National Internal Use in house Corporate

National Advertising Internal Use

National Advertising Retail Client

National Advertising Retail Client

National Usage – 1 time insertion

National Usage – 1 time insertion

National Advertising – Web Use Only

National Advertising – Web Use Only

NOTE: National Advertising Client and the photographer was Under Bid (ouch).

National Advertising – Photographer Under Bid

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  1. How is it that the creative/usage fee for something for one time use is the same, per image, as unlimited North American usage for a year?!

  2. All of the above invoices/estimates look like they were generated with an industry specific software that I seem to have missed out on… where do I find it? (if I am correct??)

    • @James Pickett, It is Blink Bid. I’m just starting my switch over to the program.

    • @James Pickett,

      As Matthew and Mark commented the program used was BlinkBid. I’ve been using it for a couple of years. For me it replaced HindSight’s software. I have clients tell me how much they appreciate the clarity of my BlinkBid generated estimate and invoice forms.

  3. Interesting to see a per portrait fee structure on the first job. It allows for flexibility in pricing without having to worry about shooting everyone that comes to work that day.

  4. Thanks Rob

  5. Were these all winning bids?

    • @Colin,
      Yeah except the last one I just posted.

    • @Colin,
      My bad. The Saatchi bid lost as well: National Usage – 1 time insertion.

      Saatchi got someone internally to shoot it… for free.

      • @A Photo Editor, ouch

  6. Too Bad it doesnt help you land jobs as well HA!

  7. A fantastic resource and a great benchmark for fees, which as we all know is an arbitrary act of plucking a figure from thin air!

  8. Why are the fees $2500 per image on the one-time use and $2500 per image on the unlimited media in US/Canada for a whole year? This points out the need for a more logical, rational system for pricing usage.

  9. Love the BlinkBid format of these quotes. Have been using the program for at least 5 years now and it has helped me manage big and small jobs.

    As Suzanne mentioned in the last post. Blinkbid should become a standard format. Simple Clean and has a great checklist to allow you to suite your own needs.

  10. who on earth is paying $528 dollars per person for head shots? this is more insane than a Whitney Houston rider list.

    • @Avangelist,
      A Fortune 100 company. Billions in revenues.

    • @Avangelist, This is not outrageous at all – not even close to being outrageous.

      • @Bruce DeBoer, It is one day of work, 25 employees run through so $11,875.00 for one day internal web usage. Look at the big picture. Sometimes if you break it down per shot it is easier to sell to the client.

      • @Bruce DeBoer, perhaps not outrageous to a Fortune 100 company but the reality is that corporate headshots do not require the same level of creativity as a full blown adshoot and as such are more susceptible to normal market forces.

        If most photographers, with even Fortune 500 level clients bid numbers like these they would surely not get the job.

        • @Mike, Maybe I was mistaken. I thought these were winning estimates. It may take more talent to keep the quality high at that speed. Personally, I think it’s way too many people in one day but maybe that’s just me. I wouldn’t have accepted those time restraints.

          • @Bruce DeBoer, If I’m not mistake, Rob said that these were all winning bids except the last one.

            • @Tim, This is a winning job and this is what the photographer made.

    • @Avangelist,

      Stop thinking small.

      For the persons being photographed, their time is likely worth more than that.

      The absolute worst thing you can do is price yourself for what YOU can afford.

    • @Avangelist, Where I’m working now $500 is pushing it, but for a Fortune 500 company, I do not think so at all. They’re also asking for both headshots and full-body executive portraits. Part of what they are paying for is professionalism and how quickly the photographer can set up and execute a set of good, fresh portraits. Most business execs – Fortune 500 company or not – usually have more important things to be doing all day than to sit around cheesing for the camera while their photographer diddles with a light meter.

  11. The first thing I notice is all of these under-bill digital. Holy crap.

  12. Awesome Rob. Thanks for giving attention to real estimates.

  13. Rob: These files won’t download via ‘Print PDF’ on a Mac. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would like to archive these with the rest of our reference estimates collection.

