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Pricing & Negotiating: Testimonial Video for Camera Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Video interview of a photographer and a retoucher

Licensing: Web Collateral use in perpetuity

Photographer: Portrait and fashion specialist

Client: Photographic equipment and software company

Here is the estimate:

image of the photographic estimate for a video interview of a photographer and retoucher

Director/Talent Fee: In addition to a successful career in commercial photography, the photographer was well known in the education community, and was a brand ambassador for a handful of equipment manufacturers. One of the companies he frequently collaborated with was designing a website for a new product and wanted to feature a video of the photographer and his retoucher talking about the product on the landing page. The photographer would direct the video, and would also be the on-camera talent along with his retoucher. The fee needed to take into account the photographer’s directorial input, along with a fee for them to use his likeness, as well as a usage fee. I started at $3,000 for a director fee and added $2,000 to account for both the licensing and the usage of his likeness. I had wanted to add a bit more to the licensing/talent fee, however, based on other similar projects the photographer had worked on, and his relationship with this brand, I felt that $5,000 would likely be the maximum fee palatable for this client.

Retoucher Talent Fee, Travel Days and Travel Expenses: In addition to a talent fee of $1,000 (which the photographer knew would be acceptable to his retoucher, and not far off from what we’d expect to pay as a “real people” talent rate), we included two travel days since the retoucher was based in a different city and would need to travel in for the project. Airfare, lodging, and car rental expenses were based on research, and I included $75/day for meals while traveling.

Studio Rental: The photographer owned his own studio, and we charged a modest rate for its use.

DP/Videographer: While the photographer was certainly capable of shooting this kind of project, he’d be the on-camera talent, and couldn’t do both at the same time. We included this fee to bring on another person to film the testimonial. This person, along with the help of his assistant would also help capture audio.

Grip/Assistant: We included an assistant to lend a hand on set with equipment, audio, and other miscellaneous tasks.

Equipment: The photographer owned all the gear needed for the project, and we charged appropriately for its use.

Meals, Production Supplies, Misc.: I include $50/person for meals, plus $100 for misc. unforeseen expenses that might arise.

Video Editing: We knew that the client wanted two separate videos, each twenty seconds in length. Other than length, the exact parameters were vague at the time of estimating so we erred on the side of caution and included $2,000 to cover 2 days of the photographer’s and retoucher’s time to collaborate on the edit together.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

Hindsight: Given how quickly the project was awarded, I do wonder if we could have aimed a bit higher on either the fees or overall bottom line.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Food, Product, and Lifestyle Library Shoot for a New Cookware Product Launch

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Food, product, and lifestyle library shoot for a new cookware product launch

Licensing: Unlimited use of 80 images in perpetuity, Owned-Social Media use of an additional 100 images in perpetuity

Photographer: Food and lifestyle specialist

Client: A Large Multi-National Brand

Here is the estimate:

Screenshot of a redacted real-world photographic estimate

Creative/Licensing: The creative called for a narrative approach to a series of casual family/friend gatherings, revolving around a meal and meal prep, at 3-4 residential locations. The photographer would be tasked with capturing the lifecycle of the meal, from ingredient details to recipe process shots, to product details, to kitchen lifestyle, to plated dishes, to lively dining experiences, and everything in between. Basically documenting a fun dinner party, four times over to cover a variety of recipes, locations, and demographics.
This was a somewhat unique ask from a licensing standpoint. The client wanted a reasonable number of “hero” or “library” images, 20 per day, to include in their brand library and about 25 outtakes per day (really subtle variations of the “heroes”) for owned social media use only. 45 images/day may (or may not) seem crazy, but we were sure to set appropriate expectations and explain that 25 of those, if not more, would fall squarely in the realm of “subtle variation.” With the client duly informed and in alignment, and based on how the photographer stages and shoots, and the narrative nature of the shot list/creative, she was confident she could deliver the 20 “heroes” and requisite outtakes.

This was a rare instance when a client not only provided a budget, but provided a reasonable budget. Though they were asking for “library” or unlimited use, the lion’s share of the images would be used in sales materials and brochures for the product. The occasional shot might find its way into an ad, but for the most part, the usage would be below the line. Normally, we might start a library day rate, including usage, around $7,500-$10,000, and push up (or down) from there based on the specifics. In this case, there was a limit on the number of images (which is not always the case for “library” shoots), a somewhat limited intended use, four consecutive days of shooting, and a fixed budget. As the industry continues to shift and evolve, we see these pressures/forces often and, unfortunately, have been conditioned to presume that the rates must be “discounted” accordingly. This wasn’t exactly a unicorn of a project, but it was close. The scale of the brand, volume of work, and scope of use called for a healthier rate, which we set at $65,000 (a shade off $16k/day). Fortune, and a realistic client smiled on us and the budget could bear the fees.

Photographer Pre-Production and Tech/Scout Days: We don’t often include straight pre-production days for photographers, but in this case, they were needed. We were working with an amazing, collaborative client without an agency. Even though the client knew what they wanted, and were pretty well buttoned up, during the initial conversations, it became clear that there would be a fair amount of conceptualization and oversight required of the photographer. Accordingly, we included four days of pre-production time to cover her considerable involvement in the lead-up to the shoot. We also included one tech/scout day for the location walk-throughs the day before the shoot.

Producer Days, Production Coordinator and PA Days: This was a substantial production: eight talent per day, three locations, product inventory, a total daily headcount around 30 clients, talent, and crew. Sort of an all hands on deck situation. We included a producer and production coordinator to oversee all the moving pieces for the fairly straightforward but relatively large production. Though they worked as a team, the producer ran the show, directing the coordinator through pre-production and clearly delineating roles during the shoot. We also included a PA to help out on the tech/scout day, shoot days and a wrap day.

Photo Crew: With the creative relying on a fair amount on available light, we went with the photographer’s preferred first assistant, second assistant, and digital tech, with the PA as a swing assistant as needed. The first and second assistant both had an extra day included so that the could help out with gear prep and wrap. The tech and her workstation would only be covered for the four shoot days, but the photographer asked that she attend the tech/scout and covered her day rate out of pocket.

Equipment: Though we were reliant on available light to a degree, with such a large production hinging on somewhat uncontrollable environmental factors, we needed to make sure we could replicate daylight, and light the entire scene if need be. This meant a healthy amount of lighting and grip equipment. We also factored in a medium format camera system and a few production supplies like pop-tents, tables, and chairs. Like most rental houses, our local shop offered “three days, same as a week” rates, meaning that we only paid for three days of rentals despite having the gear for six days.

Post: We quoted the post a little differently than I typically would. The photographer’s first assistant was actually on staff and managed most of the photographer’s post-production work. This gave her a fair amount of flexibility in post pricing, and also allowed her to quote/bill for it a little differently. Based on lengthy conversations about post expectations, we determined that, at the most, it would require ten days of her assistant’s time to handle the retouching. However, even though she had that luxury, we also had to prepare for the possibility that, despite a pretty generous post schedule, another project might come up, forcing her to outsource the post. Given the volume, ~80-100 hours, we were confident that many of our retoucher contacts would be glad to take the project on what amounted to about a $100/hr rate.

Location: The client wanted to shoot in four distinct residential settings, three inside the home/kitchen/dining room and one outside on a residential patio or in a backyard. Our local scout quoted us five days of scouting and five days of location management at $750/day plus $3,000/day for each location. We don’t always need a location manager, but with such a large crew we wanted to make sure we had one on set to ensure it was returned as it was found. We also included a location RV, primarily for hair/makeup and wardrobe styling. We’d be able to set up props, catering, etc. under tents in the driveways.

Styling: We were looking for real people to be enjoying their family/friends and food in authentic, luxurious spaces. We budgeted for an excellent team of wardrobe stylists, prop stylists, and food stylists to set the stage and build a believable, authentically layered scene. We also included the cost for the requisite assistants, prep/return time, supplemental props, wardrobe, and food.

Casting and Talent: Our local casting agent provided a quote for a three day live casting event, including prep and the costs for real people lifestyle talent. We would usually expect to pay a bit more for talent, but most of the models would be booked for multiple days, and the nature of the shoot (food being the main focus) meant that we were mostly looking for background talent rather than principals. We also included a talent payroll service to cover talent payments to ensure that we were complying with all of the tax and insurance regulations.

Catering, Insurance, and Misc: We estimated $50 per person per day for breakfast and lunch and $250/day for craft services. We also include insurance to cover the premiums for the gross production costs and a miscellaneous line to cover local transportation, working meals, and any other expenses that were sure to come up.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project and subsequently photographed another market-specific production for the same product line.

Hindsight: The food prep became a little more complicated and messy than we’d hoped. We could have added rented kitchen equipment or a catering truck to manage the food prep off-set. Otherwise, the production went off without a hitch!

