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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.

Pricing & Negotiating: Environmental Portraits for a Regional Insurer

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Environmental portraits of two small business owners/customers
Licensing: Regional Advertising (Print and Web) and Collateral use of four images for three years from shoot date
Location: Subjects’ businesses
Shoot Days: Two
Photographer: Established environmental portrait photographer, based in the Mid-West
Agency: Mid-sized, based on the West Coast
Client: Regional healthcare insurer

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: We’ve noticed the trend toward campaigns that highlight small business owners and entrepreneurs as of late. It’s not a new concept by any means, it’s just that we’ve estimated a flurry of projects leaning in that direction recently. Most of these projects seem to be geared towards highlighting business owners who are reaping the benefit of some valuable service or product that helps them manage the daily challenges of running their own business—products and services like software, banking, staffing, logistics and, as in this case, healthcare insurance.

For this one, the photographer was contacted by a smaller West Coast agency to estimate a more conceptual, stylized version of the typical small business owner/customer testimonial campaign, although we’d still be working with real people in/around their own businesses. The client wanted to walk away with two images of each of the two business owners: one shot would be stylized, and the other would be more authentic. The stylized version would be used for a specific ad campaign, while the authentic version would be used within the client’s various collateral channels. Even so, the agency was unwilling to negotiate different usage parameters for the different versions because of the remote possibility that either version could end up serving needs on both fronts.

When assessing licensing value, we typically start by setting the value of the first image for the first year of licensing, based on our previous experience pricing comparable concepts/clients/usage. In this case, we set the value of the first year of use for the stylized, campaign image at $3000-$4000, and the first year of use for the authentic, collateral version at $1000-$2000, or $4000-$6000 combined. Based on one of our many rules of thumb (that increasing usage duration from one year to three years doubles the licensing value – presuming a slowly diminishing value to the client) the licensing fee for three years of use would fall in the $8,000-$12,000 range for the first subject’s imagery. We also recognize that in some instances the first iteration of a campaign can often stand alone, meaning that the second version/subject/etc. of the campaign will add value, but not as much value as the first. Usually, subject variations will be helpful and can extend the life and reach of the campaign, but is it unlikely to double the life/reach, so we will often assess these secondary versions at a lower value. In this case, because of the nature of the client, relatively low level of production required (on our part) and all of the above mentioned factors, we decided to price this on the lowest end of the value range, $16,000. After pricing out the rest of the production and weighing the overall effective fee (including travel, prep, processing and equipment) we decided to tweak the number down just a bit further to $15,000, which allowed us to bring the bottom line into the $35,000 range.

Client Provisions: We made sure to indicate that the client/agency/subject would provide all necessary locations, casting, subjects, catering, staging areas, wardrobe, props and necessary releases.

Travel Days: The way that the locations and travel itinerary worked out, the photographer would be able to comfortably travel in and tech/scout a given location/subject on the same day. This helped minimize travel fees and expenses for the production.

Digital Tech: $500 covered the tech’s day rate, and she was willing to travel for half-rate. There was a few hundred bucks in the equipment budget to cover a laptop rental as well.

Assistants: Since the photographer would be bringing his trusted digital tech (who also jumps in as a photo assistant when needed) along with him, he was comfortable with hiring local assistants in each of the two cities.

Preproduction Days: Although a producer is usually necessary for a shoot like this, the client and agency would be facilitating/providing the lion’s share of the production elements, so we were able to forgo the on-site producer. We did include two days of preproduction time to cover either a freelance producer or the photographer’s time to hire the local crew and make travel arrangements.

Equipment: The photographer routinely travels to shoot editorial location portraits and has a lean but comprehensive kit of gear he flies with. However, because we could conceivably rent that same gear in each of the locations, we estimated as if we were renting gear locally, which would technically save a day of rental costs. He felt that $2000 for local rentals in each location would cover all necessary camera, grip and lighting gear he would need.

Styling: For the stylized shots, the agency was considering props to help exaggerate the concept. Because the specifics were still being determined, and the incorporation of props was up in the air in general, we didn’t want to unnecessarily inflate the bottom line (particularly after we decided to tweak our fees to keep the bottom line around $35,000). We opted instead to mark the props and styling as TBD. As for HMU and Wardrobe, we would be working with local stylists to ensure a genuine look with the real customers. We usually like to include some shop time and wardrobe budget to cover our bases, but the client was adamant about using the subjects’ own clothes for authenticity and promised to adequately prepare them and communicate our needs and expectations.

Processing: This covered the photographer’s time, equipment and costs for the initial import, edit, batch color correction and upload of the images to an FTP for client review and selection/editing, along with the final processing and delivery for each of four client selects. Retouching would be billed separately as requested.

Travel Expenses: We used to determine suitable airfare and itinerary, lodging and car rental costs. We also included $60 per day per traveling crew member to cover meals and miscellaneous costs and added on $400 in buffer to help cover at least some of a big agency/client dinner and any other unforeseen expenses.

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.

Pricing and Negotiating: Business Lifestyle Shoot for Technology Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Environmental lifestyle images of professional talent working and interacting in various business scenarios alongside a video production.

Licensing: Worldwide Advertising, Collateral and Publicity use of up to seven images for one year.

Location: Multiple business and retail locations in the South.

Shoot Days: 2

Photographer: Lifestyle and portraiture specialist based on the West Coast.

Agency: Medium-sized, based in the Midwest.

Client: Large, multinational technology company

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: The art producer at the agency sent a very rough shot list with limited visual references describing situations in which people were interacting and using apps on a phone to conduct business. There were seven images they hoped to capture, many of which were in different environments with unique talent. The photographer and I originally assumed the shoot would take three to four days given the uniqueness of each environment, but we found out that a video production team was arranging all of the logistics to capture video prior to shooting stills in each environment, and that they would be dictating the pace of the project.

The art producer asked us to submit an estimate reflecting a two-day shoot (which is what the video production company estimated), and since we would truly be piggy-backing our portion of the project to the video, our estimate needed to reflect this. It was possible that the information provided and discussed with the video production company was a bit different than what we were presented with, but given that they’d be responsible for the majority of the logistics and details (and since it was their responsibility to cram it all into two days), we were comfortable presenting an estimate for the photographer and his crew to tag along to capture still images of their setups.

Even though most of the images were unique, I felt it was appropriate to determine a fee for the first image, and apply a discount for the subsequent images since it was most likely that the client would only take advantage of the full licensing for just a handful of images throughout the year. I decided that the first image was worth $7,000, images 2-3 were worth $4,000 each, images 4-5 were worth $3,000 each, and images 6-7 were worth $1,500 each, totaling $24,000. The agency asked us to give them an idea of what additional images would cost, and I decided that a pro-rated fee based on 7 images and $24,000 would be most appropriate. I rounded up the pro-rated fee a bit to an even $3,500 for each additional image.

On one hand, I initially felt the fee was low since this was for a major brand capable of taking advantage of the international advertising licensing that the photographer would be granting. For instance, Getty prices international advertising use for one year closer to $13,000 per image, and Corbis prices their “All Marketing Pack” for one year closer to $17,500 for one image (although this includes broadcast use and a handful of other uses that were unlikely for this project). On the other hand, I’ve compiled many “shooting alongside video” estimates recently, and due to the stills oftentimes being an afterthought, fees have frequently landed closer to $7,000-$10,000 per day including unlimited use of the images. I felt our pricing was appropriately calculated by the image, but if you were to look at our fee by the day, $12,000 per day for two days seemed pretty healthy considering that the licensing was limited to one year.

Photographer Travel/Scout Days: This accounted for the photographer’s time to travel in, scout the following day, and then travel back after the shoot.

Assistants: Even though the video production would be providing the majority of the production elements, we wanted to make sure there were enough hands dedicated to setting up, moving and breaking down the still photo gear, so we included three assistants. The first assistant would travel to the shoot with the photographer, and both the second assistant and third assistant would be hired locally.

Digital Tech: The digital tech would also be flying in with the photographer, and we broke out the fees for their travel/scout days from their shoot days, while also lumping in a fee of $750 for a workstation on each shoot day.

Producer: Even though the video team would be wrangling most items for the project, we still included fees for a local producer to get involved and offer support for the photographer to find crew, arrange travel accommodations and be the main point of contact between the video production company, agency and the still photography team regarding logistics. I included three prep/wrap days on top of the two shoot days for the producer.

Equipment: We were a bit in the dark about what types of environments the photographer would need to light, but to be on the safe side, we estimated needing at least $2,000 worth of camera bodies, lenses, grip and other gear per day, and figured most rental houses would offer a “three days same as a week” discount to account for the shoot days and the scout day.

Airfare, Lodging, Van Rental: I used to acquire costs for the photographer, his first assistant and digital tech to fly in, spend four nights and then fly back home after the shoot while having a large van with them for the length of the trip.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Hard Drive, Misc: I included $50 per person per day for the photographer, his assistant and digital tech to cover each day they’d be out of town. I also included $100 for each shoot day and the scout day to cover miscellaneous expenses, $200 to cover a hard drive and shipping costs and $250 to cover parking and to add a bit of a buffer for any unforeseen expenses that might arise.

After submitting our estimate, the art producer told us there was a chance the video portion of the project might be removed. This meant that all of the production elements would then be the responsibility of the still photography team, and we were asked to draft an estimate detailing all of the fees and expenses for such a scenario. As I noted earlier, a two-day shoot seemed very optimistic at the onset of the project, and after a discussion with the photographer, we decided to estimate a three-day shoot which seemed much more comfortable based on the scope of the project.

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: The licensing stayed the same, but we added a day to the shoot. In order to keep the fees palatable to the agency, we just increased the rate by $2,000 to account for the photographer’s time on the additional day. Also, they asked if we could offer a discount on the additional images and provide a pricing structure that was more affordable in case they wanted to license up to 30 total shots, rather than seven. We decided to offer five additional images at $2,500 each, and then included a discount for images 13-22 at $750 per image and images 23-30 at $350 per image.

Photographer Travel/Scout Days: Based on a discussion regarding the potential schedule, we included one day to travel in and attend a talent fit day, followed by two scout days before the shoot and a travel day after the last shoot day.

Assistants: Just as before, the photographer planned to bring his first assistant for the entire length of the trip (including the fit day and scouting) and hire two local assistants to lend a hand on each of the three shoot days.

Digital Tech: Again, the tech would also travel in with the photographer and his first assistant, and similar to the previous estimate, we broke out his travel/scout days from his shoot days.

Producer and Production Assistant: Since the scope of the logistics that would need to be coordinated drastically increased, the local producer’s workload needed to be accounted for. We included eleven days (four pre-production days, one fit day, two scout days, three shoot days and one wrap day) and also added a production assistant to lend a hand throughout the shoot and help with pre-production and scouting as needed.

Hair/Makeup Stylist and Assistant: This included the three shoot days, and we included the cost for them to bring along an assistant since there could potentially be a handful of talent that needed to quickly get prepped in the morning and touched up throughout each day. This rate was on the higher end for a stylist in this market (I figured $1,000 per day plus a 20 percent agency fee), but there was some discussion about moving the shoot to a more expensive market, and I wanted to lean on the higher end just to be safe.

Wardrobe Stylist, Assistant and Wardrobe: This included three shopping days, one fit day, three shoot days and one day to return the wardrobe, all of which would be accompanied by their assistant. Similar to the hair/makeup stylist, I leaned on the high end for their day rates and included an agency fee. Based on the rough shot list, I estimated that ten talent would be shot over the course of three days, and figured that $500 per talent would be plenty to cover the wardrobe. I leaned on the high end for wardrobe since a few of the comps mentioned branded employee wardrobe that could possibly have required custom fabrication.

Prop Stylist, Assistants, Props and Prop Van: Since we weren’t exactly sure what sort of locations the agency hoped to shoot in, and since part of our discussion with the agency was about outfitting a bare loft-type space, we had to factor in the possibility of needing to heavily prop out an environment. I therefore included nine days for the prop stylist and their first assistant (five prep/shop, three shoot, one return) and added on a second assistant for the three shoot days and one day on both ends to help with pickup and transportation of the props to/from the shoot. Based on the rough comps, it looked like there were four main scenarios that would need to be outfitted, and I estimated $2,000 per scenario as a starting point. We noted in the delivery memo that this was subject to change based on additional creative direction. Since some of the props could have possibly included large furniture, I included the cost for a van to transport everything. The rental could have potentially spanned over ten days, and I estimated $150 per day and then rounded up to include the cost of gas and to give a bit of a buffer.

