After mulling over the situation in 'Screw You: A Three-Part Series,' I again spoke to my client. She told me that she’d only paid $350 to the photographer thus far, and was waiting for a bill for the second $350 payment - a total of $700. I told her that $350 was more than enough for someone to drive to her studio twice, photograph 6 or 7 pieces of art, and send them, unedited - to me. The artist, at that point, hadn’t even been sent the photographs of her own work; but the photographer had sent me the photos, and I received them via DropBox.
The artist said, "Yeah, after she finished last time she asked 'how much did I charge you last time?' which I thought was unprofessional..." Well, it is.
"It’s not like gas costs $300 bucks," I said - because $700 for taking a few unedited photos of 7 paintings is way over the top.
Later that night, I spoke to the photographer on the phone - for nine minutes.
"Hey, how are you?" she asked me when she picked up the phone.
"I’m good…so, I spoke with [the artist] today, and she said you were charging…$350 for each shoot, each time you photographed her work…?"
"Yeah, I was gonna lower it to $250 for the last one since I know what I’m getting into, now that it’s become recurring work, you know."
"Well…that’s an outrageous amount of money for driving to and from her studio, and photographing 7 of her paintings."
I have never heard this woman yell before and, my god, she never sounded so Spanish.
"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT WHAT - I SAID I WOULD LOWER THE PRICE, WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME WHAT I SHOULD CHARGE?"
So I was surprised, considering she was the most even-tempered person I’d been around in a while. Or so I thought. I said, "I’m not telling you what to charge; I just called to let you know I advised [the artist] not to pay it - but she can do whatever she wants. I mean, $350 is more than enough for everything you’ve already done." She liked to talk over me while she flipped a shit, which is why I just stated the same thing over and over.
Meanwhile, she came up with some interesting comments, like, "You’re saying it like it’s a fact but it’s just your opinion there are no set rates for this there isn’t like a standard."
"Actually there IS a standard, that’s why I’m saying it like there’s one."
"BUT YOU’RE SAYING IT LIKE IT'S A FACT BUT THAT'S JUST YOUR OPINION," she said again, squeaking over me.
"Actually it is a fact, not just my opinion. There are standard rates for this kind of work, there are people who do this work for a living…and you’re overcharging."
"THOSE ARE MY RATES FOR MY LEVEL OF WORK. The second I step out my door and go to work, I start charging; I worked a half day shoot, those are my rates for my work."
"But this isn’t your work - your art; you’re photographing someone else’s," I said, which I thought was pretty obvious. "I think your ego is getting in the way; this isn’t your work. I work with other artists, you only work with filmmakers. That’s not how it actually works - when you photograph an artist’s work - what you did - it doesn’t cost that much."
"I COULD CALL LIKE 500 PHOTOGRAPHERS RIGHT NOW AND THEY WILL TELL ME TO CHARGE THIS MUCH. You know what? Yeah, I can - I’ll call my friend Jessica right now, and she’ll tell me to charge $300 for this," she ranted.
She started to yell in such a high pitch that I had no idea what she was saying - so I said, "So I’m gonna go, just called to tell you that." There was silence, and then she said, "You know what? I don’t even know why I’m getting so defensive about this sorry it’s just like we obviously have a difference of opinion, and no one has an ego."
"Well, it’s not my opinion; there’s a standard rate, you charged too much, and I called to let you know that I advised the artist not to pay."
Never let your point go unheard, and unacknowledged. When you don't acknowledge someone's point, whether or not you agree, you are being rude, and appear self-centered. It looks like you're intent on delivering only what you want to say, hypocritically disregarding the other person's words and thoughts. So if you don’t acknowledge what I say, I'll probably say it over and over until you do.
She continued her explanations, and I said, "I didn’t call for a discussion, you don’t need to explain yourself to me."
"YOU’RE RIGHT. I DON'T NEED TO EXPLAIN MYSELF TO YOU!"
At some point she did, though, get back into explanations, and I said, "But this isn’t your work, you’re literally pointing and shooting the camera at someone else’s work…"
"WELL THAT’S A WHOLE DISCUSSION IN ITSELF! I MEAN THIS IS WHY THERE IS NO INDUSTRY STANDARD, AND PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE UNDERVALUING THEMSELVES! AND I MEAN THAT’S WHAT SOMEONE ON MY LEVEL CHARGES."
"Well I didn’t call for a discussion; I think you’re ego is getting in the way of the job. You weren’t hired for your ‘art,’ you were hired to snap a camera. If you were hired for your artistic take on something, that would be your work - but it’s not your art, you’re not getting credited on this."
This isn’t the film industry, step out into the real world - hi.
I added, "It’s ridiculous that you charged her more for unedited photos than I’m charging for her whole website. I’m surprised you didn’t even tell me how much you were charging her" when I got you the job, and you knew my rates with the client.
"WHY WOULD I TELL YOU HOW MUCH I’M CHARGING?!"
"Because I have a previous business relationship with this client, and I referred you to her…I thought you’d think…I was —"
Then she asked, “DID YOU THINK YOU WERE DOING ME A FAVOR? WAIT - LIKE DID YOU EXPECT A PERCENTAGE? DID YOU EXPECT A REFERRAL FEE? IS THAT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT? DO YOU WANT MONEY OR SOMETHING?"
First, I referred you for a specific job. Second, you charged my client more than I’m charging, and you’re doing less work. Third…
"No, I don’t want anything from you; but yeah, typically you would give a referral fee."
"It’s JUST a referral. I REFER PEOPLE TO OTHER PEOPLE ALL THE TIME AND IF THEY USE THEIR NAME FOR A PROJECT OR NOT I DON’T GET A REFERRAL FEE FOR IT, THAT’S NOT A THING."
"When you refer someone for a specific job, and they get the job, you get a 10% referral fee. I’m shocked that you call yourself a professional and you don’t know that referral fees are a ‘thing’ and that, when someone refers another person to a specific job, usually the person who referred is given 10%."
She was silent, like this was news to her. Which was sad.
"SO LIKE WHAT DO YOU WANT? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?"
"No, I don’t want anything from you; but I’m shocked that I had to call you, and mention this, for you to even offer me a referral fee."
And then, finally, she said "Yeah…you should go."
But of course, I received an email from her thereafter...