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out. We’re available to help with any pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Marketing Materials for a Real Estate Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Cityscape images capturing the vibe of a neighborhood as well as portraits of the residents and business owners

Licensing: Unlimited use of 20 images in perpetuity

Photographer: Portrait and landscape specialist

Agency: Design firm in California

Client: Real estate and property management company

Here is the estimate:

image of redacted photographic bid for a case study in pricing and negotiating by Wonderful Machine Executive Producer Craig Oppenheimer

Creative/Licensing: The design firm was establishing the branding for their client’s new real estate development and intended to use a variety of landscape images of the neighborhood and portraits of people within the community in their marketing materials. They anticipated a need for 10 neighborhood shots and 10 environmental portraits and had originally requested b-roll video content to be captured as well. The design firm hoped to capture everything in 1-2 days, and while they would provide the talent without any need for styling, we recommended a 3-day shoot considering the logistics and timing needed to capture everything, and presented a comprehensive estimate.

While the requested licensing was for unlimited use of 20 images in perpetuity, the intended use was limited to their website and various collateral purposes. Considering the limited intended use and my experience estimating projects for similar clients, I based the licensing fee on $500/image, plus $3000 for the video, and separately broke out the photographer’s creative fee for each of the three shoot days. The photographer also planned to scout the area beforehand and handle some basic prep, so we included a fee for a pre-production day as well.

Assistants and Digital Tech: I included a first assistant and a second assistant on each of the three days who would lend a hand with grip/lighting and help keep the pace as the shoot moved from spot to spot within the neighborhood. I also included a digital tech for each of the shoot days, and in addition to a $500 fee for each day, I added another $500 per day for their laptop workstation.

Producer: The producer would be responsible for booking the crew, collaborating to develop a schedule, acquiring permits, and figuring out the best plan for meals, and we felt that 2 days would be sufficient to help line everything up. In an attempt to keep the crew lean and mean on set, we did not include them on the actual shoot days. While they would have been helpful on-site during the shoot, we were asked to keep the team as small as possible, and the photographer felt that he could do without them once the details were all lined up.

Permits: We included $500 to help cover fees charged by the local film office to issue a shooting permit.

Equipment: The photographer primarily relied on natural light along with a minimal lighting system for the portraits, and we included $500/day to cover his own gear. It was a bit on the low end, but we anticipated their budget would be tight, and the photographer was comfortable charging a nominal fee in order to keep the bottom line modest.

DP/Videographer and Video Equipment: We included a DP at $1,500/day to capture the b-roll content, and a similar equipment budget as we anticipate for the photography. The exact parameters for the video were still in the works, but based on the conversations up until this point and their minimal needs, we did not anticipate that an audio tech or any extra sets of hands would be necessary for the video.

Parking, Meals, Misc.: I included $100/day for a light lunch plus $50/day for parking and miscellaneous expenses for each of the three days.

Post Processing: $500 would be dedicated to the photographer’s initial import, edit, and presentation of the images to the client. Once the design firm made their selects, we included $100/image for basic color correction and processing for each of the 20 final images.

Video Editing: Since the scope of their video needs was still developing, the agency wasn’t able to articulate the total run time or style of an edit they might want, so we marked the editing as TBD.

Feedback: In an effort to be more budget conscious, the design firm asked what we might be able to do in order to keep production to two days. We felt that if we were to streamline the schedule and remove the video component of the project we could squeeze the shoot into two days by capturing five portraits per day and shooting as many cityscape images as possible while in transition from one location to another. We submitted a revised estimate that reduced the days for the crew (except the producer prep days) and adjusted appropriately for equipment and expenses. The licensing fees also came down a bit and the DP was removed since the video was stripped away, and all of these changes brought the bottom line down to a place we felt would be more palatable for the client.

Here is the revised estimate:

image of redacted photographic bid for a case study in pricing and negotiating by Wonderful Machine Executive Producer Craig Oppenheimer

Results: The photographer was awarded the project. Since the request for video wasn’t fully fleshed out, the client didn’t seem to mind us removing that element, especially since it allowed the project to be executed within two days, and ultimately help reduce the bottom line.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Comparing Two Bids with Identical Concepts

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Employee profile in multiple workplace situations

Client A: Fortune 500 professional services and consulting company

Client B: Fortune 500 insurance company

Here are the estimates:

screenshot of a pricing estimate for a professional services and consulting company

Estimate for Client A 

screenshot of a pricing estimate for a large insurance company

Estimate for Client B 

I thought it might be interesting to present two bids for very similar projects, in similar markets, shot by comparably experienced photographers, for two different Fortune 500 companies with wildly different bottom lines.

One client (A) was a professional services and consulting company, the other (B) was a large insurance company. Both concepts were nearly identical – profile an employee, shoot in a few different situations in/around the workplace in an “editorial style,” with a change or two of wardrobe ranging from street clothes to active-wear to business attire. The resulting imagery would effectively be the same from both shoots.

There was a subtle but significant disparity in the usage; Client B required more limited use (just Web Collateral) of an unspecified number of images for one year. Client A required a slightly broader use (Collateral and Publicity) of an unspecified number of images for a much longer duration (forever). Despite not being willing to limit the usage to a specific number of images, they both expressed reasonable expectations, 3-5 finished images. Generally, we prefer limiting the usage to a set number of images, but considering the nature of the concepts and usage, it was pretty clear that whatever value they might be able to squeeze out, the entire shoot would be limited by the fact that we were shooting just one subject in 2-3 different scenarios. The variations would be subtle and likely wouldn’t generate a significant amount of value relative to the hero images. As such, we were comfortable foregoing the limitation on the number of images in both cases.

The other divergence was in the production expectations, which varied quite a bit. Client A expected a low-impact, editorial-style approach, while Client B expected a more comprehensive approach with a fair amount of production support, replete with a tech/scout day, stylist, digital tech, supplemental wardrobe, and catering.

What’s most interesting and noteworthy is the difference in the overall budget allocated, and specifically the photography fees. Bear in mind these are two companies that operate on the same scale. We were only able to muscle out a $1,800 creative fee from Client A, including the more extensive usage. Our first bid was more than double the bottom line shown here and we were ultimately presented with a take it or leave it budget. On the other hand, Client B accepted a $5,500 creative fee for more limited usage.

There are countless justifications for the discrepancy. Organizational structure, intended use (passive profile page vs. an internal campaign), the importance of the subject, fiscal timing (one may have had money to burn, who knows), audience (consumer, trade, internal, external, etc.) all factor into the value a client attributes to any given project.

Licensing value is subjective, driven more-so by the client’s expectations than anything else. Until we determine otherwise, we approach each potential project and bid with the assumption that the client has high expectations for quality and a budget to match. From there, we sometimes whittle down as needed to land the gig, while avoiding the pitfalls of underbidding (leaving money on the table, doing more production work than agreed to, etc.).

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out by email. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Expert Advice: Printing with Lightroom

Molly Glynn, Wonderful Machine

Printing is a process of problem-solving and iteration, from loading the paper into the printer to ensuring the final product is color corrected. I like to say that printing is mostly just putting out fires– as soon as you solve one issue, another is bound to arise.

Not every photographer finds owning and running their own printer worth the cost. It can be a time-consuming process, and ink and paper don’t come cheap. But, it can also be intensely satisfying to create an image from an initial concept to the final print.

I’ll preface by saying that there are many opinions when it comes to printing and equally as many methods for printing as there are printers in the world. Everyone has their preferences, and this guide is made to be a baseline on which you can develop your skills and form your own style of printing.

Step One: Choose Your Printer

We have two Epson Surecolor P800 printers, which are large format printers designed for a variety of paper types. We’ve found them perfect for our Print Portfolio Production, as well as for some larger, poster-sized prints.

Black Epson Surecolor P800 printer at Wonderful Machine

The P800 accepts paper up to 17 inches wide, which makes it a perfect size for making test prints or small exhibition prints. If you are looking to make even larger prints, take a peek at the P7000 or its older friend the Stylus Pro 7880.

It seems that with larger print size comes an increase in printer trouble – from file buffering to color banding. Ultimately, my advice is to leave especially large or important prints to professional printing houses who have the tools, expertise, and time to create a perfect print for you.

Step Two: Choose Your Paper

We use Moab Lasal Matte paper, which is double-sided and can be ordered pre-punched and pre-scored for standard-size screw post binders. Heavyweight matte paper is great for most photo uses, but specific clients may want a pearl, luster, or full gloss finish instead. We generally discourage photographers from using glossy paper for portfolios due to its tendency to glare, gather fingerprints, and collect dust.

