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Author Topic: Charging for Travel  (Read 6434 times)

RFPhotography

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Charging for Travel
« on: January 23, 2013, 09:24:54 AM »

Wondering if others may be willing to share their experience.  I'm asking because I've been getting some pushback on this from prospective clients.

When I have to travel locally for a client (by car) I don't charge for the first hour.  Whether it's an hour one way, 1/2 an hour out and 1/2 an hour back, the first hour of local travel is at no charge.  After the first hour, I charge at half my shooting/editing hourly rate.  No problems with that.

When it comes to what I'll call extended travel, this is where I'm getting some pushback.  For extended travel - with airfare, hotel, meals involved - those costs are charged on a straight pass-through.  But I also charge for my time while travelling, same as for local shoots.  So if it's 90 minutes to the airport, 2 hours at the airport, 3 hours flying, 30 minutes taxi to the hotel that all gets charged after the first hour.  Same on the trip home.  While at location, I propose a day rate that equates to something around 10 hours of time at my hourly rate.  If I'm working more or less than that, they still pay the day rate. 

It's this extended travel situation where I'm seeing resistance.  The day rate isn't so much the problem but the travel time seems to be.  Do others charge for travel time when having to travel extended distances for a client?

Thanks.
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PeterAit

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2013, 09:29:51 AM »

Not sure if this is relevant, but in my "day job" (consulting for pharmaceutical development), charging 1/2 the usual hourly rate for travel time is quite common.
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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2013, 07:16:12 PM »

I saw an APA talk by this pro: www.dananeibert.com

and he told me travel is usually paid for by client if it takes extra days. So, if his day rate is $12,500 but can travel to and from the job on the same day as the shoot, there is no travel fee charged. Just the expenses involved. But if he travels one day, shoots the next, and then travels home the next, he would charge two travel days and one shoot day. Usually, he says, a travel day is billed at about $3500.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2013, 07:29:04 PM »

As with many other things, it matters whether it is a buyer's or seller's market. If you can impose those terms, more power to you, and apparently, there are people who can. When I was managing an IT consulting company, however, our consultants were paid actual travel expenses, but hours we were able to bill only from the moment they arrive to the client's office.

langier

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2013, 02:10:14 PM »

Charge for your travel.

For my local clients, it's part of my expense since it's seldom more than 15-20 minutes to the project.

However, if I've got to go to the airport and fly, there's also some pre-production fees involved in addition to my time driving, going to the terminal, slogging through security, flying there. I don't charge as much as I would if I was shooting, but I'm on their clock and they need to pay for my time away from my work and devoted to their needs.

If they balk about paying you for your time for travel, bury it into your fee for the shoot and charge accordingly. If that will keep them happy, what difference does it make if it isn't itemized as a charge?
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2013, 08:58:49 PM »

I try to charge a creative fee based on the project insteadof day rates but clients like day rates so that is the language I use on my estimates, confirmations and invoices. Travel days are charged at half that rate. If the creative fee low I have a minimum travel rate which is baout 115% of my daily CoDB. If I have travel expenses that are not paid directly by the client and exceed 60-70% of the initial payment (which has to be paid prior to the  start of the assignment) those expenses are marked up. The mark up isn't to make more of a profit but to cover the costs of my investing money directly in the client's business instead of investing it in other aspects of my business. You have to take into account the average time it takes you to get paid in full.
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RFPhotography

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2013, 07:36:54 AM »

Thanks for the feedback.  Much appreciated.  Looks like my approach isn't out of the norm.  Larry, yes, adjusting the day rate may be something to consider.
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haefnerphoto

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2013, 10:49:54 PM »

Travel should be covered by the client and 1/2 the dayrate is not unusual.  What I'm finding often is that on bid situations it's not a given my competitors will do the same.  If you're not bidding and explain to your client that now a one day project will be three days how can they argue that you're overcharging them (at 1/2 dayrate).  Their alternative is to use a local photographer, if they're comfortable with that then most likely you'll lose the project (this just happened last week to me).

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2013, 11:22:09 PM »

If I am flying in for a shoot, I am flying in the day before and the day after. That is two days that must be compensated and I charge at half my "day rate". I just quoted one shoot where airport to airport with stops etc would exceed actually 24 hours of travel. So I counted that as two days of travel to the shoot and gave them a break with charing for only one day travel return.

If I am driving, that is something I have considered when quoting the shoot. I do not charge hourly rates and seldom if ever quote for a half day. Anything I do is typically a full day charge. Otherwise it really is not worth my time to leave the house with rare exception.
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Jeffery Salter

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2013, 12:10:28 PM »

Wondering if others may be willing to share their experience.  I'm asking because I've been getting some pushback on this from prospective clients.

