Pricing and Negotiating: Real People Lifestyle Library

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Real People Lifestyle Library

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images for 2.5 years

Location: Client locations and subject workspaces

Shoot Days: Four

Photographer: Established mid-western portrait, youth culture and fashion specialist

Agency: N/A–Client Direct

Client: National For-Profit College

Creative/Licensing: Every now and then, we encounter a client with a budget that commensurates with their requirements and expectations. As much as we would like it to be, this isn’t the norm, but we lucked out in this case.

We recently put together an estimate to shoot a variety of environmental-lifestyle portraits alongside a video production for one of the country’s largest for-profit colleges. Unlike most higher education clients, for-profit colleges generally have a bit more to spend on promotion as their business model depends on brand awareness and expansive reach more than a “traditional” college or university, with few exceptions.

For this project, the photographer would be shooting available light environmental lifestyle images and portraits of current students at the college’s local campus/facilities and successful alumni in and around their places of work. We’d be shooting all of this in conjunction with a video production, which was responsible for coordinating all of the production elements. The stills team would mostly be trailing the video production (stepping in to shoot as soon as the video team wrapped up), and at times, shooting alongside/over-the-shoulder of the video team. With this configuration, there would be limited production support needed on the stills side. However, at times, the stills team may need to touch up wardrobe, props, and/or HMU after the video team had left the scene, so we would need to include a small styling team.

Based on our recent experience estimating “shoot alongside video” productions, and factoring in the limited two-year duration, complexity of the production (or lack thereof), the number of processed images, the photographer’s level of experience and number of shoot days, we set the library day rate at $10,000.00 ($40,000 for all four days). As much as we try to avoid simply pricing based on the day, unfortunately it’s a trend we occasionally embrace, to a degree. Even when tolerating the day rate fee structure, we try to take every opportunity to limit the scope of what is included in that rate. In this case, we were able to limit the duration of use to two and a half years. We also implicitly limited the number of images available to the client by only delivering 75 processed files. Technically, they were granted the license to use all of the images from the shoot, but our hope was that the deliverable limitation, and an inherent limitation on how many scenarios/unique images could be captured on a given day, would prevent the client from exercising their license to any additional images. Compared to other client direct library shoots, this was a pretty healthy fee.

After a handful of minor revisions, we presented the final estimate, which was approved:

Client Provisions: We made sure to indicate that the client/video production would provide all necessary scouting, locations, casting, talent, releases, props, wardrobe and production coordination. We also noted that we expected the subjects would arrive “camera ready.”

Tech/Scout Days: We included two tech/scout days to walk through the many locations scattered about the city.

Producer: Among the initial revisions was the removal of a producer. The client wanted to limit the foot print of our crew and agreed to provide a production coordinator/liaison to interface with the talent and video production. This can be risky, but so long as expectations are aligned, it can be managed without too much trouble.

First Assistants: The concept, along with restrictions associated with shooting alongside a motion production meant we wouldn’t be firing strobes (in most scenarios). The first assistant would attend the tech/scout days and would manage a small, nimble grip and reflector kit during the shoot.

Digital Tech: $500.00 covered the tech’s day rate, and since we’d need to be as mobile as possible, the photographer would be shooting to their own laptop/tripod rig – which meant we didn’t need to include a kit for for the tech.

Equipment: The photographer wouldn’t need much in the way of grip or lighting equipment, and the required file size didn’t necessitate a medium format system, so we estimated $1000.00/day for two DSLR bodies, a number of fast lenses, the photographer’s laptop, some miscellaneous grip equipment/reflectors and two portable strobe units (just in case).

Styling: Though most of the heavy lifting would be handled by the video production, we didn’t want to rely on their styling team – particularly because some of the scenarios would be shot after the the video team had moved on to the next location. We included a prop stylist to help finesse available props at a given location and a groomer to handle basic hair, makeup and wardrobe adjustments.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: On most library shoots, you may have to batch process all images captured, which we estimate on a daily basis (1 shoot day = 1 day of batch processing). In this case, we limited the initial deliverables to 75 images, meaning that the client would need to review a gallery to make their selections. Under normal circumstances we wouldn’t include a digital tech and “shoot processing for client review”, as we would expect the tech to handle the lion’s share of this process throughout the shoot day/s. However, because the tech would only be working on a laptop and moving frequently, we didn’t expect them to handle that process, and charged separately for the photographer to handle the processing for client review, after the shoot.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: We quoted basic image processing as a lump sum (based on 75/image) and noted the fee included color correction, touchup and delivery. This way, if the client order less than 75 images, they would still be on the hook for the full amount. If they ordered more, we were positioned to generate additional processing fees.

Catering: Since we wouldn’t necessarily be with the video production all day, we made sure to include a line item to cover crew meals throughout the four shoot days.

Miles, parking, meals, tolls, FTP, Misc.: We included about 350.00/day to cover a van rental and local travel costs, parking and miscellaneous costs.

Results and Hindsight: The photographer was awarded the project which went so well that the client hired him to do a second round not long after.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.

Wonderful Machine

There Are 3 Comments On This Article.

  1. thanks, always fun to read these

    in your opening: “commensurates” — i really don’t think that’s a word

    a budget is commensurate with…

    anyone?

  2. oh, and by the way, that sounds like a nice gig. good to know some photogs are making real money.