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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Photographing Oil Paintings and Sculpture
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10/21/2005 02:32:13 PM · #1
I have been asked to photograph an artists portfolio of artwork. I met him last night at our office's art show which focused on his artwork. He's got oil paintings and sculptures. He's not happy with the way his friend took images of his work so he decided to ask me. He sells his pieces for a minimum of $10000 each! When he asked if I was interested, I said I can look into it. He then asked me how much would I charge. I threw out a number - $200 per image and he owns the copyright to the images. He was surprised that it was that high. Then I told him that he will be using my images on his website to entice potentail patrons. In essence, he'll be relying on my photos to get a potential sale. $200 after selling a painting worth $15000 doesn't seem so bad.

What do you guys think? Any experience with this type of photography? Any tips? Any help would be greatly appreciated :)

Rikki
10/21/2005 02:58:23 PM · #2
You said $200 per image. What does "image" mean? Each picture you take? Each picture he uses? A set of shots of any one item he sells? How long will it take you to produce a $200 image?

There's also some "value add" you can do. Will you re-do the shoot until he's happy with it? Will you photoshop it for him? What equipment will you bring (lights, reflectors, softboxes, etc?) What other setup will you do? What extra value do you bring to the picture (that is, how do you differentiate yourself from his previous photographer?) Talk about both your expertise and your equipment, and show him pictures of similar things you have photographed. Point out how long you will spend shooting each image, and talk about how long it will take to post-process it.

You've got to make him realize there's a difference between a guy with a P&S snapping a picture and a product marketing/advertising shot that requires equipment, setup, expertise, post-processing and consultation (ie working with the client to find the best image).

You could also offer a volume-based discount, or some reduced rate (or free) redo if the piece doesn't sell in some given timeframe. Or if you're in the right financial position, you could offer to do the shoot for some percent of the sale price (but go for $400 here--you're gambing he will sell the artwork and also makeing a loan by taking a delayed payment so you need a greater reward.)
10/21/2005 03:37:03 PM · #3
Maybe you could ask for a commission based on the sale price -- even 1-2% might cover your current bid -- and you could be gambling on the value increasing.

A small amount up front for expenses and extensive photo credits in all media might make gambling on a higher future payoff a more attractive deal for both of you.

Make sure you have a written contract no matter what you do. If you want to outright sell him the photos (or make them as a "work for hire") so that he owns the copyright, you should try and get a perpetual license back for yourself to use the images for the purpose of promoting your professional services.
10/21/2005 05:24:02 PM · #4
A commission based on the sale price sounds enticing. But should i still ask for something upfront though? thanks for the input so far by the way :)
10/21/2005 05:41:53 PM · #5
Here is a suggestion (from someone who's never done this) that is based on previous entries and sounds logical to me.

1) Charge an amount this is basically to compensate you for the time it takes to shoot and process the images.

and

2) Commission based on sale price of artwork
10/21/2005 05:42:12 PM · #6
Originally posted by rikki11:

A commission based on the sale price sounds enticing. But should i still ask for something upfront though? thanks for the input so far by the way :)

Something nominal up-front to cover "expenses" but not "fees" is what I was suggesting; $20-30 to cover your gas, lights, CDs, etc. He'd pay that much for a stock image.

Then, have the "professional fees" component based on (if) sales.

Not a "standard" approach, but it doesn't seem as though you have a standard situation.
10/21/2005 05:53:40 PM · #7
I think the costs are fine.

Just remember to produce large prints of your images to compare against the originals. They must look the same in every respect. If they do not, art collectors will not be very happy about it, nor will he.

Then use those prints to adjust the colours for a monitor at 6500k. Also, keep in mind that almost all photos, of art work, is done in slide format for submittal to galleries for showings. If the painting does not match the image, their artwork will not be shown.

So, the only work that should be done in photo shop is to make your image identical to the painting in the same light. That can be very hard at times, depending on what they mix with the paint, plus any noise reduction can destroy the feel and colour.

Have fun, it is not easy work.

Message edited by author 2005-10-21 17:54:42.
10/21/2005 06:09:40 PM · #8
The images will be used for fliers (for gallery shows) and his website. Matching the image with the real artpiece will be incredibly difficult. I doubt anyone can completely replicate the piece.

Since I shoot digital, how can you convert images into slides? And how much is that?

I think sales for art pieces come few and far between. Am I jeopardizing myself by only asking for reimbursables and not asking for a fee up front?
10/21/2005 06:21:59 PM · #9
ahhh, forget the commission stuff. Unless this guy sells a ton of artwork which is severly doubtful; get your money upfront. Nothing worse than doing free work, and commissioned work usually turns out to be free because that commission never seems to come through. At least around here.
10/21/2005 06:24:47 PM · #10
Contact some of the local galleries inquiring about their commissions on sales from a show of your work. This should give you a good reference for your negotiations. Remember one of the reasons he's selling direct is to avoid their commission.

Light to flatter the work. Be prepared to spent all day, and make sure the the artist takes part in the process. (suck up, artists love to be involved and flattered themselves, don't we?)

As far as absolute reality, it would be nice, but I have never seen an image that was the same as the original. That's forty years of looking at art books and catalogues.
10/21/2005 06:28:17 PM · #11
Another thing on commissions, you may not see that commission money for years, depending on how long it takes him to sell the artpiece.
10/21/2005 06:48:39 PM · #12
Didn't read all the replies but someone just asked this very question in the current Outdoor Photographer magazine. Look at the Q&A Tech Tips section with George Lepp. If you don't have a copy, maybe one of us could scan it for you.
10/21/2005 06:49:28 PM · #13
Originally posted by ButterflySis:

Didn't read all the replies but someone just asked this very question in the current Outdoor Photographer magazine. Look at the Q&A Tech Tips section with George Lepp. If you don't have a copy, maybe one of us could scan it for you.


Will someone please? Thanks.
10/21/2005 06:53:21 PM · #14
Originally posted by rikki11:

Originally posted by ButterflySis:

Didn't read all the replies but someone just asked this very question in the current Outdoor Photographer magazine. Look at the Q&A Tech Tips section with George Lepp. If you don't have a copy, maybe one of us could scan it for you.


Will someone please? Thanks.


Give me a few minutes and I'll do that.
10/21/2005 07:09:08 PM · #15
Okay, here you go. The question refers to acrylics...but both are shiny so hopefully this will help you!

Art Photography
10/21/2005 07:12:10 PM · #16
Congratulations, Rikki! This should be a cool assignment and ought to generate some decent money as well. What kind of lights will you be using? Since the objects don't move, I'm sure the tungstens will be fine.
10/21/2005 07:42:52 PM · #17
Great article. This will definitely come in handy. I don't have lights except for a Craftsman shoplight so I guess I'll have to invest on AB lights then?

Wow. I have to look up this cross polarization kit :)

10/21/2005 08:09:21 PM · #18
Originally posted by rikki11:

Great article. This will definitely come in handy. I don't have lights except for a Craftsman shoplight so I guess I'll have to invest on AB lights then?

Wow. I have to look up this cross polarization kit :)


Not sure...? I don't know anything about lighting...I just shoot outside and use the sun. :-D :-D

Good luck! Hope this helped.
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