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Running a Commercial Photography Business:

Interview with Curtis Hustace

Hi guys, this is an interview with professional photographer Curtis Hustace, where he answers questions about the business side of commercial photography. I’ll be interviewing more photographers, and going to finish the first part of my own article about business of photography this week.

Thank you for the questions you sent me. I’ve listed them below the video, you can add more by commenting on this post.

Pool of the Questions we have to be answered and discussed:

  1.  Firstly how do you determine your prices for the clients?
  2. Does the price determination involve checking the prices of the competition? How do you “get” the information regarding prices that competition has? Do you ask the customers what price range do they have in mind?
  3. How are you positioning yourself regarding the prices/quality/competition? Or in other words, what is your business strategy now? And what was your business strategy when you have started?
  4. How do you approach new clients? Do you sent them an email with your portfolio or is the personal contact better?
  5. When approaching new clients, what is your strategy in regard to get the deal? What I have in mind is, that for example you have your portfolio, but when you want to get a client that could have different products that you have been doing till now, do you offer them to do the one test photo of the product for free, so that they can see what they can expect?
  6. Regarding new clients – how do you prepare the offer? Is it just informative or do you specify everything in details such as the rights, price, payment period?
  7. Do you have “fixed” price list or for example do you have different prices for larger clients vs. smaller clients?
  8. Do you have any special benefits for “loyal” clients?
  9. What is your opinion regarding the “dumping” prices for entering the market?
  10. Do you give all the rights to the clients or for example just for limited time of use?
  11. Do you have different price regimes for different rights (rights like for how long they can use your photo, for what purpose etc) or you sell the photo for permanent use?
  12. How long are the paying periods?
  • Major one: where on earth to go in search for clients? Cold calling? Via internet? Or do your clients find you?
  • How to do the pricing? Based on hours or something else?
  • Most successful strategy for attracting new clients, advertising, local advertising, finding an agent to show your work?
  • Best practice for pricing including best practices for licensing images and working out the cost of those licences.
  • (I have found clients not willing to ‘licence’ the images more expectation of ownership, this could be that I need to educate the client more or price outright ownership correctly to outweigh the potentially lost licensing fees?)
    Once you have attracted an enquiry how do you find your clients react to your pricing, is there an expectation that the photography they are wanting will be ‘cheap’ or do they accept they are receiving a premium product?

A high number of local product photographers are clearly fighting to offer the lowest price, images from £5 each $9! a clever strategy or a negative driving down of fees and the clients expectation of what costs are involved?
How would you approach the costing of and presenting to the client, the cost and licensing of:
A high volume product shoot where the lighting setup may be similar for each with relatively little post p. (like your product on completely white BG)
High quality jewellery shoot with lots of lighting work and post production
A creative ‘poster’ or Pack shot’ with lots of creative work, for example your Godiva shot or similar
Any information on your process from initial enquiry, quoting, costing, licensing to do you ask for partial payment up front and full payment before delivery or do you invoice and give 30 days to pay?
What I really would like to know is How to start.
Say I have portfolio and website ready (which I don’t J).Hypothetically: I got lucky and first client calls. Really would like to know DOs and DON’Ts when talking/negotiating with him. By being a beginner does my fee needs be lower. If I do retouching myself do I charge extra, how much.
Another question. This one is a big concern for me right now.
As you saw in my photo set ups I use cheap clamp lights with foil on it. In video reviews you said that this is ok to use for building portfolio but won’t be good when working for client.
I can’t afford to buy new equipment.
What should I do?
Do I request to take product home to photograph and turn down offers if it needs to be photographed at client’s location until I get better equipment?


Have something to add to this list? Let us know in the comment area below, we’ll use these questions to create a series of articles which are going to help our community photographers to get into the business or to grow what they are already have.



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