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Pricing & Negotiating: Pharmaceutical Portraits

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Portraits and photojournalistic manufacturing lifestyle images

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images captured in perpetuity

Location: On location at a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in the Northwest

Shoot Days: One

Photographer: Northwest-based portrait and lifestyle specialist

Agency: A Small Northwest-based agency

Client: A mid-sized pharmaceutical company

Here is the estimate:

pricing and negotiating wonderful machine, estimates for shoot production, shoot production estimates, executive producers who do estimates, estimates for photographers, wonderful machine production company, examples of photographer contracts, Jess Dudley executive producer, Pharmaceutical Portraits

Creative/Licensing: One of our Northwest-based photographers reached out looking for help pulling together an estimate for a library shoot for a local mid-sized pharmaceutical manufacturer. The agency had contacted the photographer requesting a quote for a one day shoot on location at one of their client’s manufacturing facilities. The project called for 12 setups: four environmental shots of the facility/labs, seven photojournalistic lifestyle images of employees “at work” and one lit/staged portrait. The client required unlimited usage of the library of images. We see a lot of projects along these lines, but this project was a bit unusual because the 12 setups were relatively specific. They didn’t seem to offer a lot of opportunity for variations (as opposed to more dynamic scenarios that may allow for a greater degree of variety in the space, subjects and available actions/activities). Shot one, in particular, was much more carefully composed and art directed because it would be used in trade ads, while the other 11 shots would only appear in collateral pieces. After speaking with the photographer about the hefty shot list, we wanted to make sure the client was aware that it was doable, but perhaps a bit ambitious, and that the day may require some prioritization if we were unable to move around as freely and quickly as expected.

Library fees can start around $7500 a day and will often include unlimited or perpetual usage of all images captured. It should be noted, however, that “library” does not necessarily mean unrestricted use (although it did in this case), and may be used to refer just to the volume of imagery. Accordingly, it is important to make the initial assumption that the client is willing to limit the use in some way. Often, clients are willing to limit either the duration of use or quantity of images for a library shoot, so it is best to begin the conversation with that assumption in mind to avoid inadvertently “giving away” more than necessary. Unfortunately, this was not one of those instances, and the client did, in fact, require unlimited, perpetual use of all images captured. Interestingly, the ambitious shot list helped to minimize the value of the library because the photographer would have to move so quickly from one shot to the next that the variety captured would be severely limited. Additionally, five of the 12 shots were very specific and didn’t allow for variations of any substance. Factoring the volume of shots, limited production footprint, type of client, intended use (including the very specific trade ad shot) and otherwise straight forward nature of the shoot, I set the rate at $10,000 for this shoot.

Client Provisions: I was sure to note exactly what the client and agency would provide: locations, staff “talent,” staging area(s), wardrobe, props, releases and necessary technical and safety advisors. The advisor was important to highlight since we wanted a client rep to be on set to ensure the facility and staff were up to snuff from a technical and safety standpoint. There’s nothing worse than wrapping up a shot and finding out that the subject was supposed to have been wearing safety goggles, so we were sure to put that responsibility on client’s shoulders.

*Tech/Scout Day: Due to the challenges associated with accessing this particular facility, the client was unable to allow for a tech/scout day. It’s generally a very important part of a production such as this, but unfortunately, our hands were tied.

Assistants & Tech: I estimated for a first assistant and a digital tech for the shoot. All but one shot would be captured using available light, and mobility within the facility was a concern, so the smaller the crew footprint, the better. The photographer wanted to tether a laptop on a tripod, so we didn’t need a full workstation rental from the tech, hence the lower rate.

Equipment: I estimated one day of gear rental from a local rental house including a DSLR system, a backup body, a handful of fast lenses, a small lighting and grip kit and a laptop to tether.

Styling: I included one stylist to manage basic hair, makeup, and wardrobe needs for the staff and talent. The talent would be wearing a branded uniform which the client provided, so we didn’t need to do any wardrobe shopping.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the photographer’s time for the initial import, edit, color correction and upload of the entire shoot to an FTP for client review and final image selection.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: I included basic select processing as a lump sum based on 150/image in this case. This protects the fee in the event the client ultimately selects more or less than 12 images.

Casting and Talent: Since the portrait concept called for a relatively tight shoulder up shot of the talent, they agency was comfortable with a digital casting and reviewing recent comp cards to make their selection. The casting fee covered the photographer’s time to reach out to a couple of local talent agents to request current head shots and share them with the agency for review and selection. The talent fees, in this case, were quoted by the local talent agency. Though this is a very reasonable fee for the usage, we’re often able to negotiate slightly lower fees. The fact that this was for a pharmaceutical client put a little bit of a premium on the talent cost.

Mileage, Meals, and Miscellaneous: Finally, we estimated for miles, meals for the production at the on-site cafeteria, and a bit extra to cover any unanticipated miscellaneous costs.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project and luckily, both the client and agency were very easy to work with, and the facilities proved to be as manageable as we had hoped, all of which allowed the photographer to crank out the entire shot list in a normal 10-hour day.

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

Pricing & Negotiating: Trade Ad Environmental Portraits

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Environmental portraits for trade ads

Licensing: Unlimited use of up to two images for two years

Location: On location in Denver

Shoot Days: One

Photographer: Portrait specialist based in the Southeast

Agency: N/A – Client direct

Client: A large hotel group

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: Earlier this year I helped to estimate a campaign for a large hotel group for one of our Southeast-based photographers. The concept was to highlight the client’s business services and corporate rewards programs by shooting an environmental portrait of an executive from another well-known brand that utilized the programs. The client secured the subject, and the subject secured the location (one of their very recognizable retail-storefronts). The client hoped to walk away with two portraits of the subject captured in slightly different setups within the location. One shot was an eyes-to-camera “hero” shot. The other was a secondary, more candid-feeling portrait (think captured moment while the subject assesses inventory or interacts with store staff).

Although the client required unlimited use of the two final selects, there was an inherent “trade advertising” limitation in the use. While I was mindful of the possibility that the ad could potentially be used in consumer-facing publications/platforms, the campaign was directed toward corporate travel departments & executives and, accordingly, would most likely be placed in trade publications. Though the intent was made clear, the client wasn’t willing to limit the licensing agreement to trade use only.

Additionally, the client requested two years of use for the images. Lately, I’ve tried to avoid anchoring licensing duration with the term “from first use” because it can be a bit too vague. It puts the onus on the photographer to chase down the client to determine when exactly the first insertion occurred (though some clients are good about sharing that info, others are trickier to pin down). Additionally, without more specific language, some clients may take a liberal interpretation of “first use” to mean first use of a given image, as opposed to the image set, effectively extending a given campaign (e.g. image one is used 6/16-6/18 and image two is used 1/17-1/19). To avoid these issues altogether, we’ve been using specific expiration dates, which will often include a bit of lead time for print production and insertion deadlines. So a shoot scheduled in early May, such as this, allowed for as many as six weeks of post and print production work (i.e a start date of June 30, 2016 and expiration date of June 30, 2018). It is possible the client could immediately insert one of the images in a web ad or elsewhere, but when pricing out durations in the 12+ month range, we feel the extent of the usage and clarity of the termination date outweigh the concern over early use.

After factoring in the intended use, duration of use, inherent limitations, the complexity of the shoot, nature of the campaign, variety of the imagery and the scale & reach of the client, we set the value for these images at 8,000 for the first, and 4,000 for the second. The value of the second image drops so significantly because it is a true variation of the first image that doesn’t drastically impact the core message or design on the campaign but still provides value.

Client Provisions: I was sure to note exactly what the client had committed to providing, including sourcing the location and subject, and securing the necessary releases.

Tech/Scout and Travel Days: I included one tech/scout day to walk through the storefront location with the creative team to determine compositions and block out the schedule. It was also particularly important in this case to determine appropriate staging areas, assess the availability of power options, overhead lighting control and store readiness as the product and store would feature prominently in the shots. Based on the flight schedules, we were able to fly in and scout on the same day, enabling us to estimate for one Tech/Scout day (including travel to the location) the day before the shoot and one return travel day the day following the shoot.