Location Scout and Locations/Permits: I figured that many of the local scouts would likely already have the types of locations required in their library, but just to be safe I included four days to cover their time to dig through their database of files and also go out and scout for a few days if more options were needed.  A few of the locations would simply require a permit like an outdoor location might, and I figured $4,000 per shoot day would cover up to two locations within each shoot day. I noted that this cost was TBD and elaborated in our delivery memo that it was subject to change based on additional creative direction.

Casting, Talent and Payroll Processing: As noted in the estimate, the $4,000 fee for casting included a handful of items associated with one live casting day, and we anticipated outsourcing this to a local casting agent given the accelerated schedule. I don’t typically break out talent fees as I did in this estimate, but the agency specifically requested to see the costs broken out in this manner. There would be five unique talent attending some, but not all, of the shoot days. The first day would require five talent, the second day would have two talent and the third day would have three talent, totaling 10 “talent days” represented in the estimate as “session fees” which accounted only for their time. I included $2,000 per talent to account for using their likeness based on the same licensing being conveyed to the client by the photographer, and I based this rate purely on previous experience hiring talent in that market. On top of the session fees and usage, the talent would also expect to be paid to attend the fit day, and I included $500 per person, which is a rate I’ve negotiated with talent agents for similar half-day fit fees in the past. Talent agents would add on 20 percent to the session, usage and fit fees, and as I mentioned, I was asked to break this fee out on a separate line item. Lastly, I anticipated outsourcing the payment processing to a payroll service company so the photographer wouldn’t have to worry about managing that process and it’s complexities. The fee for such a service can range from company to company, but often times 20 percent of the amount they need to process is adequate, and I included that as a separate line item.

Equipment: We left this the same as the previous estimate, again basing it on a “three days same as a week” discount.

Production RV: With this many crew members on set, a production RV would serve as a staging and styling area away from the shooting space. The $2,000 fee included $1,500 per day plus an additional $500 per day to account for mileage and any miscellaneous dumping/cleaning/generator/wifi fees the RV company might charge.

Catering: I added all of the crew, talent, agency and client representatives that would be present on the fit days, scout days and shoot days, and I anticipated that $60 per person per day would afford breakfast and lunch catering for everyone. I then rounded up by a few hundred dollars to cover a client/agency dinner with the photographer.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Misc: Similar to the previous estimate, this covered $50 per person per day for the photographer, his assistant and digital tech for each day they’d be out of town. Additionally, I included an extra $1,000 per shoot day for unforeseen expenses since the scope of the project was still a bit vague at this point. I thought it would be advantageous to pad the estimate a bit and accommodate some reasonable creative scope changes without having to request an overage, rather than seeking an overage for every minor change of plan.

Insurance: It was possible that the photographer’s insurance coverage would be adequate, but the unidentified locations, RV rental and equipment rental reinforced a decision to add this in just in case he had to increase his coverage limits.

Airfare, Lodging and Van Rental: As I mentioned previously, I used to determing costs for the photographer, his first assistant and digital tech to fly in, spend six nights and then fly back home after the shoot while having a large van with them for the length of the trip.

Feedback: After a day or so of back and forth creative development, the art producer let us know that they wanted to move forward with the project, but the video was back in the picture again. However, they decided that three days was more appropriate for the project, and therefore needed a three-day version of our initial estimate where the video team would provide the major production elements. With a bit more insight on the creative scope and potential budget, we drafted a new estimate with a few changes.

-We increased the photographer’s fee to $28,000. Even though we previously estimated three days and seven images at $26,000, it became clear that the shoot days would be very long (we noted crew overtime separately) and they’d be cramming in more scenarios within the timeframe, and we felt that was worth a slight increase to the fee.

-The travel and scouting schedule also changed a bit, and we anticipated that the photographer, his assistant and tech would fly in and do a bit of scouting, followed by a full scout day, shoot for three days and try to fly out the evening of the last shoot day.

-We added on a fourth assistant since there would be a lot of moving around on each day and another set of hands would be advantageous.

-We adjusted the producer’s fees to account for one prep day, two scout days and three shoot days. I was planning to add in another prep day for him, but after speaking with our local producer, he was confident that he wouldn’t need it.

-The photographer reached out to a local equipment rental house, and based on some new creative insight, he decided that he’d need much more in the way of equipment as previously anticipated. The rental house’s quote came in over double than what we original estimated for gear, but it also included the digital tech’s workstation as well as a van rental for all of the gear.

Results: The photographer was awarded the job. Here was the final estimate:

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.

Pricing & Negotiating: Studio Portraits for a Pharmaceutical Manufacturer

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Studio portraits of 6 professional talent

Licensing: Advertising and Collateral use of all images captured, in perpetuity

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Up-and-coming portrait photographer

Agency: Mid-sized, based in NYC

Client: Pharmaceutical manufacturer

Here’s the estimate:

Budget: Usually when I’m quoting on a job, I ask the art buyer if they’ve established a budget for the project. Not that I don’t know what things should cost, but if a client already knows how much money they have to spend, it allows me to concentrate on figuring out how to make the shoot work for that price rather than also trying to figure out what level of production they’re looking for. While the creative fee for the photographer will largely be determined by the usage, the production costs could be any amount of money. In this case, the client told me upfront that they had budgeted $40k for photography. My initial impression was that it would be a little tight, but workable. They wanted to do eight individual portraits of professional talent on a simple background in a studio. After talking with the photographer and considering hair, makeup and wardrobe, and how much time we’d want with each subject, we decided we’d need two shoot days. But when I ran the numbers in my head, I was having trouble meeting that budget. So I proposed to the art buyer that we trim the number of subjects to six so we could do it in one day, which would save a lot on licensing fees, model fees and the other production costs. Luckily, since were we dealing with an experienced art buyer and an educated client, they recognized that as a reasonable trade-off. However, just a few days prior to the shoot, the client asked us to also quote the cost of adding back the two additional models and the second shoot day. After running the numbers on paper, It turned out that it would have increased the cost by about 50 percent, so they decided not to go that route.

Creative/Licensing: The pictures were intended for use on the company’s website, not to promote a specific drug, but rather to promote awareness of a particular illness, to educate the public and to encourage healthy living as a form of treatment. As altruistic as that sounds, ultimately, if a “patient” required medical treatment, the idea was that they would choose the pharmaceutical manufactured by the client. There’s no question that the usage was advertising, but the nature of that use was somewhat of a mitigating factor (in other words, mild downward pressure on the value). The client type (big pharma company) and their need for perpetual use of all images captured definitely pushed the value up. Sometimes clients want a license to use all the pictures captured rather than a limited number of selects. I’m always going to assign a premium to that compared to if the client just needed licensing for one image of each person (which was what they were likely to actually use). But since all the other pictures would be subtle variations on the first six, I was basically quoting on six images and only assigned a small premium for that additional licensing.

After “value engineering” the quote as much as possible, we landed on a creative/licensing fee of $12k and about $30k in production expenses. This exceeded the budget slightly, but because the agency wanted to include a second casting day and talent payroll service, which were both “luxuries” as far as we were concerned, and could have been eliminated, they agreed to cover those additional costs, and the estimate was approved.

Assistants: We only needed two assistants since there wasn’t much variation in lighting setups from one talent to the next.

Digital Tech: $500.00 covered the tech’s day rate. The photographer and tech were both OK working with the photographer’s laptop as opposed to renting a workstation/cart. That saved us quite a bit on the rentals side, since the typical cost for a workstation is about $700.00 – $1000.00.

Equipment: We discussed necessary file size with the agency and since they had no intention of producing big transit ads, we agreed that a medium format camera system would be overkill, which helped keep out equipment budget down. We ended up quoting for a few Profoto 7b kits, modifiers, soft boxes and stands, a DSLR camera system (the photographer would use their own as a backup), a handful of lenses and miscellaneous grip.

Producer: A producer is necessary on just about any advertising job. Whenever a photographer needs to manage more than their immediate crew, it’s a good idea to have a producer on hand. A photographer should focus on the creative and leave the talent, location, client, stylist, catering, parking and schedule concerns to the producer.

Studio Rental: This shoot was in a smaller market so there weren’t that many options available on the studio front. Luckily, the pick of the litter was open on the desired shoot date, so we quoted it at cost in our estimate and put a hold on the day.

Photographer Production Day, Casting and Talent:  Since we needed talent capable of conveying very subtle emotion, rather than simply looking good on camera, it was important to hold a live casting (as opposed to simply casting from comp cards or online galleries). We included two pre-production days for the photographer to attend the casting to get a better sense for how each potential subject took direction. The agency set the talent rates, which were a bit leaner than we are usually comfortable with, so we were sure to let them know that the lesser rate would almost certainly limit the talent pool. We also mitigated it by putting together a schedule that minimized talent time on site. As it turned out, the pool seemed a bit light, but it was chock full of great options for us. It’s not unusual to use a separate payroll service to pay talent (and sometimes even crew). They also asked us to include an additional fee to cover the costs of paying the talent through a payroll service. Different states have different laws about when and how different types of workers get paid and what taxes and insurance are added to or deducted from those payments. So sometimes a client just wants the peace of mind of knowing that those obligations are being met and they won’t be hit with any unpleasant surprises later. So in addition to the 20% model agency fee, we paid a 25% premium to the payroll service.

Styling: The agency wanted a natural look. We brought on a sizable team to help keep us on schedule and included $250.00/talent for wardrobe.

Post Processing and Transfer: The agency would be handling all retouching, so we included a day for the photographer to do a quick pass on each select and adjust color, contrast, etc. Anything beyond raw adjustments would be the responsibility of the agency.

Catering and Misc: Even though we were running a pretty lean production, the catering budget was healthy, since catering really impacts the perception of a production. We also included $300.00 to cover parking, mileage and any other miscellaneous expenses that might pop up on the shoot or casting days.

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.

Pricing & Negotiating: Stock Contract For A Record Label

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

A photographer recently asked me to review a contract governing the license of his stock photographs to a record company. The record label (one of the largest in the country) was initially interested in using four of the photographer’s images of a musician performing live on the cover and interior of a vinyl record edition of the musician’s upcoming album. We were told that they planned to press and release 25,000 copies of the vinyl record, and that they had a firm budget of $2000.00. The fee didn’t seem to quite match the value of the images, but we asked if they could send over a contract to take a look at. That’s when things got interesting.

Here was the original contract:

Not surprisingly, the contract stated that the photographer would grant the copyright of his images to the record label. We quickly responded and pointed out that the contract didn’t match their requested use of the images, and they sent back another version of the contract removing the line about the copyright, while retaining the language about granting them “all rights.” It was clear that we weren’t on the same page, so it was time to bust out my red pen (aka Adobe Acrobat Pro PDF editing tools) and make some changes. Here is a revised version of the second contract they sent us:

I rewrote the entire first paragraph for a number of reasons. First, I didn’t like their language stating that the contract would “confirm” that they “purchased the rights” to the images. It was more appropriate to state that a specific licensing would be conveyed to them for a specific fee, and that was all dependent upon payment of that fee to the photographer in full. Second, none of the language regarding the “rights” to the images was accurate, so I drafted a new paragraph summarizing the fee and licensing that we had been discussing up until that point ($2,000 for four images on the cover and inside the vinyl record with a print run of up to 25,000 copies). I also stated that a credit in the name of the photographer would be required, which made the photographer more comfortable in justifying the less-than-favorable fee since he would be able to get some nice publicity out of the deal.

In addition to revising the first paragraph, I wanted to make it very clear that the record label would need to pay for any usage above and beyond what was described, so I clarified their language at the end of the second paragraph. Additionally, the label included an indemnification clause protecting them against any breach of the agreement by the photographer, and I added language stating that the label would similarly identify the photographer if they used the images in any way that got them into any legal trouble not at the fault of the photographer. Lastly, I struck out a portion of the third paragraph regarding amendments to the agreement because I felt it was a bit too vague. I wanted to make it clear that this document, once signed by both parties, would be the only document that solidified the agreement between both parties.

We sent the revised contract back and waited for a response. I should note that at this point, we were receiving pressure from the art administrator that we were working with as well as numerous other staff members at the record label who stated that we would need to sign the contract “by the end of the day” and that this negotiation was going to delay the release of the album while threatening to take the deal off the table if we weren’t willing to sign the contract as it was originally presented to us.

