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The Art of Negotiation

Lesson 15 from: Commercial Photography: From Start to Finish

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

15. The Art of Negotiation

Next Lesson: Money vs Art


Class Trailer

Day 1


Ten Things That Spell Disaster for a Photographer Part 1


Ten Things That Spell Disaster for a Photographer Part 2


Ten Things You Need to Know about Branding


Shoot: One Side Light Beauty Shot Part 1


Shoot: One Side Light Beauty Shot Part 2


Shoot: One Overhead Light Headshot


Shoot: Edgy Three Light Setup Part 1


Lesson Info

The Art of Negotiation

Well, this is important and trust me um I have uh been been working at this for a long time in terms of dealing with people and negotiating and there's some things that I've learned so I want to sort of cover those and I guess there's books on it you could read it and how the art of negotiation I can't you know, write a book on this but I'm gonna give you some basics on the art of negotiation so here we go we already talked about this a little bit but understand the market value of your work so um if you feel confident you're in your right slot, that gives you a lot more ammunition that if you're not confident in your slot right, I've done this I put a bid on a job going I just hope I'm close and if I didn't do my research right, it could be that I get the job and then by the time I get done on my assistants make more money than I do been there, okay, so but you've gotta understand the value of your work and here's the problem that most of his half we under sell ourselves, we don't cha...