Producer and Production Assistant: I included a producer to manage all aspects of the production, from sourcing crew to booking travel to correspondence between the client and subject. I also added a PA to help with odds and ends throughout the production.

Assistants & Techs: I estimated for a first assistant to travel with the photographer and included a digital tech (with a workstation) & second assistant for the shoot day.

Equipment: I estimated one day of gear rental from a local rental house at 2000.00 for a medium format system, backup DSLR system, a handful of lenses, lighting and grip equipment. Our proposed itinerary would allow for our first assistant to pick up gear the afternoon of the tech/scout day and return it on the way to the airport the morning after the shoot.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the photographer’s time for the initial import, edit, color correction and upload of the entire shoot to an FTP for client review and final image selection.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: I included basic processing of “up to” two final selects as a lump sum (based on 150/image in this case), which protects the fee in the event the client ultimately selects fewer than two images (or more than two images, for that matter).

Styling: The subject would need stylists to manage wardrobe and hair & makeup needs for the shoot so I factored in a wardrobe stylist (including shopping and return days for the wardrobe stylist) and a budget for un-returnable wardrobe and small props like handbags, etc. (which would ultimately be offered up to the client, subject, or donated) as well as a hair and makeup stylist for the shoot day only.

Travel Expenses: I budgeted for airfare, lodging and car rentals for the traveling crew (Photographer, Producer and First Assistant). I was sure to consider parking, internet, baggage and car insurance costs as well.

Catering, Insurance, Miles, Meals, and Miscellaneous: To wrap everything up, I estimated for craft, breakfast and lunch catering at about 60.00/person, insurance costs to cover worker’s comp premiums (and a small portion of general liability, meals and miscellaneous costs for the traveling crew.

Results/Hindsight: The photographer was awarded the project, without negotiation, which meant we hit the budget on the nose, or that we left money on the table. Wonderful Machine managed the production and the client has since come back to the photographer and WM to produce and shoot additional versions of the same campaign.

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

Expert Advice: LinkedIn

- - Expert Advice

By Rachel Walburn, Wonderful Machine

An active social media effort should be part of every photographer’s overall marketing strategy. LinkedIn has some unique features that make it an essential part of that strategy. Namely, it’s the only platform that is strictly business to business, making it easy to find and connect with clients and for them to find you. While LinkedIn is ideal for creating connections, it is also an excellent way to cultivate relationships and promote your brand. We have some advice on not only how to make your profile stand out to get those connections you’d like, but also how to market your brand!

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photo by Saverio Truglia

CREATING A PROFILE

LinkedIn is an online resume allowing you to share your experience, skills, and interests. It’s primarily a professional platform, but there’s an opportunity for you to show off your unique personality as well.

To create a basic profile, LinkedIn will prompt you for your name, your job title, your location (probably your nearest big city), your industry (probably Photography), and your work history. We recommend inputting your first and last name and then entering your company name as your current job. After getting these basics squared away, we recommend customizing your profile to add in your personality.

You can start off by creating a custom URL. When you make your LinkedIn account, LinkedIn will assign you a URL based on your name plus some random numbers, like linkedin.com/in/joeblow-2334234. LinkedIn gives you the ability to edit that, so create text that matches up as closely as possible with your brand. So instead of linkedin.com/in/joeblow-2334234, it might be better to have it read linkedin.com/in/joeblow-photography. To change this, please see our lovely staff member Ken’s profile below. Detailed instructions describing the process are explained on LinkedIn’s help page.

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

Your headline counts. Instead of writing “Photographer” or “Freelance Photographer,” make it specific. Try “Photographer Specializing in Corporate and Architecture Photography.” Quick changes like this can take you from one of many to one that’s above the rest. Potential clients want to know who and what they’re viewing quickly and if it’s the right fit for them, so it’s important that your profile is thoughtful and complete.

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

Jordan Hollender makes a very clear and descriptive use of his headline by noting that his company HollenderX2 is not just a husband and wife photo team but a duo specializing in conceptual images and portraits.

Make sure your profile picture is of you, not a model you’ve photographed. Keep it professional and in line with the rest of your branding – preferably without a camera hiding your face!

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

D. Scott Clark’s professional profile image on LinkedIn.

You can also brighten things up on your brand’s page by adding banners. If you’re a photographer, you can upload a picture or a series of images to help bring out your personality and make your profile unique.

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Vance Jacob’s LinkedIn banner showcases examples of some of his portraits.

Use your summary to share your background and tell your story. Be personable and speak directly to the reader. Engage them, so they’re interested in learning more about you. Treat this overview like an elevator pitch of who you are as a photographer. Keep it short and straightforward. LinkedIn allows you to include images, documents, and links throughout your page. You can post a direct URL to your website (or specific pages within your site), and you can include photos or video. Having a few examples of your work in your summary is an excellent way to add visuals to break up boxes of text and give clients a sample of your actual work!

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

Vance Jacob’s LinkedIn summary. Vance elegantly breaks up his bio with thumbnail image links directly to sections of his website.

Include personal interests and hobbies, certifications, causes that you’re interested in and volunteer work you’ve done; even if it was years ago. It’s sometimes those details that make it easy for others to relate to you.

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

Liz Nemeth mentions her volunteer work and interests in children and families on her LinkedIn. This information shows clients her personality and these causes are reflected in the subject matter of her photographs! Your volunteer work is a great way to emphasize your passions are show your depth beyond photographic skills.

NETWORKING: FINDING CLIENTS

By creating a detailed profile, you’ll be making it easy for clients and others in our industry to find you. LinkedIn also provides a number of tools to make it easy for you to find others and to cultivate relationships within our industry.

When you first create a profile on LinkedIn, you won’t have any connections. Start by sending a connection request to people you already know and who are likely to accept your connection. Past clients and photographers who you have a strong relationship with would be ideal people to add. With those connections, you’ll be able to send out a connection request to others who have their privacy settings set so that you must share a common connection before you can request them. With each connection you add (these are your 1st connections), your 2nd and 3rd connections will also grow. You can ask someone in your immediate network for an introduction to a 2nd or 3rd connection if you see a connection that has great potential. You will see this option on your toolbar on the right under another handy tool which shows people similar to the profile you are on:

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

As your network expands, more people will see you and your searches will yield more results. Since LinkedIn uses this algorithm, we recommend connecting with clients in the industry who are going to hire you or introduce you to industry professionals that can help to advance your career. You want to only connect with photographers who can endorse or introduce you to a client.

Follow companies that interest you. Once you follow a company, you’ll receive updates including job opportunities and other news that it shares on your LinkedIn homepage.

To find clients you’d like to work with, look at the company profile page to see who the creative director, art director, photo editor, or marketing director is. Those will be the people that are most likely to hire photographers or be interested in photography and the ones you want to connect with.

RECOMMENDATIONS & ENDORSEMENTS

While Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are great for building a following, showcasing your images, and casual interaction; clients may not be able to get a sense of what it will be like to work with you. LinkedIn serves as a recommendation letter. Users can easily endorse the skills and expertise you list on your page, and in turn, it’s an easy way to confirm what you can do. Even better, users you’ve worked with in the past can write a recommendation discussing their experience with you. Nothing is more valuable to a client than seeing that you’re professional, experienced and a pleasure to work with.

So, how do you get a recommendation? You can contact up to three connections at a time to ask them to recommend you. Try writing a thoughtful recommendation for some connections you had great experiences with. This feedback might inspire them to do the same! Recommendations double as a thoughtful way to say thank you and make an impression that will help you stay on someone’s mind. Not only will recommendations show up on your LinkedIn page, but they will also be visible on the page of the user who wrote it for you – allowing all of their connections to see you shine as well.

To request recommendations from a particular person: Go to their profile, click on the drop down menu under their name and select recommend. From here you can write a recommendation, or you can choose to Ask for a Recommendation.

Endorsements are great because you essentially get to select the skill areas you’d like to be endorsed it! Don’t forget to set up these skills on your page by simply clicking add skill and typing your areas of expertise.

