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  1. #1
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    Question How to price a job: Cast photo & head shots of 80 H.S. actors

    I plan to photograph about 80 high-school kids who are producing a play next month (end of April).

    They want a cast photo that can be displayed in the lobby the night of the show and I would sell additional copies of to the students, parents, etc.

    Does anyone have experience with
    (1) photographing and/or lighting large groups of people or
    (2) setting prices for similar projects or
    (3) establishing business relationships with a photo lab

    My main concerns are:

    I need to know some strategies for working with a group that big – I’m receptive to hearing ideas about everything from lighting to posing to how to best take orders for photos.

    I’m particularly nervous about the lighting. I own 2 Elinchrom 400BXs and the "regular" flash that attaches to my camera and that’s it. There’s no way it can cover 80 people!

    As for pricing, I suppose the first thing I need to do is find a lab and ask how much they will charge me for certain sized prints and then add my percentage on top of that.

    What’s reasonable to charge this market – high school kids and their parents (in a fairly affluent part of town)?

    How do photographers figure this out? Call each other? Will photogs share their prices with me, or will I have to pretend to be a customer?

    BTW, I'm shooting digital.

    I am guessing the actors will want some individual head shots, some smaller group shots and possibly some photos from the dress rehearsal. (Although the organizer did not state this, and I’d probably be wise to K.I.S.S. at this point. Do the cast photo first and then worry about the other shots later.)

    Thank you for any expertise and insight you are willing to share!

  2. #2
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    Re: How to price a job: Cast photo & head shots of 80 H.S. actors

    You might be able to use the stage lighting to your advantage, plus the background of the set-in-progress (or even the stage curtain) could make the photo more interesting for the lobby photo. I've taken cast shots using stage lighting only and they've turned out well, as long as the lights are hot enough and focused properly. I have never sold them, though, I've just taken them as part of my job, and as a gift to the director.


    80 kids in one play???? What on earth are they producing?????
    Drink Coffee. Do stupid things faster with more energy.


  3. #3
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    Re: How to price a job: Cast photo & head shots of 80 H.S. actors

    If you do the dress rehearsal, you might run into problems with lighting, but if you get good shots the cast will love them! If the lighting is fairly dim in the play, you might have to pose some shots before or afterward with the lights at a higher level.
    Drink Coffee. Do stupid things faster with more energy.


  4. #4
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: How to price a job: Cast photo & head shots of 80 H.S. actors

    I think you're right about the lighting - you'll need tons of it to cover 80 people. They probably won't change the stage lighting for you (it's a lot of work and probably already set how they need it). Maybe they could put up a few general worklights on the flys to help out, but be sure they're towards the front of the stage because if they're right on top of the people they'll create shadows. Think of shining a flashlight down on you from overhead... Maybe they'll give you a couple behind the group as sort-of a background light. And a background too. Ask them what they can do for you.

    I'd probably shoot ISO400 or 800 if your camera will do it cleanly (not sure what you have). Definately a tripod and be sure to take a custom white balance before you shoot. For digital prints, I've been using Mpix.com and been very happy with them.

    Price? Got a dartboard? Hard to say. I don't think calling other photographers you don't know will be much help. It's hard to say what the job is worth without knowing what's involved - headshots? I'd bring the two lights and maybe a background if you have it so you can set that up somewhere else off stage and do those as people are available.

  5. #5
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    Re: How to price a job: Cast photo & head shots of 80 H.S. actors

    Tell you the truth
    most people dont care too much for high quality stuff
    just shove an image of their kid in front of them and they will buy it if its reasonable.
    So even if you shoot high iso and its not as great as the lower iso, it doesnt matter. These days everyone seems to be happy with their P+S mini digital cameras.

    BTW, dont forget that just because the kids come from rich families does not mean that they are not cheap. Dont charge too much or no one will buy anything. This sort of situation is you looking to them to buy your stuff rather than them finding you to buy stuff. Know what I mean?