Whatever paper you choose, make sure you purchase a size and type that is compatible with your printer. Most finished papers are single-sided, so if you want front and back images in your portfolio, that’s an important factor to consider. Other important factors include the weight of your paper and the ink recommendations, as well as the reputation of the color profiles associated with the paper. For instance, I’ve found Moab profiles generally easy to use but Hahnemühle profiles difficult to print.

Step Three: Choose Your Program

Here is where the opinions really start coming in. Depending on your experience with printing, you’ll find yourself drawn to one program over another. There are a few different reputable programs to print, including nearly all of the Adobe Creative Suite. Most photographers are proficient in Photoshop and/or Lightroom, and either is a great choice for printing. Some printing houses and even advanced home printers will use special drivers or RIP software to ensure perfect results between multiple printers.

Photoshop does offer more print customization and flexibility in layout, but we’ve found that Lightroom is better for producing multiple prints in succession due largely to its library and preset functionality.

Lightroom is the most user-friendly printing option but still maintains the level of control necessary for making high-quality prints. As such, this guide is written for Lightroom with the novice printer in mind.

Wonderful Machine photo editor Molly Glynn using Adobe Lightroom

Step Four: Choosing Templates and Settings

Lightroom’s print module comes with pre-designed templates for a variety of printing options (all designed for 8.5×11 paper). These work well as an introduction to what you can do to lay out an image– whether you’re looking to print a contact sheet, some 5×7 images, or one basic test print.

What’s even nicer about Lightroom’s printing templates is the ability to customize them. On the right-hand side of the print module, you’ll notice there are six sections with options to make adjustments to your final print: Layout Style, Image Settings, Layout, Guides, Page, and Print Job.

LAYOUT STYLE

Adobe Lightroom screenshot of Print Layout Style

Most often, you’ll stick to “Single Image/Contact Sheet,” unless printing a retail picture package. Either way, just use the cells menu to add images in your preferred size and build out as you please!

IMAGE SETTINGS

Adobe Lightroom screenshot of Print Image Settings

Your images won’t always fit into a template exactly the way you want them, and that’s where image settings come in. The checkboxes give you options to Zoom to Fill, Rotate to Fit, or Repeat One Photo per Page. This is mostly self-explanatory, but it’s good to note that selecting Zoom to Fill will crop your image. You can adjust the crop by clicking and dragging your mouse over the image.

There’s also an option to add a stroke border around your image. I generally don’t recommend adding any sort of border to an image– most of the time, it only makes an image look dated.

LAYOUT

Adobe Lightroom screenshot of Print Layout

Perhaps one of the most important menus to use when creating custom templates or adjusting pre-existing ones, the Layout menu allows you to adjust the Margins, Page Grid, Cell Spacing, and Cell Size of a print.

Setting Margins allows you to work within what you know or wish to be printable space. For example, when I am setting up a portfolio print for a screw post book, I know that I need to allow for at least one inch on the inside edge of the page for the punched holes. If I want a vertical image to sit all the way to the left side of the page, I’ll adjust the right margin to push it towards the left edge.

The Page Grid sets how many image cells (in rows and columns) are on a single page. If I want a top and bottom image, I’ll set the rows to two. If I want a triptych, I’ll up the columns to set three images side-by-side. Whenever you have more than one image cell on a page, the Cell Spacing field will come into play. Increasing the horizontal or vertical spacing will add white space between your cells so the images no longer touch.

The Cell Size adjusts the space allotted for each image on the page. When the sliders are all the way to the right, a cell is as large as it can possibly be on the page. This is inversely related to cell spacing, so be careful when adjusting. I usually find it most useful to first set my cell size, then my spacing.

GUIDES

Adobe Lightroom screenshot of Print Guides

Guides don’t affect the final print. They are just as they advertise– guides that help you understand how your print is laid out on the page. Just as in Photoshop, the Rulers give you, in inches, a way to see the scale of your print. If you have custom settings in page setup (such as the printable area on your chosen paper), then checking Page Bleed will gray out any areas that cannot be safely printed.

Margins and Gutters show up as light gray lines that intersect all the cross sections of your page (your outer margins, image cells, etc). The Image Cells Guide looks like a stroke border around the border of the image cell. It’s usually a good idea to keep an eye on how much space is available for an image and is especially useful if your image has a white background that blends in with the print preview. Finally, Dimensions shows just that– the numerical dimension of each image.

PAGE

Adobe Lightroom screenshot of Print Page settings

If you are printing proofs, a series of pages, or contact sheets, you might find Page settings useful. Here, you can set a background color, add an Identity Plate (a rudimentary watermark) upload or create your own watermark, include print settings, add page numbers or crop marks, or include file information under each image. Each adjustment has its uses, and I’ll leave it to you to imagine the possibilities.

PRINT JOB

Adobe Lightroom screenshot of Print Job settings

Maybe you were nodding off, but here’s the time to pay attention. The Print Job settings can radically adjust the way your image is rendered by your printer, so it’s important to make sure you choose the correct settings for your intended use.

The Epson printers we use have a native print resolution of 240ppi (pixels per inch), so that is our ideal Lightroom Input Resolution. We have found that a minimal amount of sharpening looks best, so we keep Print Sharpening set to Low. If you’re using a pearl or luster paper, your Media Type may be Glossy, but with paper like the Moab Lasal we use, make sure Media Type is set to Matte. If your printer accepts 16-bit Output, select that box, but if your printer doesn’t or you don’t know, it is best to leave it unchecked. Printers not designed for 16-bit Output will print the image much slower without any improvement in quality.

Color Management can have a profound effect on your prints, and you almost never want to leave the Managed by Printer setting on. Instead, look up the proper ICC profile for your paper and make sure it is installed, or check out the list of paper profiles provided by your printer manufacturer. I leave the Intent set to Perceptual, leave Print Adjustment off, and save my entire template.

Once you’ve adjusted your settings just how you like them, you can save those adjustments as a User Template. Lightroom will save these templates and you’ll be able to easily pick up where you left off with a contact sheet, test print, or portfolio image with the click of a button whenever you reopen Lightroom (even between catalogs).

Step Five: Using the Printer

Each printer has different features and accepts different paper in different ways. If possible, I recommend using a front or rear flat loading option for heavyweight paper to avoid the possibility of bending or jamming the paper. See your printer manufacturer’s instructions for more info on loading paper.

Some printers give you the option to print wirelessly, but I recommend printing through a USB because it’s faster and easier to troubleshoot.

When sending an image to the printer from Lightroom (or any other program), you never just press Print. You’ll always have the option of Printer…, which will lead you to the print dialogue and give you the option to adjust your print settings.

Adobe Lightroom screenshot of Print Settings

 

Final Adobe Lightroom print dialogue
 

If your computer is connected to multiple printers, first ensure you’re selecting settings for the right printer. There’s no frustration quite like getting all your settings straight only to have to swap printers and do it all over again.

Unless you’re using roll paper, your page setup should be set to Standard. This will also bring up the Paper Source menu, where you can find whichever flat loading option you’ve used with your printer.

Your Media Type should match your paper as closely as possible. For the most part, you’ll either use the photo paper or matte paper options, and you can check with your paper manufacturer to see which media type is the best fit. For Moab Lasal Matte, the setting is Ultra Premium Presentation Matte paper.

If you properly selected an ICC color profile in Lightroom and unchecked Managed by Printer, the Print Mode and Color Mode options should be greyed out. If they aren’t, chances are you neglected to save your settings.

We set the Output Resolution to SuperFine 1440 dpi (dots per inch). Anything less will adversely affect your print quality, and SuperPhoto’s 2880 dpi is a level of detail beyond what most printers can accurately produce. Leave High Speed and Mirror Image unchecked, and select Finest Detail for a slightly slower but more intricate print.

You can also create presets in the print dialogue so that these settings are the default, and you’ll only need to check that nothing has changed before sending the image off to the printer.

Step Six: Viewing your Prints

Remember the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover?” Likewise, don’t judge a print before it’s dry. Depending on the type of paper you use, a print can take between 10 minutes and a few hours to completely dry. Darker colors take longer to dry and can come out of the printer looking almost totally black, then show more detail as the ink fully dries.

Since I am normally printing on both sides of a page, I give a large leeway for pages to dry, usually overnight, before I run them through the printer again. This helps prevent nicks and scratches on the first side and keeps the interior of the printer as clean as possible for the second side.

Printing on matte paper leaves you with beautiful final prints, but it’s also more susceptible to marks. If you have a print that has deep blacks or generally darker colors, you’ll want to take a flashlight to it to detect any scuff marks.

Finally, you will also want to view the prints in multiple lighting scenarios. We all know that daylight affects colors differently than fluorescent or incandescent light, and since a printed portfolio will end up in all sorts of lighting situations, you want to check that you’re comfortable with the overall color and contrast of your book.