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Christina Gandolfo’s LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is full of networking opportunities to help you find the right professionals. And like many other social media sites, you have access to it right at your fingertips through its mobile app making it easy to stay connected and active almost anywhere in the world. Think of LinkedIn just as you would Twitter, Instagram or Facebook in regards to posting content! On the homepage, you can use: Share an update, Upload a photo or Write an article to keep your audience posted on new work, features, tearsheets and pieces written on your work. These posts will show up directly in your connections newsfeeds, like Facebook, and the content will permanently live on your LinkedIn profile page.

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Justin Bastien’s LinkedIn posts live on his profile page permanently after being featured on his connections newsfeeds.

A free account offers all of the features above, and if you decide to upgrade, you’ll gain access to even more connections, have the ability to make more targeted searches and receive more information on who’s viewing your profile. You’ll receive a number of InMail messages– these allow you to directly contact people even if they aren’t in your network. There are a few different options available, and LinkedIn sometimes offers free trials to see if an upgrade is right for you.

Need help with your marketing? Give Rachel Walburn at Wonderful Machine a shout!

Pricing & Negotiating: Athlete Portraits for a Beer Brand

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Portraits of a professional athlete against a solid background captured on location alongside a video production

Licensing: Advertising and Collateral use (excluding out-of-home and broadcast) of up to two images for one year

Location: A stadium in Los Angeles

Shoot Days: One

Photographer: Portraiture and active lifestyle specialist

Agency: Medium in size, based in the Midwest

Client: A beer brand

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: The agency was in pre-production for a video shoot featuring a professional athlete and they hoped to capture portraits of the athlete alongside that project on the same shoot day. Given the availability of the athlete and the busy shoot day, the agency anticipated that the photographer would have about 30-45 minutes to capture two types of portraits; one posed shot of the athlete holding the product, and another shot of the athlete in action with various equipment. Other than the time constraint, the portraits were rather straightforward, especially considering the agency planned to provide the location, styling and general production coordination through the video team.

Based on the layouts/comps we received, it was clear that they intended to use the images primarily for in-store displays and other collateral pieces, however the requested licensing included use for all advertising and collateral purposes for a year. Based on this, I valued the first image at $8,000 and the second image at $4,000, totaling $12,000. They also asked for an option to extend the licensing to include an additional year, which I priced at 50% of the 1-year rate.

Pre-Production Day: I included one day for the photographer to line up his crew and correspond with the agency and video team to prepare for the shoot day. It’s often expected that a photograhper will bring on a producer when shooting alongside a video team to handle correspondence with the client, agency and video production team, but for this project it was clear that the art buyer from the agency would be filling this role.

Assistants: I included two assistants for the shoot day, both of which would help with lighting and grip equipment while also lending a hand with any last minute needs during the short window of shooting time.

Digital Tech: The digital tech the photographer works with charges $500/day plus $350 for a mobile laptop workstation, which would help the agency/client see the results as they were being shot. We also anticipated the athlete’s publicist would be on site as well, since we knew they’d want to approve the images being captured.

Equipment: This included about $800 for camera bodies and lenses, and $700 for grip, lighting and expendables.

Van Rental: One of the shots required the athlete to jump in the air and land on a large pad. The photographer needed a van to transport this pad (which he already owned) to the shoot, along with his equipment.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This accounts for the photographer’s time to edit the images and deliver a web gallery for the agency to choose from, as well as the delivery of their two selects. The agency was to provide any retouching, so we didn’t include any additional post processing fees.

Mileage, Parking, and Miscellaneous: This covered parking at the stadium and miscellaneous expenses throughout the shoot day.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and the client came back a few months later with another similar project featuring a different athlete.

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

Pricing & Negotiating: Shooting Abroad for a Custom Publication

by,Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Images showcasing a product manufacturing process, as well as portraits and cityscape images.

Licensing: Use of up to 15 images in a custom publication as well as perpetual collateral use.

Location: A retail store and manufacturing facility in East Asia

Shoot Days: 2

Photographer: Portrait and fashion specialist

Agency: Large, based in the Northeast

Client: Large automotive company

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: The agency/client hoped to document the manufacturing process of a product associated with their brand, as well as a few portraits of the fabricators and cityscapes in and around the area where the facility was located. One day would focus on capturing images within the facility and portraits of the employees, and the other day would be dedicated to capturing still life images of the products, as well as photojournalistic images of the area around the facility. The primary use of the images would be for a custom publication with a circulation of up to 500,000. In addition to the custom publication (which would also have a digital version available online), they also anticipated using the images in direct mail pieces and emailers while using them on their website and social media outlets. These other collateral uses would feature the images within their final layout to promote the publication, rather than being used independently and out of context. Additionally, while the use within the publication would be limited to a single edition, the collateral use would be perpetual.

Based on previous experience with similar projects for custom publications and the information I was able to acquire from the agency, I came up with a tiered pricing structure. I determined the first image was worth $2,500, images #2-5 were worth $1,000, images #6-10 were worth $500 and images #11-15 were worth $100, which landed me at $9,750. Prorated, that broke down to $650/image and just under $5,000/day if the client were to look at it that way, which I was comfortable with.

Photographer Travel Day(s): The photographer actually split her time between New York City and the location in East Asia. This was one of the reasons the agency was interested in working with her, as she was fluent in the language and already familiar with the area. While she could have worked as a local if it really came to it, we wanted to include a fee to account for the time it would take to get there and back before and after the shoot. Given the location and flight durations, it would actually take two days to get there and one to get back, however we wanted to keep the travel expenses palatable to the client so we left it at two days total.

Assistant Day(s): We included two shoot days for one local assistant.

Airfare and Lodging: While the photographer wouldn’t need a hotel since she had local connections, the airfare was around $700 for the dates the client had in mind, and we added about $100 each way for oversized baggage. I’d typically include business class fares for flights like this which would have been pricier, but as I mentioned, I wanted to keep the travel expenses to a minimum so we estimated for economy seats.

Ground Transportation, Parking, Meals, Misc.: I included $60/day for the photographer’s meals over four days, and added an extra $30/day for her assistant’s meals over the two shoot days. On top of that, we included $200 for taxis and miscellaneous expenses.

Equipment: I included $500/day for two shoot days to account for the minimal grip/lighting that the photographer would be bringing with her each day. Again, to keep apparent travel related expenses to a minimum, we included equipment expenses as if she was working as a local, rather than charging for the rentals over the entire course of the trip.

Color Correction, File Cleanup and Delivery: I included $100/image for basic processing and delivery of 15 selects. I’d typically charge a few hundred dollars to do an initial edit and provide a web gallery to the client, but I felt we were already pushing the limit on what their budget might be, so we left it out.

Feedback: A few days later, we heard back from the agency, and we found out that their budget was $15,000 (we weren’t far off). However, based on availability of the facility and subjects, they hoped to stretch the project and add another shoot day while also adding on five more images. After a conversation with the client, they knew they wouldn’t be able to keep the $15k budget while adding this, and were willing to increase the budget to make it work.

I looked at this a few different ways in order to determine an appropriate price increase. First, I considered the tiered pricing structure, figuring that these five additional images would probably be worth the same amount as the bottom end of the range I calculated, perhaps as low as $100 each. If I went this route, I wanted to make sure we accounted for the photographer’s time, which would be more valuable than the additional licensing in this scenario. Ideally, I would have added $2,500-$3,000 to account for the additional day on top of the $500 licensing fee. The other way I could have approached this would have been to prorate the cost based on the original fee and number of images, and multiplied that times five more images. Both of those approaches brought the total creative/licensing fee to around the $13,000 mark.

We also adjusted the expenses to account for the additional day, which quickly pushed the bottom line up over $20k, and I felt it was worth another phone call to the agency just to double check how far they thought we might be able to increase the budget. I found out that they anticipated their client would be willing to go up to a max of $19,500, and asked to see what we could do to make that happen.

