Monday, October 12, 2009

Ryan Pyle Blog: Being Seriously Undercut


I do my best to try and avoid producing corporate photography for Chinese companies. There are a lot of great China's companies out there doing some incredible work, producing wonderful products and doing so in a generally responsible way.

But often where the trouble begins is with day rates, fee's, expenses, and of course copywrite. Much of the trouble stems from the fact that the corporate photography industry is China is not very mature, another reason is that there is so much local competition that drives prices down. And a recent example infuriated me so much that it motivated me to blog.

I do a significant amount of work for Public Relations companies and their clients. And recently one of the top PR companies in Asia called me up and asked me to prepare a quote for a local Chinese client; early on they told me that the client didn't have too much money and was looking to keep the copywrite of the images, what a way to start negotiations!

First of all, I don't give up copywrite. Ever.

You can shoot corporate work for a corporate client and keep the copywrite; usually by offering them various licensing terms. That way if you take a killer image that the company wants to use for decades to come; it will generate a nice residual income for you, but alas I am in China and getting these messages across to clients can be difficult at best. My example continues.

So I wrote up a brief proposal indicating a fee for the work and clauses that allow me to keep the copywrite and another clause explaining the licensing fee. My proposal was rejected. Then I re-drafted the proposal indicating that I would keep the copywrite but they could use the images for a multiple year term, which was very generous on my part. But they wouldn't budge on the copywrite and apparently my day rates were also much much too high. Essentially, I walked away from the deal. The terms were too difficult and I felt although the project was interesting it had to be on my terms; and they weren't budge.

I just found out a few days ago that the client hired a local photographer/videographer for US$300 per day and he agreed to give up all copywrite to the corporation. I was essentially undercut, not a winning day for the corporate photography world. And at US$400 per day it's a virtual steel assuming the quality is at a high level, which is no guarantee in any part of the world.

Lessons learned are many. First is know your price, know what you will work for and what you won't work for. The jobs you want will eventually find you. Remember, most of your career will often be defined by the jobs you turn down, and not the jobs you take.

It's a jungle out there.

Ryan Pyle

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:38

    It's spelt copyright.

    I really enjoy following your blog! Gives me some great insight as I prepare to move to China.



This is Ryan Pyle. I appreciate you adding a comment to my blog and I hope that this space has offered you something useful and interesting. I look forward to staying in touch and I'm glad you took the time to comment.

Ryan Pyle