Wouldn’t you know, the next day they came back with some new information and wanted to negotiate a new price. I learned that they couldn’t limit the print run of the vinyl record to 25,000 copies, but they were however willing to pay more to lift any limitations on the quantity. They also insisted on being able to use the images to promote the album in various ways (although they didn’t want to define such use as advertising or collateral). We decided to ask for $4,000 (double their original budget) for use of the images on/in the first edition of the vinyl record (however many copies that may be), while also granting them the right to promote the record by using the images in their original context on/in the album. I didn’t feel that this fee was enough to include rights to use the images on merchandise such as t-shirts and posters, so we specifically excluded that from the contract. The record label verbally agreed to this on the phone, and then sent over a revised contract. Unfortunately (and again, not surprisingly) they failed to include many of the points we discussed in the new contract, and here is a revised version of what they sent us, which I returned to them:

Again, we received more disgruntled feedback from the record label, and they once again threatened to pull the deal off the table if we wouldn’t sign their contract by the end of the day. Standing firm on our revisions, we let them sleep on it.

We heard back from the label the next morning, and this time they let us know that they weren’t willing to limit the use of the images to just the vinyl record, as they were planning to release the album with the photographer’s images in CD and digital format as well. Additionally, they were concerned with our language regarding merchandising rights. As a negotiation point, the label asked for us to state that if their licensing was to exclude merchandising rights, then they also wanted to limit the photographer from using the images on merchandising in perpetuity as well. The photographer had no plan to create merchandise independently, however, we didn’t feel it was fare to limit the photographer’s ability to license his images for merchandising in the future, perhaps to another record label if the musician happened to jump ship. We decided to include language that limited the merchandising “embargo” to the length of the contractual relationship between the musician and the record label.

We also took these changes as another opportunity to renegotiate the fee. At this point, we had gone from $2,000 for use of the images on a limited number of vinyl albums, to $4,000 for use of the images on an unlimited number of vinyl record albums within the first edition plus promotional rights. Now we were jumping up to use of the images on all vinyl, cd and digital editions of the album plus promotional rights with the merchandising caveat I mentioned previously. Based on a few previous projects I’ve worked on (one of which you can read here), I knew the threshold for unlimited use for an album cover in many cases is around $6-10k plus expenses (sometimes) for a commissioned shoot, regardless of the number of images. Also those projects are frequently presented as a “take it or leave it” work made for hire. We decided to revise their contract once again with a fee of $6,000 (triple their original budget). Here is that version of the contract:

At this point, I was working directly with the Senior Vice President for Business and Legal Affairs at the record label. We actually had a very nice conversation (as opposed to the demanding correspondence from the other employees of the record label), and I think this was because at this point I was talking to the person governing the creation of the contract and development of the language included. Previously, I didn’t think our counterparts at the record label were doing a good job communicating the revisions we were requesting down the line, which is likely why they kept coming back to us with new contracts that didn’t correspond to our negotiations. Fortunately, after my conversation with this new contact, he provided a new, clean version integrating the changes, which was ultimately signed by both parties.

Here is the final version:

Hindsight: It’s ok to push back and negotiate rates, as long as you do it in a professional and cordial manner. Many times projects are presented to photographers as works made for hire, or with a “take it or leave it” mentality (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the rate is appropriate), but while sometimes the clients are firm, there should always be a conversation about possible ways to negotiate better rates or terms. Record labels are perhaps the most notorious clients for less-than-favorable rates and contractual terms, but I’ve successfully amended and negotiated multiple contracts to make them more favorable to the photographer.

A few months later while walking back to my hotel after a shoot in New York City, I saw one of the images on a flyposting stuck on a wall near Times Square. The image was used in its original context on the cover of the album as agreed to in the contract (which I was happy to see compliance of), and while it’s hard to say whether these postings are advertising in its true meaning or not (paid placement), it made me wish the record label paid even more for the licensing given the exposure.

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.

Pricing & Negotiating: International Hospitality Shoot For A Luxury Hotel Chain

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Environmental lifestyle and landscape images as well as b-roll video of cityscapes and hotel properties

Licensing: Advertising, collateral and publicity use of all images and video captured in perpetuity

Location: Three hotel properties in three different countries

Shoot Days: 13

Photographer: Lifestyle and travel specialist

Agency: Large international ad agency

Client: Luxury hotel chain with 70+ properties worldwide

Here is the estimate:

Blinkbid  Blinkbid  Blinkbid

Creative/Licensing: As with many projects, the agency presented a creative brief that included a great deal of inspirational vocabulary while being quite vague on what they wanted to specifically capture. We knew they wanted to create content at three hotel properties in three different countries, and generally speaking, they wanted images featuring people interacting and enjoying the hotels, landscapes of the properties and cityscapes of the surrounding areas. Without a specific shot list or more dialed-in ideas regarding the scenarios they hoped to capture, we knew that we’d have to make a lot of assumptions for the first round of the estimate, and then later revise it based on additional information regarding creative direction and budgetary constraints.

Typically, I’d determine the creative/licensing fee by analyzing the total number of shots/scenarios, and then take into account the usage and duration. Since the total number of shots and scenarios were unknown, I based the fee on my experience with similar productions in the past. Based on our correspondence with the agency, it was clear that they wanted to take their time throughout the shoot and didn’t want to rush anything. As a starting point, we planned to shoot three scenarios in and around each property per day, which would allow the photographer to generate about three final hero images per day, plus variations. This was a fairly conservative estimate, and depending on the final creative concept, the photographer would likely be able to capture much more on a given shoot day.

Using this as a starting point, I figured that the first hero image created on a given day would be worth about $5,000 and the second and third would be worth $2,500 each ($10,000 total) for one-year usage. In this case, the client’s requesteduse was for an unlimited duration, despite the fact that the creative brief made it very clear that their intended use was for a campaign that would most likely be used for one year. Given this information, I used $10,000/day as a starting point, which was in line with what we have previously estimated on similar projects, and was justified based on the idea that they’d be hiring the photographer for 13 shoot days. As for the b-roll video, based on my conversation with the agency, it was clearly an afterthought of the creative brief, and the responsibility would essentially be put on an additional camera operator who the photographer would bring along. I therefore didn’t put much value on it in the photographer’s creative/licensing fee, but rather in the day rate included for the camera operator listed in the expenses.

Photographer Tech/Scout/Production/Travel Days: Over the course of our correspondence, we were provided a tentative schedule that the client and agency hoped to use as a starting point to shoot three properties in three countries back-to-back-to-back. While we discussed how preliminary scouting and preparation would take place before the photographer’s arrival (which I’ll note later), the agency requested a significant amount of time on the ground in each location to scout the property and surrounding area and prep prior to the shoot (mostly due to an undefined shot list). This included five prep days on the ground before five shoot days at the first location, four prep days prior to five shoot days at the second location, and four prep days prior to three shoot days at the third location. On the front, back and in between those days we included six travel days (some of the international flights required two days worth of travel), and three additional prep days for the photographer prior to heading out for the project. The travel days are billed at a lower rate since they are typically less intense and require less focus and dedicated than the tech/scout/production days on the ground.

Primary Expenses: Rather than provide a laundry list of expenses that may seem unorganized and confusing, I decided to break out the expenses into four sections. The first set of primary expenses included all of the items related to traveling crewmembers and expenses like equipment and processing. The other three expense categories correspond to items that relate to a particular location.

First Assistant: This included two prep days prior to departure, 13 tech/scout days on location and 13 shoot days. We broke out the first assistant’s travel days separately and charged half their day rate for each of the six travel days. I don’t typically break out an assistant’s travel days and charge reduced rates, but given the total days they’d be booked for, the photographer’s assistant was willing to offer up the discount.

Producer: The photographer had a producer he worked closely with, who also planned to travel along for the length of the project. We included 10 prep days, 13 tech/scout days on location and 13 shoot days. Separately we included six travel days at half the daily rate.

Camera Operator: While labeled as “camera operator”, this person would really be the videographer in charge of capturing the b-roll video of cityscapes throughout the shoot. We included 13 tech/scout days on location and 13 shoot days in addition to breaking out their 6 travel days separately.

Airfare: I used to find estimated one-way flight rates from the photographer’s home city to each consecutive location and then back. Not surprisingly, flights ranged from a few hundred dollars for the short flights to a few thousand dollars for the longer flights including baggage fees. I multiplied the total cost by four to account for each person traveling and rounded up.

Meals, Per Diems, Carnets, Communications, Misc.: This covered all traveling meals, laundry services, international transaction fees, currency conversion fees, carnets, necessary visas, international cell phone plans and any other unforeseen travel related expenses.

Equipment: I included $1,000/day and used a loose rule of thumb that most equipment rental houses charge three days for a weekly rental, and I knew the shoot would span over about five weeks. The photographer would actually be bringing his own gear, but this rule of thumb was helpful to determine an appropriate rate. While he would likely bring more than $1,000 worth of gear, the photographer was satisfied with the overall $15,000 fee to cover the wear and tear on his gear throughout the trip.

Shoot Processing for Client Review and Delivery of Images/Video by Hard Drive: I included $500 for each of the 13 shoot days for the photographer to color correct and provide web galleries for each day of shooting, and an additional $1,000 to cover the cost of a high-capacity hard drive (and a backup) and the shipping costs to deliver it to the agency.

Insurance: Since the locations, scenarios and general scope of the project were still a bit unknown, it was hard to determine exactly the amount of insurance the photographer would need. It was possible that his current international policy would cover the production, but just to be cautious, we included an extra $5,000 in case he needed to increase his policy and add additional coverages. We noted in the delivery memo that this could fluctuate based on the agencies potential requirements.

Expenses for locations one, two and three: For a project like this with a lot of unknowns in multiple international locations, it’s always a good idea to get some hard numbers from local people in each location. I reached out to multiple production companies in each city, and while each line item and overall quotes fluctuated from production company to production company and from city to city, there were a lot of common threads that helped me calculate estimated expenses. I cautiously leaned towards the higher end of the numbers I received, while including some additional items that made me confident that the overall budget would afford us any production company in each city, even if the funds for each estimated line were allocated differently than how I presented them.

Production Coordinator: While a producer would help to manage the entire project, we included a production coordinator in each city that could help with location-specific tasks, and who, perhaps most importantly, was fluent in the local language. The production coordinator days included the shoot days in each city plus the prep days the traveling team would be on the ground beforehand to prep in each city.

Second Assistant: We included a local second assistant to lend an additional set of hands on each shoot day in each city, and included a day before and after each shoot to help pick up and return any necessary additional gear or help with pre-production tasks.

Location Scout and Location Fees: The first two properties would be photographed along with the surrounding cityscapes, but the last location would exclusively be shot on the hotel property. In the cities requiring locations outside of the hotel property, we included four days for a local scout to find and secure permits for public spaces, street scenes and perhaps local shops/businesses. Since all of these locations were a bit undefined when we were estimating the project, we included a placeholder of $3,000 to cover the permits that might be needed. On one hand, this could have been much more than what would be required if the locations were all public spaces, but on the other hand, $3,000 offered flexibility in case a more robust or private property was needed.

Hair/Makeup/Wardrobe Styling: I’d typically separate the responsibilities of hair/makeup styling and wardrobe styling to two different people, but the agency and photographer were hoping to keep the crew footprint as light as possible (easier said than done for a project like this). So, we put these tasks on to one stylist who would have an assistant. In addition to the shoot days, their total days included shopping and return time as well as a talent fit day. The wardrobe costs were calculated by assuming $300 per talent in non-returnable wardrobe for up to four adult/child talent per shoot day.

Casting and Talent: Each shoot would require a casting day arranged by the local production company, and as noted in the estimate, the casting days included a studio, crew, equipment, talent booking and miscellaneous expenses. We anticipated needing a family of four (two adults, two children) for each shoot day and for each location/property. Additionally, each of the talent would come to a day where they’d be fitted for wardrobe, for which we estimated $1,500 per talent. I relied on the local production companies to quote appropriate talent rates, and I noted that the usage would be limited to five years rather than perpetual use. I did so because we’ve received pushback lately from talent agents who won’t convey perpetual use due to potential talent exclusivity conflicts down the road.

Drivers and Transportation: I figured on a driver at $200/day (for each day the traveling crew would be on the ground) plus a $700 fee for a rental van.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Misc.: While I accounted for per diems and meals for the traveling crew previously, I also wanted to include similar expenses for the local crew, even though the client would be providing catering throughout the shoot. As I did previously, I included $50 per person per day for the local production coordinator, scout, stylist, stylist assistant and talent. Additionally, I included and additional $100 per shoot day for miscellaneous expenses. These rates varied between the first two locations and the third location due to the number of days and crew involved.

