Donald Giannatti shares his views aobut Value and The Cost Of Doing Business.
Recently a photographer shared a little CODB calculator created for other photographers. It was based on time and materials and an hourly rate for the shooter.
I thought it was terrible, and tried to explain why. I thought I was pretty good, but so many folks thought I was saying NOT to have any idea of what your business is costing you that I am taking this opportunity to explain.
CODB (Cost of Doing Business) calculations are a good idea to find out what you need to make per month to break even or make a profit. They suck at helping photographers determine their rate. Let me share why.
I do indeed think that knowing exactly how much it costs you each month/year to be in business is a sobering and very powerful base for figuring out costs.
But costs are not value.
Cost are not art related.
Costs are simply price per… hour/piece/day… and do not take into consideration the intangibles of the value of the art.
So knowing that it takes $2167 per month to break even for a photographer is good and solid information.
How one quantifies next either makes it a powerful tool or an irrelevant gimmick.
Do you then plan on 10 gigs at $216.70 to break even? Or five gigs at $432.40?
If you think that is gonna work, I can sell you a bridge that is far more lucrative.
Does it mean that one edtitorial gig that pays $1345 and you are 3/4 to your goal? Or that a nice brochure shoot that nets $4500 takes you through next month?
Gigs don’t come in like that, and trying to figure assignment work into modules of this and that and some other thing is counter-productive and soul killing.
And it begins to take a toll on one’s bidding process too. Suddenly it is about the metric and not the value.
My work, and your work, has a value attached that is not figured into a CODB way of working. My value add to the work is personal, and it is based on the artistic ability and worth that I bring to the work.
Pricing a 5×7 at $15 is beyond my understanding. My image is worth more than that… i don’t care about the real estate or the square inches of paper it takes up.
Modular and boxed in thinking.
Know what you need to make, then get out there and book the gigs based on the VALUE your work has brought to the assignment.
Not what a CODB analysis says on a spreadsheet. Focusing on ‘sales’ instead of value misses the point.
Value is always more important than price.
About The Author
Donald Giannatti (AKA Wizwow) is a photographer and a graphic designer based in Phoenix, AZ. You may already know him fro mthe great Lighting Essential blog where he discusses style, lighting and “Going Pro”. If not It is definitely worth your time.
Photo (CC-BY-NC) by Andreas Rodler