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Aspiring Automotive inventory photographer

Eric Weber

Green Pea
May 23, 2020
5
0
First Name
Eric
I'm 20 years old and I've recently started to photograph inventory for various high-end dealers in the Dallas, TX area. I'm struggling to figure out pricing.

Here's an example of my work:
My initial thoughts are to charge anywhere between $30-$50 per car, with around 20-30 unique photos each
.
Is this too much? Is this too little? from my understanding, these dealers aren't selling a crazy amount of cars each month. I don't want to undercut myself, I realize that these photos can and will boost entire dealers online presence.

What are your thoughts?
 

Attachments

Increase Test Drive Appointments!
Apr 22, 2009
420
74
First Name
Ryan
Hey Eric. Welcome to Dealer Refresh. The photos look great! One thing to think about is will you:

a) take photos
b) take photos AND upload them to a dealers website or inventory management

My advice is to figure out a model for "b".

Most dealers want quality photos and to outsource the uploading.

Good luck.
 

Eric Weber

Green Pea
May 23, 2020
5
0
First Name
Eric
Hey Eric. Welcome to Dealer Refresh. The photos look great! One thing to think about is will you:

a) take photos
b) take photos AND upload them to a dealers website or inventory management

My advice is to figure out a model for "b".

Most dealers want quality photos and to outsource the uploading.

Good luck.
Thats the goal, included would be a detailed description of the vehicle as well. Maybe some custom windowstickers maybe not.
 
Mar 21, 2012
331
374
First Name
Ryan
I'm 20 years old and I've recently started to photograph inventory for various high-end dealers in the Dallas, TX area. I'm struggling to figure out pricing.

Here's an example of my work:
My initial thoughts are to charge anywhere between $30-$50 per car, with around 20-30 unique photos each
.
Is this too much? Is this too little? from my understanding, these dealers aren't selling a crazy amount of cars each month. I don't want to undercut myself, I realize that these photos can and will boost entire dealers online presence.

What are your thoughts?
$30 seems too cheap for the luxury market. Domestic car dealers pay $15-20 for generic photos from a minimum wage photographer.

Your photo volume is going to be much lower, so you'll need to charge a premium for the extra care you put into your photos. Great photos often result in higher selling prices on luxury / exotic vehicles, so smart online-focused high-end dealers will be willing to pay a premium.
 
  • 1
Reactions: Eric Weber

ChrisR

Boss
Oct 12, 2015
228
220
First Name
Christian
Back in the early part of the 2000's I ran a team of inventory photographers, after being one myself.

At a high line dealer in Vegas, we would do 40-60 photos per vehicle (depending on features/options) for that store, and it averaged out to approx $1.00 per photo. We also did window sticker & buyer's guides, which our cost was approx $1.00 a sticker, and $.35 a buyer's guide. We just used a higher quality PnS with an articulating screen.

If you are spending any amount of time in post, would say need to charge more.

On the side, when I would shoot community member cars for sale, it was usually $50-$100 for a fully edited presentation, shot with a dSLR.
 
  • 1
Reactions: Alexander Lau

Alexander Lau

Under the Bridge
Feb 11, 2015
2,458
747
First Name
Alex
If I were you, I'd start analyzing what your competition has set as a benchmark (price) and take it from there. You're young (but that doesn't mean your quality is any less), so you might want to think about undercutting your competition's (really depends on your location, but Dallas is the big time) pricing. The above advice is good.
 

Patrick O

Full Sticker
Feb 18, 2020
16
17
First Name
Patrick
Great use of space for vertically inclined photos. (y) Speaking of which, are you shooting horizontally as well to accommodate the 3rd party sites like cars.com, autotrader, etc.?

I agree with Ryan Thompson's advice re: uploading. There are services/software out there that will enable you to manage and upload photos for all of your clients. Autouplink and Netlook are a couple providers that license their software out to independent operators. IIRC, cost is pretty reasonable, around $200/mo. I really like the Autouplink software, it runs on an android tablet and you can connect your camera via a USB2go cable and upload directly while out on the field.

As for pricing, I think your range of $30-50 sounds reasonable. You have to keep in mind there are larger-volume companies out there who subcontract this work. That should be less of an issue for you since you are focused on a niche product where quality of work is absolutely critical. If you can take your service to the next level by adding quality descriptions and window sticker, $50/car is a fair deal. Maybe start higher since the dealer is going to haggle you down anyway lol.
 

ryan.leslie

One of the good guys
Apr 20, 2009
609
540
First Name
Ryan
Welcome to Refresh @Eric Weber!

Like @ChrisR, I took pictures and managed a team too. That was my first job in the industry back in '03 and I loved it, but it was the Wild West back then. I had a lot of dealers that took a single picture of pre-owned and negotiated to pay less if we just left the car in the line. We took a lot of pictures of bumpers and side mirrors ;). Man, the things that passed as pictures back then would make you cringe.

I agree with all of the comments above. Couple thoughts for you in no particular order that I hope will be helpful :
  • YOU are the difference in quality. Highlight that unique selling proposition. Put some time into your presentation and collateral and focus it on your training, equipment, post-work, awards you've won, etc. Dealers will see the difference in your product, but it'll help them to understand what they are seeing, and why it costs a little more if they know why it looks better to them.
  • You are offering a premium service, don't delude that with sub-premium ancillary offerings. If you can't offer window stickers that match your photography for quality, I'd think hard about offering them. That part was a headache that may not be necessary for you to endure.
  • Be the expert. Photos create emotion. When you talk about your product talk about it in terms of the emotional bridge it builds to prospects, especially in a digital retailing environment like the one we are living in today. Share how your images are carefully curated and touched up in post to create interest and action.
  • Look for opportunities to add value for your dealers without adding cost. How do your images fit into the big picture? What information can you share to improve your dealer partners' results? As an example, we did a study on the effect of photo order on form fills several years ago. The order makes a big difference. Make sure that your dealers know that you are intentional at the most granular level of your product and service.
Good Luck!
 
  • 2
Reactions: Patrick O and ChrisR

ChrisR

Boss
Oct 12, 2015
228
220
First Name
Christian
100% Agree with @ryan.leslie

As I was reading his response, it reminded me of a store in the group I used to work for. This is how they do some of their photos. Compare this to standard inventory photos, or what the competition is offering, and the difference is blatantly obvious.

 
Jan 3, 2019
185
129
First Name
Marc
Eric these pics look killer! Great job! As for pricing find a way to bring value so you can earn a premium price for what you do. I have not seen a lot of inventory photographers of this caliber.