Category "Pricing & Negotiating"

Pricing and Negotiating: Multi-City Portraits for Tech Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Environmental portraits of employees in six cities

Licensing: Unlimited regional use of up to nine images for one year from first use.

Photographer: Portraiture specialist

Agency: Medium in size, based in the South

Client: Technology company

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing Fees: The goal was to capture environmental portraits of nine employees in front of various landmarks within six different cities. Three of the cities would focus on just one employee, and the photographer would capture two employees in each of the other three cities. All of the locations were within driving distance of one another. Upward pressure was placed on the fee due to the unlimited use requested; however, we were able to limit the licensing to regional placement for just one year. The geographic reach was even more limited, with each image being advertised only within the city where the photo shoot took place. Considering this, I priced the first six images at $2,000 each, and the three photos of employees in the same location at $1,000 each. I then added $1,250/day as a creative fee for each of the six shoot days, which brought me to $22,500. It conveniently broke down to $2,500/image. I often increase the creative fee closer to $2,500-$5,000/day, but the nature of the project and my inclination to a tight budget made me err on the side of caution.

Pre-Production: I included five pre-pro days for the photographer to line up the project or for a producer to help with pre-pro work. It included three days to work with scouts in each location and two additional days to line up crew and make travel arrangements.

Assistants: I anticipated that the photographer would bring a first assistant (who would double as a tech) and a second assistant for the entirety of the trip/shoot.

Hair/Makeup Stylist: While the talent would be asked to arrive camera ready, we included a stylist for each of the six shoot days to help with touchups and manage light wardrobe adjustments as well.

Equipment: I included $500/day for a basic grip/lighting package that the photographer would bring, rather than renting.

Mileage, Parking, Misc: I included $100/day in mileage and $50/day in miscellaneous expenses for each day, then rounded down a bit.

Meals for Crew, Per Diems: This included $50/day for the photographer, first assistant, and second assistant — covering each of their travel/shoot days. I added $30/day for lunch to cover the hair/makeup stylist. We anticipated half-day shoots at most, which is why we didn’t initially include catering.

Lodging: I anticipated $250/night for two rooms, for six nights.

Location Scouting, Location Expenses, Permits: I included two and a half days per city for each of six cities. It was a challenge to estimate, and I initially anticipated at least three different scouts would be involved — each of which could cover multiple locations, but we could have potentially needed a scout in each of the six cities depending on availabilities and the demands of the areas. They would have to make recommendations from their files, scout the location in person, pull permits, negotiate location fees if necessary, and potentially be on-set if needed. I felt 15 days total would cover the task collectively. I included $250 per city for miscellaneous expenses like mileage and meals that the scouts would likely incur. I included $500/city for permits and marked additional location fees as TBD because we wouldn’t know of any additional costs until specific locations were dialed in. Some public spaces might only require a permit, but other “recognizable” landmarks may need a location fee or a necessary payment to acquire a release. Other locations might not demand any permit depending on the local film office guidelines but could require a space for staging. I felt that the expenses we included were a good start based on the initial project description; however, we anticipated that we’d have to re-address this as the scope of the project solidified.

First Edit for Client Review: I included $1,000 to account for the photographers time to go through the assets each day and compile web galleries for the agency to review.

Color Correction, File Cleanup, and Delivery: I included $100/image for basic post-production.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

Hindsight: Initially, we discussed a relatively lean production level with the art buyer, assuming each day would likely be a half day and the client/agency contacts on site would be minimal. We ultimately received a lengthy list of attendees, and it became clear that they needed a higher level of production on-site. The photographer, therefore, brought on production assistants in each city to be dedicated to client services.

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 and Negotiating: Lifestyle shoot for Telecommunications Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Lifestyle images of families interacting in a residential property

Licensing: Print Collateral use, Web Collateral use and Web Advertising use of up to 35 images for two years from file delivery.

