Negotiation concepts – Goods and utility

In any detailed discussion of negotiation its inevitable that I’m going to need to use a few concepts borrowed from economics. I’ll try to keep them to a minimum but they are fundamental to what follows and provide a toolkit to analyse various situations and strategies. For simplicity, I will refer to the publisher or end-user of the photograph as the client.

We will start with two related terms:

A good is something intended to satisfy some want or need of a client and provide utility.

It is normally used in the plural form goods. Economics doesn’t distinguish between tangible and intangible goods so we won’t either. The full definition also talks about scarcity and some aspects of photography could be argued are services but for now I just want you to get you thinking about photographic goods.

 Utility is the satisfaction or benefit a client derives from consuming a good.

The utility of photograph used on the front page of a daily newspaper is different from the same image used as part of a worldwide advertising campaign. The utility of a print hanging in someone’s home is not the same as the same print in a paid-for exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery. Same image but different types and levels of utility so, in my view at least, very different goods.

This is key to understanding why you should be charging different amounts based on how your photographs are going to be used. When negotiating you should be thinking about the benefit the client will get from your photograph and not about anything else.


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