Kevin McGloshen, KPM Photography

Bidding photography jobs

It is a difficult prospect to most photographers, especially the unestablished and uninitiated, to place a bid for a photography assignment. All types of things may run through your head, most of them unimportant, but the root of the problem in my experience is … well, experience.

Attending college, studying your craft and hitting the streets with your camera is an excellent use of your time. I mean lets face it … if you suck at creating photos, learning how to talk to prospective clients is the least of your worries. But let us say that we have put in our time for study and our confidence in our ability is assured. Now how do we talk to folks and convince them to give us their money?

First off, let me just say that appearance speaks volumes. This should be a no-brainer, but it drives me up the wall when I see photographers who look like they just rolled out of bed. No matter how good you are, taking a little pride in your appearance — at least during meetings, people — will go a long way toward investing a sense of confidence in your clients. Think of these meetings as a job interview.

Being prepared is important. Now I’m not talking about preparing a speech or any crap like that. The sales pitch will come easily. I’m talking about finding out your client’s intentions and preparing for them. If your client specializes in metal fabrication tools, don’t bring a portfolio of your award-winning food photography. If your client is an engaged couple, bring samples of past weddings you have photographed and an example of the type of wedding album they can expect.

Know your rights as a photographer. If you are a freelancer or a small business owner, who will retain the copyright? How are your photos going to be used? How many times will they be used? You should be ready for these questions. Contracts are vital in protecting yourself and your work. Speak to a lawyer if you have the money, or just visit the library.

Now we get to the hardest part: pricing. This is very subjective. You will have to factor in the locale, job description, client, time invested, and basically there is no easy way to do this. First off, if you’re in the business of weddings and family portraiture, check with other photographers in your area and see what they are charging. This should only be a starting point. Vastly undercutting your competition does not help anyone, especially you. For other commercial jobs, look at your client and bid a little higher than you think they are willing to pay. Many times there is a set budget, but they won’t let you know that until you have undersold yourself because you’re too damn desperate for the job. Don’t forget that professional photography is a vital part of any business, whether for marketing or advertising purposes. It’s worth the money for a business to hire a professional, and in many cases, it’s worth a lot of money.

Factoring in travel and editing time is something many photographers forget about. Yes, it may only take a few hours to shoot the job, but how long will it take to edit and tone the images? How long will it take to travel to and from the job?

Bidding photography jobs is something that most colleges and schools don’t bother educating their students about because there are a lot of factors to be considered. Spend a little time researching before you walk into a situation before you find yourself loosing money and wasting time. We are not in this business to work for free, people. The world needs photos, and they are willing to pay for them.

Resources to peep:
Business and Legal Forms for Photographers by Tad Crawford

7 Responses

  1. Randy Smith

    February 11, 2012

    Business and Legal Forms for Photographers by Tad Crawford at Destinations Booksellers. Nice job on this blog post, btw, Kevin. Look forward to following it. If you ever want links and cover art, drop me a line at


    • Kevin McGloshen

      February 11, 2012

      Thanks Randy, I’ll just replace the Amazon link with yours. Rather support you. Thanks for reading.

  2. Rachal

    February 29, 2012

    You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this site!


  3. camescopehd

    February 29, 2012

    I went over this site and I think you have a lot of good info, bookmarked (:.


  4. Coy Eiben

    March 13, 2012

    Wonderful post! Lastly discovered thie data that I was seeking for – all here!


  5. ophelia chong

    July 10, 2013

    Hi Kevin! love this post. i just shared it with my students at Art Center
    :O) ophelia


    • Kevin McGloshen

      July 22, 2013

      That’s great. I hope they enjoy!

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