Photographer: Portraiture specialist

Agency: Medium in size, based in the Northeast

Client: Telecommunications company

Here is the estimate:

 

Creative/Licensing Fees: There were approximately seven scenarios the agency hoped to capture, each focusing on different talent interacting in various setups around a house. They primarily planned to use the images for collateral and web advertising purposes, and in addition to excluding print advertising use, we were able to limit the usage to two years. I felt the first image was worth $3,000, the second and third worth $2,000 each, the fourth and fifth $1,000 each, and the sixth and seventh worth $500 each. That totaled $10,000, and I added a creative fee of $2,500 on top of that to reach $12,500. While they anticipated licensing 35 total images, it was clear that they’d be variations on a theme, with them likely walking away with one hero shot per setup, which is why I priced this by the scenario/setup and not by the image.

Tech/Scout and Pre-Pro Day: We included one tech/scout day for a walkthrough of the location before the shoot, and one pre-pro day for the photographer to line up his crew and prepare for his responsibilities detailed in the expenses.

Assistants and Digital Tech: The first assistant would attend both the shoot day and the tech/scout day, while the second assistant and the digital tech would attend the shoot.

Hair/Makeup Styling: We included a stylist and an assistant for the shoot day. We’d be working with real people, rather than professional talent, and the hair/makeup would likely be rather minimal.

Wardrobe Styling: The talent would be bringing their primary wardrobe, however, we included a wardrobe stylist to shop for supplemental clothing pieces before the shoot, and anticipated that they’d have an assistant attend the shoot and then help return any unused items. We also included $1,000 to cover the actual costs of the supplemental wardrobe.

Prop Styling: It’s always a bit of a challenge estimating prop styling for a shoot in a residential property without first seeing scouting photos or knowing the full scope of prop needs. Sometimes it’s just about adding minor items into the scene or tweaking what’s already there, and other times major pieces of furniture need to be acquired and brought to set. In this case, we included four days for a prop stylist and an assistant, anticipating they’d need at least a day or two to shop, a day to be on set, and perhaps a day to accompany the team to the tech/scout to assess the location, in addition to making returns if needed. We marked these line items TBD, as well as the $2,500 prop budget we estimated.

Styling Expenses: This covered miscellaneous expenses primarily for the wardrobe and prop stylists related to the acquisition and transportation of their provisions.

Van Rental: The photographer would likely rent a van to help transport his equipment and his immediate crew to set.

Equipment: This covered a mix of the photographer’s gear, as well as supplemental lighting/grip he would likely need to rent.

Mileage, Parking, Additional Meals, Misc.:  This covered miscellaneous expenses for both the tech/scout day and shoot day, and also provided a bit of a safety net for unanticipated costs.

Delivery of Content on Hard Drive: All of the content would be provided to the client on a hard drive upon completion of the shoot.

Client Provisions: Detailed at the top of the estimate were all of the items that the client would provide, that would be necessary for such a production. These items/tasks included casting, talent, releases, location, permits, production coordination, catering/craft, production RV and all post processing/retouching.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project with only some negotiation regarding the shoot date.

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: Headshots, Stills and Video

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Corporate headshots of 50 employees

Licensing: Unlimited use of all content captured in perpetuity

Photographer: Portraiture specialist

Agency: Large, based in the Northeast

Client: Pharmaceutical company

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing Fees: At first, the project seemed rather straightforward. The request was to capture about 50 employee headshots against a solid background on one shoot day. While 50 people would be a lot to cram into one day, the client was in charge of scheduling the employees, and we discussed spending just a few minutes with each subject, so it seemed doable. The client/agency also requested unlimited use of all images captured in perpetuity. In this case, the images would primarily be displayed on a website with no intention of advertising use. Nonetheless, we were told that we could not limit the licensing in any way. Unfortunately, we see this quite often, when a client’s requested use varies drastically from their intended use. While I always do my best to limit usage when I can, I knew the client could easily find a photographer willing to grant unlimited use on a project like this. Taking that potential competition into mind, the photographer was willing to throw it all in and trust that the usage would not escalate. I’ve quoted a lot of similar projects in the past, and I’ve had success starting with a fee of $1,500 and adding $100 per subject. In this case, that totaled $6,500.

Tech/Scout Day: The photographer planned to do a walkthrough of the location prior to the shoot to ensure that there would be adequate space, and to talk through the project with the client. We included $750 for their time to do so.

Assistants: The photographer would bring their first assistant along for the tech/scout day, and both the first assistant and a second assistant would attend the shoot day.

Hair/Makeup Stylist: We included one stylist to perform very light touchups of each subject prior to being photographed.

