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Expert Advice: Hiring Crew for Photo Shoots

- - Expert Advice

Julia Hanley, Wonderful Machine

Here at Wonderful Machine, we pride ourselves on being experts on all things photography and production. When working on a big shoot, one of the first steps towards a successful outcome (right after you’ve been awarded the project) is sourcing and booking a solid crew. How does one accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task you may wonder? Let us be your guide!

As a photographer, your crew is a group of hand-selected individuals who will help you with aspects of your shoot you cannot do yourself. Your crew can range anywhere from one to more than twenty people.

There’s no secret formula for sourcing the perfect crew, but you do need access to the right information and resources to get the ball rolling. Your approach to sourcing the perfect crew will vary based on the individual project you’re producing, but it should always include these steps:

BUDGETING

Before you get started, figuring out how you want to distribute your budget is key. Even though the budget can be restricting, you’ll want to be sensitive to not sacrifice the creative in any way. This should all be discussed during negotiations. Depending on the size of the project and the resources you have available, you’ll have to decide the size of your crew as well as if you want to hire people that specialize in certain areas or a couple of folks who can handle multiple tasks. For instance, you could find a stylist who can take care of both hair and makeup, but if the production is large and you have the budget for it, you might need specialists for each. Location can also play a big part in determining crew size. For example, if you’re shooting outside in multiple locations throughout the day, you may want to opt for a smaller footprint production versus when shooting in a studio. Other variables to consider are cancellation policies, insurance, and markups. Some crew will charge if you don’t cancel within a certain window, so be aware of that possibility given weather disruptions and other potential interferences. Insurance is vital, too. If anyone is injured on set, who’s going to cover the medical bill? Be sure to keep these things in mind as you plan your shoot and research potential crew.

RESEARCH

Once you have a rough idea of how you’ll be allocating your budget, you can start researching crew who would be a good fit for the assignment. This will depend mainly on how many people the shoot requires, what types of crew you need, and the location of the production. Aside from looking to folks you’ve worked with in the past, Wonderful Machine’s Find Crew page is an excellent place to start. We’ve built and maintained this database over the course of ten years, and we’re constantly updating it as people join and leave the industry. Covering 27 different crew specialties, it includes everything from animal agencies to set designers, and lists crew from all over the U.S. and beyond.

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Once you’ve wrapped your head around our crew page and determined what’s required for your shoot, it’s time to start using this resource to search for your team! It’s a good idea to make a list of your top choices and then choose some additional crew members you can use as backups in case things don’t go exactly to plan (hint: they never do). Your pre-production timeline will determine if you’ll have this luxury, as various factors can affect your shoot dates. If you’re shooting outside and on-location, the weather can change. If the client suddenly needs to push back a date due to issues on their end, you need to be ready. If the scope of the project changes and you have to add an additional shoot day, will you have the right crew in place? Because there are so many factors that can lead to a date change, it’s important to have a backup plan that accounts for unforeseen circumstances. Flexibility and being able to turn on a dime is key!

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Behind the scenes of our shoot with MGM 

Having backups in place really came in handy during a recent shoot Wonderful Machine produced for MGM National Harbor. We were shooting a wide variety of commercial spaces before construction had even been completed at the casino and hotel. We had initially planned the shoot for nine consecutive days, but due to unmet construction deadlines, we needed to split the project in half and return to the location twice. We were already a few days into the production when we learned of the construction snafu, but I was still able to quickly adjust our shoot schedule. Between the two assistants I’d booked for the original shoot dates, I lost one due to a scheduling conflict. All of a sudden, I was short an assistant!

My first move was to ask the remaining assistant if he had any recommendations for locals whom he’d worked with previously. I sometimes take this approach because the remaining assistant will usually recommend someone they’re used to working with, making the shoot run smoother. When this failed, my backup plan sprang into action. I was able to contact an assistant I had on hold, who was thankfully still available to fill in. If that ended up being a no-go, I would have referred back to our robust crew database and began calling and emailing assistants in the Baltimore area. If I had not found a local via the database, my next step would’ve been to expand my search to either the D.C. or the Philadelphia metro areas.

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Behind the scenes shot of wardrobe stylist Christie Proud for a shoot that I line produced for Charles & Colvard.

OUTREACH

So! You’ve done your research, found crew members who’ll be a good fit for your production, and established backup plans B, C, and D. What’s next?