Printing is no easy task. It’s sort of like learning to drive– you might be able to get from one place to another, but it takes time to really feel comfortable with the process.

Be patient with your mistakes, and keep track of the problems you’ve solved before, lest they come up again. And, like driving, always check and double check before you put your foot on the gas.

Wonderful Machine photo editor Molly Glynn loads paper into Epson P800 printer

Have any questions or opinions about printing you’d like to share? Feel free to reach out!

Pricing & Negotiating: Still Life Images for a Home Goods Brand

Julia Hanley, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Still life images of a consumer product

Location: A studio in a major market

Licensing: Out-of-Home, Print Advertising, and Web Advertising use of up to five hero images and ten insert images in perpetuity

Photographer: Still life specialist

Client: A large US-based home goods brand

Here is the estimate:

PDF of pricing and negotiating estimate for a US American home goods brand

Creative/Licensing: The agency came to us with five distinct conceptual ads, each of which featured one hero image portraying a single product in use, accompanied by two to three smaller images (referred to as “insert images” by the agency) showcasing specific features of each product. Additionally, each ad incorporated conceptual text/copy that would need to be created in post via CGI.

Each conceptual still life scene was unique and involved a complicated set in terms of the design and prop elements. For each set, we had to incorporate both 3D layout copy and create an effect where the set began to blend into the studio background. In order to execute the desired effects, we would need a top-tier prop styling team in addition to supplementing with CGI in post. The use of CGI would enhance the three-dimensional text and the textured background elements.

The agency requested out-of-home, print advertising, and web advertising use of the final ads in perpetuity. I considered factors that increased the overall value of the images, such as the brand’s name recognition, the photographer’s expertise and creative input, the usage requirements and uniqueness of each ad, etc. Based on previous experiences and similar projects, we determined the appropriate creative/licensing fee to be $41,000, which broke down to $8,200 for each final ad.

Pre-Light Day(s): Due to the technical lighting needed for the various sets, we included one pre-light day at the studio space for the photographer and incorporated this day throughout the estimate for the crew.

Producer Day(s): I estimated four prep days, one pre-light day, three shoot days, and one wrap day for the producer. We expected a large amount of pre-production in a short window to hire a crew, book a studio, rent equipment, manage talent, etc. The producer would also help manage the CGI post-production components.

Assistants and Digital Tech: I included two assistants for the shoot days and pre-light day and a digital tech for an equal amount of days. The digital tech’s fee also included the cost of their workstation and kit.

Studio Rental and Equipment: We’d need ample space to work within, which didn’t come cheap in this market. A studio in this major market can range from $1,500-$3,000/day. We included $3,000/day for a studio to account for one pre-light day and three shoot days, and an additional $2,000/day for grip and lighting equipment.

Prop Stylist, Assistant, and Props: Each hero image involved sophisticated prop styling as well as minor set design skills. Although the sets consisted of simple materials, it would require a seasoned professional to pull off such sophisticated styling, so I wanted to be sure the stylist had the assistance and prep time needed to source the necessary items. Being a New York-based prop stylist, it is not unusual that the price is higher as stylists cost more in bigger markets, on top of a typical agency fee. I estimated two prep days, one pre-light day, three shoot days, and one day of returns for the prop stylist, and included an assistant for one of those prep days, each shoot day and one day of returns.

Wardrobe Stylist and Wardrobe: The wardrobe stylist’s fee and wardrobe expense covered one day of prep, one day on set, and one day of returns. The wardrobe specs were very straightforward, with minor shopping needed, and covered one unrecognizable talent for a half-day.

Casting and Talent Day(s): We had to cast one adult male, from cards, for a half-day on set as unrecognizable talent. Because of this, we negotiated a modest fee for the talent, inclusive of unlimited use.

Post Production (Retouching Hours, CGI Rendering, CGI Contingency, File Transfer, Hard Drives): We received three different quotes (and treatments) from CGI artists. The CGI rendering fee was based on one of the quotes we received, determined by the number of shots, the complexity of the scenes, and the deadline for images (which was a tight turnaround). Because of these factors, we incorporated a rush fee and a contingency fee, in case we exceeded the estimated number of retouching hours or needed to pull in additional resources to meet the agency’s deadline.

Catering/Craft: Catering/Craft covered three days on set with as many as 10-12 people on set per day.

Insurance: This covered a policy that would meet the requirements of the agency, based on an industry standard rate of approximately 2% of the production expenses.

Parking/Shipping/Tolls/Misc.: Finally, we included a miscellaneous fee to cover some costs that may be incurred during the pre-light day and any last-minute production costs that could arise.

Feedback: Although the art buyer assured us that our numbers were competitive, it came down to creative preference and they decided to move forward with a different photographer.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out by email. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Expert Advice: One-On-One Portfolio Reviews

- - Expert Advice

Erika Blatt, Wonderful Machine

One-on-one portfolio reviews should be an essential part of any photographer’s marketing plan. It’s an excellent opportunity to get your work literally under the noses of decision makers at ad agencies, publications, and brands. We’ve found that creatives are more likely to work with photographers they know, and meetings are a great way to solidify those relationships. It’s your opportunity to present your brand, your work, and yourself. However, many photographers find the idea of setting up meetings to be somewhat daunting, so I’ve put together a step-by-step guide to securing and preparing for your portfolio reviews.

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PREPARING YOUR PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS

Before even setting up a meeting, your promotional materials need to be in order and ready to go.

  • First things first, make sure your website is up-to-date and fully functional. Nobody is going to make an appointment with you without first checking out your site. Make sure it’s solid (see our Expert Advice: Website Dos and Don’ts).
  • Make sure your book is up-to-date and well-edited. Get a second opinion on your edit from a friend or a consultant (see our Expert Advice: How to Edit Photographs).
  • Consider whether an iPad portfolio is appropriate for you. Print portfolios still get more attention from clients at our portfolio events than iPads do. But tablets are essential if you shoot motion, and they’re also a nice supplement to show recent projects or to go into greater depths on a particular subject.
  • Have an appropriate leave-behind ready to go. A simple postcard can work. However, you’ll score extra points for something unique like a small booklet or even an app (like Tony Burns’ Shooting The World). Whenever possible, your leave-behind should be memorable, inventive, and reflective of your brand.

RESEARCH YOUR PROSPECTS

Whether you’re traveling across the country, or just across town, take the time to do some research and make sure you’re barking up the right trees. Check out each client’s website to make sure that your photography matches up with their needs, so you don’t waste your time or theirs. Start close to home and then branch out from there. You will only be able to meet with a relatively small number of prospects over the course of your career, so make each appointment count.

As useful as list services are, nothing is more valuable than personal networking. When you find one client who responds to your work, ask them if they know any others who might be a good match for you. As you start to cultivate relationships with prospective clients, it will be essential to keep good records of your interactions with them.

REQUESTING & PLANNING FOR MEETINGS

After you’ve compiled your list of prospects that you want to meet with, the next step is to start reaching out. We’ve found that contacting people roughly a week before you’d like to meet is a good rule of thumb. Do it too far in advance, and you risk having them forget about the meeting or canceling on you. Too little notice may find them already booked up. Start with a casual email that includes the following:

  • The prospect’s name
  • A little about how your skills and interests might match up with their needs
  • A link to your site
  • The dates and times you’re available

There are a few tricks you can use that can help you get noticed:

  • Don’t attach images to your email. I find that this increases the chance of your email getting stuck in spam filters. But it doesn’t hurt to attach a JPEG to your follow-up email.
  • Give the impression that you’re going to be in town for other meetings (even if you haven’t set up any others yet). You don’t want anyone to feel the pressure that you’re making a special trip for them.
  • Don’t ask for too much time. “A few minutes” is what you should ask for. If you get more than that, then great! Here’s a basic template you can follow:

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A couple of days later, if you haven’t heard back from them, follow up with a phone call. Keep the call short and sweet:

Hi, this is XXX, I’m a type of photographer based in city. I sent you an email a few days ago about meeting with you for a few minutes to hear about your creative needs and if there’s a way my style would fit in.

Sometimes it’s helpful to write out a script and practice it, so you’re comfortable with what you’re going to say. You might have to practice it a few times, so you don’t sound like a robot. Creating a succinct message that you can deliver in a relaxed way will give you the best chance of success. Creating an alternate script for voicemails is a good idea too.

Similar to the email, only ask if they have a few minutes to take a look at your book. If they don’t answer, or don’t get back to you, you can try sending one last email. But don’t get hung up on this one client, just move on to the next. Remember, the more people you reach out to for meetings, the more likely someone will have some interest or time available.

Once you start booking meetings, make sure you give yourself enough time for each meeting plus travel time to get to the next one. If you’re going to New York, try to book as many meetings as possible within walking distance so you can maximize your time. If you have to drive from one meeting to the next, account for the time it takes to get your car out of the parking garage and then find parking at the next place. Give yourself enough time for meetings to run long.