rge enough that's typically our problem we don't really have tigers all time I say I'm not getting money whatever and they're great photographers and I think what you're charging and they tell me I'm like what? No wonder you're understeer under you're underselling yourself, you should be a lot more and so confidence comes with time and with the fact that you know you're in the right slot and you understand the value of your work right now. I have this quote, I've used this quote a lot over the last couple of years, but here it is, the bidding process is no different than playing blackjack in vegas any time you put a bid in it's a crapshoot you don't know exactly what that person on the other end their budget is and the parameters that they're working under. So when you present your bid it's uh risk I mean it's, not a guarantee. Now I would say this if you know your market you know the slot you're filling your fair you get called in for a bid. You should get about eighty percent of the bids that you put in that's been my experience about april eighty percent of everything I put out there, I get that's a good place to be if it's ten percent something's not right. If you get ten percent of everything you bid on, you need to rethink about how your bidding and how you fit in the marketplace, so maybe maybe eighty percent of the high number but that's been my experience now, there's been times when I had a string of bids that didn't come in, right? And I'm thinking, what am I doing wrong? Right? And the marketplace just shift and we've gone through some tough times, budgets have been slashed and I'm gonna tell you something the reason why I got into doing composites and this is this is crazy, okay, so people think I'm a brilliant genius and, you know, I could see the future of where things were going with photography. No, what happened was, is I started putting bids in these big campaigns and I would have fifteen to twenty five people on a set to do a shoot you had all the bodies up, it's a big production and all sudden budget started being cut, and so I'm thinking, wait a minute, how do we how do I compete? And I thought, wait if I took an athlete or a subject, put him on a white sweet shoot it, shoot the background put it again that that we've eliminated a big chunk of the production cost. And so I remember staying down that our director and saying, okay, here's here's my future of what I think qatar was going shooting in two parts and he's looking me like, really, can you do that that was only about seven years ago, eight years ago now it's common thing right? We do it all the time two parts are more multiple parts but that's what got me doing the composite in the first place now it fit my vision as an artist it was like a like a glove but that's what started me doing composites cutting back on the production cost and so I had to be competitive um so all of a sudden when I became pick competitive I started getting more work instead of putting a huge production value to a shoot I cut it down at all sudden was more competitive still delivering I think a better product and so it was a win win for me so you think about it the tough times that we did back in, you know, oh seven no eight right around there launched me and to do what I'm doing today and I think a lot of good came out of that so sometimes tough times produced great you know, in results so bidding is a risk but again, if you keep getting rejected you something is not right check put it yourself in check and say okay, how do I make this a little more affordable for my client? Maybe I'm not fair and I'm not I'm not doing something right and here's the thing um I have done this right I've competed against someone I know on a job and I ended up saying okay I'm not gonna have a first and second assistant I'm not gonna I'm gonna use that makeup and hair person instead of having a makeup and hair two people two bodies I get a girl that's got the skills to do makeup and here so I'm going to pay one person so I put it together and I'm more competitive and then I get the job and so think about how you can you can minimize the cost for your client and your client appreciate that too all right here's extremely important one this is key to the whole thing right here you have to ask all the right questions with someone comes and puts a bid to you give that here's here's what we need I'm gonna tell you right now ninety nine point nine percent of all the bids that hit my desk are really big big they don't give you everything you really meet very rarely does someone give me here's a whole list of all the things we're going for the chute spelled out completely it's always we have three days of shooting or we have sixteen images we need video what's gonna cost okay I gotta go back and ask all the right questions now two things happen that are good number one is if I ask all the right questions that art buyer our director art person whatever who's who's hire me says joel knows what he's doing he's asking all the right questions so if I say, do we need a helicopter on this shoot or a motor home to change out in or a makeup and hair who's doing wardrobe? You know baba blah if it's a named athlete so I say look, am I required to just bring you don't need to do the word wardrobe do we have to supply that? Oh no, this athlete's showing up with all this stuff, okay, good wardrobe check off the list and so but asked all the right questions and then you can put in a accurate bid so here's, what happens often? I start asking lot of questions and the art buyer gets a little annoyed and what I try to do is I try not to do it through email, I do it sometimes, but I'm like we'll get that person on the phone, okay, here's, what I need to ask you all these questions about fifteen questions, we'll talk it out, you do buy emails like it's like a three day process right to get all the answers, you know? So I try to speed it up, but I say, look, here's, I need to know in order to give you an accurate, but it did if you don't give me this