Production RV: The hotel would offer up staging areas for the shoot days on its property, and I included a production RV as a TBD line item as an option for each location since I thought it may be valuable for some of our cityscape shooting. I also wanted the agency to know we were thinking about such items as an option.

Production Management Fees: Most production companies include a percentage of the overall expenses as a management fee to take on the responsibility of the project including managing the payment process for all subcontractors booked for the job. These percentages varied between the production companies in each city, but 15 percent of the city specific expenses was an appropriate fee based on various quotes I received.

Tax: Interestingly, the first city did not require tax to be added (which I did look further into after the local production company mentioned this). The second two production companies included their required tax percentages on their quotes, which I then included in our estimate. Tax requirements vary greatly from project to project and location to location, and it’s best to check with an accountant and/or local tax authorities.

Feedback: Not surprisingly, our estimate reached a bit too far over the client’s budget. I anticipated that this would be the case, but it was important for us to first show the agency the potential costs for what they were asking for in order for them to help their client determine a budget and dial in the scope of the project. Not too long after submitting our first estimate, the agency came back with a budget of $200,000, and their client was willing to make a few sacrifices. First, the third location was scrapped from the project and they wanted to limit the second location to three shoot days (this meant there would be 7 shoot days rather than 13). Second, they were willing to do without the b-roll video. Third, they were willing to reduce the licensing to three years. Those were great starting points, but after some quick calculations, we realized that some of the travel expenses, talent fees and a few other items were still putting us over that budget. Here is how we further reduced the estimate:

– One strategy was to have the photographer’s producer lay out the logistics of the shoot remotely, and to actually not travel while relying on the local production companies to execute the shoot on site. After taking the producer’s travel expenses out, we adjusted accordingly to reduce their overall days, while still including an appropriate amount of time for them to coordinate everything remotely.

– The most significant way we were able to reduce the cost was by removing the talent fees. Since the shot list wasn’t determined, the agency agreed for us to simply note what the fee per talent might be, and then they’d decide how many talent they’d ultimately need (or not need) in each city as the project progressed. It was possible that they’d rely on hotel staff and actual hotel residents to be unrecognizable talent, and while it was a big TBD cost that would ultimately be added back on later, it helped us bring the estimate under 200k and ultimately helped the agency sell the project to their client.

– For the photographer’s fee, I felt that a reduction to $4,000 for the first image per day and $2,000 for each additional image was appropriate given the licensing duration restriction.

– We reduced the shoot processing for client review to $250 per shoot day, and dropped the hard drive including delivery to $500 since they wouldn’t need as high of a capacity drive without the video.

– The client agreed that the talent would provide their own primary wardrobe, and the stylist would only be responsible to supplemental wardrobe options. This helped to reduce the number of shopping days and bring down the wardrobe budget.

– We reduced each casting day to $3,000, which would still be adequate based on the quotes I received from production companies. As I mentioned, I originally leaned on the higher end of the quotes I received to be safe.

-We slightly reduced the drivers and transportation in each city.

Here was the final estimate:

Blinkbid  Blinkbid  Blinkbid

Results: The photographer was awarded the job.

Hindsight: While we hope every estimate should be the start of a healthy negotiation, sometimes clients seem to assume that an estimate represents the only approach, and one that can’t be finessed or reduced. However, maintaining a thorough correspondence during the estimating process and working closely with agency counterparts to help calculate a budget can go a long way. I knew that our first estimate would be much more than they hoped to spend, but that document helped the agency put a number on what their client was requesting, even though the agency also probably knew it would be too high. With all of the documentation and correspondence with local production companies in our back pocket, it was easy to have an educated conversation with the art buyer about the potential fluctuations in the estimate, and help them understand that there were many ways to reconfigure the project once a certain budget was determined…and thankfully the art buyer was able to explain to their client that they’d have to offer up some flexibility on their end to make it work 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. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Motion For Small Business Service Company

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Testimonials, man-on-the-street interviews and b-roll video of an annual corporate conference

Licensing: Web Collateral use of one 2:00 minute edited video

Location: Hotel conference center

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Portrait, Lifestyle and Motion Specialist

Agency: N/A – Client Direct

Client: A Small Business Services Company

A few months ago, one of our California-based photographers asked me to help her pull together an estimate for a motion shoot. Although the photographer had a long-standing relationship with this particular client, they’d never asked her to provide motion coverage. The client asked her to shoot four testimonial interviews of the executive team, man-on-the-street interviews of the other attendees and b-roll footage of the event in general. Ultimately, the client wanted to put together a 2:00 introduction/about video for their corporate website to loop on a flat screen at trade shows (within the context of the website). The client would be providing the shooting space, interviewers and scheduling the executives. The client also reserved a room for the testimonials so that the photographer could work in a mostly controlled environment with plenty of available light.

Since we were working directly with the client and providing the editing services, this presented a great opportunity to limit the licensing to their very specific needs (it is not uncommon in the motion world to work under a work for hire agreement or grant unrestricted usage). We seized the opportunity and put together an estimate including limited usage of the final piece.

Based on the needs of the client, we decided to price this out as a two-camera shoot including the photographer/director who would run camera 1, and a DP to manage the minimal lighting and run camera 2. In this case, the DP would be working under the instruction of the photographer/director and sign a work for hire agreement (much like a second photographer on a still shoot), to streamline the licensing process for the client (and photographer).

To arrive at the licensing fee, I took into account the intended audience (trade), limited use (collateral only), shelf-life (this event takes place every year, and the finished piece would likely include footage of current clients, who may not be clients next year) and level production (the team really only needed to show up and shoot). I also considered how much a comparable day of still shooting would yield and what a comparable licensing fee would be for those stills. After weighing all of the factors, we landed at $5,500 for the photographer/director’s creative and licensing fee. Since the client understood relative licensing values on the still side, they were comfortable negotiating limited licensing terms on the motion side as well. Not all clients are as flexible with regard to motion, but it’s always worth the attempt.

Here’s the approved estimate:

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 2.50.28 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 2.50.59 PM

Grip: A grip is the motion world equivalent of a first assistant, though they are typically more specialized. They set up all the grip equipment and manage basic lighting under the direction of the director or the DP. Complex lighting or electrical work may require a gaffer. In this case, the photographer planned to shoot mostly available light and would only need a couple of florescent light banks for the testimonials, so a single grip would suffice.

Director of Photography: As I mentioned above, the DP would be running camera 2 and helping to manage the lighting. A DP is generally more experienced and has the expertise and wherewithal to operate independently of the director. Their rates vary based on the nature of the project and level of involvement required. In this case, we got a quote from a colleague experienced in corporate motion work.

Audio Engineer: Like location scouts, audio engineers have pretty standard rates, regardless of where they’re based or the details of the shoot. $800 covers their day rate and basic recording equipment.

Equipment: $2200 covered costs for two DSLR camera systems, lenses, mounting and grip equipment and two florescent light banks. The photographer and DP owned all of the equipment and would be renting to the production at the market rate.

Editing and Color Grading: We got an editing quote from an editor who the photographer had worked with in the past. $1000/minute is a good rule of thumb for editing costs, but that can fluctuate with the content available, number of revisions, quality of footage and graphic elements required.

File Transfer: This covered the FTP and hard drive costs to share the content with the client for review throughout editing and delivery.

Groomer: We included a groomer to make sure the testimonial subjects (executives), who were supposed to arrive camera ready, looked their best. The groomer would handle basic hair and make up styling and wardrobe finessing.

Miles, Parking, Shipping, etc: This covered out of pocket expenses the photographer and crew would accrue between mileage, parking, crew meals, shipping costs and any other miscellaneous expenses that may be incurred.

Housekeeping (see the project description): I noted all of the production elements the client would be providing. In this case, we were relying on the client to provide the locations, subject scheduling and necessary releases. The client also planned to guide the subjects through their interviews, which under normal circumstances could fall under the responsibility of the director.

The client reviewed our first estimate and asked for a revision excluding the man-on-the street component. Although the team would be generating less content overall, the time on site wouldn’t change significantly (it would still be about a full day) and the deliverable, a 2:00 finished piece, wouldn’t be impacted, which meant the value of the licensing wouldn’t really be impacted either. If it were entirely up to me, I wouldn’t have adjusted the fees at all, however the photographer felt a small decrease was reasonable. We presented an option with a $1000 lower bottom line, all of which came out of the creative/licensing fee. Seeing that the decrease was marginal, the client opted for the original approach.

Results, Hindsight and Feedback: The photographer/director shot the project and the client has since come back asking to set up another shoot to capture similar content at their corporate headquarters.

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.

Pricing & Negotiating: Studio Portraits Of Spokesmen For Social Media

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Portraits of two spokesmen previously featured in television commercials in various lifestyle scenarios

 Licensing: Web Collateral use of up to 13 images for 3 months

 Location: A studio in California

Shoot Days: Two

Photographer: Portraiture and lifestyle specialist

Agency: Mid-sized, based on the East Coast

Client: Large food company

Here is the estimate:


Creative/Licensing: The agency had recently produced a series of television commercials introducing two spokesmen for the brand, and they were now interested in extending the concept into their social media marketing. Specifically, they wanted to promote a contest on the brand’s Facebook page, and they hoped to capture a series of images of the spokesmen in different environmental settings with various props. We initially discussed shooting the project in multiple locations, but the potential costs and necessary prep time required to take the shoot on the road warranted a shift in the creative scope. In the end they decided to do the shoot in a studio on a white background, and planned to retouch various background settings into the shots.

The agency planned to release about one image per week on the brand’s Facebook page over the course of three months. Rather than breaking up the licensing and integrating language limiting a one-week duration per image, we included use of up to 13 images on their page for the entire length of the 3 months. Taking the intended use and limited licensing duration into account, I decided to price each image at $700. I’ll typically reduce the cost of additional images, but I felt that each image was unique, and therefore each one carried the same amount of value. Also, in many cases when negotiating much more substantial usage, I feel that the value of the licensing can outweigh the photographer’s creative fee. However, in this case I felt that it was appropriate to also include an increase to the rate to account for the photographer’s time, so I included an additional $1,500/day. This “creative fee” is on the lower end of what we typically estimate for a creative fee per day, but I felt it was appropriate given the experience level of the photographer and the scope of the project. The licensing and creative fee I calculated added up to $12,100, and I decided to round down to an even $12,000 to simplify the proposal.

The agency asked for a price to license additional images as well as options to extend the licensing duration to include 6 months and one year. I felt $1,000/image was appropriate for additional images based on the prorated cost of the fee and the number of images already being conveyed. Additionally, I felt that doubling the licensing duration was worth 50% of the fee, and extending the duration to include one year was worth 100% of the fee.

After compiling a creative/licensing fee that I felt was appropriate, I checked to see what other pricing resources suggested. While Blinkbid and FotoQuote don’t offer a price specifically for social media use, they do suggest a price between $300-$750 per image for use on a client’s website for 3 months. Getty and Corbis both suggested a price of about $300 per image for use on multiple social media platforms for 3 months. As for the licensing duration options, Getty and Corbis added about 30%-40% to go from 3 months to 6 months, and about 80%-90% to go from 3 months to 1 year, and this was pretty similar to my calculations. FotoQuote suggested just about half of these rate increases (15% to go from 3 months to 6 months, and a 40% increase to go from 3 months to 1 year). Taking all of this into account as well as the upward pressure being placed on the photographer to create 13 completely unique images (as well as the size of the client), I felt that I was in a good starting place with the fee.

Photographer Pre-Light Day: Since the 13 scenarios would require a significant amount of time to set up (especially due to prop styling), we wanted to account for a prep day in the studio for everyone to get on the same page in order to hit the ground running on the first shoot day. Also, these concepts would actually require arranging and shooting in two different sets in the same studio throughout the day. One set would be staged and then broken down while the other set was being shot, and this process would continue over the course of two days with all 13 scenarios. This made the pre-light day even more valuable, and the photographer would have time to work with her team and plan how they’d move back and forth between each set and arrange the lighting setups the day prior to the shoot.

Assistants: We planned for the first and second assistants to attend the pre-light day, and we included additional days on the front and back ends of the shoot for the first assistant to pick up equipment and prepare for the shoot with the photographer. The first and second assistants would each lend a hand on their individual sets in the studio, while the third assistant would bounce back and forth between sets for additional support.

Digital Tech: We included the cost for a tech ($500/day) plus their workstation and equipment ($1,000/day) for each of the two shoot days. The photographer planned to set the tech up in an area between both sets, so they wouldn’t need to keep moving back and forth.