With that budget in mind, we made a few concessions while keeping an eye on the photographer’s true out of pocket expenses. We brought the travel days down to $750/day, added just $200 for equipment, and cut the processing to what broke down to $60/image. We also increased the assistant by a day and increased the transportation and meals by $200 as well. This brought us $100 under their budget, and we sent it off to the agency. Here is the estimate:

Results: The client opted to move forward with the three-day version, and the photographer was awarded the project.

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

Expert Advice: Email Service Providers

- - Expert Advice

Anna Donnella, Wonderful Machine

As Wonderful Machine founder Bill Cramer says, “In a world where everyone can send an email, everyone does.” It’s true, and not only is everyone sending emails, but email service providers specializing in email marketing are popping up to make it easier for people to send lots of emails at once.

As a photographer, sending out a mass emailer is a great way to introduce yourself to potential new clients, and keep current contacts abreast of your latest work. If you’re wondering about the philosophies of email marketing, check out our Expert Advice onemail marketing. If you’re looking for the specifics of choosing an email service provider to help you with mass emailing, you’re in the right place!

Let’s start at the beginning. What is an email service provider?

An email service provider, or an ESP, is a web-based application that allows people to send bulk email. Most ESPs allow you to complete three basic components of email marketing: create email subscriber lists; send emails to those lists; and review the data from those sent campaigns.

Good ESPs will also provide you with a way to have people sign up for your emailers so that you can continue to grow your subscriber network steadily and organically.

How do you decide which provider to use?

The email marketing scene is crowded. Very crowded. As such, there are a lot of ESPs competing to get your attention. That’s good because it means there are a lot of options for you, but the truth is that most of the options are very similar. As we said before, they’ll all have a way to create subscriber lists, send campaigns, and review the stats on the campaigns you’ve sent. So don’t lose sleep over which ESP is exactly perfect for you. Here’s a list of some of the main providers:

MailChimpEmmaSendinBlueBenchmarkConstant ContactCampaign Monitor

We generally recommend MailChimp to photographers because it has a Forever Free Plan that lets you send 12,000 emails a month to a list of up to 2000 subscribers, which is a really nice amount for photographers. (If you’re sending to more than 2000 clients a month, you may be sending a little excessively, and you should check out our expert advice on Prospect List Services for guidance.) There are just a few features the Forever Free plan doesn’t offer—like automated feeds for blogs and special delivery by time zone—so you can check those out and see how much those matter to you.

At Wonderful Machine, we also use MailChimp, and although we have way too many subscribers for the Forever Free plan, we find that it is a great provider for several reasons. First off, our experience is that it’s the most preferred ESP among designers. This is because it allows for a lot of different design options, and it is incredibly user-friendly for designers dropping in files. We actually find that it is user-friendly in all its areas, as it has a simple layout and straightforward instructions throughout the site. It also has clear and thorough documentation on every aspect of email marketing. MailChimp actually stands out significantly from the competition because it’s one of the best places to learn about email marketing, and why not practice where you learn. Constant Contact also provides some helpful literature on email marketing.

When deciding which email subscriber is right for you, keep in mind that if you’re sending to fewer than 2000 subscribers a month, it makes sense to stay on a free plan. MailChimp isn’t the only one who provides a free plan. Benchmark and SendinBlue also have free plans, again with certain limitations whose importance you can assess for yourself. SendinBlue’s free plan is a little bit different because it doesn’t care about the number of subscribers you have; it only limits you in terms of how many emails you’re sending.

To learn more about top competitors to MailChimp, Merchant Maverick has a greatcomparison guide. PC Mag also just released a list of the 10 best email marketing software companies of 2016.

Creating Subscriber Lists

The first step of your email marketing plan, and the first thing you’ll probably set up within your ESP, will be your campaign subscriber lists. As we, and most of our photographers are most familiar with MailChimp, we’ll use their terms and definitions.

Subscribers refers to the people who will be receiving your emails. ESPs, and especially MailChimp, will ask you to verify that anyone you are listing as a subscriber is someone who asked to be on your email list. This is where we get into some of the gray area with sending mass emails. You can read more about the ethics and policies of this in the section below, “What’s the deal with spam?”

You can upload subscribers one at a time, but the easier way is probably to upload them from a spreadsheet. When you upload a spreadsheet into MailChimp, you will have to select which columns from the original spreadsheet you want to include in your MailChimp list. For example, your original spreadsheet may include columns for first name, last name, email address, company, and date added to your database. You may want to keep all of these columns in your MailChimp list, or you may decide that the date someone was added to your database is irrelevant for your new list, in which case you can skip that column.

MailChimp and other ESPs will also provide you with a signup form you can put on your website or Facebook page so that people can add themselves to your lists. Giving people the opportunity to sign up for your lists themselves is one of the best ways of expanding your network.

You can create as many different lists of subscribers as you want, but it may be better to create one or a couple main lists and create groups within those lists. If one person is on two different lists, that counts as two subscribers when MailChimp is tracking your total subscriber count. One person in multiple groups, however, will not count as more than one subscriber as long as the groups are within the same list. You can segment your lists into groups based on any characteristic.

Mailchimp explains everything about subscribers, lists, and groups, including the technical process for creating them on their site.

What’s the deal with SPAM?

With mass emailing comes the question of spam. The definition of spam is simple: unsolicited bulk email, or UBE. An email is only spam if it is unsolicited AND bulk at the same time. Okay, this simple definition has a lot more complexity than meets the eye.Spamhaus, the authority on spam, gives a thorough explanation of spam and how it can apply to you, but we’ll break down the most important points here.

Unsolicited email. Unsolicited email is common. We email people even if they haven’t asked to be emailed and we receive emails when we haven’t asked for them. This happens all the time. Some examples are job enquiries and sales enquiries. Chances are as a photographer, many of your emails fall into this category. (Again, something is only spam if it is both unsolicited and bulk.)

Mailchimp and other ESPs will ask that everyone on your list got there by way of opting in, meaning that they asked to be there explicitly. This is because they want to make sure that you are not at risk of sending spam. The best practice on opting in is called a double opt-in, or a confirmed opt-in, which you can read about here.

Spamhaus does provide an email marketing best practice document, however, that also lists implied consent as a form of email consent. This happens if someone gives you reason to believe they would be interested in your information even if they have not explicitly signed up for an emailer. The MAAWG (Messaging, Malware, and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group) lists this as type of consent but not a best practice.

Bulk email. According to Spamhaus, email is bulk if it is being sent to so many people that the recipient’s personal identity and context are irrelevant because the message is equally applicable to many other potential recipients. For this, and other reasons, we advise our photographers to be intentional about whom they are emailing. Spamhaus specifies that if you are buying a list of names to email, this is inherently spam, as that list is nonspecific (therefore bulk) and the emails were unsolicited. That is why at Wonderful Machine, we never sell our photographers pre-made lists, but instead we allow them to pay for list-builds, where we organically create lists that are specialized and specific for that individual photographer. With these lists, the recipients’ personal identities and context are absolutely relevant, keeping them free of the label, “bulk.”

In short, as long as you are sending relevant emails to targeted, appropriate lists, you should be fine. Just make sure you’re familiar with the policies and that you feel comfortable with your practices.

Create a Campaign!

Each round of emails you send is called a campaign. You can control a lot of things about a campaign, but probably the most important is the design. Again, you can refer to our expert advice on email marketing to learn about the importance of a great design when sending out your emails. You can get in touch with our designers if you’d like help putting together the perfect look for your emailers.

You’ll be able to control other details of your campaign as well, such as the subject line, the sender (who it will say the email is from), and whether you’d like a personalized first name. You will also be able to check off which tracking options the email will have, and we suggest you always choose to see who opens and clicks on your email.

Each campaign can only be sent to one list. If you’d like to send a campaign to more than one list, you’ll have to duplicate the campaign for the second list.

Reviewing your Campaign

At the end of the day, it’s time to review the campaign you sent. Mailchimp will provide you with a campaign report that will tell you many things:

The number and percentage of successful deliveries. Pretty self-explanatory. If an email was not successfully delivered, it means it bounced.