When I have to travel locally for a client (by car) I don't charge for the first hour.  Whether it's an hour one way, 1/2 an hour out and 1/2 an hour back, the first hour of local travel is at no charge.  After the first hour, I charge at half my shooting/editing hourly rate.  No problems with that.


First it's very dangerous to think in terms of an hourly rate.  Because then the the client can say I want 2:00 hours of this or that.  When you full well know that your day begins when you load up the equipment, make calls for photo assistants or production crew.  Much better to get in the mindset of a "Creative fee + usage + production costs"  If you join a photography group such these, they will provide you with in-depth reasons to help you have a clear understanding on this.  It may be difficult to get old clients around to this thinking however  with every new client, I would encourage you from the start to do so.

1.  ASMP.org

2.  American Photographic Artists at apanational.com



When it comes to what I'll call extended travel, this is where I'm getting some pushback.  For extended travel - with airfare, hotel, meals involved - those costs are charged on a straight pass-through.  But I also charge for my time while travelling, same as for local shoots.  So if it's 90 minutes to the airport, 2 hours at the airport, 3 hours flying, 30 minutes taxi to the hotel that all gets charged after the first hour.  Same on the trip home.  While at location, I propose a day rate that equates to something around 10 hours of time at my hourly rate.  If I'm working more or less than that, they still pay the day rate. 

It's this extended travel situation where I'm seeing resistance.  The day rate isn't so much the problem but the travel time seems to be.  Do others charge for travel time when having to travel extended distances for a client?

On shoot days I don't charge for travel. (of course I charge for mileage, meals, hotel, airfare, excess baggage)  However if it's over 12 hours I may charge a long day fee.  But it's important to nail that down in the initial job estimate.
I always pay my team -- overtime, travel days or long day fees.

On travel days I usually charge 1/2 the fee of the shoot on a editorial.  If its a nice fat adverting job, I may charge a token amount depending upon the overall rate which would be Creative fee + Usage fee + production fee.

Again always pay your team, photo assistants, hair, make-up and stylist a travel day.  You definitely want them to be happy!

Thank you,
Jeffery
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Jeffery Salter

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2013, 05:04:18 PM »

Charging a license fee for stock photography is fine.  However, most of the time with editorials and advertising you are asked to produce an estimate of fees, usage and production costs.  Sometimes magazines pay a flat rate.  But you still have to pay for your expenses out of the flat rate.

thank you,
Jeffery
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Jeffery Salter

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2013, 07:13:32 PM »

"Usage fee" is the license fee.  Yes you are correct, in saying they are paying for the use of my images.  If you are selling a pre-existing image from your stock library then you bill a "License fee".  If you get a call from an ad firm or magazine editor they will want to a line item breakout.  Which consists of a creative fee (your eyeballs, your cost of doing business) +  Usage fee ( Image license fee which is how the image will be used and how long they would like to use the image) + production expenses (travel, assistants, lighting, digital post).

Ad firms generally want a breakout on the estimate.  If the budget for a project is $50,000, they want to know that you know how to run the production wisely.  They want to know that you have allowed for location insurance, RVs, location permits and such.  Then they will compare your numbers to the other bidders on the project.  If something is missing or it appears you didn't do a proper budget, it will impact upon if you get the assignment.

At the end of the day however you parse it.  The OP just wants to be paid for his travel.

« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 07:17:40 PM by Jeffery Salter »
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David Eichler

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2013, 03:29:11 AM »

When you say 'you', I assume you mean that's what 'you' do, rather than that's what one must do.

Personally, if someone (be it an ad agency, Editor or company) wanted me to produce and then provide them with some images for them to use, I would usually only talk to them about the 4 main things that are important to them - and negotiate the fee based on that information.

So if I have to travel to produce those images, then there is no point in discussing that, because it's not like an optional extra - so my travelling time & my travelling expenses, would just be part of my basic production costs, which I would therefore need to take into account before I quoted them a fee.

Because the fee is just for the use of my images - rather than to do a job for them, since I'm not agreeing to do work made for hire - so I want to be very clear about that.

My images, not their images.
My production costs, not their production costs.

So they are just being asked to pay for the use of my images, after I have produced them... which isn't really that different to selling them stock images in away, if you stop & think about it.

In your example above, if they wanted to know that I had allowed for location insurance, RVs, location permits and such - then I would possibly include that information under the description part at the top of the quote i.e. what's in the box.  So again, that would just be part of my basic production costs, which I would therefore need to take into account, before quoting them a fee for the use of my images.
If however, I felt I could produce the images to meet their needs, without the RV, then I would present that as an additional line item - giving them the option to either cut it out or ask me to look into getting something cheaper or even them suppling it themselves.  

Anyway, back to the OP's question: your travelling time and your travelling expenses are not an optional extra, so be careful about presenting it to them as such. It's simply part of your basic production costs, which you therefore need to take into account before you quote them a fee - for the use of your images.