As long as you have the signed estimate or bid from the client in hand, it’s outreach time! My personal preference is to start with a phone call, complete with a follow-up email. This is especially important if they didn’t answer the initial call and I left a message. I personally feel like no one talks on the phone anymore and that conversation is rarely held outside of email and text messages. I like to keep it old school and give someone a good old fashioned phone call to get to know them. This also gives me the opportunity to ask questions if I need to speak with them about something specific like lighting techniques, hair & makeup direction, or wardrobe specs — things like that. I like to use phrases like “potential project” and “checking your availability” and “tentative hold.” I’ve found this sort of language is polite and precise but doesn’t make specific promises just in case things don’t pan out. Once you’ve checked that they’re available on the shoot days, go ahead and put them on hold.

PLANNING

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that specific types of crew are going to require different levels of planning and coordination.

When the shoot calls for catering, for example, I make it a point to ask if the crew and talent have any food allergies or restrictions in my initial phone and email. Although most shoots don’t require catering, it can be one of the most difficult aspects of crew to get right because you need to account for many different food preferences and expectations. Trust me, I’ve been on shoots where the catering has been a nightmare. I like to make sure there are always a few protein and vegetarian options and I always bring a few craft trays (food the crew can munch on all day instead of at a specific meal time) to each shoot as a backup. I also like to keep the meals light so that the crew isn’t falling asleep halfway through the day. Another crucial trick to keep people awake is to have lots of fresh hot coffee (or cold brews) on set at all times!

We recently worked with an amazing caterer in Denver for a job that we produced last summer with the local agency Karsh Hagan. This was a major production with a large crew and a lot of talent. We were shooting outdoors and in multiple locations each day, and thank goodness the weather was in our favor the whole time (even though it was unseasonably hot). With a few calls and a lot of Yelp reviews, we stumbled upon All Love Catering. Their team was amazing; they managed everyone’s food allergies, had multiple options at each meal, and provided different menus throughout the shoot. I did send them a copy of the production book, which we reviewed over a phone call so that they knew when and where we were shooting each day and could anticipate timing for set-up and break down.

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Our shoot in Denver for Karsh Hagan

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Dave Albanese, Peter Grill, Denny Henry, and photographer David Aaron Troy working on the set of our shoot with Charles & Colvard.

FINISHING TOUCHES

A few days before the shoot, when we are ready to move forward with securing the final crew, I send another email confirming dates and then release any crew that I had in reserve as a hold. I usually leave it up to the hair and makeup stylists, wardrobe stylists and prop stylists to hire their own assistants; they tend to work with regular assistants and have established relationships. After all of the details are finalized, I will send the crew a copy of the production book that includes location information, call times, shoot schedule, and creative brief (if applicable). Some shoots require a pre-production call with the photographer and crew in order to review the production book together. Others don’t necessitate a call, like if you’re familiar with the crew and have worked with them before. It all depends on the scope of the project and the personal preferences of those involved.

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Yours truly, smoothing out all the details! Get It?

FOLLOW UP

So hopefully your shoot went smoothly!

Now it’s time to follow up! This might seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people I’ve encountered who don’t send a thank you message or some kind of debriefing about the shoot to the crew. This lets them know they did a good job and you were happy to work with them. Apart from being a common courtesy and the polite thing to do, this will give your crew members a more positive feeling when they remember the production and they’ll be more likely to want to work with you in the future. And of course, once they send an invoice, please do pay it in a timely manner.

So there you have it! This article is by no means comprehensive, but we hope it gives you a rough outline of the crew booking process.

As I mentioned earlier, Wonderful Machine’s database covers multiple crew specialties, so when you’re in a pinch to find a caterer, studio space, prop stylists, or location scout, feel free to use our shoot production services! Putting it all together can be daunting, especially with all of the moving parts and scheduling concerns associated with a high production photo shoot, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like some assistance. I’ll more than happy to help!

Expert Advice: Releases and Permits

- - Expert Advice

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

It’s my job to love paperwork. From estimates to production books to invoices, I’m responsible for creating, organizing and understanding all of the documentation needed to manage a production. Three of the most important pieces of that paperwork puzzle are model releases, property releases, and permits. No matter how big or small a production is, proper documentation is essential to not only obtain formal permission to shoot in a specific place, but to also ensure your ability to make use of the images you capture that feature people and certain locations for a commercial project.