Equipment: This covered the cost of the photographer’s own equipment, including two camera bodies and the lighting and grip that he’d need for a basic setup.

Mileage, Parking, Misc.: The photographer was local, and this primarily covered parking and miscellaneous expenses that might pop up during the shoot day.

Delivery of Content on Hard Drive: Simply put, the photographer would provide the images on a hard drive to the client; this covered that expense.

Color Correction and File Cleanup: The agency planned to handle the retouching, as detailed in the job description, but asked for a cost to cover basic color correction and cleanup, should the photographer take on that task. We detailed a fee of $40/image for this if needed.

As we were compiling the above estimate, we were asked to also provide an estimate to add video. In addition to the 50 headshots, they hoped to capture short videos of 12 leadership team members. There would be no speaking (and therefore no audio capture needed) but rather minor expression changes and small movements captured in a very short clip. We felt this necessitated an additional day, so we compiled an estimate for a two-day shoot. Shooting over two days was actually advantageous as it would allow for more breathing room with the 50 portraits, and the ability to have them overflow on to the second day if needed, with half a day dedicated to the video. Here is that estimate:


For the creative/licensing fee, I added $1,500 for a modest creative fee to account for the additional day, and then added $200 per person for the video, which brought me to $10,400, and I then rounded up to an even $10,500. We increased the crew to account for the additional day, and increased equipment as well to $1,500 to cover extra equipment that the photographer might need to rent for the video. We also added a digital workstation rental at $750 so the client could see the video that was being captured of their leadership team, and the photographer planned to have his first assistant jump in to play the role of a digital tech in this regard. We increase our mileage/parking/misc. line to account for the second day, and kept the expense the same for the delivery of a hard drive.

Feedback: After speaking with their client, the agency reported back and told us that rather than capturing headshots of 50 people, they wanted to focus primarily on the leadership team. They asked for a new estimate to capture individual portraits and short videos of just the 12 members of the leadership team, plus a group shot of 20 people. After speaking about the reduction/change with the photographer, and knowing the client’s intended use and desire to keep costs down (ideally under 10k), we decided to include a creative licensing fee of $5,000. This was loosely based on a $1,500 fee plus $300 per person and then rounded down a bit to make it more palatable. We made a few other small tweaks to equipment and were asked by the agency to add basic post-processing of 8 portraits, which we included in the following estimate:

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 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: Portraits for a Fashion Accessory Brand

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: 6 subjects photographed against a solid background wearing fashion accessories                                                                                          

Licensing: Unlimited use of 12 images for 6 months

Photographer: Portraiture specialist on the East Coast

Client: A fashion accessory brand                                                                       

Here is the estimate:

Pricing and Negotiating Example of a Contract by Executive Producer Craig Oppenheimer at Wonderful Machine

Creative/Licensing Fees: The client asked the photographer to bid on a project for the brand’s new campaign, despite having little to no creative brief. The client saw a picture they liked in the photographer’s portfolio, and wanted to accomplish a similar aesthetic while integrating their product. We knew that they envisioned photographing 3 men and 3 women, all in a similar setup against a solid background, and they hoped to walk away with 2 images for each subject, totaling 12 final shots.

Initially, the usage was described to us as primarily being focused on social media, placement on their website, limited print advertisements and a mix of other guerilla style postings out-of-home, all for 6 months. When I discussed the usage with the client, it became clear that they wanted unlimited use during this time frame, despite the limited intended use they described. On one hand, the usage did seem quite limited, especially in duration, but on the other hand, the prominent brand would likely take out ads in high profile publications, and would likely pay a lot for their ad buy. Additionally, downward pressure was put on the fee due to the photographer’s limited experience working with such a brand, his eagerness to collaborate, the simple nature of the project, and the likelihood that only one or two images might see the light of day in advertisements, as most of the images would likely just end up on their website and on social media for a short duration.

After weighing all the factors, and based on the client’s intended use, I initially priced each of the first 6 images at $1,500 each, and then each of the additional 6 images (the second portrait for each subject) at $750 each, which brought me to $13,500.  My gut instinct based on other similar projects was that a fee between $10k-$15k would be appropriate for the day, and based on this experience and the eagerness of the photographer to get the job, we ended up going with $12,000, which broke down to $1,000/image if you look at it that way.