    The file prep probably wasn’t set to ‘Create Outlines’, because the pages are there in matching form but the text is gone.

    If the PDF was made from BlinkBid that might be why?

    • @Chris Schultz,


      After clicking on the fullscreen button up in the right hand corner of the “.docstoc” window for each bid doc. Click on printer icon. A generic print dialog comes up( at least for me). Click print.
      Another print dialog dialog comes up, click on preview then save as a pdf from preview, it works.

      Mac OS 10.5.8 – Safari 4.0.3

      • @laurence zankowski: Right, that’s what I normally do and all is well. Could be a Snow Leopard issue? Strange.

      • @laurence zankowski: I’m right. It’s an Adobe Acrobat issue that broke under Snow Leopard. Should be fixed soon.

        That’s the first bug I’ve found. Otherwise I’m super happy with the upgrade from Tiger. Just FYI for those considering it.

        Sorry Rob, no need to take any action.

        • @Chris Schultz,

          try skim for mac os, works for 10.6, look for v1.2.7 its free and as a pdf viewer quite robust.

        • @Chris Schultz, I’m able to print via fullscreen as noted using Snow Leopard. Just ditch the Adobe plug-in and you should be fine. I ditched it last year anyway since I prefer the in browser pdf options built-in to Mac OS X anyhow. GL

  14. I was approached by the agent for a law firm to do a project similar to the first estimate. I didn’t get the job because she said my estimate was considerably higher than the rest. I charged for in house and web usage similar to the above estimate. Either I didn’t do something right, or a LOT of people are just charging for a day of shooting and no usage.


    • @Tim, exactly what I’m saying with regards to Bruce’s comment above. Simply put, these shoots are not hard enough to justify those numbers. Many photographers of all different levels can shoot that job with relative ease.

      Jobs that command higher fees also require a much greater level of skill.

      • @Mike, Yeah, they’re relatively easy. But the above example shows that somebody’s getting paid to do them. The problem is not in the fees, but the ignorance of some photographers not knowing how to price themselves.

        • @Tim, Not only is it photographers not knowing how to price themselves many times it is the client willing to accept nothing more than a passable product.

    • @Tim, Try not to get too frustrated. There is always someone who will shoot it cheaper. This is where YOU need to decide separate from what everyone is telling you: what type of shooter are you going to be? Plus, at the end of the shoot you are putting your signature on the work. If you can’t do your best under X agreement, best to walk away. It’s always good to remember that they hired you to do what is in your book; the work of which you are most proud. That’s my $.02

    • @Tim: And remember that even getting to bid means you’re doing something right!

  15. Has “Craft Services” become a standard term for food or catering within still photography? I believe it’s used in film, but is it more than just lunch?

    • @Ken, it’s more than just lunch. “Craft Services” provide all meals, and is generally there all day w/snacks, water, etc. You do see it on film sets mostly, but I can see instances where it would be required on a still shoot.

    • @Ken,

      As noted, craft services is around all day, therefore the cost covers that.

      This is different than just lunch or most catering…

      • @craig,

        In fact, given that its only $100, I assume that this craft services is actually just snacks and perhaps coffee.

        Client frequently brings in lunch for these kinds of shoot.

  16. This is great information. Thanks Rob! I can feel a lot of positive energy going on with this one… nice job!

  17. blinkbid = the awesome.

    and thanks for posting a follow up to your extremely popular post before, rob.

    i’m gonna be giving these a good look when i get a free hour.


  18. I’d love to get £8600 to shoot 25 corporate headshots for a website! I work for some pretty big companies here in the UK and I can tell you if I quoted this price for the corporate communication departments of my FTSE clients they would be rolling on the floor with laughter.
    Good on the photographer who managed to get the job though :-)

    • @Chris George,
      i’m with you chris , all shot in one day giving 10 min head shot and 10 minute full length per person not leaving much room for genius, 750 for my digital slr , 150 for a hard drive , why no charge for the tripod or is he handheld in which case he didn’t include wrist insurance . i’m jealous i know .

