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Author Topic: Line item on invoices for equipment  (Read 3920 times)

Craig Lamson

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Line item on invoices for equipment
« on: December 06, 2015, 09:23:04 pm »

I'm just curious how many of you bill for use of your own equipment as a line item on invoices?

I'm not concerned with specialty rentals, but rather you owned cameras and lighting.
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JoeKitchen

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Re: Line item on invoices for equipment
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2015, 11:00:27 am »

Aside from digital capture, I include the use of my equipment in my dayrate.  (I also charge licensing when working with ad firms.) 

I just find that it gives people more to pick at if I were to keep them separate.  Plus I go to every shoot with all the lighting I have and usually use most of it. 

If I need to rent additional equipment, I do charge for that.  However, most of the time this is with hospitality firms or ad firms.  Architects and designers are a little more picky with cost. 
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tcphoto1

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Re: Line item on invoices for equipment
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2015, 11:06:13 am »

I add a line item for digital capture kit equivalent to local rental house fee. As Joe stated, it can be separate or built into your creative fee depending on the client. One way or another the gear needs to be insured, maintained, serviced and replaced when outdated.
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David Eichler

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Re: Line item on invoices for equipment
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2015, 05:47:32 pm »

I often just account for this within another fee, such as the creative fee or day rate. In some cases, account for it within a digital capture fee.

At the risk of digressing or expanding too much, I am curious about what commercial photographers feel about more versus fewer line items. Obviously, photographers need to be aware of all of their production expenses, but do all clients need to see the breakdown, and does breaking down the fees lead to more opportunities for client confusion or nitpicking of expenses? On the other hand, does a breakdown of fees help with less experienced clients, giving them a chance to see what actually goes into producing the photos, since they may not actually be at the shoot and seldom see all of the preparations for the shoot and the digital processing.

Another thought regarding equipment, if you factor equipment into your day rate or creative fee, do you bring all of this equipment to every job, and, if not, do you vary your creative fee or day rate to account for this?
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JoeKitchen

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Re: Line item on invoices for equipment
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2015, 10:04:03 am »

I often just account for this within another fee, such as the creative fee or day rate. In some cases, account for it within a digital capture fee.

At the risk of digressing or expanding too much, I am curious about what commercial photographers feel about more versus fewer line items. Obviously, photographers need to be aware of all of their production expenses, but do all clients need to see the breakdown, and does breaking down the fees lead to more opportunities for client confusion or nitpicking of expenses? On the other hand, does a breakdown of fees help with less experienced clients, giving them a chance to see what actually goes into producing the photos, since they may not actually be at the shoot and seldom see all of the preparations for the shoot and the digital processing.

Another thought regarding equipment, if you factor equipment into your day rate or creative fee, do you bring all of this equipment to every job, and, if not, do you vary your creative fee or day rate to account for this?

Dave, with my little experience with ad firms, and my fiancee's more experience, a good art producer is going to understand there are many costs that go into a production.  At the very least there will be: photographer's day rate, digital capture, licensing, prop stylist's day rate, prop expenses, studio and/or location fess, rental equipment, assistants, etc. 

Add in models and now you have a half dozen more line items, at least.

If the art director is experienced and she does not see all of these cost/expenses accounted for, she will probably question the photographer's ability to produce the images her client needs, which means you will be looked over.  So for ad firms, it is best to include all of these line items. 

Additionally, it gives the client an idea of where all of the money is going, not just to the photographer. 

Now for the inexperience art producer who does not understand what goes into a production, this may not be the case.  He may just look at the grand total and think he is being ripped off or that there is something wrong with the estimate.  However, those producers are often looking for the lowest price and probably not the best client to work for. 
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Colorado David

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Re: Line item on invoices for equipment
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2015, 10:34:43 am »

I look at a standard kit of equipment, owning it, insuring it, and replacing it, as being a cost of doing business and should be included in your day rate.  However any unusual piece of equipment should be separate.  The Gigapan for instance meets that requirement.  I think in terms of a physician or an auto mechanic.  When you take your car to a mechanic, you expect them to have and provide every wrench he might need. Likewise, a physician should have his instruments.  Both charge for any supplies or parts consumed in executing their profession and you'll be charged for the services of an anesthetist, pathologist, or radiologist just like the client will pay for additional professional services as separate line items.