Travel and Pre-Production Day(s): The shoot would take place across the country, and the photographer would need a full travel day to fly there, and a full travel day to fly back. I also included one pre-production day for the photographer to book travel, wrangle crew and go through the paces with the client prior to the shoot. Typically I’d include a producer to help with these tasks and to handle the coordination of the entire project, but the client planned to coordinate many of the elements for this project, and the photographers was comfortable with just 1 day of prep to handle his tasks.

Assistant and Digital Tech Day(s): The photographer would be bringing an assistant with him, and hiring another one locally. I’d typically anticipate that the traveling assistant would be the “first assistant” and the local would most likely be the “second assistant”, but we flipped that in this case, as the photographer’s traveling assistant gave him a favorable rate for the three days out of town. We included one day for the digital tech, anticipating $500 for their day, plus another $500 for a basic workstation.

Hair/Makeup Stylist and Assistant Day(s): The client said that they had a few people in mind for hair/makeup styling who they planned to hire directly, but asked us to provide a sense of cost if they wanted the photographer to handle this. So, we therefore detailed TBD prices that didn’t impact the bottom line.

Studio Rental: This was based on feedback from a few local studios that we contacted to discuss rates and availabilities.

Equipment: While the photographer would be traveling with a bit of gear, he’d still need to rent a decent amount upon arrival, and this rate was primarily based on quotes received from the studios to provide such equipment.

Airfare, Lodging, Car Rental: I used Kayak.com to price appropriate travel expenses for the photographer and his assistant.

Parking, Per Diems, Misc.: This included $60/day/person as a per diem for the photographer and his assistant while traveling, plus $50/day in miscellaneous and unforeseen expenses.

First Edit for Client Review:  This covered the time it would take for the photographer to do an initial pass on the images, and provide the client with a gallery of images to consider

Retouching: This was based on a post processing rate of $150/hour, assuming two hours per image for each of the 12 images.

Insurance: We included this expense to help the photographer increase and maintain an appropriate policy.

Results: The client asked for two revisions. First, they decided to put hair/makeup responsibilities on the photographer, and asked that we send a revised estimate including those expenses, which was not a problem at all. Second, they asked if they could get 1 year usage for the 6 month price we quoted. I typically don’t recommend giving up something for nothing in return, but based on my previous experience with similar projects/budgets, and given how eager the photographer was to get the project, we decided to accept their offer. We submitted a revised estimate, and the photographer was awarded the project.

A few days later we were told that the client might want to add an additional day to the production, to capture a few additional shots with different talent, and with a slightly different background/setup. Specifically, they hoped to capture 3 subjects, with this additional day yielding 10 more images. Initially we were told that they only had $13,000 for this additional day, including all associated fees/expenses.

After calculating some rough numbers, I knew we weren’t going to be able to hit that, so I gave them a ring to negotiate. I learned that they could limit the usage to Web Collateral use and placement in up to 10 window displays of 3rd party retailers. This was a big jump down from the Unlimited use we were previously granting them. With this in mind, we submitted the following estimate:

Pricing and Negotiating Example of a Contract by Executive Producer Craig Oppenheimer at Wonderful Machine

We landed on $6,000 for this additional day/usage which was appropriate considering all of the factors. We also detailed the associated expenses with the additional day. We removed the first assistant (while essentially marking it as TBD) since the photographer didn’t feel they’d be needed on the second day consider the lighting setup would be similar to the first day, and his second assistant and tech could lend a hand as a cost savings measure. We increased equipment a bit for this additional day to account for a specific background the client wanted to procure, and included appropriate travel expenses in addition to more post processing time.

The overage for the additional day was approved, and the photographer quickly launched into pre-production to line everything up.