Generally speaking, a model or property release is a contract that documents the consent of the subject(s) or property owner(s) to allow their likeness or the likeness of a property to be used in a certain way. It’s important to understand that using a person’s likeness to promote a company for commercial gain can be incredibly valuable to that company, and the people featured in those images should understand this value. The formal documentation of consent is therefore very important, and releases protect the photographer and their client should a disagreement arise over the use of an image that includes any person or property.

Let’s start with model releases. Here is a run down on when you typically do and do not need a model release:

You DO need a model release if the subject is identifiable and the images will be used commercially (to promote a particular product, service, company, or cause). That includes (but is not limited to) paid advertising use of the images in print ads, web ads or billboards, as well as collateral use in brochures, direct mail pieces or a client maintained website and/or their social media outlets, to name a few. Additionally, while this is often overlooked, you should acquire a model release from anyone featured in an image within your print/online portfolio.

You DO NOT need a model release if the images will be used editorially (for the purpose of educating and/or conveying news or opinion). That includes placement in a magazine, newspaper or media outlet available for sale or viewing to the general public, which does not seek or accept sponsorship to, or in itself, promote a particular product, service or company. Additionally, you do not need a model release if the subject is not identifiable, even for commercial use. That being said, you should be aware that a subject’s face is not the only thing that might make them identifiable.

I should note that while a release isn’t needed for most editorial uses of an image, many (but not all) publishing companies do have clauses in their agreements requiring the photographer to obtain a model release from the subject. In my experience, this clause covers the publishing company from a liability perspective, but in most cases, both parties often ignore it unless the shoot features hired talent, kids, or if the subject matter of the article is controversial in any way. If an editorial contract states that releases are required, a discussion about this should take place, and I’d recommend asking the publishing company to provide the release they want to be signed.

So, what’s the best release to use? Well, there are a lot of forms available online (like these from ASMP and Getty) as well as many different apps (like Releases or Easy Release), many of them aren’t applicable in all situations or are a bit too broad (also, since releases are formal contracts, they are subject to state law, and it’s important to find out if there are any peculiarities that may require adjustment). For our purposes, we are typically working with professional talent (and/or their agents) who we negotiate specific usage with, for a specific fee, and therefore want to note such information on the release. Here is our model release:

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You’ll notice we include a space for an image of the talent for reference. Since we often work with casting directors and hire professional talent, I’ll have their digital headshot and can drop that image on the release before getting them to sign it. Alternatively, using a Polaroid or other instant-print camera is a good option as you can staple the picture to the release after you have the talent sign it. Another method for other releases that don’t have a field for visual reference would be to take a picture of the person holding the signed release after signing it, so you can have both that image and the scanned release on file to identify the person.

Ok, you have a signed model release, so you are ready to go, right? Well, not necessarily. Property needs to be released too, and the basic rules detailed above for when you do and don’t need a release can be similarly applied to properties. You don’t need a release if the usage is editorial, but you do need a release if the property is easily identifiable and for commercial use, most of the time…

It’s understandably not always black and white, and there are a few key points to note about locations and releases. First, you need a release to include trademarks or copyright protected artworks in an image for commercial use. That includes logos on the facades of the buildings, murals, statues, and public art. Also, it’s important to know that certain architectural or design elements incorporated into a building can be trademarked. For instance, you can photograph the Eiffel Tower during the day without the need for a release, but the lights that appear in the evening are a trademarked design. You would, therefore, need to seek permission to use the image for commercial purposes if the image was taken at night when the lights are displayed.

Additionally, if you photograph a space that has art displayed, you would need a release from whoever owns the copyright to that piece of art, as well as, a release from the owner of the property in which the piece of art is displayed (if the location is identifiable) in order to use the image for commercial purposes. If you are unsure of whether or not there are any restrictions or limitations on a certain building or public work of art, you can contact your local film office, and they should be able to provide guidance on popular destinations or areas within your city.

As with model releases, there are forms you can find online from ASMP and Getty. On nearly every production I’ve worked on, our client has had location releases that they’ve asked us to use, however, we have our own as well. Here it is:

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You’ll notice on our release that usage is not something we call out in the same way as we do on the model release, as usage typically isn’t a factor for locations (meaning, it typically just includes unlimited use). We do state that the release would cover unlimited use in all media, but it’s not displayed in the same way as we have it on the model release. That being said, location fees might differ based on the type of production (stills vs. video) and how big the production footprint is.

It’s also important to know the difference between a permit and a release. A permit allows you to be in a certain space at a certain time to take a photo, and a release allows you to use that image for commercial purposes. Permits are typically applied for and distributed by film offices or local government agencies, and each city typically has different rules for when you do and don’t need a permit.