Bounced emails. There are two types of email bounces: hard and soft. A hard bounce means the email address you attempted to send to cannot be sent to. This could be because the email address does not exist or the recipient email server has blocked all delivery. If an email address on your list yields a hard bounce, that subscriber will automatically be removed from your list. A soft bounce is less severe than a hard bounce, and could happen for a number of reasons, including if the recipient’s mailbox is too full or if the email message is too large to get through. If an email address on your list yields a soft bounce, that subscriber will not immediately be removed from your list. Mailchimp will actually continue to attempt to deliver the email over the course of the three days.

Open rate. This is the percentage of people on your list who opened your email. Don’t worry if this appears low to you. A 20% open rate is perfectly strong.

Total opens. This number will be much higher than your open rate, because it counts every single time your email is opened. So if 20 subscribers each open your email twice, your total opens will be 40.

Click rate. This is the percentage of people on your list who clicked your email. Again, don’t be alarmed if the number seems low. Anywhere from .8 to 3% is normal. Mailchimp will also let you see a list of who exactly has opened and clicked the email. It will show you how many times someone opened your email, which links they clicked on, and at what time they opened or clicked anything.

Member rating. You’ll see a set of stars next to your subscribers with the label “member rating.” Mailchimp rates your subscribers for you based on their engagement with your campaigns. How many times have they opened your emails? How many times have they clicked? Be aware of what your subscribers are doing, because this can be a great way to track who you should follow up with.

Unsubscribed. You’ll get a list of people who unsubscribed from your email. They will automatically be removed from this particular list, but they will not automatically be removed from any other lists they are on. Be aware of who has unsubscribed so you can be sensitive to what they want.

There’s lots more to read on email marketing and email service providers, so help yourself to the links below, and if you have any other questions, reach out!

Helpful Resources:

Spamhaus’s Frequently Asked Questions on Spam

Mailchimp’s Best Practices for Lists

HubSpot’s 25 Simple Ways to Grow Your List

Pricing & Negotiating: Brand Imagery for a Premium Liquor Brand

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Environmental product shots

Licensing: Unlimited use of up to 25 images for three years from first use

Location: On location in Southern California

Shoot Days: 2

Photographer: Food and beverage specialist based in Southern California

Agency: N/A – Client direct

Client: A premium liquor brand

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing:  A premium liquor brand recently requested a bid from one of our Southern California-based food/beverage specialists. They were looking to produce a shoot supporting an upcoming rebranding effort to update product photography for one of their premium lines. The concept was fairly straight-forward—shoot a variety of environmental still life images of the line of products accompanied by various cocktails. Most of the shots would also incorporate the brand’s in-house mixologist as a background element, mixing or serving the cocktails. To maintain continuity, they hoped all of the shots would be captured at the same location, one that offered a handful of compositional options to allow for variety while maintaining a consistent look/tone. The shot list called for 25 images, which was really only 4 setups, and included 6-7 variations in each. Some shots were product only; others included cocktails and/or the mixologist element. The detailed shot list, limited setups, relatively simple recipes and relatively fast-paced photographer allowed us to estimate this as a two day shoot.

Although the licensing wasn’t/couldn’t be restricted in any way in the language of the agreement, it was made clear that these images weren’t intended for campaign use (the client’s ad agency produced those images/campaigns separately). The images would be used mostly for trade purposes—ads in trade journals, trade show materials, and the occasional web ad. Also, the shot list broke down into two categories—universal product shots (heroes) and variations of each of those with different cocktails (variations). The value was clearly weighted in favor of the hero shots so we priced the licensing accordingly. We set the fee for the first four images (heroes) at 2500.00 each and the variations at approximately 750.00 each. Since each of the first four images was unique to a product line, we couldn’t justify any real decrease in fees from image 1 to image 4, and since the variations were variations in the truest sense, but each independent from the next, the value dropped, and plateaued, quickly.

Client Provisions: We were sure to note exactly what we expected the client to provide: the mixologist, product, recipes and product/technical advisors.

Tech/Scout Days: We included one tech/scout day to walk through the selected location with the creative team to determine compositions and block out the schedule.

Producer and Production Assistant: With as many production elements as this project had, a producer was necessary. We included a producer to manage the production, start to finish, so the photographer and client could focus on the creative during the shoot. We added a PA as well to help out with odds and ends and coffee runs throughout the production.

Assistants & Techs: We estimated for a first assistant to sort gear, attend the tech/scout and manage lighting/gear during the shoot. We also included a digital tech (with a workstation) and a second assistant on the shoot days as well.

Equipment: We estimated 2000.00/day for a medium format system, backup DSLR system, a handful of lenses, lighting and grip equipment. This enabled our first assistant to pick up and test gear prior to the tech/scout day and allowed the photographer to tech/scout with the camera system she intended to shoot with.

Location Scout/Fees: We allotted for three days of scouting to find our bar location and one day for the tech/scout. We budgeted 2500.00/day for location fees which would allow us a pretty deep pool of options to choose from, particularly since we were shooting early in the day during off/closed hours (mostly).

Styling: We included a full styling team: a prop stylist to style the location, manage product and source/manage glassware & barware; a wardrobe and hair & makeup stylist to style our mixologist talent; and a beverage stylist and assistant to manage the cocktails. We estimated the props and wardrobe stylists would each need two days to shop and one day to return.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the time of the initial edit, color correction and upload of the first edit to an FTP for client review and final image selection.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: We included basic color correction and touchups as a lump sum (based on 75.00/image in this case), which protects the fee in the event the client ultimately selects fewer than 25 images.

Retouching and File Transfer: Product photography almost always calls for retouching over and above basic file processing. We included 25 hours of retouching to manage more detailed processing and client requests. We also included the cost to purchase two hard drives and the shipping of one of those drives (containing all hi-res processed selects) to the client.

Catering, Insurance, Miles, Meals, Misc.: Catering covered hot breakfast, lunch, coffee, drinks and craft/snacks for up to 20 people for both shoot days. We also included an insurance line to cover workman’s comp. premiums and a prorated portion of the annual production insurance premium (which often scales based on total annual production costs). Finally, we estimated a healthy miscellaneous line to cover local transportation and any other unexpected expenses that may pop up throughout the production.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and after a series of small overage approvals (due to a change in scope), we added additional prop stylist days, a prop assistant and bumped up the prop budget which pushed the bottom line on the final invoice up close to 95k.

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

Expert Advice: Print Portfolios

- - Expert Advice

Stacy Swiderski, Wonderul Machine

I’ve been in this industry for a few years now and am still surprised at how many photographers think print is dead, that it’s not worth it, or that clients just aren’t interested in seeing actual portfolios when you can simply email a URL or attach a pdf. That couldn’t be further from the truth. While we certainly live in a digital age and a commercial photographer’s web presence is the main introductory platform to their work and brand, it’s important not to overlook the benefits of having a professionally printed portfolio and using it as part of a complete marketing agenda.

The website is important, very important, but your brand shouldn’t stop there. Clients still like to see books, and they like to see great books that solidly represent a photographer’s brand and showcase their capabilities. Your book should be an extension of the work on your site, not a mere repetition of it. It should be well considered, show off your strongest, most commercially viable work, and present it all in a thoughtfully curated manner.

Why Print:

There are few reasons, actually:

1) While your website appeals to the widest audience of possible clients, simply because anyone can view it, your print portfolio is going to be the best way to tailor your work to suit an individual client’s needs. You can also bring along an iPad with additional content that will easily allow you to elaborate on a conversation or project that resonates with that particular client.

2) A print portfolio is a conversation piece. You can’t walk into a meeting empty-handed, or with just a few promo cards. Your printed portfolio is a chance to show the client something that they can’t see on their own. It’s an opportunity to share something tangible and reveal the experiences and backstories to your work.

3) The printed portfolio is the best way to escape the illuminated, back lit screen of digital media and make your work more tangible, accessible, and closer to reality. It’s a great way to show off your attention to detail, your commitment to your craft, and just how much you value your work. Most of all, it enforces your unique vision and style as a photographer—you know, those things that make you stand out from thousands of other photographers and help to define your brand.