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: Architectural Images for International Hotel Chain

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Interior and exterior architectural images of seven hotel properties

Licensing: Web Collateral and Web Advertising use of up to 56 images in perpetuity

Photographer: Architectural specialist

Agency: Medium in size, based in the Northeast

Client: A hotel brand part of a larger international hospitality conglomerate

Here is the estimate:

Estimate for Architectural Images for International Hotel Chain

Creative/Licensing Fees: When the project first landed on my desk, it was similar to a lot of hospitality projects in that the brand wanted a mix of images showcasing everything their hotels have to offer. The creative brief initially encompassed architectural images, lifestyle shots, food, amenities, and more. In my experience, many agencies that propose similar shoots are typically biting off more than they can chew, and their budgets typically don’t align with reality. After learning more about the project and discussing what it would take to accomplish a production of that scale in multiple locations, I was ultimately happy to hear that they decided to focus the efforts of this particular project on just acquiring architectural images, and putting the lifestyle shots on hold. That being said, they had seven different properties, three of which were in foreign countries, and they had a very specific style of black and white photography that they hoped to achieve.

In discussing what was feasible in one shoot day, we landed on eight shots per hotel as a reasonable deliverable. They were willing to limit the usage to web advertising and web collateral use (mostly their website and social media), although they did request perpetual use. On one hand, I wanted to start around a few thousand dollars per image, however I also knew that the photographer would be up against other architectural photographers (both domestic and abroad), and we wanted to make it appealing for them to hire one photographer, rather than several. Additionally, it was likely that they’d use just one or two of the images in a more robust way on their website, and many of the shots would ultimately just fall to social media. While the parent company of the hotel chain was one of the largest in the industry, this particular hotel chain was a smaller brand in their portfolio, and I had a sense they might not have what we wanted in terms of a creative/licensing fee within their budget. Based on the photographer’s experience working with this agency for some of their other clients, and on my experience on similar projects with other brands, we landed on $24,500, which ultimately broke down to $3,500/hotel.

Travel/Scout Days: The first four shoots would be at hotels within the US, and we anticipated one travel/scout day prior to each shoot. We then anticipated a full travel day and a full scout day prior to each of the international locations (which helped to account for limited flights, travel delays and more extensive travel time), followed by one travel day back home.

Pre-Production Day(s): In addition to lining up all of the travel plans, the photographer would also need to communicate with each of the hotel chains and essentially plan seven different small productions, and this covered all of the time involved to handle that workload.

Assistant Days(s): The photographer would bring their assistant with them, rather than hiring locally, and this included 7 shoot days and 11 travel/scout days. While it would have been cheaper to hire local assistants and not include the expense for their travel, sourcing crew (especially internationally) would unnecessarily add to the photographer’s workload. Additionally, working and traveling with a single assistant who understood the project just as well as the photographer would help to streamline communications and execution.

Airfare: This covered one-way flights to/from each location, and I used Kayak.com to help research pricing. When estimating projects like this, I typically add 15% to the cost of a ticket to account for price fluctuation, and also add around $100 in baggage fees per person to account for equipment and oversized/overweight items.

Lodging and Meals: The agency specifically asked us to mark this as TBD and not include this in the bottom line of our estimate. We were comfortable doing so for the lodging since we assumed the hotels could provide accommodations, and while we anticipated that meals could be covered within the hotel property, we still included additional funds for supplemental meals while in transit in the per diem line items below.

Equipment: The photographer owned all the gear they would need to bring, and we based the charge on $1,000/day, factoring in a discount of 3 days equaling a weekly rental, times two weeks.

Car Rental and Local Transportation: I included $350 for each of the domestic trips and $450 for each of the international trips to account for car rentals, taxis, and other modes of transportation needed for each shoot.

Per Diems, Parking, Carnets, Misc.: I included $50/day/person as a per diem, and anticipated at least another $1,000 would need to be spent on other miscellaneous expenses that would arise during the productions and while traveling.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: I included $250 per shoot for the photographer to do an initial pass on the images, and provide the agency with a gallery of images to consider.

Post Processing Day(s): I initially anticipated that we’d charge at least $100 per image, but it felt a little light, and I knew that it would take the photographer the better part of a week to handle the post for this shoot, so I included 6 post processing days, rather than basing it on a per image rate.

Results: We were asked to provide the client with the cost difference between this estimate and one where each of the domestic shoots would be independent trips, followed by a trip to capture the international locations consecutively. We determined it would add roughly $6,000 worth of travel expenses and additional travel days for the photographer and their assistant. The client opted to go with our initial proposal, and the photographer was awarded the project. As for lodging and meals, the client did end up providing accommodations and meals on-site.

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: 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.

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.

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.