      • @stuart rayner, I’ve Just got off the phone with a large legal firm who have offices throughout the world and who I’ve worked for before. Main offices in Chicago. Booked for two half days this month photographing their UK based attorneys
        I’m lucky to get somewhere in the region of £500 per half day inclusive. They’ve got quotes back from 8 other photographers and mine is a mid quote with many quoting below this! How someone can get £8600 for the same type of work is beyond me! I’m so jealous :-(

        • @Chris George, Law firms are cheap. Real cheap. Financial firms, even in today’s climate, will shell out the bucks/quid for headshots.

  19. I am curious about the assistant fees… is $300 the standard now or is the “mark up” charged to clients? I have never paid more than $200 a day?

    • @Lara, that is the standard even in smaller towns like Richmond, VA. Bigger cities I have seen $350.-$450.00. Assistants are worth their weight in gold!!1

      • @Suzanne Sease,

        Here it depends on the experience and utility of the assistant. If I’m hiring a grunt just out of school who doesn’t know how to set up a softbox to move cases for editorial, they’re not getting the same rate as my digital assistant with 10 years of experience on an ad shoot.

  20. I can visualize the creative directors and/or art buyers laughing at the low prices posted in creative fees + usage for worldwide distribution in these estimates.

    One more time, I see in these numbers the pathetic situation of photographers being afraid of posting on their estimates, the real fees they actually expect to receive for their work, and eventually get them by “spreading out” lots of small mark ups in every production item.

    There is fear in being honest and straightforward, and worse yet, it will eventually compromise in the long term the value and usefulness of the Licensing System, as it is obvious the prices are so low, for worldwide distribution, that anyone can beat the prices and still feel great about it. Everyone is scaling down, not up.
    I am not surprised one of these estimates was underbid, probably using the same method of hiding fees under the markups. The perception that you are cheaper will eventually render you as a cheap shooter. These things bite back!

    Those who are doing this , will be haunted by your own lack of intelligence, credibility and balls, and will help pushing down the licensing system and render it a useless tool.
    I helped Jeff Sedlik since the very early stages of the PLUS initiative
    ( to organize definitions, concepts , establish communications with most international photographer’s associations in Europe, Asis,etc, looking for consensus on how to develop universal definitions for usage and licensing, and now, every shooter in the US, the country where the PLUS initiave was born, is just discarding all these effort by trying to grasp some cheap dollars in stupid production markups. Go figure!!

    You don’t need a diamond knife to cut cheese for a sandwich. Come to think of it, you don’t even need a knife! Go tell Crispin Porter Bogusky this is the kind of shooter you are and you will eventually be dealt with as such.



    • @Jorge Parra,

      Plus is a great idea, but the system is way too complicated to use.

      From the website:

      “Use the free beta version of the PLUS License Generator to create a PLUS Universal License Summary. Then, embed the Summary into digital image files using the free beta version of the PLUS License Embedder & Reader (see the PLUS Standards Library), which can also be used to read and decode the license information embedded in the image file or contained in an xmp file” …

      If you could use Plus to generate a text usage summary that could be copied and pasted into an estimate, I could definitely imagine that people would start using it for their estimates.

      But as it is now, I simply can not see how you can derive much value out of this tool. And I’ve tried.

      • @Jake, let me say that maybe you started backwards. Embedding a license on your digital file ‘s metada is a smart way to enforce your licensing terms and your copyright, but what is important is to check the Glossary, review the Packages, and make decisions on what are you granting your client, of course, in accordance with their real needs.

        It will become rather transparent to understand that, the same image given out as a personal gift to someone, can become a source of thousands to you, if the usage for the image keeps expanding to more and more media, and more and more countries. When you get yourself within this mindset, you can then estimate what would the real figures for an estimate should be.