Even if you’re not yet ready to schedule meetings and sit face to face with creatives at the agency you’re aspiring to work for, you can consider starting with portfolio review events like FotoWorks or Palm Springs Photo Festival (PSPF) Portfolio Reviews. At events like these, you can pay one price to get feedback from a wide array of industry professionals (and get picked up for a job if you’re lucky).

Selecting Images:

Your print portfolio should offer a decisive and concise collection of work that addresses the following key questions: What are your goals? What type of work would you like to be doing more of? And what type of clients would you like to work for? All of these answers should help you determine the work that you include in your book. And just like you pay attention to the way your website is organized and which work is emphasized there, you need to pay attention to the way your print book is sequenced and how it flows from one image to the next.

When it comes to selecting and composing the images in your edit, always start with your strongest, most commercially viable work. Then, focus on telling a story with the photos you choose and how they interact with each other. Maybe the narrative is literal and tells a story with lifestyle and adventure images sequenced according to the different seasons, or maybe it’s a visual story based on thematics like color, composition, or mood that play off from one image to the next. Just like any good edit (whether web or print), make sure there is a strong push and pull between images. In other words, make sure the depiction of space within each frame does not feel repetitive across multiple images in a sequence. You’ll also want to make sure that if you’re printing double-sided pages, your book spreads actually work as spreads and that those images make sense being placed next to each other. Lastly, only show what you need to. Be decisive about the work you include, and tailor it to the client’s needs when possible (screw post portfolios are great for this).

Below is a sample section from a print edit done for food photographer, Stephanie Mullins. Notice how the images placed next to each other work as full spreads:

Stephanie decided to have her portfolio printed on demand via AdoramaPix and chose a bright yellow linen for the cover, along with glossy, lay flat pages:

Your book does not need to be configured in the same way as your site, nor should it show off the exact same work.  Show variety and images that coincide with one another. For example, maybe your site has the wide shot of the runner lacing up his sneakers for a marathon, while the print edit has the shallow close-up of the sun glistening off the sweat on his forehead. Or maybe your site has the overhead version of the table setting from a food shoot, and your print edit includes a pairing of a 30 degree and straight-on shot from the same set.

As a general industry rule, try to keep the book close to 30 spreads or less so that clients can comfortably view your book without having to rush through. If they like your work, and want to see more, they’ll be prompted to take another look at your site. Again, this is why it’s important that your print edit is an extension of your website, not merely a repetition of it.

Materials Matter:

When it comes to portfolios, there’s nothing worse than viewing strong work that is poorly printed. I’ve been to enough portfolio reviews and have seen enough books to tell you that the paper you’re using can make or break the strength of your work. Whether you’re printing on-demand books or inkjet prints from home, choose a paper with a wide color gamut, minimal tooth, and the right degree of brightness for your work. Also, think about the surface of the paper, and whether matte, luster, or glossy is going to be the best option for the style of your work. Keep in mind that while glossy paper may increase contrast and sharpness of your images, it’s also going to impart a reflective element that can oftentimes interrupt the viewing experience (much like plastic sleeves do). Whatever option you choose, just make sure it is in line with making your images look the best they possibly can.

You’ll also want to consider the size of your portfolio (think comfortable, practical, and easy to manage) and make sure that the size and orientation are conducive to the work you’ll be showing. Is the work primarily vertical? Horizontal? Are you going to pair up your verticals or keep them on separate pages? Will images be printed full-bleed or with borders? And if you’re going to be investing in a custom screw post book, you’ll want to make sure your paper can be printed double-sided and your materials (including the book itself) are acid-free for long term storage and stability. If you’re interested in simply using a presentation box, continue to pay attention to your edit, but also think about using a paper with a heavier weight that’s more rigid and suitable for hand viewing. Borders are also necessary with this type of presentation in order to prevent fingerprints from forming on the actual printed areas.

Here’s a look at Inti St. Clair’s screwpost book that she ordered from Pina Zangaro:

And Shawn Hubbard’s custom made portfolio and slipcase from Mullenberg:

Doing your research:

As you might have guessed, printing a portfolio can be quite an expense depending on the materials and vendors you choose to work with.  And like most things in life, you get what you pay for. While it’s important to do your research and budget when it comes to investing in a portfolio, you should remember that it is an investment and should be treated as such. If you choose to have a print portfolio, it will be a key part of your brand and should be held to the same quality standards as all of your marketing materials. And because your portfolio is part of your marketing collateral, you should be looking at your marketing budget to finance it. It doesn’t have to cost you your entire marketing budget, but that’s where you should be looking to figure out your appropriate spending amount.

Recources to get started:

When photographers approach me looking for input on where to get started with printing a portfolio, I typically send over a list of resources I’m familiar with, along with a few recommendations and suggestions based on the style of the work they do. This last part is important because the book needs to be an extension of the photographer’s brand and fit well with the work inside of it. We have a list of resources listed on our site, but here are some of my primary suggestions to get you started:

For printed, on demand portfolios:

Asuka: Well established industry level printer, offering great quality for retail and commercial photography books

Adoramapix: Best for price and ease of use, plus they have a fast turn-around time and rush shipping options available

Artifact Uprising: A VSCO company that makes artful hardcover and softcover books – WM members have raved about them

Edition One Books: Great for truly custom books in single or multiple editions, printed at any size and page count

My Publisher: Offers larger sizes up to 15×11.5 and has great printing, with excellent dynamic range

Paper Chase Press: I’ve heard good things about them from other WM members

Blurb: At the forefront of the on-demand printing industry, and offers a wide range of paper choices for books and zines

Magclud: Originally owned by HP, now Blurb, great for zines and digest style books/promos

For custom, screw post style portfolios, we typically recommend these sources:

Mullenberg: By far the most beautiful, well-made books out there

Pina Zangaro: Affordable and customizable portfolios and boxes

Lost Luggage: Mid-level to high-end portfolios and presentation cases

Klo Portfolios: Rather new in the game, offering a wide selection of material and treatment options

IRIS Portfolios: A boutique company, used by quite a few of our members, with a modern approach to portfolio cases

If you’re familiar with any other resources and would like to chime in with your experience, feel free to continue the conversation in the comments section below, or shoot me an email. And stay tuned for Part 2 of this Expert Advice on print portfolio production, where we’ll be going over size and quality comparisons with pricing from the vendors mentioned in today’s article.

Want help editing and designing your portfolio? Give me a shout!

Pricing & Negotiating: Still Life for Print and Out of Home Advertising

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Images of a single product against a white background

Licensing: Advertising use (including Out of Home) of all images captured for 1 year

Location: A studio in the Northeast

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Food and product still life specialist

Agency: Large, based in the Northeast

Client: Large Food/Beverage Company

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: The concept for the shoot was straightforward. The agency/client hoped to photograph their new product against a white background with minor props alongside of it. The agency planned to composite the final image on a different background, and they had plans to use the images for print ads in magazines, as well as placement on bus shelters and other out-of-home applications. While the agency requested for the licensing to include all images captured, we’d be photographing one product and the usage would incorporate one final image, so I therefore priced the creative/licensing fee to be more in line with their intended use of one image. Based on previous experience with similar projects and clients, I knew that creative/licensing fees for this type of usage and straightforward nature of the project typically fell between $10,000 to $15,000, and I ended up landing roughly in the middle at $13,000.

Assistants: The photographer preferred to manage a workstation for client review rather than hiring a digital tech, and we included two assistants to help manage grip and lighting throughout the day.

Producer: While the concept was straightforward, there would still be a decent amount of pre-production work to coordinate crew, styling, scheduling and catering, and the agency specifically asked for a producer to be on site to manage the day and make sure everything stayed on track.

Food/Prop Styling: I included one prep day and one shoot day for a food/prop stylist, as well as one shoot day for their assistant. While I’d typically include an additional day for a stylist to return the unused items, it was not a cost efficient option given the limited budget needed for the food/props (which included the cost to buy a few versions of the product to be shot, along with a few minor food items). The stylist we wanted to work with charged $1,200/day plus 20% for their agent, and their assistant worked for $300/day.