Build an itinerary for yourself including time of meetings, contact’s name, phone number, email address, physical address. Plan ahead how you’ll be getting around. (By the way, TripIt is a great (free) app for keeping track of meetings.)

THE MEETINGS

Now that you’ve booked your meetings, time to do some additional research on the clients. One-on-one portfolio meetings are usually with one or two other people and quite casual, lasting less than 20 minutes. Check out their LinkedIn, Instagram, and social media sites in addition to their website. You’ll want to demonstrate that you know their business and you’ll have enough to talk about. If you’re meeting with an agency because you think you’d be a great fit for their client, make sure they still have that client. See if there are any similarities between the two of you, it’s nice to have those candid moments during the meeting that show your interest and preparation. Plus, the client will feel more at ease. If it’s in the morning, it can be a nice touch to pick up a couple of extra coffees to bring along to the meeting.

Make sure you’re dressed for the occasion. While most ad agencies have casual dress codes and work environments, that doesn’t mean you should show up for a meeting in a hoodie. Dress the part of someone that could command a high-value shoot.

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Once you’ve arrived at your meeting, it’s time to turn on the charm! Be relaxed, but energetic. I’d start with your elevator pitch and then walk them through your portfolio, explaining your creative process, and then offer up interesting stories or details about your experience on that shoot when you see them lingering on a certain image. You’ll find that some clients are expressive and chatty when looking through your book, while others like to flip through the pages quietly. You’ll have to gauge yourself whether or not they feel like talking while they look at your work.

Don’t ask clients to critique your photography or your presentation. That’s not their job, and it will make you seem like an amateur. Just guide them through your work and express an interest in their projects. Show that you’re interested in what they’re doing, but no hard sell. They may ask you about any personal projects you’re working on … sometimes to see if you are an inspired photographer with your own ideas or sometimes to see if it’s something they’d be interested in seeing.

Don’t expect to get an assignment on the spot and don’t be upset if you feel like you didn’t get the praise you were hoping for! The purpose of these meetings is for creatives/photo editors to get to know you and hopefully build up a comfort level so they will ask you for a bid when an appropriate project comes up.

Be sure to take your print book (obviously!), your print promo or leave-behind, as well as business cards. Again, if you shoot motion, it’s a must to bring an iPad or tablet.

FOLLOW UP

A few days later, send a hand-written thank-you note. Keep it short and sweet, just to thank them for the meeting. If you have any additional promos or branded garb (t-shirts, mugs, notebooks, etc.) now’s a good time to send that as well.

From there, an occasional email or print promo update is appropriate (every few months), especially if you have some news to share. It’s also smart to connect on LinkedIn so you can keep track of their career path. Creative departments are continually evolving and switching accounts, or following accounts to different agencies – you never know when a good prospect moves to a new company that would be perfect for your photography. Plus, it helps you to stay on their radar.

If you need a hand building a client list or setting up meetings, please call us at 610.260.0200 or reach out. Or you can visit our consulting page to learn more.

Pricing & Negotiating: Usage Extension of an Existing Lifestyle Library

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Original Shoot Concept: Real People Lifestyle Library License Extension

Licensing: 1-year extension for 48 images Web Collateral use

Photographer: Established Midwestern portrait, youth culture, and fashion specialist

Client: National For-Profit College

Here’s the quote:

When negotiating a given agreement, one is often faced with the challenge of balancing a client’s budget, their licensing requirements, and the intended use. As you no doubt have experienced, those three don’t often align. And just about as often, the client is resolute on the terms and unwilling to budge on any of those points. However when a negotiating window does open, I’ve found the limitation presenting the greatest upside on the backend is the duration, provided it’s short enough on the front end.

Certainly, there are instances when limiting the scope and image count can present a terrific opportunity for future revenue, and you should always press for limitations on those. But generally speaking, by the time we’re talking with a client, they’ve got a really good idea of how many images they need and how they plan to use them and aren’t likely to be open to limiting either. However, in spite of having a firm grasp on their intended usage, most clients can only anticipate, plan and budget for that use within a relatively short time horizon, typically a year or two. Beyond that, the additional duration they’re requesting is usually for peace of mind and not a concrete intention. This, combined with the facts that new budget is usually made available annually and the staying power of a given set of images is uncertain, clients are occasionally open to limiting the duration of use.

In 2015, I shared a post about a four-day library shoot, including unlimited use of the imagery for about 2.5 years. Just before the license was set to expire, we followed up with the client to see if they were interested in extending the usage. Unlike the initial agreement which included the license to all images, at this point the client was only interested in renewing the licensing to a subset of the library, 48 images, for just one additional year, and for Web Collateral use only.

Normally, we might have discounted the additional year along the same curve that we build out the majority of quotes (a doubling of duration yields a 50% increase in value, ie. 1year = x, 2 years = 1.5x, etc). Usually, that equation is applied on the front end when the value is less-than-certain to all parties. On the back-end, leverage shifts. Now the images are a “known quantity” and have enough value to the client to seek additional use. In this case, the approach we took was to simply prorate based on the original quote and duration, which came to $16,000 per year. Finally, we had to consider the pricing ceiling, which would be the cost to produce a new project substantial enough to generate 48 unique location-specific lifestyle images. It’s safe to say that would be considerably more costly than our re-use quote, so we weren’t in any real jeopardy of the client considering a re-shoot alternative.

Although it is becoming increasingly difficult, limiting licensing is an integral component of a sustainable commercial photography business model and can generate continual opportunities for residual income such as this. So keep pressing for limitations, on every project, and you may be able to generate these opportunities for yourself.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Lifestyle Images for a Non-Profit Organization

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Images of volunteers and foundation members interacting

Location: An office and a TBD social setting in a European city

Licensing: Work-made-for-hire

Photographer: Portrait and lifestyle specialist

Client: A large US-based non-profit organization

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing:

While the exact scope of the project was initially vague, the client hoped to capture images of their employees and volunteers in various scenarios over two shoot days at one of the foundation’s office locations and an additional social setting in a European city. The locations, talent, and production coordination would be the responsibility of the client, and they needed a photographer with minimal crew to capture everyone interacting.

On one hand, it seemed pretty straightforward, but on the other hand, the request came with a creative brief showing usage of the images on billboards along with a contract stating that the project would need to be on a work-made-for-hire basis (meaning, the copyright of the images would belong to the client). A handful of other non-profits I’ve encountered have required similar agreements, however, their budgets haven’t typically matched the value of such an arrangement. That being said, such organizations are typically relying on volunteers to go above and beyond in various ways, and I suppose they expect that notion to apply towards vendors for other goods/services as well.

When working on projects like this, I simply just ask what their budget might be, and in this case (after asking the same question a few different ways), I found out that they typically pay $3k-$4k plus expenses per day, regardless of the project scope. In this case, the photographer was comfortable with this considering the client and seemingly simple project scope. We priced the creative/licensing fee at 3,000 Euro per day, taking into account the currency conversion (about $3,700 USD) to be sure it would be palatable. There are two ways to create an estimate when currency conversion is necessary. One would have been to price the estimate in the currency of the client, which could make things progress smoothly internally, and could perhaps be more palatable. The other is to price the project in the currency of the local photographer, which is what we did here, and this ensures that the photographer receives exactly the anticipated amount of money estimated, regardless of the conversion rate at the time of payment.

Photographer Scout/Pre-Production Day(s): We included one day prior to the shoot for the photographer to scout the locations.

Assistants: We included a first assistant who would double as a digital tech, as well as a second assistant to help with equipment and lighting on both shoot days.

Hair/Makeup Stylist: While the client would provide any necessary wardrobe and/or prop styling, they requested for us to include a hair/makeup stylist to handle some light grooming on both days.

Equipment: This covered 800 euro/day for the photographer’s own gear, and any minor pieces of equipment he may need to rent.

Mileage, Parking, Meals for Crew, Misc.: I included 150 euro each day, anticipating a light lunch for 4 people and miscellaneous funds for parking and misc. expenses each day.

Delivery of All RAW Content on Hard Drive: The client planned to handle all of the post-processing, and simply wanted all of the images provided to them on a hard drive. This including the cost of the hard drive and international expedited shipping.