Images which you are agreeing to produce & then provide them with, for them to use... as agreed.





Well, Jeffrey Slater is obviously a very capable commercial photographer and he seems very experienced (as is Ashley Morrison). And, if he says clients routinely want to see line-item quotes, then I think he needs to accommodate that. Ashley, are you going to argue with an established, reputable ad agency, if they say they want a line-item quote, regardless of whether you feel it is really necessary? And, Jeffrey, if clients do not insist on a line-item quote, does it really make sense to take the time to provide one?

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Jeffery Salter

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2013, 07:49:14 AM »

Thank you Ashley and David.

When I refer to "You" in my post I'm referring to photographers dealing with "North American and Canadian ad agencies"  I have never worked in the UK.   In the New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and major media markets that's the way it works at the larger ad agencies.

If you have further interest in this subject.  I would suggest a visit to:

www.apanational.com

They are an advertising and commercial group for photographers.

In regards to not supplying a line item quote.   If the client doesn't ask for one then I don't supply it.  That way if you get awarded the assignment you can move your funds around anyway you choose.  In any event it's crucial for survival as a commercial photographer to keep a spread sheet of costs.

Let's make some great pictures today!

Thank you,
Jeffery
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 07:55:45 AM by Jeffery Salter »
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Jeffery Salter

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2013, 05:32:36 PM »

You mean, if they wanted a line-item list, listing what camera system I was going to use, what lenses I going to use, what lights I plan on using, modifies, number of stands, tripods, computers, software, back-up systems, etc, etc - as well as a full break down of my travelling costs, my estimated pre-production time, my photography time, my post-production time, number of assistants I planing on use, their costs and expenses, etc, etc, etc !!

Hi Ashley,

Thank you for sharing one of your license forms.  The ad agencies I work with ask for line items when submitting an estimate.  Obviously they  don't care about the minutae, such as the type of strobes.  But they do care about just about everything else you listed.  It's their budget.  It's their client and they most definitely want to know if the photographer is going to be able to execute the project.

I use Blinkbid to help me with estimates.  My agent does and on recent jobs I noticed that the  ad agency had the same software.

http://www.blinkbid.com

The American Society of Media Professionals (ASMP) recommends Blinkbid as well as several others.

http://www.hindsightltd.com

Regards,
Jeffery



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Jeffery Salter

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2013, 08:21:51 AM »

So tell me, if they look at your list and don't want to pay or pay the full amount you are asking - for either your travelling time or for your travelling expenses - what happens then i.e. do they get less of something as a result or do you now have to find another way to produce the images without travelling ?

In advertising art buyers frequently do a Triple Bid.  They select three photographers whose portfolios demonstrate a consistent vision that matches what they would like to convey in there advertisements.  Afterwards they ask for an estimate.  If your estimate is accepted and the Ad agency's client likes your work as well, then your chances of being rewarded the assignment will be high.

In regards to your statement "produce images without traveling" I don't know what you mean??????  

In regards to "If they look at your estimate and don't want to pay"  They may ask for a reduction on the estimate or they simply pick up the phone and call another photographer.
 

In editorial,  all that is worked out in the first phone call from the photo editor.  You can always say "No" I won't do the assignment without "travel expenses" or they can always call another photographer.  But there are creative ways to not get to "No".

I have had clients not have a budget for travel, but for some reason they allow me to charge them a higher digital capture rate, or bill extra for lighting rental.  You would be surprised how creative editors can be if they want you to shoot a project.  Before saying "No" to a gig, sometimes simply ask the editor if they have in flex in other parts of the budget.

It would be interesting to hear from other pros on the forum.

Here's a great blog.  It's a good daily read.  Rob Haggart who writes it was a former picture editor of Men's Journal magazine and is widely respected in our industry.

http://www.aphotoeditor.com

Let's make some great photos today!
Jeffery
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 08:34:17 AM by Jeffery Salter »
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David Eichler

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2013, 12:05:16 PM »

Interesting - because for me it would be the other way around i.e. most of my clients would look at my portfolio first, to determine if I'm going to be able to execute the project or not - and they wouldn't seem to care about what equipment I used or what it costs me - just so long as the price is right and they get what they need in the end.

So tell me, if they look at your list and don't want to pay or pay the full amount you are asking - for either your travelling time or for your travelling expenses - what happens then i.e. do they get less of something as a result or do you now have to find another way to produce the images without travelling ?