information, I cannot give you an accurate bit and so it's important that you ask those questions and if it's a little annoying don't worry about it it's better to be a little annoying than end up paying your assistant more than you get on the job but they're going to be vague there will be big and um and we'll talk about rights here in a minute I think but you have to cover the usage rite rites question you have to bring that out in the open if you don't talk about the usage rights guess what they think they own them all off for eternity so you have to get those that other question and that's like the big nut often is the usage rights where's it gonna be used how long it's gonna be used all right so let's go to the next one in the art of negotiating here is extremely important thing never give up something without getting something in return so when you do a negotiation on a biddy process you're going there's gonna be a given take here's the thing if they say joel look we have a budget of ten thousand year bid was fifteen and um we would love to use you okay so I think okay if we can take out the helicopter and I think we can do it with a cherry picker cherry pickers three hundred bucks helicopters thousand we could seize the money there if we can do this instead of a hair and makeup we just do a girl that does both or whatever we start to negotiate to get that price down to their budget and we get to a point where I really can't negotiate anything else to get sam that twelve thousand and I need to get to ten and she says we can't go way have tendency is it I will say something like this I'm not going to just give up that chunk of money I have to get something in return for that so I say this I'll tell you what I'll do I'll do this job if you get me my advance and you pay me in full when I deliver the goods when I could dealer the finals I don't wait sixty days to get my check my my my second half or I will I want a bunch of this minute station and airport I say can you get me one hundred of those and reports so I can use them as tear sheets? They send a bunch of corporations or I'll tell you what I'll do I'll do it I'll do it for that money that chunk if you get me creative control me that I can maybe get something out of this and push just a little bit and get some really cool pictures so if I'm doing a mining corporation and you report I'm going to go and maybe push the envelope and do some really cool stuff and then I go I know I could get those images and use them for other pitch other corporations for work to see what I'm saying you'd never give up us something unless you can get something in return that's the art of negotiating and there's some leeway like for example and she says I'm going to talk to my county people and so she says yes we can pay you at the end of the shoot or whatever in full now I could pay my mortgage I can you know that helps me out and so um but and I've learned this from a good friend of mine that I was the master of negotiating but and again the whole books are written on this but that's just it just think about this if you're going to give up something get something return another huge here these are big points here never finance a client shoot with that with your own money does that make sense that makes sense but guess what? I've done it a number of times especially in the early days I get trapped because this issue really cool shoot and it was really so called cool client and I end up financing the photo shoot well there is a saying in the early days that my friend had my friend steve and he said that you can go out of business by getting too much work because you finance a mall, next thing you know, you don't have a penny to live on, so you get ten shoots that come in and one month and you finance him all you have nothing left so you don't finance a client shoot at all cost and so here's, how you do it, you get an advance and you should get at least a fifty percent advance to cover your expenses, so you can't. So whatever you think and I would say that is a general rule about half of what it is a ten thousand dollars job, half of its expenses generally, as a general rule, you don't find inset don't play bank for for a client. So here's, what happens? I'm going to tell you this I've been doing this for a long time, and I will say this almost one hundred percent the time that a client box on the fact that I have a fifty percent advance that that client will string me out ninety, one hundred twenty days, six months or whatever before I get my second half or get my payment almost every time I've come to this crossroad where wei don't know my given advanced to, you know, shoot, then they're a cheap client that's trying to suck the life out of everyone that's in their pathway don't work for him. So you say I want fifty percent advance and this even comes to it with weddings back in college when I was doing weddings I didn't really understand a lot about business but I had I thought, you know, I was pretty I wanted in advance and they would talk me out of it and then I do the wedding and then I would take me six months to get my money just pounding that person to get my money out of him people are and some people just go through life trying not to pay people and well vester job are their mission is to get his little out of, you know, a cz much out of peoples they can pay his little out a cz they can and so um if you get in advance and then the shoot goes bust company goes under at least you got your expenses paid hurts because you could get your check but least you paid everyone off and it goes back to what I said yesterday you pay everyone at the end of the shoot makeup artist gets a check assistant gets a check prop everything if it get's paid don't string anyone out and then you've got friends for life and everyone loves you and you have reputation that's solid so amy said last night people on facebook we're saying yes, I work with julia he pays at the end of the shoot I'm not making this up and so um because let me tell you