Generally, it comes down to the size of the production footprint, and in many cases, a photographer acting alone with very minimal equipment does not need a permit. On the other hand, in almost all instances, if the production involves multiple people, production RVs, street closures and any lighting/grip equipment, a permit is needed. Most film offices and government agencies will tell you that if the shoot is for any commercial use, that you need a permit, although the fees will likely be less if the shoot has a minimal production footprint. The permitting process in most cities can be time intensive and almost always has fees associated with it, so it’s important to do your research and figure out the cost and turnaround time for a permit before embarking on a production.

Here are two examples of permits I applied for and was provided by the New York City Film Office and the US Department of the Interior:

Given the preparation and hard work that goes into capturing images on a production of any size, it’s incredibly important to cover your bases and make sure all the people, places and things in the images are appropriately released in order to avoid legal trouble when the images are actually used.

*Legal Disclaimer* – Please consult with an attorney to discuss legal documents pertaining to your business before putting them in use. I’d like to extend a thank you to Adam G. Garson of the firm Lipton, Weinberger and Husick for his contribution to this article. If you need professional legal counseling, please contact Adam at agarson@garson-law.com or by phone at (610) 565-7630. If you need help estimating or producing a shoot, please email me at craig@wonderfulmachine.com, or you can reach me on the phone at (610) 260-0200.

Pricing & Negotiating: Lifestyle Shoot for Technology Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Lifestyle images of professional talent using a mobile application.

Licensing: Web Collateral and Web Advertising use of up to 15 images in perpetuity.

Location: A residential property

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Lifestyle specialist

Client: A technology company

Here is the estimate:

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Job Description and Fees: The client was a relatively new player in the mobile app space, and while they weren’t quite a startup, they were young in the industry and about to make a big marketing push. The concept for the shoot focused on two people using the app and accompanying accessories on various mobile devices within a house, and they also needed environmental still life images of those devices as well. The usage was entirely web-based, and they planned to primarily use the images on their website, and potentially run web ads with a handful of them as well. While the requested usage included a perpetual duration, the devices themselves and the technology used would limit the shelf life of the images to about a year, as they’d quickly become outdated with new product launches (by the client and by third party retailers).

I priced the first image at $2,000, images #2-3 at $1,000 each, images #4-6 at $500 each and images #7-15 at $100 each. That totaled $6,400, which I rounded up to an even $6,500. I’d typically extrapolate this number to account for the perpetual duration, but the shelf life in addition to the fact that the client was handling the majority of the production (which meant that it wouldn’t be a huge time/energy commitment for the photographer) helped justify leaving the fee right at $6,500. Speaking of the production elements, I made sure to note everything that the client would be providing which included the location, casting/talent, hair/makeup/wardrobe/prop styling, production coordination and catering.

Photographer Scout/Pre-Production Day(s): I included one day for the photographer to go scout the property with the client. I’d typically include $1,000 for this, but we were trying to keep the estimate as lean as possible, and based on the time crunch, it was apparent that the scout day would likely be limited to just a few hours, which helped justify bringing the fee down a bit.

Assistants: Despite a request from the client to limit the crew to just one assistant, I included two for the shoot day as we anticipated the need to move a decent amount of equipment around through the house (and potentially outside) throughout the day. Based on the market, this rate was appropriate to bring on the necessary team.

Digital Tech: I included a tech for the shoot day who would help to display the images to the client as they were being captured. I included the expense of their laptop workstation in the subsequent equipment fee.

Equipment: This accounted for $800 in cameras/lenses and $700 in grip/lighting rentals, in addition to $500 for a laptop workstation.

Mileage, Parking, Misc.: Since the client was providing the majority of the production coordination, there wasn’t much else that needed to be included, however we did add a couple hundred dollars to account for minor miscellaneous expenses that might arise.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: While the digital tech would be organizing the files during the shoot, I included $250 for the photographer to go through all of the images after the shoot to remove any that they felt weren’t appropriate and create a web gallery of a reasonable number of photos for the client to consider.