I would be interested in how everyone handles the billing of cancellation fees.  I know a lot of photographers have cancellation policies and some will enforce them and others won't for fear of offending the client.  What is the consensus?

Ellis Vener

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Re: Line item on invoices for equipment
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2015, 01:39:04 pm »

Years ago I attended a workshop taught by a guy who was  a well known advertising and editorial portrait photographer (he's retired now) . His strategy was never to bill for his own equipment for editorial shoots, but for advertising clients  he rented his equipment from a small separate rental house with an extremely limited clientele base (in other words just him) and those rentals were billed as a separate line item with their invoice.

Advertising agency clients never balked at accepting that because that is the way they are used to working when shooting television spots and apparently it is not an uncommon practice among motion picture cinematographers and directors of photography as well.
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tcphoto1

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Re: Line item on invoices for equipment
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2015, 02:19:30 pm »

Back when we shot film and we owned both 35mm and medium format kits, the investment was probably lower than digital. Now, there are higher MP bodies, faster computers, software subscriptions and more so I chose to add a digital capture fee to my jobs. As far as cancellation fees, I require a 50% nonrefundable retainer to start a commercial project. There are people that charge a percentage of their fee if they cancel or postpone which makes perfect sense. I haven't shot editorial in quite a while but think that 33%-50% would be appropriate for cancellation or postponement.
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Craig Lamson

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Re: Line item on invoices for equipment
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2015, 10:33:04 pm »

I own my gear and I don't charge for the use of it. Its not accepted practice in my market.  I don't charge a capture fee, I did when I first went digital and lost a couple of accounts over this fee, granted it was back in 2001, but its  simply not worth the bother. The cost of gear is part of my cost of doing business and is factored into my rates.  I usually don't bill a creative fee or a day rate but rather I use a flat rate system that uses the complexity of the image as the determining factor for price.  I grant two year unlimited usage rights but it is rare an image ever makes it past one year of use.  My customers produce model year products and we throw the old out each year and start again.  This covers 95% of my workload

I do charge a fee for each finished file I deliver, and I price them by size. 

All of my clients are long term customers and I don't charge a fee for the odd cancellation.  When it happens it is usually just a postponement, because a part was missing for he production of the unit we were to shoot.  We just shoot it another day.

Of course this is what works for my business and may be all wrong somewhere else.

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PeterAit

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Re: Line item on invoices for equipment
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2015, 12:10:08 pm »

I'm just curious how many of you bill for use of your own equipment as a line item on invoices?


Lord have mercy NO! No offense, but what a ridiculous idea. Your equipment costs should be rolled into your hourly/daily/job rate. Suppose:

- The grocer charged you extra for the cash register.
- The dentist charged you extra for the drill.
- The urologist charged you extra for the rubber gloves.
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Peter

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rogan

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Re: Line item on invoices for equipment
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2016, 07:52:38 pm »

Lord have mercy NO! No offense, but what a ridiculous idea. Your equipment costs should be rolled into your hourly/daily/job rate. Suppose:

- The grocer charged you extra for the cash register.
- The dentist charged you extra for the drill.
- The urologist charged you extra for the rubber gloves.

Well Peter I could not disagree more. I bill for 100% of items used at the same price as my local rental house. My client gets a great deal as I don't charge them for travel/prep days, I know the gear works, it has all been focus adjusted and I know when and if it has been dropped. In 25 years of shooting advertising and editorial in NYC it has never been questioned. I have set up an invoice and bill them per piece. In the past 5 years I find including buying cases(which i don't charge for but I currently have over $10,000 worth)/repair/upgrades/small items like a clamps/grip tape/cto/L plates I come out about even. This includes strobes, camera gear, tripods, grip, etc. My clients also know that when a new item comes out and I think it might make my business better even in a small way I will buy it as I run my rental as a seperate bank account so there is always money for the newest gear or upgrades.
That all said I am a commercial photographer working with advertising agencies and publishing houses like Conde Nast, not someone selling landscapes direct to the final customer. I realize how that may be different. On most of my jobs fees and expenses are two separate budgets and clients expect to pay for gear.

I also find not comparing myself to other occupations which have nothing to do with what I do is invaluable.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2016, 08:02:36 pm by rogan »
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tcphoto1

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Re: Line item on invoices for equipment
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2016, 12:00:26 pm »

Well put Rogan.
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