something right now if you don't get an advance and then the client goes belly up you got a lot of angry people they'll never work for you again if you haven't well the client and pay me have you ever heard that? Oh yeah talk to makeup artists and assistance they've been stiff because well, the photographer said that the client went belly up that shouldn't be there fault your fault either, but you're carrying the weight of it that's why you're getting the bulk of the money so get in advance at all costs and if a company box don't work for him I'm telling you right now and I'm going to the next one which is similar to this and that is you mark up all your goods and services there's a mark upon everything the company you're working for it marks up everything when they balk on it I've had company say we don't we don't talk we don't allow allow photographers to market their goods and services so I asked them do you mark appear goods and services silence so you mark up your goods and services but you let me mark up my goods and services why doe I mark up my goods and services right that's basic business right across the board? Everyone does it everyone the smart does it so when a client says we don't allow you to mark up your goods and services, don't work for me or in some cases the company says as a policy we've done this is how we do it so what I do as I tell him, okay, here's, what to do if I have all my mark ups equals one thousand dollars? I'm gonna drop that now in my creativity, so if I was gonna do it for ten thousand now, it's eleven thousand and sometimes that works for the for the for that particular shoot, but you always get money on your goods and services. Why? Because you're the bank, you're making it transactions of money, things happen, there's fees that take place with all that your your goods and services get marked up to help cover the little tea things that come up in terms of cost. So if you don't market goods and services, where is that coming out of your feet? So just so that I fully understand that if you're doing a bid, are you showing an add on fee or is it just in that, like, if she said ready to helicopter was a thousand and you said I mark it up, you know what I do, I say a lot of times on the bottom, I am marking up and what I do, I mark up my goods twenty percent my services ten I do that reason why only mark my services up that's my my my assistance makeup artists all that because I want to give them a cz much money as possible because they're struggling there at them, you know? And so I could probably do twenty percent a lot of photographers do twenty percent on their services, other vendors over the you know, there's the people they're hiring, but I do ten per cent and I tell that a lot of times the client I am marking it up and they know that so um I'm trying to think what else have put on my invoices? But but so it's not a surprise? No, I'm not trying to hide that from my client I'm not trying to sneak it past him. They know that if back in the days when there was film at the film roll cost ten dollars, I'm marking it up they know that no surprise that shows the way business goes so you don't hide it do not try to pull it on any other questions. All right? So don't feel guilty marking up your goods and services I did have one on that the cost of of anything let's just say it's an rv there's always just a little hidden expense in there it's inevitable just one you weren't expecting that one extra trip you had to make around the block or whatever and the fuel expenses involved in that do you build a little cushion into that on top of that? Or is that part that that goods and services twenty ten rule usually what I'm saying here is if I have someone you like for example, if you're the make up artist and you send me a uh an invoice for seven hundred fifty dollars for the day, I mark it up ten percent and I hand that's my line item is the seven fifty plus the ten percent where that comes out to almost another hundred bucks eighty bucks, whatever it is so I'm giving them the line item with the mark up in it now if they want to say, well, I want to see the invoice from her absolutely here's a photocopy of it and they say it's so says seven fifty but you charged me eight hundred forty dollar whatever it comes out to, then sure I mark it up mark it up ten percent so it's no no him so it's usually in the it's usually in the printed invoice that I'm getting from from things so I'm no I'm marking it up now if it comes to a like, for example, there's this nebulous cost of something and I'm going, I'm going to say I'm gonna put a maybe duct tape and I go okay thirty dollars a roll for duct tape I'm going to use you know, half a roll on this shoot I might just put a dollar in there. I don't usually market put my duct tape down on lana, but what I'm saying is I might cushion that but I'm talking about an invoice from people and there's receipts from the rental shop the cherry picker all that stuff I have ah, invoice for it gets marked up ten percent or twenty percent that's what? I mean yeah, that's a good question. I keep going this important stuff. Okay, usage rights are billed separately from your creative fee. Now I have been trapped here many, many, many, many, many, many times and clients get pretty smart. And so you have to kind of you have too kind too kind of sort of figure out what system works best for the way you work because here's, what happens? Um if you put a bid it and you put the usage rights with the creative fee. So let me give you an example of that. So let's say I am a corporate shooter of doing and report and that's an oil and gas company, they're sending me out for a couple days and I say to them, uh, my creativity for the day is twenty five hundred bucks and we'd negotiate we've talked about the fact they want to use it for one year for their own report what I normally do is I I will say for a one year usage I usually include that into my creativity that's that that I will I will I will say yes so when you get one year