Studio Rental and Equipment: A studio in this market could range from $1,500-$3,000 depending on availability, plus equipment charges of an equal amount for lighting, grip, a workstation and a medium format camera rental.  A few specialty studios charge flat fees and wrap everything up in one fee, and I felt $4,000 total would cover any of these options for studio and equipment depending on space availability.

Catering: I included $70 per person for a nice breakfast, lunch and craft services throughout the day for up to ten people (6 crew and 4 agency/client).

Parking, Expendables, Misc.: I included $100 for general unanticipated expenses throughout the day, plus $100 for meals/transportation during our stylist’s shopping day, plus $100 for transportation to/from the shoot for the crew.

Insurance: We included $500 to cover a general liability insurance policy, which the studio would need proof of, as would any equipment rental house we used.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the time to do an initial edit of all the images, back them up, and provide a gallery for the client to choose from.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: While the agency would handle the final compositing, we were warned that the image of the product would likely require a substantial amount of work to remove/add certain labels. We therefore included 6 hours of retouching (including one round of revisions after the initial processing took place) based on a rate of $150/hr, and then rounded up to an even $1,000.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and the ads are due to roll out in the coming months.

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

Pricing & Negotiating: Staged Reportage for Activation

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Reportage images of people interacting within an experiential event activation.

Licensing: Unlimited use (excluding broadcast, OOH and packaging) of all images captured in perpetuity.

Location: An outdoor event in the Northeast

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Portraiture and lifestyle specialist

Agency: Medium in size, based in the Midwest

Client: A tobacco brand

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing:

The first thing to note about this project is that the client was a tobacco brand. That fact alone is a deal breaker for a lot of photographers, and in fact, before we knew anything about the scope of the project, the agency wanted to know if the photographer would even consider taking on a project for this type of client. Fortunately for them, it was something the photographer was okay with, pending the budget.

We learned that the agency was tasked with developing an experiential activation which would be set up and the general public would be encouraged to visit their large footprint over the course of a few days throughout the larger event. While their initial consideration was to hire a photographer to capture event coverage images of real people interacting within the staged environments, the potential issues regarding model releases for a brand like this, and their need to have a bit more control over the production and timing led them to casting talent and staging the event before it opened to the public.

While they requested unlimited use (excluding Broadcast, OOH and Packaging), it was very clear that their intended use was primarily for a small section of their website, and to simply document the activation for internal use or collateral purposes. That being said, the images could have potentially been used for print advertising given the licensing terms they requested, but again, based on the advertising this brand has previously done, none of the images resulting from this shoot would be on-brand for advertising initiatives, and that was very unlikely. Additionally, we knew that they had started the project by reaching out to event photographers who might charge hourly rates as opposed to taking into account licensing fees.

All of those factors put heavy downward pressure on the fee, but given the client and the photographer’s experience, we decided to price this more in line with a lifestyle library shoot, rather than event coverage, and landed on 15k as a combined creative/licensing fee.

Photographer Scout Day: While we received detailed renderings of the activation footprint, we wanted to make sure the photographer had a sense of the various environments within the area beforehand, and they hoped to get a sense as to what potential staging areas might exist on location.

Assistants: In addition to the photographer’s assistant, who would help with grip and equipment, we included a production assistant to help obtain releases from the talent and generally be an extra set of hands and a runner if any items needed to be procured on the shoot day.

Casting and Talent: We reached out to a local casting director who would help us find “real people” talent (as opposed to casting professional talent). They needed to identify with the brand and be a smoker, and the casting director specialized in finding just the right type of people, and had done so previously on similar projects. The quote we received and integrated into the estimate included 3 prep/research days and 1 live casting day plus potential travel and bookings. For “real people,” our casting director suggested that $1,000/day plus access to the event would get the job done, and since the event would happen over a weekend, that made it even more palatable for potential talent who wouldn’t even need to take off work.

Equipment: We included a very basic rate for a camera body and lenses, as the shots would primarily be captured using available light.

Mileage, Parking, Meals, Misc.: We included $300 to cover parking and meals for the three crew members, $100 to cover mileage and $300 for miscellaneous expenses that might arise.

Shoot Processing for Client Review and Delivery: While the agency would handle the majority of the post processing, we included $500 for the photographer to do an initial edit/color correction, and then we included $300 for the purchase and shipment of a hard drive.

Results: The photographer was not awarded the job, but we found out that they ultimately went with a photographer whose bottom line was a few thousand dollars higher.

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

Pricing & Negotiating: Environmental Portraits of Client Employees

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

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

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

Location: Client offices

Shoot Days: Three

Photographer: Portrait specialist

Agency: N/A—Client direct

Client: A mid-sized regional financial services company

Here is the estimate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pricing and Negotiating: Real Employees for Trade Ads

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Environmental lifestyle images and portraits of client employees

Licensing: Unlimited use of 36 images for 1 year

Location: Client facilites on the West Coast

Shoot Days: 3

Photographer: Lifestyle and portrait specialist

Agency: Mid-sized agency based in the Midwest

Client: One of the largest manufacturers you’ve probably never heard of

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: Late last year we worked with one of our West Coast-based photographers to estimate and produce a project for one of the largest brands you’ve never heard of, but probably crossed paths with at some point. This is partially due to the nature of their product and the fact that they are trade oriented and don’t deal with consumers directly. The agency was developing a new web presence for the client, along with a number of trade print ads, all of which humanized the brand by highlighting the employees who manage the day to day operations. The concept was relatively straightforward; the photographer would need to capture environmental portraits of client employees at client facilities on the West Coast. Although the locations and talent would be provided, there was still a lengthy shot list, operational locations, and a fair amount of production involved.

This was a somewhat challenging fee to pin down because of the scale/reach of the client, the agency’s requirement of “unlimited” use in spite of the limited intended use, and a shot list that seemed to split the difference between an image-based approach and a library approach. Though the client was expecting to walk away with 36 selects, the shot list only consisted of 12 hero shots (four scenarios/shoot day). The additional 24 images were described as “pickup” variations of the 12 principal images. Because of the straightforward concept and relatively static scenarios, it was difficult to imagine these variations creating much value for the client.

Much as I try to avoid this thinking, I established a ceiling in the back of my mind, due to the “typical” library rate range of 7,500-15,000/day (which generally wouldn’t include a limit on the image count or duration of use). Additionally, we determined the value for the 12 principal images was considerably higher than the 24 variations. Weighted in this manner, we set the fee at 26,500.00 for the first 12 images (1 @ 5000.00, 2-6 @ 2500.00 each, 7-12 @ 1500.00 each) and 15,000.00 for the 24 variations (13-24 @ 750.00 each, 25-36 @ 500.00 each), bringing us to a total of 41,500.00 for the creative and licensing fee for this project. This falls on the higher end of the library ceiling I’d set (particularly considering the limitations), but the photographer has a unique approach and aesthetic favored by the client and agency, so we felt we could start with healthier fees. We were confident that the agency would come back to us to negotiate if our numbers didn’t align with theirs because of the photographer’s preferred position. We must have hit the mark, because the agency approved the bid without a single question or requested revision (which is exceedingly rare).

Client Provisions: We made sure to indicate that the agency and/or client would provide locations, casting and talent, requisite releases and any major set or product props.

Tech/Scout Days: We included a tech/scout day to walk through the three locations the day before the shoot.

Assistants and Tech: We included two killer assistants and a top-notch digital tech. The lighting kit would be minimal, but we’d be moving a lot and wanted to make sure we had enough hands on deck. The tech included a small mobile workstation in her fee.

Producer: We included a producer (including travel fees and expenses) to manage the crew, employee talent, locations, stylists, catering, parking, scheduling, local transportation, and just about any other logistical concerns that may come up throughout pre-production and the shoot.

Equipment: We estimated 1,500.00/day for a pair of DSLR bodies, a number of lenses, portable strobes, walkies and a one-ton grip truck.