Producer and Production Assistants: The producer would help wrangle the crew and make arrangements for all of the logistics, and we planned on three prep/wrap days, one pre-light day and two shoot days. Given the scale of the shoot, we accounted for the producer to have two assistants on each shoot day to help manage each set and lend a helping hand for miscellaneous tasks throughout each day.

Hair/Makeup Stylist: With only two talent, we were confident that one hair/makeup stylist could prep them in the morning and monitor the talent throughout each shoot day.

Wardrobe and Prop Styling: The talent had a signature wardrobe look from the commercials that the client had been sticking to for the most part, but each scenario would still require a slight wardrobe change (mostly accessories) and a complete refresh in the way of props. We included two shopping days for the wardrobe stylist, and accounted for the fact that they’d attend the pre-light day and each shoot day prior to spending a day returning the wardrobe. We also included four assistant days for the wardrobe stylist to account for two days on set and two days helping out with procurement and returns. The prop styling would be more robust than the wardrobe styling, and we accounted for three shopping days for the prop stylist prior to the pre-light day, shoot days and return day. We also included two assistants for the prop stylist, both of which would attend the pre-light day, and one of which would also lend a hand with shopping and returning. At the time of estimating, the agency was still developing the exact scenarios they hoped to capture, but we figured on $600 per setup based on some of the ideas initially presented. Some scenarios would likely require less than this, but others would require more, and we felt this was an appropriate budget as a starting point.

Van Rental: In order to bring all of the props and wardrobe to the studio, we included the cost of a van rental for the week, including insurance and gas.

Studio Rental: We’d need the studio for three days to account for the pre-light day and both shoot days.

Equipment: Since the photographer would be working on two different sets, we needed to account for double the amount of equipment. We figured on $2,400/day for two sets ($1,200 each), and figured most rental houses would offer a “3 days same as a week” deal. While the shoot would be three days, we’d actually be picking up and returning the equipment before and after the shoot.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the time, equipment and costs for the initial edit, as well as the upload of the images to an FTP for the client to review and ultimately select the images they wanted to license. 

Selects Processed for Reproduction and Delivery by Hard Drive: While the agency would be compositing in the backgrounds, the photographer was still responsible for color correcting each image and processing the portraits, and we anticipated it would take about an hour per image to bring the quality level of the images to a place that would satisfy the agency. We also included the cost to purchase a hard drive and deliver it to the agency.

Catering: We anticipated that there would be about 20 people on set including the crew, talent and agency/client representatives each shoot day, and anticipated that $50 per person would cover light breakfast and lunch each day.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Production Books, Expendables, Misc.: This was to account for additional meals on the pre-light day ($300), the cost to professionally print/bind production books ($200), mileage/parking/misc. expenses on the shoot days and pre-light day, as well as shopping/return days for the stylists ($900), and miscellaneous expendables and expenses that might arise on the shoot days ($650).

Results: The photographer was awarded the job. Additionally, the client added on 3 more shots/scenarios, which justified a fee increase of $1,000 per shot. However, the shots didn’t require much in the way of additional props/wardrobe, so the expenses weren’t impacted.

Hindsight: It can be a bit tricky pricing various durations of social media use since so often the exposure of an image on Facebook seems to just last for a day or two (at least for images posted in the “photos” section of a Facebook page as opposed to the “cover” images at the top of the page). While it was great that we could limit the duration on these images, many agencies assume that social media use should be perpetual since the images live “forever” in follower’s feeds and in the “photos” section of the brand’s page. However, it’s most certainly possible for a client to pull down images from their Facebook page, and it can be regulated the same way as any other advertising or collateral use.

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.

Expert Advice: How To Invoice A Client

- - Expert Advice

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

I have to admit that one of the most satisfying parts of producing a shoot is when I compile an invoice and every dollar and cent is perfectly accounted for. That’s partially because it proves I did a great job and made sure the project stayed within budget, but it’s also satisfying because I have a habit of being overly organized. That mentality extends to invoices, and I wouldn’t think of sending a client a document that was in any way incomprehensible.

From a photographer’s perspective, I know compiling an invoice isn’t as satisfying as receiving payment or seeing your images on a billboard or in a magazine. However, a client will most definitely appreciate the neatly organized paperwork, and it’s these sorts of mannerisms that might just make them want to hire you again. There is of course no right or wrong way to compile an invoice … wait, strike that … what I mean to say is that there is no right or wrong format for an invoice, as long as it’s clear and easy to understand.

Since every project is different, the information included in the invoice and its presentation can dramatically scale up or down. Sometimes a client will require receipts for all of your expenses, but other times you might be working on a bid or for a flat project fee where you don’t need to show receipts for anything. The latter of the two of course makes for a simpler invoice. Sometimes you may also have receipts within receipts. For instance, it’s ideal to present receipts for all “meals” together, but your assistant might include a copy of a receipt for a coffee on their invoice to you along with an invoice for their time, which you then need to pass along to the agency. So, while each project will be billed on a case-by-case basis, you should simply do your best to organize everything appropriately, which might mean setting invoicing requirements for the subcontractors you hire. Also, always be sure to keep the original copies of your receipts for absolutely everything you buy for a shoot, whether you plan to charge your client for it or not.

The following is an example of an invoice that I feel is straightforward, clean and easy to comprehend:

The first page of the invoice acts as a summary of all fees and expenses, and also notes the advance payment received as well as the final balance due. All of the following pages are either invoices or scanned receipts to justify the expenses. When estimating the project before the shoot, you might consider including items such as “shoot processing for client review” and “selects processed for reproduction” as expenses rather than fees since you might ultimately outsource retouching, and because it helps to potentially increase the amount of an advance (if you’re only permitted to receive an advance on expenses). However, since we do not need to include a receipt or invoice to justify these items, I’ve included them in the “fees” section at the top. Organizing it this way makes it clear that the pages following the front of the invoice are to justify the expenses only.

You’ll see that each receipt/invoice used to justify the expenses is formatted differently (because they all come from different vendors) and it’s therefore important to add uniformity to make them easier to digest. That’s why on each page I use Adobe Acrobat Pro to add a title to the upper left hand corner, then circle the total and note the total again on the bottom right corner. The titles help to clarify which line item on the invoice the page corresponds to, and while adding the total at the bottom may seem redundant, it helps to summarize pages where there may be multiple receipts (like for meals).

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 10.48.34 AM

I also use Adobe Acrobat Pro to create PDFs of each invoice/receipt and to compile the final invoicing packet by merging all of the PDFs into one file. To create a page of receipts (for meals in this instance), I lay the receipts down on a flatbed scanner and set the preferences on my computer to automatically save a PDF. You might try to use your phone to take a picture of your receipts (or even take photos of your receipts with a DSLR), but the quality of the images you’ll receive from a flatbed scanner will be well worth the investment, and prices for scanners have dropped dramatically over the past few years.


Sometimes you might not be able to get a receipt for an expense (like a tip for a bellman or charges for mileage) but you’ll still want to be reimbursed. In these instances we use the petty cash log below to document these expenses.


As I mentioned previously, the scale of your production will determine the formatting and length of your invoice. For instance, an invoice I recently submitted for a large production had 30 pages dedicated to wardrobe styling alone. In cases like this, it may make sense to have cover pages for each section (to correspond to the line items on the invoice) rather than just adding section titles to each page.

No matter how you format an invoice, you just need to be organized and present everything in a manner that is easy to comprehend. If you take a few extra minutes to create a well-formatted invoice, you’ll save the time and energy you’ll otherwise spend going back and forth with your client to justify your fees and expenses. In the end, it should help you receive payment faster, and will make your client (and their accounting department) enjoy working with you.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating, producing or invoicing 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

Pricing And Negotiating: Forbes Magazine Contract

by Bill Cramer, Wonderful Machine

Over the years, I’ve shot for lots of business magazines, but my favorite was always Forbes. The photo editors were experienced, smart, and nice. They appreciated good photography and they used it well. Not only did they have a reasonable contract, and decent budgets for assignments, but I was often able to generate additional revenue from those assignments by licensing the pictures to other publications or by selling article reprints to the subjects or their companies. However, with Forbes experiencing the same financial pressures that most print publications are facing, their contract has changed dramatically. (After several years on the market, Forbes Media announced recently that a group of investors has acquired a majority stake in the company.)

In an effort to save money on assignment photography (or even make money on it), Forbes has created The Forbes Photography Collection to license pictures generated from their assignments through Corbis Images. They hired Robyn Selman, formerly of Corbis, to guide that process as their Director of Photography. Forbes Media isn’t the first publisher to syndicate their photographers’ pictures (Condé Nast comes to mind), but still, it’s a dramatic shift from the way most magazines and photographers have historically done business with each other.

In a nutshell, here’s how their new contract differs from their old one:

Instead of photographers getting compensated separately for residual use of their photos (including space, foreign Forbes editions, and article reprints), those rights are bundled into a flat shoot fee, and the photographer gets a maximum of 12.5% of third party sales through The Forbes Photography Collection. (The contract specifies that the photographer gets 25% of Forbes’ half of the gross fee when Corbis is the only agent involved in the sale. If another agent gets involved in the sale, the share to the photographer could be less than 12.5%.) From what I gather, the shoot fees are 1000.00 or more (plus expenses) now, as opposed to 700.00/day (plus expenses) against space with their previous contract. It’s hard to compare flat fees to day rate vs. space, but my own experience was that my Forbes assignments frequently generated space rate payments. So while the fees and expenses for the initial shoot may be about the same, photographers are giving up significant money (not to mention control), on foreign editions, article reprints (which are often worth more than the original assignment), and stock sales to the subject and to other magazines.

The flat shoot fee is negotiated for each assignment. In the past, photographers and the magazine would renegotiate day rates and space rates every couple of years (as a practical matter, the magazine would simply have standard day and space rates that they would pay). With this contract, Forbes no longer ties the fees directly to the amount of time it takes to shoot the job or the size/number of photos that appear in the magazine. That’s problematic in several important ways. First, if the value of the assignment isn’t tied to the amount of time it takes to shoot the job or the space the pictures occupy in the magazine, then what will be the basis of that negotiation? Second, putting the photographer and the photo editor in the awkward position of renegotiating the fee for every assignment wastes valuable time and energy at exactly the moment when you need to get a job done fast, and it sets up a regular source of conflict that will have the effect of eroding rather than building and streamlining the relationship between contributor and editor. Third, it creates a conflict of interest between the photographer and the client. It’s natural and sustainable to put the photographer’s economic interests in line with the client’s. Lastly, anyone growing a business (even a freelance photographer), needs to build equity along with revenue. For photographers, the rights to their photographs are their main source of equity.

I can understand Forbes Media’s impulse to capture this additional revenue in the short-term. But is it in their long-term interest?

I’m not sure it’s sensible for Forbes to enter into the business of syndicating photographs. For starters, it’s clearly outside their area of expertise. Though there is a modest amount of residual value to the photos for Forbes, I wonder how much of it is negated by the administrative costs of starting up and maintaining the infrastructure required to support those sales, and the additional up-front fees they have to pay the photographers. Also, the minuscule back-end split they’re offering photographers not only removes any incentive for them to produce lots of excellent photos (which would otherwise earn those photographers space rates and other residual fees), but they’re also making it less attractive for good photographers to work with Forbes in the first place. So the photos they’ll end up with won’t look as good in the magazine and they won’t have as much residual value as they otherwise would. A smarter approach would be to maintain the day vs. space fee structure, and simply lower or raise the fees as their ability to afford high-quality photography shrinks and grows. (Another approach might be to maintain a higher fee structure, and increase or decrease the number of hand-out and stock photos that they use, as their budgets ebb and flow.) Either way, it’s naive to think that you can reduce the compensation to photographers without adversely affecting the quality of their photos.

Here’s the contract. It’s separated into an Artists’ Agreement (which gets signed once), and a Schedule A (which gets signed for each assignment):


If you are a photographer (or a magazine), and need help building an estimate or reviewing a contract, please feel free to contact any of our producers. If you’d like to read more of our Pricing & Negotiating articles, you can find them here.

Pricing And Negotiating: Directing Video For A TV Commercial

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Video of a restaurant interior

Licensing: Use of all video content captured in multiple broadcast television commercials

Location: A single restaurant location

Shoot Days: One

Director: Architectural and portraiture specialist

Agency: Medium-sized, based in the Northeast

Client: Large restaurant chain

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: A few months ago I worked with a photographer to successfully estimate an exterior architectural shoot that you can read about here. Within a week of delivering those files, the agency wanted to add on an extension to the project, and this time they needed video content to integrate into their commercial along with the stills. The concept was to capture video of the interior of one of their restaurants and stage a scene of professional talent interacting within the environment in the evening after the restaurant closed to the public. The final video would ultimately be edited down to just a few seconds, and the agency/client would be providing the location, casting, talent, wardrobe, styling and all of the video editing.