Color Correction/File Cleanup/Delivery of 15 Selects: The agency wasn’t looking for any major retouching or compositing from the photographer, and only requested that they adjust color and apply very basic processing to the images prior to sending the high resolution selects back to the agency. I included $100 per image to accomplish this.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

Hindsight: We’ve estimated many projects previously where the client informs us that they are coordinating the majority of the production elements, and sometimes it doesn’t always go smoothly. If there’s an agency involved with an internal producer, that typically increases our confidence in their ability to line up a successful shoot day, but when an agency isn’t involved, and when a client is seemingly inexperienced, that definitely gives us pause, and it’s hard to reflect that feeling in the estimate. Fortunately, this particular client did a great job and streamlined the production with ease and professionalism, which was a huge relief. The shoot went well, and the images reflected the preparedness of the client.

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: Stills and Video for a Pharmaceutical Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Individual portraits of three women against a white background

Licensing: Unlimited use (excluding OOH) of up to three images for two years

Location: A studio in the Northeast

Shoot Days: One

Photographer: Portraiture specialist

Agency: Small, based in the Northeast

Client: Large pharmaceutical company

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: 

The concept was straightforward: the agency/client hoped to photograph three women of a specific demographic individually against a white background. The agency was redesigning a website for a new drug the pharmaceutical company was manufacturing, and while this would be the main use for the images, they also had plans to run a few consumer-facing print ads over the course of two years. Additionally, they were considering the possibility of creating cinemagraphs of each woman, however, the exact creative concept for this was still being developed.

While the simple concept put strong downward pressure on the fee, their requested usage drove it up. I decided to price the first image at $6,000 and the second and third images at $2,000 each as it was clear based on the creative brief that one of the women would be the “hero” talent and her portrait would be used much more heavily than the others. $10,000 felt a bit low at first, but considering the client’s intended use, the straightforward nature of the project, and the fact that there were a handful of other known local photographers in the mix for the project, I felt it was in the right spot.

As for the cinemagraphs, the agency asked to see ballpark costs to add them later if desired, so we noted an optional creative/licensing fee of $2,000 in the job description section of the estimate (we also noted the expenses, which I’ll detail later). I based this on $1,000 for the first, and $500 each for the second and third cinemagraphs, which would live on their website if they chose to move forward with this option.

Assistant and Digital Tech: The photographer was comfortable with just one assistant, and we included a digital tech for $500 while including another $500 for their workstation.

Producer and Production Assistant: This included two prep days, one shoot day, and one wrap day for a producer, and they’d bring along an assistant for the shoot day to be an extra set of hands throughout the production.

Hair/Makeup and Wardrobe Stylists: We just needed one hair/makeup stylist since there were only three women, and we’d have plenty of time to get each one ready on the shoot day. As for wardrobe, I included two prep days and one shoot day for the wardrobe stylist, and two prep days, one shoot day and one wrap/return day for their assistant. The agency anticipated that we’d shoot each of the three women in two different outfits, so I included $250 per outfit for six total non-returnable outfits.

Casting and Talent: This particular market had relatively affordable casting and talent rates, and we included one live casting day and a talent rate that would easily attract a wide pool of talent to choose from. The rate was a bit higher than I’d typically include for this market/usage, however, we wanted to provide the talent with an incentive for their likeness to be used to promote a drug while portraying them as a person who may be afflicted with a certain sensitive illness. Additionally, the client requested an optional rate if they were to acquire exclusivity on the talent for this within the pharmaceutical industry, and we noted the appropriate increase in the rate, which was based on a conversation I had with our casting director.

Studio Rental and Equipment: We included one day for a local studio, and added an equipment fee to either use the photographer’s personal equipment or cover rentals from the studio or local rental houses if needed. We also detailed that if they wanted to create cinemagraphs, that it would likely require an increase in the studio expense to afford a better-equipped space for capturing video (mainly appropriate power/electric access). Additionally, if video for the cinemagraphs were to be captured, we would need to light the entire set with continuous lights as opposed to strobes, so we detailed a price increase to include a grip, gaffer, grip truck and plenty of lighting in order to achieve this.

Catering: There would be 17 people on the set, and I included $65 per person for breakfast and lunch.

Parking, Production Supplies, Misc.: This just covered $100 in parking, $100 in supplies such as tables/chairs, and $100 for any unforeseeable expenses that might have presented themselves during the shoot.

Shoot Processing for Client Review and Retouching: We included $250 for the photographer to go through all of the shots and do a basic once-over in order to present a web gallery of options to the agency. Additionally, we included $375 per image to cover the time it would take a retoucher to process the images and swap background colors, which is something the agency mentioned would be a possibility as they developed new brand colors for the client.

Feedback: The estimate was well received, however, the agency had a few updates they wanted us to include. Primarily, they wanted to include four women, instead of three. Additionally, they wanted to include the fees/expenses for both still images and cinemagraphs within the estimate, and they asked for us to include the talent rates with exclusivity as well.

