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I have always gotten advances. Especially if its a big production.]]>
It would be my recommendation that those starting out in photography (or any small business) obtain a good working knowledge of the management of their finances. I refer not to nickle and dime-ing your day to day expenditures, though being thrifty is never a bad thing when starting out. I am rather suggesting that one engage and learn how to use a basic financial software program on their home computer. Learning how one’s credit card accounts work, how bank accounts reconcile, and where the money flows in and out of on a monthly basis is the first step to a positive approach to tackling any production. You should empower yourself with stable financial transactions; such as paying on time, maintaining proper balances, controlling debt liabilities, and knowing the details of your accounts. It does not require a financial accounting course to do this, but it does require a decent mentor. Mine was my first accountant after I graduated from college. He and I worked together to setup and implement a planning process for my business and personal expenses, and the more I did it, the more I learned. Eventually, I was able to effectively understand new concepts as my business grew. When I was faced with fronting several thousands of dollars for a given production, I had the peace of mind knowing how I would do so without panic, without last minute planning.
When you use a financial software program, you make tax planning more immediate. Expenses are quick to track, and projected balances per account easy to forecast. You can see in a “snapshot” how fronting a few thousand dollars for a given production will effect you next month, and the month after. Yes, at first, it’s tedious. Sure, it takes time. But, by doing this work yourself and wrapping your head around it, you will start to see cost savings later on.]]>
For young guys, I don’t know many reps willing or who can to put out too much money anymore…..they just can’t with payment going over 90 days and lower work volume.
That’s why few can support “development” or young photographers in their stable unless
A) they’re a superstar and working constantly so the rep has enough money flow from them to justify it;
B) independently wealthy ie don’t need to be supported NECESSARILY by the photography gotten by rep, ie the trustafarians
C) young photographer who has own “house accounts” or supports themselves in some small market (read not by reps photo jobs) somehow and can work local
Basically, you just have to figure out how to cover it so no one knows you CAN’T. Clients and agencies are not so willing to take a RISK during these
trying times. A young photographer can be perceived as a “risk” if he cannot show the stability and reproducibility of his “studio” virtual as that may be.
No one wants to know that you’re struggling, that you don’t own the camera, that your assistant isn’t the same one all the time…..lame but true.
No one can take a chance that “this guy won’t deliver” hence they’ll go with a high ticket talent, negotiate him down to make sure it gets done. Although
people want to save $$ in this economy, NO ONE can afford to do anything over, thus the tried and true get a good chunk of the work; if they meet the price.
If it was me, I’d remember this industry is smoke and mirrors. First off, never give the impression you CAN’T fund a job, that means you are green or
haven’t been working,two perceptions that will put off clients for sure. If you get a rep, see if you can work something out with them,it may cost another percentage
or so but if you can’t float it then you need them to and you’ll have to pay for it. Thus make sure your rep has ability to access funds if you cant,
and always pet them gently behind the ears, they like that. Second, know that you will not get paid even in the 90 days contracted, so whatever plan you decide on should
give you flexibility (ie don’t use a bookie, it’s hard to shoot with a busted hand and a bookies 90 days is WAY firmer than an ad agency)
Think relative or line of credit at a bank with flexible terms, for some of the SCAD students that’s likely the same thing.
I’ve known photographers to hock a camera for cash to cover their first job, I’ve had one sell a car, I’ve had several use credit cards which i’d not recommend
but can work though you’ll pay for it, many photographers marry wealthy or successful hardworking women/men who support their asses, some ask family,
some cash in savings bonds or steal from their kids college fund, some go to the track (again not advisable), some get their producer/production company
to do it, some negotiate late payment or partial payments with vendors in advance. The ways are various. The end result the same.
You got the job, you have to fund it. Figure it out. I’d think about it ahead of time though and get something set up because, as you know,
the worst time in the world for you to get work is EXACTLY WHEN IT’LL COME IN!!! (don’t they know this yet?)
This is especially difficult if you’re a young photographer, such as myself, with little or no savings.
I know of photographers who work with major production companies who are able to put expenses on the company Amex card. As for me, I’ve only dealt with freelance producers who are about as broke as I am!
The first big advertising job that I worked on required an expense advance of $63,000. Luckily, I received the money in time!
There have been other jobs where the client only advanced HALF of the expenses, and I was somehow expected to cover the rest until they reimbursed me 3 months later. In these cases, I have been very lucky to have an agent who took pity on me and handled the billing herself.
My suggestion is to be very organized and diligent about receiving an advance for your shoot as soon as possible. Let the client / agency know that you can’t move forward on anything until the check has cleared the bank. Most of the time, this will work for you.
But just to be safe, make sure you always have a couple credit cards with very high limits!
I think it all breaks down to SAVINGS. From my first job till now, its always important to have a good bit of money ready to go. Now the range of how much you need, is directly related to what level you are in your career. I think back to my first location gig…it was “BIG Time” ok just kidding, it was me, an assistant, and talent. Assistant held a SMALL battery powered strobe, Models brought their own clothes and did their own make up….My total cost to fund was about $45. Now My cost to fund can be as much as 5-10K. So kinda stinks to keep that much tied up…but for me its part of the DANCE
Now if you get a considerable project while you are still young in the biz, bring in a producer, A MUST. Possibly, just Possibly that producer has more time in the biz, and maybe is use to funding projects, so you might luck out. But be prepared one day if you cannot fund the project, you might have to give it up, your project will suffer if you cut corners right off the bat.
Feel free to comment, here to help and learn]]>