Feedback: Despite a seemingly clear conversation about their budget initially, we were told that our estimate was a bit too high for them. We discussed a few items that we could adjust to bring the expenses down while keeping the creative/licensing fee intact. We dropped the scout/prep day by 150 euro, removed the second assistant, reduced the equipment to 1k and cut the misc. expenses in half. Additionally, the client said they could provide a hard drive and cover shipping costs, so we removed that expense. Those changes helped us get just under 10k euro, which we thought should do the trick. Here was the estimate:

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and we began talking about another project in a different city as well.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Expert Advice: Self-Assigned Projects

- - Expert Advice

Mellisa Pascale, Wonderful Machine

Here at Wonderful Machine, we prefer the term “self-assigned” rather than “personal” to describe the projects that photographers create themselves. After all, these types of ventures are more than side projects that satisfy extraneous creative visions; they also serve to demonstrate a photographer’s proficiency with a genre he or she would like to shoot more of. To put it simply, shooting what you love can, with the right presentation, lead to assignments that you love.

Pursuing self-assigned work allows you to create imagery that’s geared towards a specific target industry or client. Take, for example, Felix Reed’s Mont Blanc project, which served a dual purpose fulfilling both a life-long dream and a portfolio piece. Having always wanted to scale Europe’s highest peak, the Bologna, Italy-based photographer folded some adventure imagery into his expedition. Felix integrates the photos into the Lifestyle galleries on his website and opens his homepage with a slideshow of images, the first of which is from Mont Blanc.

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Read more about this project here.

Showcasing your self-assigned projects right alongside your client-based work, rather than separating it out as “personal,” gives the photos an opportunity to shine. Just because you had to rely on your own resources to create the images doesn’t mean they’re less telling of your abilities as a photographer.

If anything, calling on your own resources to produce a shoot should make you more appealing to potential clients. In addition to rounding out your portfolio, self-assigned projects also exhibit a photographer’s ability to project manage. When Falmouth, England-based Olivia Bossert wanted to garner more fashion assignments, she started with a fashion self-assignment. Casting a model, sourcing a stylist, and enlisting a small videography team for an added element, Olivia took her team to a picturesque English bluff to capture these stylish images.

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Read more about this project here.

Ultimately, your skills as both a photographer and a collaborator demonstrated in a self-assigned project can lead to something more. Noah Willman, a photographer operating out of Washington, DC, reached out to the Alexandria Boxing Club, aiming to build up a sports and fitness repertoire. After photographing the boxers and trainers in action and behind the scenes, capturing the community vibe, Noah pitched his photo series to various editorial clients. In addition to licensing his images to several publications, including Washingtonian, Noah also continues to cover the club’s events and other goings-on.

Read more about this project here.

Documentary photographer Nicole Franco conceptualized a fine art project, titled Charros, capturing Mexico’s traditional horse-riding competition, Charreada. Her emotive black and white images earned Nicole her first solo exhibit, to be on display in Bellas Artes in the summer of 2018.

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Read more about this project here.

Nicole’s success demonstrates another integral aspect of self-assignments. Diving into your personal interests via photography demonstrates initiative and self-sufficiency, not to mention your love for the medium.

“Like all creatives, there are times when we feel the need to challenge ourselves. I had a very clear vision about a new project I wanted to shoot.…I’ve been riding since I was a child and my relationship with horses has been and continues to be tremendous in my life, so photographing them was natural to me.” – Nicole Franco

It can be quite challenging to tackle something so close to your heart, but with patience and calculated execution, your self-assigned passion project can reap rewards. Over the course of 25 years, Los Angeles based photographer Manuello Paganelli captured his travels to Cuba, exploring his heritage as well as the country’s anatomy. This ongoing project resulted in a book, Cuba: A Personal Journey 1989-2016.

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Read more about this project here.

Never underestimate the power of self-assigned projects. Integrating work into your portfolio that’s conceptualized and executed by you is one terrific way to expand your photography business into new ventures.

Looking to get started? Reach out to our consultants – we’d love to help!

Pricing & Negotiating: Portraits for Web Collateral and Digital Billboards

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

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

Licensing: Web Collateral use of all images captured in perpetuity

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

Client: A national health and wellness brand

Here is the estimate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Exterior and Aerial Architectural Images for Oil Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Exterior and aerial architectural photography of an oil refinery.

Licensing: Public display of 15 images in a corporate office.

Photographer: Architectural and landscape specialist.

Client: Large oil and gas company.

Here is the estimate:

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Creative/Licensing: The photographer had a longstanding relationship with an architectural firm who was working with the client to develop new office spaces, and they connected the photographer directly to the client to discuss the creation of artwork to fill the new space. They hoped to capture images of their oil refinery both from the ground and from above to showcase the scale of their complex in an artistic way. They were interested in 15 images, and after speaking with the photographer about different angles/shots, they anticipated needing two shoot days to accomplish the project. Based on conversations with the client, they intended to make use of the images in various ways, ranging from a large-scale display in the lobby to smaller-sized prints throughout the office.

Since a few of the images were going to be more prominently displayed than others, I developed a tiered pricing model starting at $2,500 for the first image, $1,000 each for images #2-4, $500 each for images #5-8, and $250 each for images #9-15. That brought me to $9,250, which I initially doubled considering the potential shelf life of the images. When pro-rated, that brought me close to $1,250/image, which I felt was a bit high, so I brought down to $1,000/image and an even $15,000 (breaking down to $7,500/day when viewed that way). Given the size of the client, it felt a bit light, but with expenses bringing our bottom line up near $25k, I felt this was appropriate based on other similar projects I’ve estimated.

Photographer Scout Day: Before shooting, the photographer would do a walkthrough of the location to determine the best angles and time of day to capture each shot.

Helicopter Rental: The photographer had previously rented helicopters for projects, and anticipated paying $450 per hour. Based on where the helicopter would take off/land, and the few shots that were needed, we included 2 hours and rounded up just a bit. Sometimes chartering a helicopter for this purpose requires the rental of special safety or stabilization equipment, however, it was not required in this instance.

Equipment: This included the photographer’s camera, backup body, and specialty lenses for two days.

Mileage, Parking, Meals, Misc.: I included $50/day for meals and $100/day for mileage and miscellaneous expenses that might arise.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This included the photographer’s time to transfer all of the images from the cards to his computer, review and batch color-correct the content, and prepare a web gallery for the client to choose from.

Retouching: I included two hours of retouching, based on a rate of $150/hour, for each of the 15 images.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

Hindsight: Considering the size of the client and the lack of negotiation, I think we could have aimed higher on the creative/licensing fees. It can actually be reassuring when a bit of resistance is met, which lets me know when we’re at the top threshold of a budget range, but since there wasn’t any pushback, there may have been some room to charge more initially. That being said, considering the market and the limited usage, I still feel the fees were appropriate.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Vehicle Owner Portraits for Automotive Brand

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Portraits of multiple vehicle owners, as well as images of the vehicles by themselves, each in unique locations.

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images captured in perpetuity.

Photographer: Portrait and lifestyle specialist

Agency: Medium in size, based in the Northeast

Client: Large automotive brand

Here are the estimates:

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Creative/Licensing: The automotive brand had a well-established group of brand ambassadors across the country that they planned to photograph with their cars. The agency hoped to capture at least six of them that were local to the photographer, with the possibility of photographing two more in a location that would require a bit of travel. Each subject would be photographed at their home and/or garage, and with a limited production approach, the agency anticipated that the photographer would be able to capture three subjects per day. Given the potential additional subjects and travel, they asked for two estimates (one for the local shoots, and another for the shoots requiring a bit of travel).

There was a very large discrepancy between the unlimited use they were requesting and their intended use which was primarily social media focused, with the possibility of placement within some collateral pieces. While I always push to limit the licensing in some way, the agency told us it was non-negotiable. Unfortunately, this is often the case for very large brands, even on projects focusing on non-campaign oriented imagery. In these instances, I do my best to determine a creative/licensing fee that’s appropriate for the client’s intended use. For this project, each subject would likely have two types of shots: a portrait of them with their car and a picture of the car alone. I priced the first image at $2,000 and the second image at $1,000, totaling $3,000 for each subject. In some instances, I’d be inclined to develop a tiered pricing model and discount additional images (or in this case subjects), but since each set of images would be unique, I felt their value was equal, so I stuck with $3,000 per subject across the board for a total of $18k and $24k for each project.

Pre-Production and Travel Days: I included a prep day in each estimate to account for the photographer’s time to plan all of the shoots and correspond with each subject. For the estimate with 8 subjects that would require travel, I included two travel days for the photographer to get there and back, before and after the shoot day.

Assistant: I included one assistant on each shoot day, and added travel days for the assistant to accompany the photographer on the trip to capture the additional subjects as well. Since the client wouldn’t be attending the shoot, a digital tech wasn’t critical, and since the people/cars would be captured in an editorial style, there wasn’t a need for any additional crew to help with excess grip/lighting.

Equipment: I included $500/day to cover the photographer’s personal equipment, which included a camera with a backup, a few lenses, and minor lighting gear.