For the creative/licensing fee, we already quoted an optional rate of an additional $2,000 to include the cinemagraphs in the first estimate, so now we needed to figure out what one additional image and one additional cinemagraph was worth for the fourth talent. I determined the image was worth $2,000 (the same as images 2 and 3), the cinemagraph was worth about $500, so I rounded this up to an additional $3,000, totaling a $15,000 fee.

This of course also impacted our expenses. We added additional wardrobe along with the talent rates requested, adjusted for catering, misc. expenses, and retouching while adding a hair/makeup stylist assistant to help move the shoot along since we had one extra talent to prep. We increased the studio as well to accommodate the equipment, crew size, and electrical access needed for the video, and we incorporated the grip, gaffer, and additional lighting equipment into a single line item. We also noted a TBD overtime rate, as we were now proposing to shoot four talent, each in two different outfits, with stills and video for each. While that would take a while, I was still confident we could make that work in a 10-hour shoot day, but I wanted to note the rate ahead of time.

Here was the revised estimate:

Feedback: Again, the estimate was well received, however, they decided to revert back to three talent, instead of four. Also, at this point, the cinemagraphs became better defined as we started to inquire more about the creative concept. The success of a cinemagraph typically relies on some sort of environmental element moving or changing in some way, but since we were just capturing a few women in front of a white background, our options were pretty limited. After a creative call with the agency, it turned out that they just hoped to capture short videos of the women making subtle changes to their expression and slightly moving their bodies (often referred to as “video portraits”), and we were told that the agency would handle the video editing.

We made a few tweaks to our estimate, and submitted the following:

Results: The photographer was awarded the job, and we coordinated the production.

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: Stock Licensing

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Licensing: Web Collateral use of up to three images for two years

Photographer: Southeast-based portrait specialist

Agency: N/A – Client Direct

Client: The philanthropic arm of a recognizable consumer brand

Here is the estimate:

A seasoned portrait photographer came to us looking for assistance pricing a stock licensing agreement for a large corporation interested in using three existing images on the “.org” website of their philanthropic division. The shoot had originally been commissioned by an editorial client for a piece about the subject’s philanthropic endeavors and organizations, so before determining the value, we first had to review the original commissioning agreement to ensure the photographer had the ability/permission to license the images to a third party. Even the most favorable editorial agreements typically include an embargo period which may prevent one from licensing content for a reasonable period of time after publishing and some of the least favorable editorial agreements restrict licensing in more substantial ways. As it happened, these images were available to license, so on we went.

The difficulty with determining the value of any licensing, as it is all so subjective and project specific, is figuring out an anchor price from which to adjust, based on the various contributing factors. At Wonderful Machine, we use a tried-and-true benchmark that sets the baseline cost for collateral use (“Collateral” use is when the work appears in or on a platform that the client wholly controls and produces, such as a company website, annual report, brochure, or social media profile, and is intended to promote a commercial product, service, personality or brand) of one image, for one year, at around $1000, and additional images licensed for concurrent use should be worth about 50% as much as the first image. We also use a pricing model that assumes a doubling of the duration of use should increase the worth by about 50% more than the initial duration value. These “rules” can break down really quickly, as general rules tend to do when you move too far from the baseline. In this case, however, we were still very much within the tolerances.

Pricing this project out based on these guidelines would set the value of the first image at $1500, and each additional image at $750, for a total licensing fee of $3000. With this anchor in mind, I began factoring in all of the variables that apply upward or downward pressure on the value. Much like estimating licensing fees for a commissioned shoot, valuing stock requires you to consider the prominence of the client, scope & duration of the requested use, and the importance of the content to a given “campaign.” But you also have to consider the uniqueness of the subject matter, availability of similar images in the marketplace and the prospects & costs of recreating the content (or very similar content).

These images didn’t depict the client’s products or services in any way and the subject matter wasn’t terribly unique – the images were lovely, straightforward, environmental portraits of the subject in her workspace. Although the content didn’t make these images unique, the availability of similar images, or lack thereof, did. There were very few stock images available in the marketplace. This applied upward pressure on the value of the images. Also, reshooting was pretty much off the table because of the subject’s scheduling constraints and general aversion to being photographed. This, combined with the general inconvenience and uncertainty of commissioning a new shoot, meant that we could push past any reshoot “price ceiling” that may typically apply. So not only are existing images rare, but creating new photos would be a tall order. Again, this pushed the value up. The license was limited to web collateral use which tugged the baseline number down (our guideline is based on both print and web). But since the client is an arm of a name-brand multinational mega-company, the value jumped, even though the particular arm of the organization is 100% philanthropic in nature.