        In combo with the licensing packages and if you are not experienced enough ( nothing wrong with this), you can use some applications and utilities that can help you get some basic figures for straightforward usages. Check for example Foto Quote, or go online and and review the Editorial estimator in the EP site, and also, don’t forget to visit the trade orgaizations which have devoted endless time into giving wise advise for these matters. Go to the ASMP site, check all the info there, go to the APA forum, APAnet, where you can join without being an APA member, and exchange info with real advertising shooters, and you can areview the archives of those forums where you will find a wealth of information that you can find nowhere else.

        Then and on then, when you have clear view of what to charge for the client’s demands, then you have to sit and negotiate with your client, until an agreement is reached in how much you will be compensated and how many rights will the client be granted for your images.

        If you run the exercise of say, the portraits for worldwide print and web use in one of the examples, using FotoQuote as a start-up ball-park idea, you would get that , ONLY FOR THE US, BILLBOARD USE ONLY, you should charge around 3.000 $ per image, then just expand from there, on to magazines newspapers, posters, brochures, etc,etc, AND THEN, not only in the US, but also in as many countries as the client considers useful to promote their products/services, this is, think about billboards in Tokyo, posters and neespapers in Rome, magazine Ads in France, Spain, Germany, Japan and South Africa, think about some underground ( metro) billboards in Shanghai, Beijing, Australia, and just a few publications in several south american countries, and tell me how in hell can you possibly think that charging what appears in those estimates has any reasonable meaning, AT ALL??

        Common sense may help you to estimate, provided you have a valid reference point, a good set of negotiation skills, and a true knowledge of the licensing system to keep up with your negotiations, so you can think in terms of the VALUE and Profit factor that the client is obtaining from the image, related to the huge number of millions of people who will see their Ad with your pic, regardless of that image being a simple portrait in a white seamless, this is, independent of the production costs involved to make the image.
        One of the most understimated services is that of web usage, as many shooters have fallen into the trap of thinking that low resolution files have less value, (putting monetary value on your images based on number of pixels??? That may apply for stock files, more specifically, Royalty free files), when in fact, WWW usage means what it means, World Wide Web usage.

        Make sure to check these links for more on Copyright, Licensing, estimating and negotiating:

        Notice that I am putting the Productions costs away from this discussion, as those items should just be costs, not profit centers for the shooter, but as I already said, many are using production costs and mark ups to showcase lower fees to clients and win the bids, making a pathetic disservice to all photographers.


        Jorge Parra

        • @Photoshooter,

          Thanks for the detailed response Jorge. I definitely agree with a lot of what you wrote. You mentioned some great resources and pointed out a few others that I will definitely look into.

          I do think that the discussion is starting to get a bit off track from the original (maybe this could be the subject for a different post, Rob?)

          In any case, the reason I picked up on your comment on the Plus system, is because from my viewpoint, it shows a ton of promise, and I would love to see it being more widely implemented.

          Just to be clear, I certainly never expected Plus to estimate dollar amounts for usage. From my understanding, it’s supposed to standardize language for licensing.

          The issue with Plus is that for my life, I can not figure a way to use it to generate the language for a license TO DROP INTO AN ESTIMATE.

          Sure, it’s nice to be able to generate a very detailed license summary and embed it in a file to be delivered. But if the client did not sign off to the same usage terms in the estimate, what’s the point?

      • @Jake, PLUS is a non-profit standards organization in which art buyers, designers, publishers and other image users have collaborated with photographers, illustrators, stock agencies, reps, museums and libraries from 30 countries to create industry standards for communicating and managing image rights. These standards will allow image creators, distributors and users to clearly communicate rights information, avoid misunderstandings, and more easily manage their licenses. PLUS standards support any licensing model not existing or yet to be invented, whether the rights are restricted or broad, and whether the license is costly or free.

        Having recently completed the development of the standards in an extremely accelerated timeframe, PLUS is now fully engaged in working on integration of the standards into common applications already used in professional workflows for capturing, editing, managing, licensing and distributing images. This integration does not happen overnight. It is subject to the development and release schedules of each application. Once integration is far enough along, PLUS will begin to broadly promote the usage of the standards. We will also launch a redesign of the PLUS site, with video and text tutorials.