You would think that is all that should matter. However, for clients who regularly commission photography and spend pretty substantial sums on it, I think I can understand why they may want to see the production costs. With some kinds of assignments, there may be different ways to get to a satisfactory result, and advertising agencies may want to see who is most efficient and creative about getting to that result. Taking travel, for example, in some cases there may be different travel options, and how one travels might have an effect on other parts of the production and related costs. In short, the creativity and problem solving is not only related to the creative part of actually shooting the photo; it is also in the logistics.
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Jeffery Salter

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2013, 06:28:06 PM »

The question, Jeffery, simply was: If they did ask for a reduction on your estimate or they didn't what to pay for one or more of the things you had listed on your quote, do they then get less from you at the end of the day ?

For example, would they now get less images or would they not now be able to use the images as much or would the images now look different - since they weren't prepared to pay for this item you had listed !!

Bob here asked about 'Charging for Travel', so the line items I'm obviously referring to, would be your travel time & travel expenses. Which means the related question to his question would be: What happens if they don't want to pay for either one or other of these two things - but they still would like you to produce & provide them with some images to use ?


Yes, reducing the shot list is a way of bringing the  job estimate in line with the budget.  Yes, reducing the amount of time on the Usage license is a way of bringing the job estimate  to meet the budget.

Yes and no, in regards to if the images will look different, it depends on the comp or layout.  For example a photographer can set-up a large soft box near the model to give a window light look or a photographer can place the subject near a window on a sunny day to get the same look.  It all depends on what the Artistic direction needed for a particular ad.  However this is where the power of your portfolio comes in....if they want your vision and you need XYZ light or XYZ camera they will make room for you to get what you need to execute the shot.

In regards to the quality of work done on the agreed upon shot list, as a professional one would hope you always do your best work on the project at hand.  

Many photographers (including myself) sometimes go through an agent to do the negotiate the fees.  Which allows the photographer to deal with the creative aspects of the project.

As I said early if you and the client cannot agreed upon the various fees (Travel and travel time) then.... A. Say "no"   B.  They can call the next photographer on the list.   C. Or look for room in the budget to charge more to cover your travel expenses.  

In my earlier posts I have supplied links to several  professional photography organizations and business software that caters to photographers at various career levels  to  help them with negotiating and estimating assignments.

Please feel free to check out those very informative links which quite possibly explain what I'm trying to say more succinctly.

My apologizes to Bob if I didn't offer any advice to help him with his travel and travel time expense issue.

Thank you,
Jeffery

Here is a frame grab of my travel expense on a recent Annual report (2012)












« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 06:31:49 PM by Jeffery Salter »
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Jeffery Salter

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2013, 06:47:46 PM »


So the question here is: If you list these things as optional extras and they don't want to pay you for them, what difference would it make to them ?


It's called "Production costs"  which list items needed for you do the assignment.  Travel, lights, model fees, digital production fees and etc.   If they don't want to pay the production cost then they don't get any pictures.

Or they call another photographer who has different production costs.

This forum is called " Pro business"  and to be in business one must get there "production costs"  met.  Either through getting clients who understand what it takes to execute certain visual concepts or by the photographer lowering his "cost of doing business"  

Thank you,
Jeffery
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 07:46:46 PM by Jeffery Salter »
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RFPhotography

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Re: Charging for Travel
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2013, 09:09:11 AM »


Bob here asked about 'Charging for Travel', so the line items I'm obviously referring to, would be your travel time & travel expenses. Which means the related question to his question would be: What happens if they don't want to pay for either one or other of these two things - but they still would like you to produce & provide them with some images to use - what would the difference be, in terms of what they would actually get from you, at the end of the day ?

If they don't want to pay for the travel time (and to be clear I was asking about travel time, not the actual travel costs) and still want you to produce then as others have pointed out, you see if you can find a way to get them what they need and still be appropriately compensated.  Maybe there's slack somewhere else in the budget, maybe not.

I don't know that I agree that offering them less in terms of usage or cutting down the shooting time is a workable solution though.  You're already getting paid for those things.  Cutting down the length of the shoot or shortening the term of the license or the breadth of use still isn't going to compensate for the time spend getting to and back from the destination.  If they're willing to cut down on those other areas as a way to free up funds to pay for travel time then that may be an option.  But the problem there is that travel time is compensated less than shoot time and cutting back on that or the license use, which would presumably also cut the license fee, are likely going to cost more than will be gained by getting compensated for travel time. 

I agree there may be ways to cut actual travel-related costs.  Fly coach, fly at odd hours where flights may be less expensive.  Take a train if it's less expensive.  But that lengthens actual travel time so the tradeoff may not work.  Stay in a less expensive hotel.  Eat at less expensive restaurants.  Many ways to reduce actual travel costs.  Not a lot to be done though, unless it's fudged into other areas, to make for an unwillingness to pay for that time while travelling.

At the end of it all, it appears that my approach isn't out of line with the norm.  It's a matter of the client(s) being willing to pay or not.  That's a separate issue from whether the fundamental approach to the situation is within or outside of the norm.








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