The photographer did not specialize in video, but based on his previous successful execution of the stills and the scope of this portion of the project, the client and agency were very comfortable with him taking on a directorial role, as opposed to being the man behind the camera. Therefore, rather than including a combined creative/licensing fee for the photographer, we simply labeled it as a “Director Fee” (hereafter I’ll refer to the photographer as “director”).

My first approach to determine the director fee was based on the previous estimate for the still photography. You can read how we arrived at a $50,000 fee in my previous article, but when analyzed in a pro-rated manner (which is how many agencies view estimates), it broke down to $2,500 per location or around $10,000 per day for 5 days of shooting (which is ultimately how long it took). Based on this information I felt that $6,000 was appropriate for a director fee, taking into account what the director had ultimately made as an effective fee on the previous shoot. I did, however, want to double-check this rate against other resources, and found that Getty charges around $4,200 for a 15-second clip for national broadcast TV use. Similarly, Corbis charges $4,500 for a clip with these specs. Based on my research I was confident that we were in the right ballpark.

I should also note that the format of our estimate in which we present the creative/licensing fee and the following expenses may be atypical for a video project. Since this was an extension of a still photo shoot, and since we were working with a print producer at the agency, the presentation and formatting of our document was appropriate. However, much larger video productions may warrant different formatting, and there are even industry standard documents (like theAICP bid form) that video production companies are accustomed to working with and are well received on the agency/client end.

Test Shoots: Prior to the actual shoot date, the agency and director agreed that a day was needed to not only scout the location, but to do a very rough test shoot using minimal gear to capture naturally lit video of the restaurant interior. It was an opportunity to give the agency a feel for the how the location actually looked, while also allowing the director to test out gear with the camera operator that would be working on the actual shoot. The fee included $1,500 for the director, $1,000 for the producer, $300 for an assistant and $750 for the camera operator, along with mileage, parking, meals and equipment expenses.

Director of Photography: The director was very proficient in lighting still images, but the level of production the agency required for the video meant bringing in an expert to help guide the grip and gaffer to set up the lights. We were shooting at night, but the interior needed to look like daylight was flowing in through the windows, and the DP would help to accomplish this while the director could primarily focus his attention on the overall concept and execution.

Camera Operator: While the director would be managing the talent and determining the primary camera settings, we accounted for the camera operator to be the one who would actually manipulate the camera while capturing the content. The rate we included accounted for a very experienced camera operator who would also be able to provide monitors/feeds for live client review.

Producer: The producer would be responsible for wrangling the crew, compiling a production book and handling pre-production arrangements. Additionally, the producer would make sure the shoot day goes according to schedule while ensuring the project stayed within budget.

First and Second Assistants: I accounted for two extra sets of hands to help out with gear on the shoot day, and to support the producer and all of the crew members throughout the day with miscellaneous tasks.

Digital Tech: While the camera operator would be providing equipment for the client to see the video on monitors in real time, the digital tech would be able to quickly process the video content for the client/agency to watch repeatedly in order to approve the content. This included $500 for their day, and $750 for a workstation. On a larger scale video shoot, this role might be labeled as DIT (digital image technician), but as I mentioned earlier, we were integrating formatting and terminology more in line with a still photo shoot.

Grip, Gaffer and Grip Truck: The DP would give lighting direction to the grip and gaffer who would then be responsible for setting up and adjusting all of the lights. Both the grip and gaffer that I corresponded with about the project worked for an equipment rental company, and they would be bringing the gear with them in a truck. Given the last minute nature of the project, we weren’t quite sure what exact equipment would be needed, so I included the cost for a very well stocked grip truck. In addition to the truck rental (which would cost $675), this included a long list of HMI lights and generators, as well as an even longer list of stands, modifiers and grip equipment.

Additional Equipment Rental: This accounted for all equipment other than lights/grip, including two 5D Mark III camera bodies, multiple lenses, extra large memory cards and a buffer for any other last minute gear the photographer would need once he scouted the location. Some of the gear he owned, and some he would need to rent or buy.

Delivery of Video by Hard Drive: The digital tech would dump all of the video onto a drive after the shoot, and this included the cost of purchasing a drive large enough to hold the video content and the shipping fees to send it to the agency.

Catering: There would be about 20 people on set including the crew, talent and client/agency representatives, and I included $50 per person for dinner and snacks throughout the evening. Typically, I’d figure a client like this would provide meals, but since the shoot was happening after business hours, the restaurant wouldn’t be able to provide food.

Miles, Misc: The restaurant wasn’t located in a very convenient place, and I expected to pay the crew mileage to get out and back. I included $200 for mileage, and then added $300 to help cover any additional unexpected expenses that might arise.

Results: After submitting our estimate, the art buyer told us they had a budget of $20,000, and asked us to see what we could do to reduce the price. I knew we wouldn’t be able to come down by that much, but revised the estimate by removing the tech’s workstation (she’d just be providing a laptop which the client was ok with), reducing the assistant rates to $250/day (the director had a few assistants that were willing to work for this rate) reducing the fee for the grip and gaffer (which they confirmed they’d be able to be flexible on) and reducing the catering to $35 per person (and noted that it wouldn’t be quite as an elaborate spread). Those changes reduced our bottom line by $1,500. Even though we weren’t able to get under $20k, our estimate was approved and I produced the shoot a few days later. Here was the final estimate:


Hindsight: As the still photography and video worlds merge, it’s inevitable that clients will soon expect all photographers to offer video services (or at least expect to get stills and video from a single production). However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a photographer has to have experience shooting video. As in this case, photographers can take on the role of a director without actually being the one to light the scene or operate the camera. The director role still comes with great responsibility and pressure, but it’s ok for photographers to rely on lighting experts and experienced video crews to collectively get the job done.

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.

Pricing And Negotiating: Executive Portraits For A Large Agency

Jess Dudley

Shoot Concept: Create executive portraits and corporate lifestyle images of employees at work in their corporate headquarters and on-site at one client location

Licensing: Digital collateral and digital advertising use of up to 40 images

Location: Corporate headquarters and one retailer location

Shoot Days: Three

Photographer: Corporate lifestyle specialist

Agency: Large agency in the Mid-Atlantic

Client: Business consultant

A well-known ad agency recently commissioned one of our East Coast photographers to shoot a library of images for their client’s rebranding effort. The agency’s B2B client provides consulting services to mid-large sized national brands. The goal of the shoot was to capture a range of corporate lifestyle images of real employees at work in their company offices and on-site at one of their client’s locations. The images were created for, and would be primarily used on, the client’s newly redesigned website, so while the production machine was in motion, the agency wanted to create 10 executive portraits to round out the website about page. On top of the web use, the agency also requested digital/web advertising use to cover their trade advertising needs.

Although all of the images would be used on the site, it was likely that only a handful would be used for any of the somewhat limited advertising use granted. However, as is often the case, the agency was unwilling to carve up the usage into different components, making it impossible to impose more than one licensing agreement on different sets within the library. Additionally, the agency was unwilling to bend on the duration of use. Just as with the extent of the usage, we determined that the likelihood of the client taking full advantage of perpetual use was low enough that we were willing to be flexible on that point. The images have a shelf life, and we assume that the value to the client degrades considerably after three to five years — executives change, services change, and imagery needs to be refreshed. After careful consideration and discussion with the art buyer, we decided to price the usage closer to the value of the intended use.

To determine the licensing fee, I considered the caliber of the photographer (in-demand), reputation of the agency (solid), size of the client (niche), intended audience (non-consumer), limited use (web/digital only), assumed shelf-life, number of shot days (2.5, but we priced as 3 — half days are a myth) and intensity of the production (pretty low). I also considered that 1/4 of the images would consist of executive portraits. After weighing all of the factors, we landed at $20,000. Other pricing sources like Fotoquote, Blinkbid’s Bid Consultant and the various stock sites would have us quote the usage fee in the six-figure range, but those pricing resources don’t account for the nuance and just keep multiplying, regardless of the influencing factors and/or diminishing value to the client, and photographer, over time.

From a production standpoint, this project was relatively low impact. The photographer would need to show up to the provided locations with his or her crew, and make pictures of the provided resources. That being said, because we were working through a fairly large agency, their expectations would be slightly more intensive than you may initially expect.

Here’s the approved estimate:

P and N July

Tech/Scout Day: I included a tech/scout day for the photographer and agency to walk through the offices and client locations to make sure everyone was on the same page creatively, and allow the photographer to consider lighting and equipment needs.

1st Assistant Days: I included four days for the first assistant — one to prep gear (and/or attend the scout) and three to shoot.

2nd Assistant Days: The second assistant would be on hand for all three shoot days.

Digital Tech Days: The tech would only be needed on the corporate lifestyle days. The agency wouldn’t need to review the executive portraits on set, so we were able to forgo that expense on the portrait day.

Equipment: $4500 covered costs for a DSLR, a backup, lenses, grip equipment and portable strobe kit, some of which the photographer’s production company owned and would be renting at market rate for the shoot and some that would need to be rented from a local rental house.

Producer: Even though a great deal of the production elements would be provided by the client and agency, we felt that a producer would still be beneficial during the shoot. Since there wasn’t much in the way of pre-production I only included one day for prep (arrange catering, book/confirm the five crew members and pull together a call sheet), one day for the tech/scout and three days for the shoot.

Production RV: The client couldn’t guarantee the availability of convenient staging area so I included a production RV for the two lifestyle days. Since we would be stationary for the executive portraits, it wasn’t necessary on the third day.

Groomer: The subjects would be instructed to arrive camera-ready. The groomer would be on hand to make sure they were finessed a bit and looked their best when on camera.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: Covers time, equipment and costs for the initial import, edit, batch color correction and upload of the images to an FTP for client review and selection.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: Color correction, basic touch-up and specialized processing of the 40 selects. As the result of considerable post-processing, all of photographer’s images all have a distinct feel, which increases the cost for standard file prep.

File Transfer: This covers the cost to deliver the 40 selects via FTP.

Catering: I estimated to provide lunch on the two corporate lifestyle days. Because the third day was a “half day” we didn’t need to cover catering.

Miles, Expendables, FTP, and Misc: This covered out-of-pocket expenses the photographer and crew would accrue between mileage, FTP costs and any other miscellaneous expenses that may arise.

Housekeeping (see the project description): I noted all of the production elements the client would be providing.

Results, Hindsight and Feedback: The photographer shot the project and the client came back to licensing 10 additional images. We set the rate for those at $750 each, including processing.

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.

Expert Advice: Emailers & Print Mailers

by Joey Pasko, Wonderful Machine

All photographers should have a variety of promotional tools in their arsenal to help garner clients and bring attention to their work. Among these tools are email promotions and ever-popular print mailer promotions. If used correctly, both can help bring in a lot of new business and keep your name on the radar of your existing clients. However, it’s important to know the difference between email promotions and print promotions.


An email promotion may seem like a cheap and easy method to get your name out there, but by no means should it be your sole marketing effort. In fact, the best way for photographers to promote themselves is by using both print and email promotional tools very strategically and specifically. Email promotions are a good way to send a large group of clients a quick reminder to check out your website and your new work. If you use the email analytics to see who actually opened the email and clicked to your website, you can create an even more tailored and effective list of clients to send a memorable print mailer to. Think of it this way: your email promotion should go out to a large general list of clients, and your print mailer should go out to a targeted and tailored list of clients.


Print mailers are a great way to give a potential client something tactile and cool to constantly remind them that you’re the person to hire. But how do you make your mailer stand out? It’s easy to fall into the trap of a typical postcard. Many photographers would say anything more is a gimmick, but remember that your clients receive lots and lots of postcards from great photographers all the time. “Letting the photo speak for itself” sometimes isn’t enough to push your work above all the other promos hanging on the bulletin board.

The solution is to embrace the medium and create something that stands out. Utilizing modern design and printing techniques can help make your promo the most unique one in the crowd.


At WM, we typically advise photographers to go one of two ways with print promos. The first option is to create a promo that is beyond just a postcard. By elevating the piece beyond the norm, you automatically are guaranteeing that what you send out will stand out amongst other print mailers. A great example of this would be Nashville photographer Josh Anderson’s printed promo. Rather than a single image, Josh added interest by utilizing a printing technique called foil stamping. His print promos included a hand printed board and buttons for the recipient to keep. These small additions to the concept turned what might have otherwise been a simple and forgettable card into a packet that feels more like a gift than anything else.