Mileage, Parking, Meals for Crew, Misc: For the local shoots, I included $100/day to cover mileage and parking, plus $100 to cover meals and other miscellaneous expenses over the two shoot days. For the estimate that required travel, I added another $60 per person per day for meals while they would be traveling for three days ($360), plus approximately $400 to cover mileage, parking, and miscellaneous expenses while they were on the road.

Lodging: On the estimate that included travel, I estimated $200/night for two nights, with rooms for both the photographer and his assistant.

Delivery of All Images on Hard Drive: The agency planned to handle all of the retouching, and simply wanted all of the images to be sent to them on a hard drive at the completion of the shoot. This fee covered the cost of the drive and priority shipping.

Results: Based on subject availability, the agency was unable to coordinate the project with the vehicle owners out of town, but they were still interested in capturing the subjects local to the photographer. The agency let us know they had a $20,000 budget to accomplish this and asked us what we could do to reduce costs. While I’d typically suggest limiting the licensing in some way to provide a discount, given the small amount we had to shave, the photographer was willing to take $1,000 off his fee, waive his equipment expenses, and bring the miscellaneous expense line down a bit to hit $19,500. He was awarded the project. Here was the final estimate:

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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: Employee Portraits for a Sustainability Report

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Employee Portraits

Licensing: Collateral Use in a Sustainability Report

Location: Client Offices in the Northeast

Shoot Days: One

Photographer: Northeast-based portrait and lifestyle specialist

Agency: Mid-Size, West-Coast Based

Client: A Large Consumer Brand

Here is the estimate:
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Creative/Licensing:  
I recently worked with a photographer to estimate a small corporate portrait shoot. The client wanted individual portraits of three of their employees and one group shot of all three together. All four shots would be captured against the same seamless background. The requested usage was limited — the licensing would be restricted for use in the client’s 2017 corporate sustainability report (generally speaking, a sustainability report’s audience is limited to investors, employees and internal stakeholders). With such limited usage rights and only a handful of images, the value of the licensing was going to have a relatively low ceiling, even for this recognizable consumer brand. I set the value of the first individual portrait at 1000.00 and each subsequent individual portrait at 500.00. Since the group portrait could stand alone, I valued it at the same rate as the first individual shot: 1000.00. This brought us to a total fee of 3000.00.

The client also requested a usage option to expand the licensing to include concurrent web collateral use. Again, we determined the value of the first individual portrait and the group shot at the same amount: 500.00 apiece. We set the additional individual portraits at 250.00 each, for a total expansion option of 1500.00 for all four images. I made sure to note that the option was for “concurrent” use to avoid any liberal interpretation of the duration windows.

Considering the limitation on the print collateral usage, these were pretty healthy fees for three reasons: First, the client was a large consumer brand, with lots of investors and interested parties eager to see the sustainability report. Second, their agency was eager to work with a photographer who wasn’t local to the client, in spite of the concept being straightforward and the local market being flush with comparable shooters. Lastly, the photographer had worked with the agency before, meaning that we had a bit of leeway to push for healthier fees, knowing that the agency would almost certainly come back to us with the opportunity to revise if the budget became a concern.

Client Provisions: I listed all of the important production elements the client and agency had agreed to provide, including the shooting location, camera ready subjects, post-processing, etc.

Tech/Scout and Travel Days: The photographer was based about 3-4 hours from the client’s offices and wanted to walk through the location in advance of the shoot to ensure she had enough space to set up the seamless and lighting for the group shot. We included one travel/tech day to cover the travel and scouting beforehand. Since the photographer wasn’t interested in driving back the evening the shoot wrapped, we included a travel day to cover her return time afterward.

Assistants: This was a pretty basic setup, so the photographer only needed one assistant, which she was comfortable hiring locally.

Equipment: The equipment covered the basic seamless backdrop, lighting, and the camera/grip equipment the photographer would need to rent in order to create the full-length seamless portraits.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: The photographer would be batch processing all the images from the shoot and delivering a gallery from which the client could make the final selects. This line item included the photographer’s time to manage that process.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: The client intended to provide all the basic post-processing and any necessary retouching but requested an optional cost for the photographer to handle the basic post work just in case they bit off more than they could chew. We priced the optional post work at 125.00 per image.

Car Rental, Lodging, and Misc.: The photographer would need to rent a car to get to the location, so we included the cost of the rental and gas for three days. She would also need lodging near the location for two nights, and we included estimate costs for tolls and meals.

Styling: Finally, we included an option to add a groomer to manage basic HMU and Wardrobe styling throughout the shoot, should the client decide to spring for the extra support. On a shoot like this, a stylist would be very beneficial but generally isn’t abosultely necessary.

Results/Hindsight: The photographer was awarded the job, but due to shifting schedules, was unable to take the project on.

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: Twitter for Photographers

- - Expert Advice

Alyssa Shand-Perreault, Wonderful Machine

Social media is an important part of self-promotion and marketing for any business, large or small. And having a wide variety of social media tools at your disposal is important. While it’s true that you can link all your social media accounts together so you can conveniently create one post that will appear on all your accounts, each platform is unique. Twitter, specifically, might be stereotyped as just a funny, witty place to spew out 140 characters of charm, but it has features that distinguish it from its competitors and can help you build your brand and implement your business strategies. For photographers, the short and sweet style of Twitter can help you effortlessly get your photos out there.

TWITTER FUNDAMENTALS

Once you’ve decided to join Twitter and set up an account for your photography business, there are a few crucial steps you should take. Keeping in mind that Twitter and other social media platforms are an extension of your brand, make sure your profile reflects how you identify yourself in your portfolio, on your website, and in person.

Theme Color: The theme color you set on your Twitter profile should match your brand identity that you use on your business cards, stationery, website, etc.

Profile & Cover Images: The images you use for your account should show who you are and the type of work you do. For the profile picture, use a professional headshot or your logo. The cover photo should be an example of your strongest work and lure viewers to stay on your profile and look around. As you integrate new photos in your portfolio, you can refresh your cover image to keep your profile interesting and be reflective of your recent work.

Bio: Keep the bio on your profile concise, to match Twitter’s style. This can be a trimmed down version of the one on your website, or you can write a new one that shows a little more personality. Either way, you should customize your bio for the type of profile you want to have on Twitter. If you want your account to show off who you are and what people can expect when they work with you, keep it light, humorous, and full of personality. If you want to use Twitter as an extension of your portfolio and keep it strictly about the imagery, then make your bio more professional and simple.

“Agency Producers are the new Art Buyers and are who you want to connect with via social channels such as Twitter … Use Twitter to let your work and personality breathe, this is why agencies hire you.”

– Ryan Hill, 8183 Studio

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8183 Studio‘s Twitter Account is a great example of how you can let your Twitter be representative of your brand and really show off your work! 

TWEETING 101

With only 140 characters of text, you have to be concise. Twitter has made some updates so that URLs account for fewer characters than they did in the past, which makes it easier to convey your message. But, don’t forget to leave some space in your tweet for relevant hashtags!

Hashtags

Using hashtags is a great way to attract viewers to your profile, and ultimately to your website. Here are three rules to keep in mind when adding hashtags to your posts:

  1. Don’t Over-Hashtag  As a rule, when adding hashtags, less is more. Since they count in the 140-character limit on Twitter, you don’t want to cut out some of your meaningful content to add more hashtags. If you’re showing off a new photo, you want there to be a caption that details the project, not just a bunch of hashtags.
  2. Remember your SEO Hashtagging is crucial for your posts’ SEO, though. It’s a good way of including a bunch of keywords that might not fit so smoothly into your caption. Be aware of what’s trending (we’ll get into that later) and be aware of what’s working for you already!
  3. Make sure they’re relevant to your contentWhen adding a hashtag, it’s tempting to just throw in random popular trending hashtags that have nothing to do with your post just to draw maximum viewers. This is a mistake. You want to make sure that the hashtag you’re including has something to do with you, your photography, or your content. Other users can report your content if they feel that you are wrongly using hashtags as self-promotion and eventually your account can be blocked, so maintain ethical hashtag practices!

FOLLOWING OTHER PEOPLE

If you’re using Twitter for personal reasons, then feel free to follow whoever you want and retweet anything you find relevant or humorous. But it’s important to keep those practices separate from your professional Twitter account. Similarly to other social media accounts, who you follow can have a huge impact on your own following and on your reputation on Twitter. You want to make sure you’re following people or companies that you’ve worked with, have a connection with, those you admire, those whose content you enjoy viewing, and those you hope to work with in the future. Think of this as a networking tool – the minute you follow someone, they’re inclined to come look at your profile and if you’re in the same industry, they’ll likely follow you back.

Keep in mind that there are limitations on the number of users Twitter allows you to follow. Once you reach 5000, you get cut off and then have to go through the painful process of weeding out your list. It’s much easier to make sure you’re following the most relevant accounts first!