twenty five hundred bucks but they always come back to me say I want the possibility of using for two years okay now additional usage b is going to be five hundred dollars and then they come back and say actually I just talked to the ceo we want to use it the possibility of five years okay five year usage so now I've broken it all down five years that's going to be fifteen hundred dollars extra for the day per day what's happened though is if I go and lump it all into like a like the creative fee so I say um one year and you can have a five up to five years and then they come back and I say it's three thousand dollars or thirty five hundred dollars then they come back and they say well we only want one year and then you're constantly changing this line item and what they're really trying to do is get you down a lot lower than what you would have normally done when you start breaking it down and I've been caught many times going catch I wish I would have separated it because then you know, after the fact they've done this I've shot the job and they go oh, we don't want a five year now we want a one year so you know we need teo you know, talk about your creativity so just separate your is best you can your sea of you saying I'm a corporate shooter doing and report and then the usage rights and it makes it much easier when you go to do the negotiation part because you've got it all broken down I guess that's my point I'm trying to make because I have been caught and here's another thing I've been caught by okay, so my son's ask me this because they just did a job and they flew off to some whatever and they were talking about travel travel fee okay, so when I first started out on corporate I would say I will travel fee is half of my creativity, so if I'm twenty five hundred dollars a day um then my travel field twelve fifty right? So here's what corporations would d'oh I'm telling you they really they really play you they'll zoe I'll have a five city um and when they fly you to five cities and here's what they did to me they'd fly me to dallas and then they fly me back and then or they would they would start instead of doing like a nice run of all five cities in one big shoot they start breaking things down and so at the end I had lots of half days but very few full days of shooting and so money wise maybe it works out the same but it ends up that I'm spending a lot more time, you know, in the field and so once I got really busy, I said the day I get on the planes full day full full charge that and all the way to the end I get off the plane it's every day I'm in the field you pay me my full rate so but but clients will try to try to squeeze things out of you so you have to be very careful that you don't get trapped, which I've done and then you know you you you've played into their hand and so but I would say this make sure that you're creative fee and your usage rights are on different line items and that will save youin the end you got a question more of a comment I'm reading in chat that cape k p r had said that in canada at least in the toronto area, if you separate your creative and licensing ofthese you will not get the job it must be combined or you will lose the bid outright, okay so I'm just wondering if this how would you find out in your area say you're watching from another country or like how do you how do you learn? How do you learn these things? Well, the the art buyer our director whatever I'll tell you right away here's our parameters okay? And if you send it over and they'll will clarify it for you on I've had that a lot of people ask this question you could ask that if you're put in a bid and they put you in a vulnerable situation asked that question well, again, I'm never really uh canada is different, but um no, no you wanted allowing half ok? They want it all on the table see what you don't want to do is ask the question after you shot the thing, then you have no leverage and believe me, I've been there oh, you know, after the fact I would go to ask the question and like, no, sorry joel uh, so get it all out in front. You bet I'm in the next my next slide is this understand these two basic terms more than any other term when it comes to usage rights that isthe total buyout and work for hire, I'm gonna explain this very simply and this is huge folks if you're out there every day in the field, working you're going to come across these terms every once in a while total buyout is a situation in which you transfer your copyright of the image to your client you lose all rights to those images and so if they put that term total buyout in the usage bye bye you don't own the images anymore now on ly twice have I ever actually sign an agreement where I gave up my total buyout however the client paid through the nose to get that those rights enough to where I could retire on that's how much I would not I wouldn't give him up I don't give my total buyout so a lot of times what happens almost I'm going to say but on a regular basis I get the art director saying we want total buyout and I will ask the question do you mean full usage or transfer copyright? We know we want full usage that's not the same this cup total buyout total buyout to transfer a copy right so the art director or art buyer or the client often don't even know what the term total biotics often is given to them by their attorney the corporate attorney or someone they're saying this is the terms we want total buyout with our big directors even know that that means what it means and so when you say no I will give you full usage at a certain rate but not transfer copyright that's a wholenother pay scale and usually when I tell him the paste and but I've had some clients say no we want the copyright of those images okay then you gotta pay for it twice this happened where I've given given away and actually pretty good I mean in that situation I was willing to do it but be careful so total buyout is a transfer of crappy right now there's all sorts of other terms that you can use in like you say