing structures on the various products you'll be supplying them with. Of course leave room for negotiations.

There are a lot of selling techniques out there and I'm sure you know a few so I won't go into that. The one thing I will say is don't overthink it before you have all the info. You won't be giving any prices on your first meeting anyway.

Lastly to answer your final question; become familiar with some of the more standard terms used in the jewelry business. Nothing kills trust faster than having a salesman who doesn't understand the difference between a princess cut and a radiant cut or between a precious stone and a semi-precious one. They don't expect you to be an expert, but being able to communicate without having to explain what is what makes it easier. That's not to say it's crucial since these things will be learned in time, specially some of the in-house jargon, but it helps.

Re: Can we discuss a commercial job?

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:38 pm
by Steven G Webb

First let me thank you for such a superb response. You certainly went above and beyond on this one doing the homework before formulating the reply. I do believe you identified the store and you assessment seems spot on. I too figure that there are catalog images from their supplier and they are all the things you describe. I'm certain that I don't want to reinvent the wheel for them in those images and can almost bet that they are included in their dealership agreement. It is the specialty and custom products I'm most interested in along with the working portraits and headshots.

You've been enlightening and informative and I'm encouraged. For that I'm grateful.

Re: Can we discuss a commercial job?

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:29 pm
by Duck
Steven G Webb wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:38 pm
You've been enlightening and informative and I'm encouraged. For that I'm grateful.

You're welcome, Steven. My replies have been rather open ended based on what is easily discoverable. If you need something more specific, let me know and I'll share with you what I can. I, by no means, consider myself a sales person but I have done my own homework in that area. Nor can I say what has worked for me with my clients will work for you in this case. I find each client needs to be handled differently according to their needs. Some require more hand holding while others put faith in your abilities 100%.

Re: Can we discuss a commercial job?

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:58 am
by St3v3M
I've been thinking about this for awhile and think you've asked the right questions, basically, what can you do for them, and what can you do better? Pricing is hard, and it may be regional, but I wonder if it's best to ask. It may sound odd, but you might be surprised.

I think we could all do something like this if we put our minds to it. There are questions to be answered, but we have the talent! S-