Pricing & Negotiating: Portraits for Web Collateral and Digital Billboards

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Portraits of sales reps against a seamless background at a sales conference

Licensing: Web Collateral use of all images captured in perpetuity

Photographer: Lifestyle specialist based in the Southern U.S.

Client: A national health and wellness brand

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: While the photographer primarily shoots lifestyle assignments, he had a relationship with this brand from earlier in his career, and they approached him for a seemingly straightforward portraiture project. The company had a large roster of sales reps around the country who would be attending a four-day sales conference, and they hoped to capture individual portraits of as many attendees as possible. We were told that they were unsure of how many attendees would need to be photographed, but that it could be around 50 people each day. While that initially sounded ambitious, it became clear that they were anticipating a yearbook-style approach, spending just a few minutes with each person who would arrive camera-ready.

Since they couldn’t dial in a number of final shots they hoped to license, and because they planned to handle all of the post-processing internally, they requested to include usage of all images captured. Also, they initially planned to use the photos only on the brand’s website and in emailers to clients. From this information, initially, I felt that $100/person would be a good starting point, which based on approximately 50 people per day over four days brought me to $20,000. Based on my conversations with the client, I knew $20,000 would likely eat up their entire budget, so in order to make room for the expenses, I backed the fee down to $16,000. This broke down to $4,000/day, and it seemed in line with the nature of the project and the value of the images for the requested usage.

Assistant and Digital Tech: While the lighting setup would be simple and remain the same each day, we included an assistant to help set up/breakdown each day and monitor the lights. Additionally, while the client wouldn’t necessarily be present for each portrait, we knew that the consultants would want to review the images as they were captured, so we included a digital tech for each day as well, and they’d be working off of the photographer’s laptop.

Equipment: The photographer would likely rent a backup camera body (approx. $150/day) and backup lenses ($50/day) for each day, and the remainder of this expense would be put to covering the photographers own grip/lighting and primary gear.

Mileage, Parking, Meals, Misc.: I included $30/person/day for lunch, plus $50/day for miscellaneous expenses like parking and/or mileage, and then rounded down just a bit.

Delivery of RAW Files on Hard Drive: Since the client would be handling all of the post-processing, and because they wanted all of the images captured, it was easiest to have the digital tech transfer all of the images to a hard drive and hand it over at the end of the last day of shooting.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and about a month later, the client informed the photographer that they planned to use the images for a digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square, and wanted to know the cost to expand the licensing. After speaking with the client, we learned that they hoped to use just 10 of the portraits for an animated mosaic within a large digital billboard for four weeks. On the one hand, a billboard in Times Square is undoubtedly a prominent (and likely expensive) media buy, but on the other hand, the use would be limited to just a few weeks, and the ten photographs would be used to composite a single larger image. I ended up pricing this at $7,500, which is comparable to how I might typically assess the value of one image for one year of unlimited use for a large brand. Given the client and the media buy (and the fact that it broke down to $750/image when viewed that way), I felt that this was appropriate.

The client approved the $7,500 for the licensing, and it was just a few months later when they reached out again for yet another shoot. The specs were the same as the original assignment (they were planning another conference), except they hoped to just wrap up both the web collateral use and digital billboard use for a single fee. Adding the two previous creative/licensing fees together gave us a figure of $23,500. Given the quick approval of the previous fees, we believed that we could push a little higher, so we rounded up just a bit to an even $25,000 plus expenses. The client approved this fee as well.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out. 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 4 Comments On This Article.

  1. “Based on my conversations with the client, I knew $20,000 would likely eat up their entire budget.” This is a very important point Craig, and it would very informative to learn how you were able to get a sense what the client was willing to pay.
    Thanks,
    Tom

    • Hey Tom,

      I always ask what a client’s budget might be, but I make sure to ask all of my other questions first to ensure that they know the photographer is first and foremost interested in the creative and logistics to help execute their vision. When I do ask about the budget, I find ways to ask the same question in a variety of ways. So, if you ask what their budget is, and they tell you that they don’t have one, try asking what they may have paid previously for similar shoots, or ask if they’ve already received any other bids, and if they have a budget range in mind based on those other proposals. Those approaches might just reveal the magic number.

      Hope that helps!

      Craig

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