The intended use of the pictures was informational, almost editorial. The client was interested in the images because the subject ran an organization that relied on the client’s products and services to further the organization’s core mission of doing some form of good in the world. The client was basically writing a case study about how they’d partnered with the subject to help her to do good. Additionally, this was one of many such case studies on the client’s website, meaning it was valuable to the client, but not mission critical, exerting downward pressure on the value. Finally, the case study could be effective with one image, but three would be slightly more impactful by offering a touch of variety. If the client had been requesting images that each featured a different founder, we’d be less likely to drop the additional image rate quite so much, if at all. All this to say that our usual price breaks for additional images would be appropriate.

Taken together, I felt the upward pressures were more significant than the downward pressures. Accordingly, I added 50% premium to the baseline rate ($3000) to account for the additional value, setting the quote at $4500.

RESULTS/HINDSIGHT:

There’s an opportunity to push the envelope a bit when pricing stock because, in most instances, the photographer has more leverage and is dealing with a captive audience. In this case, I may not have pushed the envelope enough, as the client quickly accepted and returned the signed quote. Even though the photographer was happy with the fee, I still wondered if perhaps there was a little dough left on the table.

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: Lifestyle Images for Retailer

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Architectural images and environmental lifestyle images of customers and sales representatives interacting in a retail location

Licensing: Unlimited use of 12 images for one year

Location: A retail location in the northeast

Shoot Days: One

Photographer: Architectural and portraiture specialist

Agency: N/A, client direct

Client: A retail chain

Here is the estimate: 

Creative/Licensing: This was the third time in as many years that the client approached the photographer to create images of newly opened retail locations. The first two projects had a similar initial scope in terms of creative requirements and licensing, and a precedent had been set regarding the client’s budget and what the photographer had agreed to regarding creative/licensing fees. In this case, I found out that while the client requested unlimited use of 12 images for one year, their intended use mainly included one image for local advertising use that would likely be minimal, while the other images would end up on the client’s website to showcase the new retail location. I also found out that they had a $40,000 budget they were trying to hit for this particular project.

I’d typically anticipate that for one year of local advertising, an appropriate fee for the first image is in the neighborhood of $3,000. Then I’d apply a discount for the additional images given their likely intended web collateral use, likely pricing the second image at $1,500, images number three to five at $500, and images number six to twelve at $250 each. That totals to $6,250, however, based on the current budget and the previous precedent of the other projects, $5,000 was more appropriate.

Photographer Travel/Scout Days: The photographer would travel in and scout the location the afternoon prior to the shoot day, and then fly back home the day after the shoot. I, therefore, included two travel/scout days.

First Assistant/Digital Tech and Second Assistant: The photographer had a first assistant who could double as his digital tech, and I included $500 for their day with an additional $500 for a small workstation. Additionally, I included a second assistant to help with grip/lighting.

Producer and Production Assistant: I included three prep days (including the time to go scout the location), one shoot day and one wrap day for the producer to line up a crew and coordinate the project from start to finish. Additionally, I included two days for a production assistant; one day to help either the producer or photographer prior to the shoot and one day for the shoot.

Hair/Makeup and Wardrobe Styling: The initial scope of the project called for 15 talent, and the shot list made for a rather ambitious shoot day schedule. Given these factors, I included two hair/makeup stylists, rather than a stylist with an assistant, as we needed an experienced team to help move the styling process along as fast as possible. As for the wardrobe, only the principle talent would need to have clothing sourced for them, while the secondary/extra talent would provide their own wardrobe. I included three prep/shop days and one shoot day for the wardrobe stylist while anticipating that their assistant would be on-site for the shoot, and then handle wardrobe returns after the shoot. I included $3,000 for the wardrobe, anticipating about $375 per principle talent.

Casting and Talent: Rather than doing a live casting, we included $1,000 to cover an additional day for the producer to handle a digital casting process. This included reaching out to multiple local talent agencies, organizing headshots and web galleries of talent for the client to consider, negotiating rates and booking the chosen talent. We included $1,800 for each principle talent, which was appropriate for the usage in this market, and $450 for each extra secondary talent.