        To allow people to make use of the standards before the integration of common applications is completed, PLUS developed several free demonstration applications designed to allow users to create a license statement, embed that statement in images, and read the license from images. These are basic, bare-bones applications, and none of these applications will be necessary after PLUS is integrated in common applications.

        Using these tools:

        1. From the free, web-based license generator on the PLUS site, select the rights you wish to offer to your client. You can select a standardized PLUS Pack, or you can select any combination of custom media usages.

        2. Enter any additional information you wish to communicate to your client

        3. Save the license, which will drop an xmp file onto your desktop.

        4. Use the free License Embedder tool (mac or pc) to select the image, select the xmp file, and embed the license.

        As indicated on the PLUS site, these are BETA tools, and you should submit any comments or suggestions to PLUS. The PLUS site also indicates that a release version of these tools will include the ability to print licenses and to batch process images.

        Of course, the use of any image licensing tool requires some familiarity with image licensing. The PLUS licensing menus are very similar to the menus that you might find on stock sites, except that the PLUS menus were developed by consensus, with participation by all industries. It would be a good idea to explore the menus and familiarize yourself with the standard before using the applications.

        You mentioned the use of the PLUS standards on estimates. The short answer is “YES.” I’ll get into that in a separate post in the coming days, but in brief, the PLUS standards will allow photographers, stock agencies, trade associations and the developers of estimating applications to adapt their estimating and invoicing forms to more effectively communicate image rights. PLUS is new, and that will occur with time.

        PLUS Coalition is a collaboration between all communities involved in creating, developing, using and preserving images, working together on a tightly focused mission that will benefit all concerned. Despite the diversity of the participants, we were able to develop and complete a comprehensive system of standards designed to support any type of image licensing. While the standards are extensive, the use of the standards will be simple.

        Give me a day or two and I will reply with more info.

        Jeff Sedlik
        President, PLUS Coalition

        PS: PLUS does not standardize pricing.

        • @Jeff, Thanks for the info, and it’s really great to hear that there are plans to make the system more accessible (I didn’t realize that before). I’ve played around with it a bit, and it is quite powerful at generating language that can be used to license images.

          I don’t think it’s quite fair to say that shooters are “discarding all these effort(s)” (As Jorge put it above), until there’s actually a system in place where they can integrate Plus into their estimating. When that happens, I’m sure that I won’t be the only one whose excited to consider integrating it into my estimating process.

  21. These are terrible fees. Every line item is wrong. It’s just bottom-of-the-barrel. Seeing this has ruined my Friday.

    So every one knows:

    Not one line item is what it should be. Stylists. Insurance. Digital. Equipment (do we need this – ummm YES), locations.


    So is posting this as any kind of benchmark. Maybe for editorial, but not advertising. Today is 9/11 not 4/1.


    This “shooter” may have gotten the job, but it’s a complete disservice to think that this is rational or the going rate for any qualified photographer.

    I would never work on a project like this. EVER. And I am doing fine. My revenues are up from last year.

    Seeing this has just made me so sad for all of us and everyone who thinks this is intelligent.

    • @anon Amous,
      I don’t understand why people who think the fees are not right cant fucking send me an estimate where the fees are right.

      • @A Photo Editor, I guess one reason is because you are caught in the middle of this phase of the economy and fear where you will rarely find someone writing an estimate with real common sense.
        It is easier to offer 400$ to a make up artist and yet estimate 650$, and pay 500 to a stylist and yet estimate 750$ and bring pizza or chicken nuggets for the crew and yet estimate 75$ per meals for everyone, and on and on with transportation, logistics, etc,etc. When you add these up, then photographer is getting a real good chunk by marking up production costs, and thus believes he is hitting jackpot, while making a pathetic disservice to the shooter’s community by telling clients they can get their pics for almost nothing.

        I tell my clients not to fuck with my fees, and yet offer an optimized production plan that reduces the operational costs to a minimum, without compromising quality or comfort for the team, but the client ends up paying a reasonable figure, ZERO mark ups, ( although I add additional fees for “Production Coordination” which are not questioned), and my photographer fees do not get compromised at all. It’s taken me years of learning to make this happen.