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:

pricing & negotiating, craig oppenheimer, exterior and aerial photography, oil refinery, architectural photography, industrial photography, estimating, shoot production

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.

Pricing & Negotiating: Licensing Extension

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Licensing extension

Licensing: Unlimited use of 36 images for two additional years

Photographer: Lifestyle and portrait specialist

Agency: Mid-sized agency based in the Midwest

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

Here is the estimate:

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I wanted to take this opportunity to make the case, yet again, for limiting licensing. As many of you have surely experienced, clients are increasingly expecting unlimited use, by default, regardless of the intended use. Nevertheless, it is important to press against that default request whenever you face it.

A lot of times, you’ll get the canned, CYA response – “it’s going to end up in a lawless, Wild West of an asset library and our people can’t be trusted to read the metadata or attached restrictions.”

I don’t blame clients for taking this protective stance. If an intern inadvertently pulls an image for a use beyond the scope of its licensing restrictions, the client could get dinged with an unexpected licensing fee, talent fee and/or infringement claim. However, acceptance of an unlimited usage agreement eliminates the opportunity to generate future revenue for a given image or set of images, which is crucial to sustaining and growing any photography business.

Unfortunately, the request/expectation/demand for unlimited use has become so ubiquitous that we have defined the term in our standard terms and conditions. In some cases, when the client asks for a buyout or unlimited use, they mean it and plan to fully utilize the extensive license (price at-will in those cases). But in many cases, they don’t, so it is important to do your due diligence to find out exactly what the client means by “unlimited.”  “Unlimited,” like “Buyout,” means different things to different people, so it’s important to run through the gamut of potential uses and mediums with the client to figure out exactly how they plan to use the images. Do they really need international use? Are they really planning to put billboards up in El Paso? Do they really plan to use the images after 2024? It could be that they mean an “unlimited” or unknown quantity of emailers, postcards or brochures. “Unlimited” collateral use is far less valuable for most clients than “unlimited” advertising use. Or they may be referring to the duration of use or the number of images from the shoot, expecting a “library” of content instead of a set number.

The point is, it is important to press for more info so that you can create the opportunity to generate licensing fees down the road. Once you narrow the scope to precisely what the need is, push hard to cap the duration for as brief a window as tolerable, even if that means giving up imagery. In many cases, there’s real potential for the client to extend the duration of use, even by a few months, while they wind down a particular placement.

Last year I wrote a post about a project I negotiated for a Trade Ad campaign. The client came to us with a broad scope of use (Unlimited), but was willing to limit the duration of use, and also requested pricing options for licensing extensions. This allowed us the opportunity to create the potential for future revenue. Just as the license was set to expire at the end of last year, I followed up with the client to find out if they were still using the images, and/or if they planned on extending the licensing through 2017 or 2018. (side note – get in the habit of adding license expirations to your calendar or using license tracking software like Blinkbid to remind you when licenses are set to expire so you can follow up about continued use).

The client was still using the images and planned to continue doing so through 2018. On the approved shoot estimate, we’d quoted the 2018 duration extension at $26,750.00 That represented the minimum licensing fee we would be proposing. I say minimum because our standard terms note that any licensing options presented are only valid for 15 days from original file delivery. It’s written this way because the leverage shifts dramatically after the images are created and as time wears on. In a perfect world, the expiration of the licensing option pricing would be the day before the shoot, but that may be a little too aggressive. The value of the imagery changes (generally increasing) as you move from estimating to delivery to first use.

If a client comes back to extend usage, it could simply mean that they now have funds that they didn’t initially, or that something that was unknown and unproven is now known and proven, essentially giving us leverage to push for higher fees based on the new perceived value. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Once those numbers hit the page on the initial estimate, in normal circumstances, you’ll be hard pressed to increase the fees in any substantial way without potentially impacting your relationship with the client (particularly if there is additional work on the horizon, which in this case there was… more on that in a future post). Also, in this instance, we felt like the fees were healthy enough, to begin with, so there wasn’t much need to even consider higher fees. Accordingly, we sent the above quote, which was quickly approved by the client to allow for the uninterrupted use of the imagery.

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

Pricing & Negotiating: Lifestyle Shoot for Technology Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

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

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

Location: A residential property

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Lifestyle specialist

Client: A technology company

Here is the estimate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

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

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