full usage you know for eternity you there's all but did this book's on this and s and p has I think some really good guidelines on terminology that spells you know that you own the rights and you're leasing it to the client or you're saying I will never you resell it for stock there's always old terms you could put in there that you could not negotiate with the client but again it's on paper and it's been written down and everybody knows what it is but the next term that's huge is work for hire work for hire is originally was put into place when you we're hired by a magazine say for national geographic or time magazine and you're a staff photographer you got full time salary you got dental you got health insurance you got salary once a month and you had to sign a work for hire meaning that that magazine owns the rights to the photos that you're shooting and I kind of made sense in that scenario, right? Also in the hollywood when you had a crew that was working on a production and you had thirty people that we're doing that and your camera guy did one thing the sound guy did one and you know he had it and so even though the camera guy shot the footage, he didn't own the copyright to the to the you know, the whole movie and so they had to sign a work for hire agreement that makes sense too but in our scenario with still photography or even video if you want to do a video production at a certain level you do not want to hire a work for hire agreement and it's sneaking into mohr and mohr terminology folks, I need you to never see it now I see it you work for magazine just a magazine called jim says we want you to photograph you know, some famous athlete and they have in their little terminology this is a work for hire agreement guess what you don't believe me just I have had added to seize nowadays is a music pretty good because they've been around they understand the terminology but I have had adagio adagio sees send over an agreement that has work for higher I say a sorry I will not sign this this is work for hire means I give up my copyright really? And then I go in through the la times. I'll start to argue with the art buyer or whatever. Now that's not what we want. We just sorry. That's what we're for hire means do not sign it. Unless you know what you're getting into. They're important work for hire other countries. I don't know. So I'm gonna talk about what I know here in the states. Two terms. Total buyout work for hire. Beware. All right, here is a very important one, too. And I was telling my boys this when you do a job and you've worked your little butt off and you hopefully a bit it all correctly and at the end, you have a big smile on your face. You did it all right, but if you go and you work for someone and you didn't bid right the assistant's making more money than you at the end you have this big old grumpy face, right? You're grumbling the whole way you did something wrong. You didn't charge enough money. Here's the thing would you now, now, anyone who does what he does anybody do weddings here? Okay. What do you do, baby portrait? Okay, you don't like doing baby importance now, would you do a baby porter for a million dollars? Yes, there is a point in which you say I don't want to do a wedding but for a million dollars I'll do a wedding so at the end of that you go who I can retire now, right? So if you have a smile on your face you did something right you charged enough money so there's really the reason I'm saying this is because even in I'm photographing say famous athlete and I'm having a little time in my life but at the end if I didn't make any money and I go home then I didn't do something right even though I'm doing what I love so but I could do what I don't love for the right amount of money to some degree right there's a point when you say you know what? I gotta pay my mortgage you know, whatever I want to go on vacation, I'll do it unfortunately you could say that's selling out but that's the real world sometimes we just say okay, I'll bite the bullet and do it but you gotta have a smile on your face no matter what you do at the end of it otherwise what good is it right? You have to still make a living but try to do it to where you have a smile on your face at the end of it and it's going to make life go so much easier so if you're doing babies and you, you know, I don't like doing this, don't do it. So, um, some people love babies and that's what they should be doing. It fits him like a glove. Some people love weddings, it's him like a glove. Don't do it. If you don't feel like it fits you like a glove.

Ratings and Reviews


Joel Grimes reflects the true meaning of a passionate modern artist. Seamlessly blending his old school film techniques in todays ever-changing digital world with such amazing realistic results. Not only in his own body of work, but achieving the same outcome while teaching LIVE, even when things don’t always run smoothly, much like the real world. Thank you Joel for sharing your hard work and talents, your struggles, most importantly, your honest open teaching style with such detail in every segment. Much appreciate CREATIVE LIVE for keeping it real with good talent, on and off screen showcasing common humanity in us all. Indeed, a revolutionary company. Manny DaCunha.

a Creativelive Student

As an editorial and photographic professional it's refreshing to find new cerebral information that goes beyond simple instruction. It was motivating to see Joel, a highly respected professional who is successful in "real-life", display his thought process, points to be successful, and insights into his art. When you have been in the industry, working full time, you need those moments to relax, visualize and re-energize so you can look at projects with a renewed vision and passion. Joel and his Commercial Photography course did that and more for me. If my schedule allowed, I would certainly join Joel at one of his workshops. Only thing better than this CreativeLive would be attending live. Thank you Joel.

Student Work