        Also, I STRONGLY encourage you to visit the PLUS site at and get a real glimpse on it.

        I may add here that my first comment can be misread in the fact that hundreds of people collaborated with the development of this program and I was just one of the heavily involved since the onset of the project, well before there was a website to it.

        If you manage to understand how the Licensing System has really broken down everything related to usage to it’s basics, and made clear to understand and implement, both for shooters and clients, agencies, art buyers ,etc,etc, then you have to ask why is such a limited amount of photographers using and benefiting from this system, Photographers are leaving money on the table of many many contracts, and your examples have not been the best ones to start this discussion. I think this is what Debra Weiss was trying to alert you about, but her confrontational style gets in the way.

        The PLUS website should be at the top of the lists of links in your Blog, with all possible recommendations for shooters to visit and learn…


        • @Photoshooter, Jorge, your early contribution to the PLUS standards was significant, and much appreciated. While over 2000 volunteers from all industries pariticpated in the development of the standards, your early work to develop an global list of trade associations allowed PLUS to rapidly recruit participation across more than 30 countries. Thanks for your continued support and particpation in the initiative.

          Jeff Sedlik

          • @Jeff, Nice to know you are monitoring this forum. I clarified in other post that I was just one among hundreds of contributors to PLUS. It is just that this forum does not let you edit after you post.
            It is a great thing to see how much PLUS has evolved, and I think there has to be added marketing and word of mouth peomotion to make it more matter-of-fact to many shooters entering the market with little knowledge on the business side of photography.

            Let’s hope Rob, here at APE, helps us push these relevant aspects of the business.



      • @A Photo Editor, the reason they can’t send their own estimates is because they’re talking out of their ass.

        Anyone who can’t run a successful business getting even HALF these amounts is a complete moron.

  22. Because they are private and between the artist and the agency.
    I would never send you a full estimate. That’s my business.

    At least let’s start at 10K an image for US print advertising usage. I would like to see it at 15K per.

    As far as the production which I mainly addressed, all these guys and you can simply work with good producers who will get everyone’s rates correct. Working with a good producer can make or break any job.

    Reach out to Suzanne from yesterday for clarification on each production line item. I would trust her instincts.

    But even she she gets a percentage and hourly fee to estimate projects. So I can’t really spend all of my time going through this line for line for free.

    I guess I expected you and others to know better.

    So you are right, shame on me.

    • @anon Amous,

      Leslie, is that you?

  23. Most interesting to me is how volatile this conversation can be. Obviously, the people who read here are very concerned with the topic and have a desire not to underprice while still remaining competitive. I wonder if the conversation would sound similar if we were all carpenters or some other service based professionals?

    Though there is a lot of disagreement, this is a great conversation to follow for me as an emerging guy who is still trying to make a profit at this stuff.

    One thing, I’ve noticed so far is that the clients who seem to be in my reach (right now) don’t want to pay any licensing at all, primarily because they have little to no education about copyright or what photography should actually cost. From where I stand, it certainly seems that an established guy can more easily demand these other fees for an identical job than I can. Maybe it’s just due to the level of confidence I’m able to project and the ability of others to just walk away from a job. I need the job to eat this month…. this really limits your options, naturally.

    While I agree that it’s better the client gets used to paying usage fees, I’ve won a job or two now by coming back with a bid that rolls the usage into the photographer’s fee. I issue the same license I would have anyway but the client thinks I’m some how padding the estimate if they see it as a line item. I’m sure this all has a lot to do with where I am in developing my business.

    Anyway… just idle thoughts from a bystander.

  24. Any chances of posting a similar series about editorial photography?

  25. are these estimates from the same photographer?

  26. Not a bad price in America (Europe)..;)
    So it is really possible for itself to buy for pair shootings H3 P40 + and last generators from ProFoto..;))

  27. Thank You Rob. That’s what I call straightforward, bringin’ it to the people: Information.

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