Styling: We brought on two stylists (and one stylist assistant) to manage HMU, supplemental wardrobe (the subjects would provide a few of their own outfits and the client would provide necessary uniforms) and supplement personal props like handbags, folios, phones, etc. Major set props would be provided by the client – basically, we would work with existing spaces as is.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This fee covered time, equipment and costs for the initial import, edit, batch color correction and upload of the images via FTP (or similar) for client review and selection. A digital tech will handle most of this on set, but often the photographer will want to fine tune and finesse the edit a bit before sharing with the client/agency.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: We included basic select processing (color correction and minor cleanup/touchups) as a lump sum (based on 125.00/image in this case), giving us a bit more ground to stand on if the client ultimately selected fewer than 36 images, as they would still be responsible for the full post processing amount.

Travel Expenses: The producer would be travelling in for the shoot so I used Kayak.com to determine reasonable airfare, lodging and car rental costs.

Catering, Insurance and Misc.: We included catering for 23 crew, agency, employee talent and client for each of the three shoot days, insurance to cover necessary workers comp/general liability premiums and a healthy “misc.” line to cover client dinners, local transportation and any other unexpected miscellaneous expenses that may pop up throughout the shoot.

Results: As I mentioned above, the initial estimate was accepted without any revisions. The shoot went as smoothly as it could have and everyone was stoked with the final product.

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

Pricing and Negotiating: Native Advertising for Major Lifestyle Magazine

Alex Rudinski, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Fashion portraits of two models in an urban setting

Licensing: Native Advertising use of six images in perpetuity

Location: Exterior locations throughout Manhattan

Shoot Days: 2

Photographer: Fashion and beauty photographer based in New York

Agency: Regional lifestyle magazine

Client: National hair care brand

Budget: $8000.00

Licensing: As many struggle to find new streams of revenue and monetize consumers accustomed to getting their content for free, we’ve been receiving more and more requests from photographers working on advertorial or native advertising projects. Many media companies have taken on the challenge, with varying degrees of success. Much derided and often ignored, advertorials and native content are hard to pull off right. Some are overlooked completely, some annoy consumers, but the absolute best provide useful content that promotes the associated brand subtly and contextually, leaving a positive brand impression.

We were approached by a fashion and beauty photographer to help draft an estimate after she was contacted by a major lifestyle magazine based in the New York City area. The magazine was working with a national hair care brand, and was looking to produce some photos of professional talent styled with their client’s products for use on the magazine’s website as a web-only advertorial. The photos would show the fully-styled models in urban street scenes alongside videos explaining how to achieve the styles the models were showcasing with the brand’s products. Apart from being hosted on the magazine’s primary website, the photos and videos (shot by a separate crew) would also be featured on a fashion-centric blog owned by the magazine as well as a microsite that would host all the content indefinitely.

Because of the nature of this use, it might seem it doesn’t fit cleanly within the normal terms we use to describe licensing (which are Advertising, Collateral, Editorial and Publicity). However, we consider the use to be more along the lines of what we might normally call advertising use, due to the value the client is getting from the images, and the final use of those images, being similar. Of course, the client views this as a more editorial use, and wants to pay accordingly. Beyond the client’s ecpectations, due to the limited distribution (the magazine and its websites only) and the one-and-done nature of the project, we can’t charge as much as we might for what we typically call advertising use.

While this modern use of native advertising is still fairly new, the advertorial has been around for a while – think of all the “Special Advertising Sections” you’ve seen in magazines. As such, some of the tools we consult when calculating licensing fees do contain a print advertorial option. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite hit the mark in this case. Fotoquote, which includes a print advertorial option only, calculated $687 per image per year, while Getty Images quoted $2,230 for the same. Blinkbid’s Bid Consultant (which doesn’t really have enough options to appropriatly price this scenario) came in at $3,600 on the low end, and Corbis arrived at $1,080 for print advertorial use. Searching for web advertising use, Fotoquote gave me $671, Getty (which calls Web Advertising “Digital Advertisement”) returned $1,205, Corbis provided a range of $305 to $763 and Blinkbid offered information of the same accuracy as earlier.

As you can see, these numbers are all over the place, without a clear consensus. You might land on $1,000 for the first image for one year, which would be a sensible place to start. But perhaps the most salient consideration for this job was the client’s specific budget. The photographer was eager to get the job, and inclined to try and work within their parameters. As hard as we might work to divine the “objective” value of the image, if the client isn’t willing to pay that amount, we won’t get very far.

Client Provisions: The magazine had picked out the six locations, hired the talent, arranged transportation and designed the looks. The brand provided their own stylist, well versed in using only the brand’s products to achieve a variety of looks. Lighting was naturalistic, requiring minimal gear, and the on-the-move nature of the shoot prohibited much catering or wardrobe. The photographer, stylists, client and talent would drive around New York in a Sprinter, jumping from location to location. Overall, the magazine would be providing a lot of what photographers are normally asked to provide and what we normally include. This helped us keep our costs down, and also made pre-production a relative breeze. To avoid any miscommunication about what the client would provide and what the photographer would be responsible for, I included a list of client provisions in the estimate’s job description, listing everything that the client would provide clearly and completely.

Many of the provisions would be supplied by a video team that would be following along, capturing some BTS shots and creating how-to videos showing how the models were styled. In different ways, the photographs and the videos would be equally as important to the overall campaign, and just as prominent in the execution of the advertorials.

Tech/Scout Day: Even though the locations would be chosen and vetted by the magazine’s creative team, the photographer would need to visit each location to plan how she might shoot there. With six locations to get through in the day and an unknown amount of travel between, working quickly would be crucial to a successful shoot.

Assistant: Considering the lighting requirements (little) and the additional bodies (several) we opted for only one assistant here. We might have included a second assistant if not for the client-managed video crew, if only to make sure that the area of the shoot is secure. That aspect would be handled by the client and their video team, so in this case our photographer only needed her trusted first assistant. The client was fine with the idea of reviewing images on the back of the camera, so we opted not to include a digital tech.

Equipment: Even though the client was looking for natural light, we wanted to make sure there was enough money available for the photographer to rent additional lenses, or provide subtle lighting to supplement the existing scene. This money would also cover the photographer’s owned equipment, rented to the production at market rates.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: After the shoot, the photographer would need to upload all the images, cull the unusable frames, lightly batch process the images and upload them to a web gallery for the client to review and make their selects from. This takes at least a couple hours, so we want to make sure the photographer (or her retoucher) is compensated for the time, skill and equipment required to produce the previews.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: Once selects are chosen, the photographer will need to process the images for use in the final product. Some photographers might call this retouching, but in order to avoid confusion about how much or what kind of digital work a photographer is doing, we use the word “processing” to describe the work the photographer does to the images without specific client requests, and we use the word “retouching” to describe requests that the client makes after that.

Miles, Parking, Tolls, Misc. Expenses: During the scout day, the photographer and her assistant will need to travel and eat—this fee allows us to get reimbursed for that expense. This also gives us a little wiggle room if a line item turns out to be more expensive than we expected. We include this sort of line item on every shoot as a safety net to catch either small, unforeseen expenses or lump several minor expenses into one category.

Result: We were able to get a budget from the client before-hand, and we knew this was a bit above what they were hoping for. However, we were able to negotiate an increase to cover the additional cost, and the shoot was executed smoothly. The photographer delivered images quickly, and the client loved them. The images complemented the text and video well, helping to create social engagement and drive traffic to the client’s website.

Hindsight: As great as it is when a client accepts an estimate immediately, it always makes me wonder if we underbid the project. I’d much prefer to negotiate to reduce the costs for a shoot to a specific amount than submit an estimate that’s accepted without any negotiation. In this scenario, we were able to do just that – come in slightly over budget and negotiate approval, thereby getting as much money for the photographer as we could. We could have come in at or under the budget, but in the end we would have forfeited money on what was already a slimmer shoot.

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: 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 kayak.com 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 kayak.com 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 kayak.com 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.