Production RV: While the location would offer enough space for all of the crew/talent/client to stay within the building comfortably, I anticipated that the hair/makeup stylists would need a space to prep the talent, and the wardrobe stylists would need an area to spread out the clothing. Also, I anticipated that an RV would be a nice area to get as many cooks out of the kitchen as possible, and if needed, it would serve as a private space with wifi where the client could escape from the production. $1,500 included gas/mileage, travel time, generator run time, dumping fees, and other misc. expenses that RV’s typically charge for.

Equipment: The photographer planned to capture most of the content with available light, and in an effort to keep the bottom line down, we did not include any expense to use the equipment he planned to bring.

Travel Expenses: Round trip tickets to/from the location were about $300, and I included $50 in baggage fees for the outgoing and return trips. Lodging in the area was about $150/night for two nights, and I included $200 for a car rental, a $50/day per diem for the three days the photographer would be traveling.

Craft/Catering: I included roughly $35 per person for a light, quick lunch and snacks, anticipating nine crew members, 15 talent and six client/agency representatives.

Mileage, Parking, Additional Meals: This included $200 in mileage for crew members to travel to/from the location. $200 in meals and expenses that the wardrobe stylist and their assistant would incur while shopping for clothing. $150 for miscellaneous expenses and $250 in additional meals for a client/agency pre-production meeting and a client dinner after the shoot.

Production Supplies: This included $200 for table and chair rentals, $100 in tent rentals, $100 in floor protection and cleaning supplies, and $50 for miscellaneous supplies.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the photographer’s time to organize all of the assets and create an initial gallery of images for the client to review.

Post Processing: I included $50/image for basic color correction, file cleanup and delivery of the images. For architectural images, I’d typically include at least $150/image, however, we had already surpassed the client’s budget, and the photographer was willing to give a discount on the post processing.

Results: The client signed the estimate, and the photographer was awarded the assignment. Just as quickly, the client mentioned that they planned to bring in their ad agency to provide further creative direction and help move the project along. While it was surprising, we welcomed the additional clarification. However, we quickly realized that the agency had different expectations for the production that weren’t originally prescribed by the client.

Generally speaking, they wanted a much higher level of production, and the biggest change was that they hoped to shoot throughout the night while the store was closed, rather than shooting throughout the afternoon and into the early evening hours as originally anticipated. The agency also wanted the store to appear as if it were daytime, and have sun coming in through the windows. This meant that we’d need to bring on a grip and a gaffer with a grip truck to rig up large continuous lights outside of the windows, and I added $5,500 to accomplish this ($650 for the gaffer, $450 for the grip and $4,000 in grip/lighting equipment, trucking, generators and misc. expenses). Additionally, this meant that we’d need to feed everyone in a more robust way and ensure the coffee was fresh all night, so we added catering throughout the night.

The agency hoped to see a lot of the wardrobe that was to be procured prior to the shoot, so I added an extra day for our wardrobe stylist to provide pictures of everything and spend a bit of extra time shopping after receiving feedback. Additionally, the agency had insurance requirements that the photographer did not anticipate originally, so we included $1,500 to help increase his policy to meet their standards. Also, as we worked through these updates, the shoot date changed a few times, so we included a bit more in our travel expense line to account for airline change fees. Actually, the ever-changing schedule, increased production level and the re-negotiation of the project across the board meant the producer would be incurring additional time, so we included an extra day and a half for them to handle the workload.

The agency was able to make two concessions that helped bring the bottom line back down a bit. First, they were willing to limit the talent to seven principles and three extras, and second, they were willing to handle all of the post processing in-house.

As for the photographer’s fee, while the agency agreed to decrease the number of images licensed from 12 to eight, the shots they removed were mostly variations of similar secondary shots. Overall, I felt the additional shooting time coupled with increased creative requirements was worth an increase to the photographer’s fee, and we added an extra $1,500.

Here was the final estimate for the agency, which was approved:

Hindsight: In the end, an estimate that was $15,000 more than the client originally told us they budgeted was approved. The agency let us know that our final estimate was in-line with what they had anticipated for a production like this, and I feel they did a good job explaining to their client why all of these expenses were necessary. It’s highly unusual for a client to approve a project and then have their agency propose different project specs to bid on, but I think this was a result of the project occurring during a time when the client was transitioning from one ad agency to another. Other than the added stress during pre-production, the shoot went off without a hitch, and the images were quickly put to use a few weeks later.

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

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:

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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.

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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.

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

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!

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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.

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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.

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

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.

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

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.