Thank you for your comments. I really appreciate you guys posting your thoughts. Below I write about my thoughts on pricing for the high end part of the market. It is hard to convey emotion in writing. So please do not think I am addressing you two directly becasue I am not. Only the topic at hand.
It is interesting that both of you based your pricing advice on an hourly rate. I think hourly rates are ok for economically priced real estate tours. But when it comes to high end full screen work hourly rates are not the way to go. First your images are worth considerably more and calculating the worth should not be based on a simple hourly rate schedule.
I have done considerable research on photography rates. Most of the information is based on traditional print photography because there is very limited information on rates for panoramic photograpy. There is however information for high resolution print panoramas. But again very limited information on web site panoramas.
Further, film photographers generally look down their noses at digital photographers. It is a new world now with the internet. On-line publications are kicking the crap out of some of the big magazines. It is only a matter of time before the digital photographer makes the money.
Shooting stills and shooting panoramas are obviously completly different. A panoram is a full environment. Just because it is a panorama does not make it a good one even if it is"technically perfect". It is even harder to make a good pano because you have to compose the entire scene 360x360 not just a single frame. I think that most good film photographers will fail miserably when shooting a panorama. It is just totally different. You have to think in 3 dimesions not 2.
It is my opinion a "very good" pano is still a single point in time just like a still is BUT it is MUCH harder to make this a "great" image than a simple single frame still. When I take panos I never shoot an object I shoot emotion. I look at my images as art. I want to capture a feeling, a sound, a taste, an emotion, an event.
The value of a "great" panoramic image is worth many time more than a single "great" still. How many stills do you have to take to cover the same scene a single pano can. It is not the same. The person looking at your pano is free to explore the image at any angle, at any point and is free to interpret the image in many differents way on the same image. Amazing. You just can't get that kind of reaction from a single still or even many stills. The may feal humor at one angle and feal adventours at another agnle within the same image. The artistic posibelites are unlimited.
Now take these thoughts and convert them to "advertising photography". Take the RV scenario. The tour is 6 images for a particular set.
1. inside the the RV
2. outside the RV with a camping scene - Awning, chairs, people enjoying themselves. etc.
3. The lake scene with all the wildlife and nature and the RV in the close distance.
This "tour" can create a powerful fealing that the RV company would like to impart upon the potential customer. It can show the RV is a totally different way than a series of stills. I argue that this is a better way, a more powerful method of conveying the advertisers message to the customer.
This brings me to the VALUE of the image. Even though I may have produced the image in X amount of hours that does not factor in the "creative power" of the image I created as a photographer. First these images are worth way more than a series of stills and second the artistic skill to create this is of considerable worth.
Now lets get to the "intended use" of the images. They may only be used on their web site but they may also be used on a mail out CD marketing campaign. Or be used on kiosks. Perhaps dislplayed on large plasma screens at a trade show. They may be converted to a large print or even converted for a large double truck pring ad in a national magazine.
The intended use also determines the price. This concept is not new. Film photographers have charged this way since photography was invented. And we as panoramic photographers should not be treated any different.
When I look at my hourly time sheet which I keep for all jobs I average out the hours and the final price. This is just a easy way for me to judge the value of my work. This number should never be below $50 and I attempt on every job to make this come out to $100. To me this is cheap. I am striving to make this number around $250 to $500.
My training, knowledge and artistic skill is worth just as much as any lawyer, doctor or architect (ie professional rate) as opposed to "skilled labor". I am not a "skilled laboror". Any monkey can turn a wrench or pound a nail but when it comes to making great photos that is in the professional level of income. I did not go to college and I don't have a fancy marketing or photography degree but that does not matter. What matters is the product I deliver.
When you start thinking about the marketing possibilites of panoramas the artistic qualities become endless.
In the RV example of 6 images above consider the logistics and advertising message that is intended for the tour. This may involve all or some of the following.
1. Hiring models to make up the "family".
2. Locating and acquiring the needed "props" such as cars, boats, furniture, clothing and other items however small such as plates, food on the grill and such to really create a compelling image
3. Securing a location to shoot.
4. Dealing with weather conditions and the needs of the crew
5. Difficlulty in actually getting the camera in the right location to shoot.
6. The time in hours actually shooting.
7. Story boarding the shoot or otherwise planning the scene before the shoot even takes place.
8. The meeting with the client to determing there needs and what the marketing campaign will entail so that the images can be matched to the clients theme or idea.
9. And about 10 other things I have forgotten at the moment.
The client knows nothing of all this. They are hiring you to orchistrate this whole event and deliver panorama that will blow them away.
You can charge an hourly rate for some of this stuff and of course the "job costs" will be added to the price but what the client is really paying for is "your" photographic skill and creative ability to produce what they need.
Heck, after writing all this I think I need to be thinking in the $10,000 range.
Just to be complete it should be noted I could walk in and pitch them with the great advantage of panos. Quote something like $1000 and then proceed to walk around the lot and get a few panos of "oppurtunity". Show it to them and get $750 after negotiations.
EXCEPT, that is just what I am not going to do. I am striving to get out of the low end shutter bug market. Panos are worth way more than what real estate gents or some crappy hotel can or would pay. Besides that is just worken for a linving. I on the way to much greener pastures. Any body want to come along.????