Pricing & Negotiating: Environmental Portraits of Client Employees

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Individual and small group environmental portraits of client employees

Licensing: Collateral and Publicity use of up to 34 images for three years

Location: Client offices

Shoot Days: Three

Photographer: Portrait specialist

Agency: N/A—Client direct

Client: A mid-sized regional financial services company

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: We recently helped a photographer bid on a project for which he was the only photographer being considered. He’d shot a similar project for the same client, a mid-sized financial services company, years earlier, so we had some sense of the budget and production expectations (you can’t ask for a better bidding situation!). Though the concept was straightforward, environmental employee portraits at the client’s headquarters, the photographer’s stylized approach would elevate the portraits from a corporate feel to more of an ad campaign feel. This is something that the client was interested in, and it would ultimately drive the value up toward the top end of the range for this kind of project and usage.

Though we generally try to avoid pricing on a day-rate basis, we’ve noticed a trend in corporate collateral budgets. Depending on the deliverables and specific licensing, we’re often negotiating corporate collateral shoots in the neighborhood of 3,500.00/day plus expenses. For the average deliverables (10-15 images per day) and time-limited collateral usage, this is a middle of the road rate for corporate portraits/lifestyle work. We’re occasionally, if not often, seeing budgets around 3,500.00 flat, inclusive of usage, expenses and processing, which is on the lower end of reasonable. Try as we might to push back in those cases, it will often boil down to a take it or leave it situation. Thankfully, we had a bit more leeway in this case.

For this project, we were able to push the creative and licensing fee up to 18,150.00. Having insight into previous budgets for this client, knowing that this photographer was the only one being considered and factoring in the value of his unique, stylized approach, we felt comfortable pushing the envelope. Additionally, the client’s request for advertising usage options (which we set at 2,000.00 per image due to the limited duration and geography) indicated that the photographer’s stylized approach would be all the more important—and valuable—to the client. Pricing this out on a per-image basis, we would set the value for the first image at 2,000.00, 1,000.00/image for images 2-4, 500.00/image for images 5-24 and 350.00/image for images 26+.

Client Provisions: We made sure to indicate that the client would provide locations, subjects, requisite releases and catering (from their cafeteria). This client also happened to have a video production team on staff and a small production studio. To save on the production costs, they offered to provide grip equipment, their usual groomer and a second assistant for the project.

Tech/Scout Days: We included a tech/scout day to walk through the office and determine the best locations to shoot the various individual and group portraits the day before the shoot.

First Assistant: We included a first assistant to attend the tech scout day and all three shoot days.

Equipment: We estimated 1,200.00/day for two DSLR bodies, a handful of lenses, enough portable strobes for two sets and a few odds and ends that the client’s internal video team couldn’t supply.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covers the time, equipment and costs for the initial import, edit, batch color correction and upload of the images via FTP (or similar) for client review.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: We included basic color correction and file cleanup as a lump sum (based on 75.00/image in this case), which protects the processing fee in the event the client ultimately selects fewer than 34 images.

File Transfer: This covers the cost of two hard drives and the shipping of one of those drives (containing all hi-res processed selects) to the client.

Miles, Meals, Misc.: We included a healthy miscellaneous line to cover breakfasts for the crew, local transportation and any other unexpected expenses that may pop up throughout the shoot.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project and shot it a few weeks later. The client has not yet decided to exercise any of the additional usage options.

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 large ad campaigns.

Wonderful Machine

There Are 6 Comments On This Article.

  1. Nice to finally see a more respectable day rate for the photo assistants.
    $400 is still below the current standard editorial base rate of $450 for a 10 hour day;
    but far better than the $300 (19996 day rate) that you usually post.

    • Where is this “standard” published and by what authority…

      There are very few places where $450 a day is ‘standard’, much less for editorial work. Perhaps AAA titles in NY or LA, although even Conde Nast is reeling in costs now. A lot of publications are fixed fee too now, which is unfortunate because it gives the photographer incentive to keep subcontractor rates down or even do without, causing the quality of work to suffer.

  2. Since this is client direct and not through an agency, why are taxes not included? The photographer has to pay taxes on his income. My accountant told me, under no uncertain terms, unless I am provided with a tax exempt or resale certificate, do NOT leave off taxes.