Two printing options that people must also consider are digital printing versus offset printing. Digital printing applies ink to a page using a digital printer and offset printing applies ink to a page using metal plates and rollers. There are pros and cons to both. While you can get good digital print quality using a digital printer, offset printing’s quality is superior and has better color matching. Digital prints are far cheaper and better for small batches of prints, while offset is better for larger batches due to its higher set-up price for creating plates. However, unlike digital, offset printing gives you far more options of paper. Offset printing allows you to print on thicker paper, rougher paper and all sorts of specialty papers. It’s important to decide which of these methods will best suit your print mailer campaign. This designer’s humble opinion: while digital can be cheap and easy, offset printing is truly the way to show off photography.

There are a number of other printing techniques that can also be used to elevate a project! Here are some that could easily make your print promo stand out amongst the crowd:


Letterpress: Letterpress printing is just that — pressing ink (traditionally type) into paper. Letterpress printing has been around since the 1400s, and with the more recent advancement of using photopolymer plates instead of traditional wood type, there are even more possibilities in this print method. With photopolymer plates, much more detail can be achieved. Nowadays, letterpress is prized for the deep impression that can be achieved when the ink is pressed into the paper, and offers really tactile and beautiful results. Whenever I’m given anything letterpressed, I’m more inclined to keep it.

Foil Stamping: Similar to letterpress, a foil press is used to apply foil to paper. Most popular are metallic foils applied to the print, giving an eye-catching and shiny appearance to specific elements on the page.


Laser-cutting: Laser-cutting is a technique where machines are used to burn intricate designs into or even through various materials. From paper to metal to wood, the results can be dramatic. This technique can transform a simple mailer into something that gives depth and elegance to your work.

For advice or assistance with your own print or electronic promotions, contact us through our Consulting page.

Pricing & Negotiating: Architectural Shots For Ad Agency Portfolio

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Architectural shots of a locally-run ad campaign

Licensing: North American Collateral and Publicity use of all images captured in perpetuity

Location: A downtown cityscape and airport

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: A local architectural specialist

Agency: A southern branch of a large NYC-based ad agency

Client: n/a

An art buyer from a large ad agency reached out to one of our photographers, interested in hiring him to shoot two out-of-home (OOH) advertising placements (billboards and transit posters). The ads had just been posted; one was a single three dimensional billboard in a downtown cityscape environment, the other was a series of posters and back-lit displays inside the local airport, both promoting the same client. It’s not unusual for an agency or it’s client to request a shoot to document ads for press releases, awards submissions and/or their portfolios. In this case, the client wasn’t commissioning the shoot, so the licensing would be conveyed directly to the agency.

To take full advantage of the day, the photographer would need to shoot the cityscape billboard in the early morning and late afternoon light, and the interior shots at the airport in the middle of the day while the sun was high. It would definitely be a full day shoot. Other than the long day, the shoot was pretty straight forward. The local film office didn’t require a permit because it was only the photographer, a tripod and one assistant. The agency would be providing the necessary escort and access at the airport, so the prep time would be minimal.

Here’s the estimate:

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 4.55.32 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 4.55.57 PM

The licensing was fairly minimal, however we needed to grant perpetual use to account for the collateral use of the images in the agency’s portfolio. This is an instance in which the photographer’s time is worth about as much as the fairly limited licensing, and as a result has more weight in the calculation of the overall value. Although the license was perpetual, any use beyond the first year of awards submissions would be minimal and presumably taper off pretty quickly. It seems unlikely that the agency would want to promote work in their portfolio that was more than a few years old, which limits the value a bit. Based on the number of activations, intended use and pricing from previous projects of this nature, I arrived at 4500.00 for the creative/licensing fee. Not surprisingly, this rate was a bit lower than the other pricing resources recommended, which don’t take into account the subtleties of the project, but nevertheless provide a solid point of reference. Blinkbid suggested 900.00/image/year and Corbis priced comparable use at 1300/image for the first year.

Assistant Day: The photographer would have been able to handle the shoot solo from a gear perspective, however he wanted an assistant to drop him off for the cityscape shots, in the event that parking proved to be difficult to find.

Equipment: This covered the one day rental costs for a DSLR, a backup DSLR, tripod and a few specialty lenses, all of which the photographer owned and would be renting to the production.

File Transfer: The agency insisted that raw image be delivered via hard drive. This covered the time and cost necessary to dump the images and ship out a hard drive. It’s pretty unusual for an architectural photographer (or any photographer for that matter) to provide unprocessed files, but due to the nature of the project, the photographer was OK with it.

Insurance: We included the cost of providing a certificate of insurance for the airport portion of the shoot. The property management company required standard business liability insurance to shoot on premises.

Miles, Parking, Shipping, Meals, FTP, and Misc: This covered the basic out of pocket expenses the photographer would accrue between mileage, FTP costs, lunch for him and his assistant on the shoot day, and any other miscellaneous expenses that may arise.

Housekeeping (see the project description): I noted all of the production elements the client would be providing: processing, necessary location access, escorts and releases to be provided and secured by agency

Results, Hindsight and Feedback: The photographer was awarded the project and shot it a few days later.

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.

Pricing & Negotiating: Industrial Lifestyle Shoot

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Industrial lifestyle shoot

Licensing: North American collateral use of all images in perpetuity (15 per day)

Location: Manufacturing facility

Shoot Days: Up to 20

Photographer: Lifestyle and portrait specialist

Agency: Client direct

Client: Not a household name, but well known within it’s industry

One of our west coast-based photographers was approached by a fairly large industrial manufacturer and asked to shoot industrial lifestyle images of their employees at work, manufacturing a variety of products in a number of different locations in North America. They were mostly interested in using the images on their website and in a self-published coffee table book that would be given out to investors, executives and employees. Their products are generally larger than a semi-truck and manufactured in facilities on the scale of an airplane hanger. Think big.

The client wasn’t accustomed to hiring photographers (it’d been nearly 20 years since they’d hired a professional). Thankfully, they thought it was wise to get us involved pretty early on before they firmly established their needs, so that they didn’t develop a creative concept and plan that would break the bank. Their initial thought was to shoot 10-15 different locations, 1-2 shoot days at each, for a total of approximately 20 shoot days. This presents a bit of a dilemma. Because we were in the planning stage and they wouldn’t commit to 20 days or any specific number of images (although as usual, they were expecting a deal because of all of the potential work), we couldn’t approach the presentation of the fees for this project in our typical way. We had to present an estimate that was scalable from a single day on up, but also factored in a discount for a volume that the client was unwilling to commit to. Also unknown was the number of scout and travel days. Here’s how we addressed all the issue:


We needed to create a fee structure that the photographer would be happy with if the client only booked one day and that the client would be happy with if they booked 20. I’m sure just about every photographer has had this same experience— a client asks for a quote and pushes back on the numbers saying something along the lines of  “if there’s a lot of work down the road, can you be flexible on your rate/fees?” It’s not an unreasonable request, however the work down the road almost never materializes. The approach we took here protects the photographer’s interest, keeps the client honest and gives them a break for the volume.

We based the day rate on the typical collateral library rate we’ve negotiated with other industrial clients. The rate usually varies from 2500.00-3500.00 depending on the size of the client and scale of the project. In this case, we started a bit higher because of the self-publishing use requested, though if the client did ultimately book the photographer for 20 days, the fee would average out to just over 3500/day. Although we didn’t explicitly limit the number of scenarios or images, in the course of our conversations we determined that the photographer would probably be able to shoot in five different scenarios per shoot day and that the client could expect 2-3 variations of images per scenario. We didn’t want to commit to a specific number in the estimate because certain factories may be easier or harder to shoot in than others, which would seriously impact how much could be accomplished in a given day.

The client signed the proposal and requested a detailed estimate for the first leg of the shoot – one-day, local to the photographer. We extrapolated a one-day version which the client approved. During the course of the pre-production, the client requested a certificate of insurance. Since we hadn’t been asked to provide any sort of unusual coverage, and the photographer carries a fairly standard business liability policy year round, we’d opted not to charge a fee for the insurance in the estimate (however, like equipment, it would not be unusual to charge the client a fee for the use of your insurance policy). As it turned out, the client’s legal team was requiring the photographer to provide workman’s comp insurance and specialty insurance specific to their industry. I’ve seen this a lot lately and it’s getting old. The client presents a project, approves the estimate, then comes back with unusually high insurance coverage requirements. If the client requires you to provide coverage that substantially exceeds a standard business liability policy (ie workman’s comp, weather, specialty, etc.) and they don’t tell you about it beforehand, it’s considered a change in the scope of work and the cost should be approved as an overage. In this case, we gave the client two options – pay for the insurance or waive the requirement. They opted to pay for the insurance, so we resubmitted the one-day estimate. Here’s the final version:


Tech/Scout Day: We included a half tech/scout day for the photographer and agency to walk through the location, determine the ideal scenarios and try to nail down a shot list.

Assistant Days: The photographer wanted two assistants for this shoot. Although there wouldn’t be much in the way of equipment, the size of the space and materials was daunting, so the photographer wanted an extra set of hands.

Equipment: This covered the one day rental costs for a DSLR, a backup DSLR, grip equipment and a small portable strobe kit, all of which the photographer owned and would be renting to the production.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the time, equipment and costs to handle the initial edit, batch color correction and upload of the images to an FTP for client selection.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: This covered color correction and basic touch-up of the 15 selects. Any necessary retouching would be estimated and billed separately.

File Transfer: This covers the cost to deliver the 15 selects via hard drive, including overnight shipping.

Miles, Expendables, FTP, and Misc: This covered the basic out of pocket expenses the photographer would accrue between mileage, FTP costs, lunch for him and his assistants on the shoot day, and any other miscellaneous expenses that may arise.

Insurance: We included the cost to provide the specialty insurance the client required.

Housekeeping (see the project description): I noted all of the production elements the client would be providing: Location, releases, subjects, escorts and safety equipment.

Results, Hindsight and Feedback: The photographer is in the midst of the project and has already shot two additional days.

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.

Expert Advice: Estimate Worksheet

- - Expert Advice

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

If you ask anyone to describe me (especially my colleagues or clients that I’ve produced shoots for), one thing they will all tell you is that I’m organized. When I head out of the office at the end of the day, my desk looks like an overhead shot from a Wes Anderson movie. Folders and post-it notes are aligned, and my pen, notepad and calculator are purposefully positioned next to each other. My orderly way of doing things extends to many aspects of my job, especially in the note-taking process when developing estimates.

Aside from determining creative and licensing fees, a lot of the skill required to create a proper estimate is about asking the right questions and having a method for taking notes. Large projects often require a handful of questions to be answered, while small projects may just need some points to be clarified. Either way, you want to be prepared for when you speak with a client by asking intelligent questions that will emphasize your ability to deliver the most cost efficient estimate based on their specific needs. I’ve developed the following worksheet that I use to write down my questions prior to hopping on the phone and to organize my thoughts as I compile an estimate:


The first page starts with basic contact information, and I’ll use this space to write down the name of the photographer, client and agency (when applicable) along with the name of the agency/client contact as well as the estimate’s due date.

The next section is all about the W’s: who, what, where, when and why. Some of these questions can be answered based on general correspondence with the client before the phone conversation, and some I might be able to answer on my own. Keep in mind that every project is different and some require additional information. I use the large blank section to write down extra project-specific questions. To be even more organized, I’ll often write down the information I already have and the questions I want to ask in blue ink, and record the answers in red ink. This may sound like overkill, but it keeps the information clear and easy to read afterward.

The last section is dedicated to licensing. On the most basic level, I always want to know how many images a client wants to license, how they plan on using them and for how long they want to use them for. Oftentimes the client’s requested use doesn’t match up with their intended use, and that’s the reason why I have two different sections to record this information. It’s common that a client will request unlimited use, but really they only intend on using the images on their website–that’s a huge difference. (You can read our pricing & negotiating articles for tips on reconciling this.)

The very last item on the sheet is a section to record a client’s budget (if they are willing to tell you this information). I placed it last because it’s always important to show enthusiasm for a project and talk about the creative approach before asking about money. However, I do always ask this question because it certainly impacts my approach to the estimate.