PINNING TWEETS

If you recently worked on a big project and you want to give it a larger amount of exposure, you can post a tweet and then pin it to your profile. Pinning a tweet means that it will stay at the top of your profile, even as you add new tweets. This can be a great tool to showcase a particular project, while still tweeting daily to maintain your following and attract new viewers.

Expert Advice, Twitter, Dom Romney, Wonderful Machine
Example of a pinned tweet on Dom Romney’s Twitter

USING YOUR LIKES WISELY

Whenever you “like” another tweet, it gets saved on your profile under a tab called Likes. Think of likes as more than just literally enjoying a tweet, but rather a way of “saving” important information you might want to refer to later. There are two main ways you should be thinking of Likes.

Likes are public, so make sure you’re careful about how you use this feature. You should like things that are relevant to your brand, tweets written by people that you want to follow you, important news. Because this is visible on your profile, you want to make sure you’re not liking everything under the sun, and that you utilize this function as a continuation of your brand.

You can also use likes as a way of building a reference list. Like tweets that are written by potential prospects, feature an upcoming project you want to take part in, or showcase creative ideas you might want to call on in the future. You should definitely like any positive tweets that someone has written about you. That way, you can both demonstrate your appreciation for the kind words and also keep track of favorable engagement.

USING IMAGES ON TWITTER

While Twitter hasn’t always been the most photo friendly, recent changes to the platform have made it easier to showcase your images. In the past, pictures took up a portion of the word count allotted, and at 140 characters, that was pretty detrimental. Images in Twitter were also previously cropped so they could fit comfortably in the feed, and you could only share one at a time. Oftentimes, photographers will link their Instagram to their Twitter and share pictures that way. The problem with this approach is that the viewer doesn’t see the image, just a URL and hashtags. It would be better to share any images directly on Twitter, as a Hubspot survey showed that:

Expert Advice, Twitter, Wonderful Machine

2016 HubSpot blog post also talks about some of the ways Twitter has updated its platform to better accommodate images. Here are a few ways Twitter has improved to better serve photographers who want to include photos in their tweets:

  • Adding images no longer takes up characters.
  • The image size requirements have changed so they won’t be as cropped as they used to be.
  • A new viewing option was added where you can add multiple photos in one Tweet. The first image you add will be the dominant image and the rest will be visible in thumbnail view. When you click on the image, you’ll be able to toggle through all the images in full-size. This is great for photographers who want to showcase a few images from a shoot or project they recently worked on.

Expert Advice, Twitter, Timothy Hogan, Morgan Lockyer, Wonderful Machine

Mercieca tweets about a Timothy Hogan and Morgan Lockyer shoot for Winsor and Newton, featuring three images from the campaign.

MAXIMIZING YOUR TWITTER POTENTIAL

Once you’re comfortable with Twitter, there are a few steps you can take to make the most out of your account.

Lists

Lists are an organizational tool on Twitter where you can neatly categorize who you’re following by subject, organization, etc. More importantly for photographers, you can create lists for Brands, Agencies, and Publications. Then you can add people/groups/organizations into these lists as appropriate. This is useful for keeping track of the kinds of tweets these prospects post, retweet, and like, making it easier for you to track what they’re focusing on and tailor your tweets accordingly.

You can also use lists to follow other photographers that shoot the same specialties as you in order to keep tabs on the competition. You can use lists for people that inspire you. You can build a list of people you’ve worked with in the past and stay up-to-date on their activities. Essentially, there’s no limit to who you put in a list and what the list is about.

Lists do default to public, so everyone can see what lists you have created and who is included in them, but you do have the option to make them private (which might be a good idea for your prospective client lists). When you add someone to a public list, they will get notified and likewise, if someone adds you to their list you will also get notified. This is a great feature because you can see how you’re being categorized and you can make connections with the people that have added you to their lists.

It’s also not a terrible idea to look at the lists your prospective clients, competitors, or peers have created so you can see what types of topics/people they’re interested in following.

Certain lists already exist and it will be easier for you to subscribe to an existing list rather than create a new one. For example, if you’re interested in seeing all the content posted by National Geographic photographers, you can subscribe to their list and keep track that way.

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Nat Geo Photographers List

Trends

On Twitter’s homepage, you’ll see a Trends menu. This menu includes the top 10 topics and hashtags that are popular that day. Keep in mind that trends are tailored for you, based on who you follow and your location. Trends is a terrific tool to use when coming up with a new Tweet because you know that hashtag has a substantial following. So, as an example, if you see that #MemorialDayWeekend is trending, it’s probably a good time to post a Memorial Day related image and use that hashtag. That way, people who are searching for tweets with that hashtag will find you and your photo. Trends are ever-changing, so it’s a good idea to keep on top of this. And be sure not to force anything; you want viewers, but more importantly, you want to be re-tweeted, you want relevant likes, and you want to retain followers.

“Posting from Instagram just adds a link to your Tweet so I prefer to post pictures directly onto Twitter with a quick caption featuring prominent hashtags that are currently trending, such as Oscar winners or Harrison Ford crashing a plane … Again.”

– Robert Gallagher

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An example of a trends-based tweet for March Madness by photographer Robert Gallagher.

Twitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics is a free tool that allows you to see Tweet Impressions, Profile Visits, and Follower trends easily over time. You can also view the top tweet and top mention for each month. This tool is useful for tracking followers gained and lost, seeing if your tweets are making an impression, and taking note of which ones really stood out. That way, you can learn how to improve over time.

Expert Advice, Twitter Analytics, Wonderful Machine

Sample Analytics Monthly Summary from Wonderful Machine’s Account

Twitter also offers Twitter Flight School, which is a free course that helps you understand all of the features at your disposal. It’ll help you study Twitter Analytics to make sure you’re getting the most out of your account, and guide you in your quest to conquer the Twitterverse!

Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions or suggestions. If you want help managing your social media accounts, you can get in touch with our Senior Marketing Consultants.

Expert Advice: Wireless Tethering with CamRanger

- - Expert Advice

Alex Subers, Wonderful Machine

Tethering can be quite the nuisance. Limited mobility, minimal space on set, crashing laptops, and fickle cables to name a couple of reasons why.  Now depending on the scale of the shoot, tethering with cables and a digital tech station is necessary. But what about those shoots that don’t have the budget, space, or time to allow for an on-site digital tech and station? That’s where the CamRanger comes into play. It takes all of 2 minutes to connect to your iPhone, iPad, and camera, and but will save you hours on every shoot.

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What does it do?

The CamRanger can work in multiple capacities:

  • Remote Shutter Release/Camera Adjustments
  • Wireless Downloading of Images (great for pumping out real-time social media posts)
  • Live View
  • Time Lapse/Bracketing

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Remote Shutter Release/Camera Adjustments

After linking the CamRanger with your phone or tablet, you will be able to wirelessly trigger your shutter straight from the app, along with being able to control the majority of the camera settings you need while shooting, such as exposure, aperture, ISO, white balance, etc. The main benefit of this comes when you’re shooting photos that prohibit you from touching the camera, such as low shutter speeds, multiple exposures, or cameras out of reach (architecture, time lapses/long exposures, and any other photos requiring compositing).

Wireless Downloading of Images

This is the feature I tend to use the most due to the timely nature of the images I’m shooting. When I’m shooting games for the Sixers, getting the team photos throughout the game for their social media platforms is extremely important. One of the challenges has always been trying to beat out the competition, Getty Images. Since Getty photographers have a proprietary wireless software built-in to their cameras, they can get photos out real time. The CamRanger has leveled the playing field by creating a wireless network between the device and your phone, giving you the capability of browsing through your CF card straight from your phone and downloading high res images right on the spot. Although it’s not quite as quick as the Getty software, it’s 100x faster than walking to the press room after every quarter and uploading/exporting images. Here are a couple of popular photos I’ve been able to deliver real time.

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Live View/Time Lapse/Bracketing 

These features are pretty straightforward. The live view capability is beneficial when the camera is out of reach, such as, in high or overhead angles, when you need to adjust the placement of items within the shot (particularly useful in food and still life shoots). The time-lapse feature is essentially a built-in intervalometer, allowing you to choose how many frames you want to shoot with how much time in-between. The bracketing feature, as you can see in the image to the right, allows you to set your initial shutter speed, the size of the incremental bracketing steps, and how many shots you want to take.

Here is an architectural photo that I used the CamRanger for when bracketing and triggering the shutter.

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It wasn’t an ideal environment, but as you can see, I was able to change exposures straight from my phone, without having to touch the camera, making the post-processing a breeze to piece together.

The CamRanger is essentially a $300 investment that turns your phone/tablet into a portable digital tech station time and time again, without fail. In my opinion, this product is a MUST in any photographers camera bag. Check out the CamRanger website here, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

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.