  6. #6
    MJS
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    Re: How to price a job: Cast photo & head shots of 80 H.S. actors

    Funny you should mention this as Deckcadet, Youngshooter and I will be doing roughly the same for the drama group and dance types this week. The strobes should be good for a small group. I shot the dance classes, with up to 18 girls, usually at f/11 with 2-640 watt second strobes shooting into 48" white umbrellas. We went with f/11 because they were in 2 to 3 rows and I had to make sure that they were all in focus. We shot direct to the laptop using Nikon capture software, allowing the dance teacher to preview and approve the pictures on the fly. Sure was nice not having to do re-shoots. As far as the cast picture, go to an early dress rehersal and use the stage lighting to get your group shot. Make sure that you either do a custom white balance, or pre-set for incandescent to get the good color. I would suggest 400 ASA and certerweighted metering so you won't be averaging out the darker areas with the lit areas of the stage. Price is really up to you and what the local market will bear.

    Good luck.
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  7. #7
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Congratulations.

    That's a big job with a lot of potential. I hope you plan well, you learn a lot, and it pays well.

    This isn't a type of photography I know much about. But I do have a couple ideas to toss out there so people can abuse me and you can reject them

    One - Consider renting a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II - A group of 80 people is huge. The bigger the group, the less information per person. So more resolution will really make a difference. Plus, besides resolution, one of the main benefits of the new cameras, is much lower noise. So you should be able to shoot at ISO 400, 800, or maybe even 1600, and get very good quality images.

    Two - Find out what parents are paying for school photos and charge the same. They already understand that kind of pricing so it shouldn't be hard to sell.

    Good luck, and keep us posted!
    Photo-John

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  8. #8
    Moderator of Critiques/Hearder of Cats mtbbrian's Avatar
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    What John Said...

    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John
    Two - Find out what parents are paying for school photos and charge the same. They already understand that kind of pricing so it shouldn't be hard to sell.

    Good luck, and keep us posted!
    I think that is good advice and very reasonable too. I am sure you can make some money to make it worth it.
    Good Luck!
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  9. #9
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    Re: How to price a job: Cast photo & head shots of 80 H.S. actors

    Quote Originally Posted by kellybean
    I've taken cast shots using stage lighting only and they've turned out well, as long as the lights are hot enough and focused properly. I have never sold them, though, I've just taken them as part of my job, and as a gift to the director.

    80 kids in one play???? What on earth are they producing?????
    Thanks for the tips!
    Any interest in posting some of your cast photos on this thread?
    They are producing "Grease." Don't know how many of them are actors vs. set designers, etc. Regardless of their role, that's a somewhat intimidating number to me.

  10. #10
    Just a Member Chunk's Avatar
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    Re: How to price a job: Cast photo & head shots of 80 H.S. actors

    Could the caste photo be a collage of 4 smaller groups? Seems like getting a group of 80 teens lined up so they are all recognizable would be near impossible.
    ----------------------------


  11. #11
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    Re: How to price a job: Cast photo & head shots of 80 H.S. actors

    Quote Originally Posted by MJS
    Funny you should mention this as Deckcadet, Youngshooter and I will be doing roughly the same for the drama group and dance types this week. The strobes should be good for a small group. I shot the dance classes, with up to 18 girls, usually at f/11 with 2-640 watt second strobes shooting into 48" white umbrellas. We went with f/11 because they were in 2 to 3 rows and I had to make sure that they were all in focus. We shot direct to the laptop using Nikon capture software, allowing the dance teacher to preview and approve the pictures on the fly. Sure was nice not having to do re-shoots. As far as the cast picture, go to an early dress rehersal and use the stage lighting to get your group shot. Make sure that you either do a custom white balance, or pre-set for incandescent to get the good color. I would suggest 400 ASA and certerweighted metering so you won't be averaging out the darker areas with the lit areas of the stage. Price is really up to you and what the local market will bear.

    Good luck.
    Thanks!
    Good luck on your projects also.
    Can we see your photos, or are there rules about posting pix of minors?
    I like the sound of that direct-to-computer software. I'll have to see if Canon makes some --just so I can torment myself with one more thing I want and can't afford. ;)

  12. #12
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Remote Capture

    I don't think Canon makes any software for your camera, but Breeze Systems does:

    http://www.breezesys.com/10DRemote/index.htm
    Photo-John

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  13. #13
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    Re: Remote Capture

    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John
    I don't think Canon makes any software for your camera, but Breeze Systems does:

    http://www.breezesys.com/10DRemote/index.htm
    Right on. Thanks for the info. That's not as expensive as I imagined -- a nice change of pace.

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