The second page of the worksheet helps me organize the estimate as I’m building it. It primarily acts as a list of production elements to think about to keep all of the major elements in mind. As I mentioned earlier, each shoot requires a different approach, but this list helps me consider every aspect from start to finish. Here is how it came in handy for a recent estimate I compiled:

This is an email I received from a client about a shoot:


As you see, the information is a bit vague. I wrote down all of my questions on the worksheet before I called the agency contact, and below is the filled out version after the phone call (blue ink shows my questions and missing info, and red ink shows the responses)


Once I had the information I needed, I used the second page of the worksheet to think through each line of the estimate. Here is what that looked like:


Here is the final estimate based on all of the above organized information:


Read all of our Expert Advice articles here, and visit our consulting page for information on the estimating services we offer.

UPDATE: 2/28/14
To address the comments to this post, I’d like to note that the scope of the project changed from when I reached out to acquire information to the time the final estimate shown above was delivered. The following estimate was the original one I compiled based on the original description:


Pricing & Negotiating: Interiors For Residential Appliance Company

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept – Interior Architectural and Detail images of installed small residential appliances

Licensing – US Advertising and Collateral Use of up to 24 images in perpetuity

Location – Two residential properties

Shoot Days – One

Photographer – Lifestyle, Architectural and Home & Garden Specialist

Agency – N/A

Client – A small residential appliance company – a household name to those “in the know”

Here is the estimate:

pricing and negotiating, photographer estimates, wonderful machine

Intro: Last year I worked with one of our Midwest-based photographers to put together an estimate for a small residential appliance company. The shoot was fairly straightforward, without much in the way of production prep on the photographer’s side. The photographer was to shoot architectural interior and detail images of the appliances in use in two nearby homes. The client would be providing homes with the appliances already installed.  After reviewing all of the details and correspondence and researching the brand a bit (I wasn’t familiar with the product and wanted to get a better sense of the size of the company and their product line), I connected with the client to discuss the project and sort out licensing and our approach.

After confirming that the photographer would be shooting two scenarios at each of the homes, and that we’d be shooting 2-3 architectural/wide shots and 3-4 detail/tight shots in each scenario, we dove into the licensing. The locations, product, installations, props and props styling would be provided by the client, which simplified things for us considerably on the production front.

Creative/Licensing: Initially, the client requested “unlimited use of all images captured.”  Although you won’t always like the response, you need to challenge a client when they request, all images, a buyout or unlimited use. These are all vague terms we try to avoid (or elaborate on at a minimum). In this case, I needed to clarify if the client truly wanted the license to use all of the images captured. I also wanted to pin down their intended use. After a little push, the client was willing to limit the licensing to US Advertising and Collateral Use of 24 selects. The duration was still a sticking point, they we still insistent on a perpetual license. We don’t usually press very hard on the duration because there is an inherent shelf life on any given image. The value of a given set of images will taper off over time. The slope of that taper will vary based on the style, styling and subject matter. So even though the licensing was drastically limited from the original request, the client would still be able to use the 24 images in a manner that felt unlimited to them, so they were content with the restrictions.

After developing a firm understanding of the project and a decent rapport with the client, I pressed for some insight into the budget. About half the time I ask about the budget, I’ll get a valuable response. The other half of the time the budget either hasn’t been set, or the client is unwilling to reveal it for some other reason (triple bid, etc.). In those cases, you can press a bit further and find out if they’ve shot anything similar in the past, and if so, what they spent. You’ll also want to know who else is bidding if they’re willing to share that info with you in order to alter your approach to the estimate. In this case, the client was forthcoming, and had a firm 10k budget. At first glance, considering the usage, it seemed low, but I took the news in stride and set about drafting the estimate.

Because the budget was tight, I decided to approach the estimate differently. Typically, I’ll determine the creative/licensing fee, then build out the production estimate. Since we had a tight budget to begin with for this project, I opted to work backwards and price out the production first. With my production expenses dialed in, I was able to see that I had about 6000.00 left in the budget for fees. This is quite a bit lower than I would like to see for this usage. However, after considering the likelihood of any major consumer advertising (minimal), the straight forward nature of the production, the photographer’s level of experience (pretty fresh) and the size and prominence of the client (all of which apply/allow for downward pressure on the fee and/or value) I felt it was a reasonable fee. I calculated the fees on some of our pricing resources as well: Blinkbid’s Bid Consultant – 5,030.00/image for the first year, Fotoquote – 21,454.00/image for the first year and Corbis – 12,000.00/image for the first year. Though definitely valuable tools, these resources assume that each of the images will be used in every conceivable manner within the prescribed parameters, so you have to take their suggestions with a grain of salt.

Tech/Scout Day: We estimated a half day of tech/scouting time for the photographer and client to walk through the locations to nail down the shot list and angles in advance of the shoot. This would be crucial since the shoot day schedule would be somewhat ambitious. It would also allow the photographer choose a staging area and determine which gear to bring and which to leave at home.

Assistant: The photographer generally shoots without much grip or supplemental lighting so he was comfortable including just one assistant. We opted not to include a second assistant, instead relying on the tech to be an extra set of hands to load in/out, etc.

Digital Tech: The digital tech would help to manage the flow of file intake and display for client approval on set. Because it takes much longer to dial in and bracket an architectural shot, the selection process happens on set, during the shoot, in realtime (the client approves the shot composition, the photographer covers exposure and focus and processes those approved shots in post for final delivery). In the case, a tech essentially eliminates the need for a “shoot processed for client review” fee.

Photo Equipment and Workstation: This covered the one day rental costs for a laptop workstation, two DSLR bodies, a variety of lenses, grip equipment and lighting (some of which the photographer owned, but planned to rent to the production at  the market rate).

Images Processed for Reproduction: 50.00/image is in the lower end for architectural selects processing but the photographer was open to reducing the rate a bit to hit the client’s budget. Normally, I’d like to see that rate closer to 75.00-200.00/image for architectural processing, depending on the shoot.

Miles, Expendables, FTP, COI and Misc: This covered the basic out-of-pocket expenses the photographer would accrue between mileage, FTP cots, Certificate of Insurance (ranging from free to 50.00/COI depending on your insurance company) and any other miscellaneous expenses that may arise.

Overtime: Because the shoot day was fairly ambitious, I wanted to make sure it was clear to the client that if the time on site exceeded 10 hours, that the crew would bill OT at time and a half.

Housekeeping: For the sake of clarity (read: cover your ass) I made sure to note all of the production elements the client would be providing.

Results, Hindsight and Feedback: The photographer did not get the job. Although it seemed like we had the project locked up, in a excruciatingly frustrating turn of events, another photographer estimating on the project neglected to ferret out the client’s budget and priced the project at less than half of our estimate, all in. The client was eager to work with us, but felt that the difference in quality between the two photographers was negligible while the difference in fees was substantial. It was particularly tough to hear because the budget was borderline unreasonable to begin with. I’m sure there are some who would look at our willingness to work with the budget with a judging eye, but the fact of the matter is that the client had a finite amount of money to spend, we’d limited the licensing as much as we could and the photographer rarely, if ever, shoots five figure budget projects. No matter what, the client could not spend more than 10k. For some, that’s not nearly enough. For those who are willing, but fail to ask the right questions (ie ignoring a client’s budgetary threshold) end up carelessly undervaluing their work, seriously undercutting the market.

Ask the uncomfortable questions. Usually they are only uncomfortable for you.

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.

Pricing & Negotiating: IEEE Spectrum Magazine Contract

by Bill Cramer

While I’ve shot my share of assignments for name-brand publications over the years, I’ve enjoyed working for niche magazines just as much. IEEE Spectrum is one that you won’t find on any magazine rack unless you happen to be standing in an engineering school library. Published monthly by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, they have 380,000 readers. My dad was one of those readers. He was an electrical engineer (you can’t spell geek without “E.E.”). He thought enough of the magazine that we transported stacks and stacks of them to California when we moved there in the 70′s (then back to PA four years later). So, I always have a little extra sense of purpose when I get to shoot for them.

I recently got a call from their photo editor, Randi Silberman Klett, to make some pictures for their annual “Dream Jobs” issue. She asked me to photograph a guy named Simon Hager, who runs a program for high school students in Philadelphia called The Sustainability Workshop. Most of his work focuses on teaching kids how to build electric cars. Even though I had shot assignments for Spectrum before, it was time for a new contract. Some magazines have contracts that last indefinitely. Others send out a new contract with each assignment. Spectrum prefers to renew their contract with their photographers each year.

Here’s a look at it:


Here are my comments:

1) Photographer Responsibilities. They set up a purchase order with a budget that you’ll never reach. It says $40k here, but I’ve never billed them for more than a few thousand dollars a year.

2) Rights Granted to IEEE.

a) First worldwide publication rights in any form. Theirs exclusively for 90 days from first publication, non-exclusive after that. This implies to me that they can use the pictures in subsequent editions of the magazine without additional fee. That’s not ideal, but it’s unlikely enough that I decided it wasn’t worth fighting for.

b) Use of the pictures in the context of the magazine, to promote Spectrum, as well as use of my likeness. If I was famous, I would probably want to get paid for that. But I’m not.

c) Use in article reprints only after agreeing on a separate fee. Many photographers underestimate the value of article reprints. But I’ve sold enough to know that they are generally worth more (sometimes much more) than the original assignment. Though some magazines try to bundle those rights into the shoot fee, it makes more sense to separate them.

d) Electronic use is included. Fine.

e) Photographer retains copyright. Naturally.

3) Compensation. 600.00/day vs. space. Historically, it’s been customary for magazines to structure their fees in terms of a day rate against space. This way, the photographer makes a nominal fee for one or two small pictures, and the fee automatically scales up when the magazine uses more or bigger pictures or if they use one on the cover. It’s an elegant system for magazines, who don’t always know in advance how they’re going to use the pictures. In this case, Spectrum is agreeing to pay 600.00/day at a minimum. If your picture appears a full-page or larger, you get an extra 200.00. And if it shows up on the cover, you get an additional 1200.00. I like that they’re paying for space, but the wording is a little vague. Do you get paid the same amount if your picture runs one full-page or two full-pages?

4) Expenses. You’re an independent contractor. You’re going to provide receipts to get reimbursed for expenses. Sure.

5) Timing and Form of Submission. You’re going to turn in your photos on time. Of course.

6) Warranties. You made the pictures and they aren’t obscene. Okay.

7) Indemnification. You agree to pay for Spectrum’s attorney’s fees if you do anything to get them sued. This sounds pretty scary, but then you read further and discover that the limit of your liability is the amount of the assignment fee. I think that’s very reasonable. In an ideal world, they would likewise indemnify the photographer in cases where they do something to get the photographer sued.

8) Termination. They can terminate an assignment at any time, though they’ll pay you some or all of your fee depending on how much work you have put in on the project. Fine.

9) IEEE is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Nice to know.

10) Entire Agreement. Okay.

Overall, I think it’s a pretty fair contract. I give it “two thumbs up!”

I shot the assignment. Simon and his students were super-cooperative and photogenic. Their workshop turnout out to be a big, old warehouse that provided a great backdrop for the photos and there were tons of props to work with. If only every assignment was this easy! Here’s the web gallery.

Randi loved the pictures. She used one for the opener, across nearly two full-pages (I didn’t make the cover – rats!) She also used a second picture about a half-page. Here’s how it looked in the magazine:



I was thrilled with the display, plus it was nice to know that there would be some extra space rate. But looking at the contract, I couldn’t figure out what it should be. I emailed Randi and she told me to bill her 800.00 for the big picture and 600.00 for the small one. I saw the logic that the big picture was “…used at a full page or greater ($200 additional).” Meaning that it was the 600.00 day rate plus an extra 200.00 for that first picture being big. But as far as I can tell, the 600.00 for the second picture was arbitrary. Not that I’m complaining, I think it’s fair. (After all, I’m the one who signed an ambiguous contract.) If we were counting space in a more typical fashion, thinking in terms of 600.00/day vs. 600.00/page, I would count about 1100.00 for the opener (nearly 2 pages at 600.00) and 400.00 for the additional picture (about 2/3 of 600.00), resulting in 1500.00 rather than 1400.00. But what’s 100.00 between friends? I was happy with the fee. (I probably would have asked for more clarification ahead of time if it wasn’t a client that I didn’t know and trust.)

My expenses were pretty typical. One assistant at 250.00. Web gallery at 300.00. Strobe rental at 300.00. Two file preps at 25.00, and mileage. I bought my assistant lunch, but I usually don’t bill meals unless it’s a full-day assignment. Here’s my invoice:


Please let us know what you think in the comments. And read more about our Pricing & Negotiating services on our new Consulting page.

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