Pricing & Negotiating: Table-top Product Advertising Shoot

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine Producer

In the interest of sharing Pricing & Negotiating articles at more frequent intervals, we’ve developed a more concise nuts-and-bolts format that covers the essential points of an estimate without a lengthy breakdown of every last detail. Here’s our first “abridged” review of an estimate:

Shoot Concept: table-top product shots of 4 product packages and 8 food ingredients on a white background to go into 4 finished ads

Photographer: still life specialist

Location: a New York City studio

Product: food

Agency: medium-sized New York agency

Client: well-known packaged food brand

Licensing: North American advertising and collateral Use, including print, web and out-of-home (billboards, transit, etc.), of 12 images for 1 year.

Shoot Days: 2

Here’s the estimate (click to view larger):

And here’s the breakdown:

Licensing: Though the photographer would be creating and licensing 12 images, they would only appear in 4 finished ads. The concepts could conceivably be captured entirely in-camera in just 4 shots. However, the agency and photographer agreed that it would be better to shoot each element separately to provide flexibility in composition, perspective and size in the post production process. So we calculated the licensing fee based on 4 images. Also, unlike most campaigns which focus on one product, each of these ads promoted a different variety of this particular brand’s product. For this reason we opted not to factor in any sort of volume discount for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ads, as we would do if we were licensing different pictures of the same product. Additionally, the photographers level of experience was a consideration, he was relatively new to large advertising projects. Based on these factors and our experience with this particular agency and similar past projects, we decided to price the fee at 24,000.00. (We then checked our fee againstFotoquoteBlinkBid and two stock photo sites. Using the “all advertising pack” option, Fotoquote, Blinkbid and the stock sites suggested a price of about 12000.00 per image, or roughly double what we quoted. BlinkBid however, was in line with our numbers. It’s Bid Consultant calculator has an interesting feature that allows you to fine tune the price based on the photographer’s level of experience.  Using the appropriate “up and comer” multiplier brought the suggested rate down to 6000.00 per image, right in line with our initial pricing.

Producer: Producer rates tend to range between 750.00-1000.00/day. I normally budget at least one day of prep for a typical studio shoot, it’s a good to have a producer on set to make sure things run smoothly, and often will want to include a day to manage wrap, invoicing and crew payments.

First Assistant: I figured one per shoot day would be appropriate for this project. Rates can range from 250.00-400.00 depending on the location and amount of expertise required.

Second Assistant/Digital Tech: Normally, an experienced digital tech, complete with a large monitor, fast computer and all the appropriate software is going to run between 1000.00 and 1500.00 per day. In this case, the studio bundled the workstation in with the rental, so we hired a digital tech without the computer for 600.00/day.

Equipment and Studio: Priced at cost. Although the photographer has his own studio, we needed a larger, more polished space to accommodate this project.

Background, Plexi: This covered the purchase and delivery of white seamless paper and plexiglass for the background.

Stylist, Food, Etc: We wanted a top notch stylist to handle the product. We estimated 1200.00 plus 20% agency fee per day (the stylist we worked with was repped), a stylist assistant to help with purchases and prep, and a food budget to cover the cost of the necessary ingredients.

Capture fee: This covered the time and equipment necessary for the photographer to do an initial process, edit, organize and back-up of the files and present them to the client.

Retouching: Since we were dealing with stripping, retouching and compositing, the photographer and I estimated 3 hours per final image.

Catering: Priced at cost. I usually estimate 40.00/person/day for light breakfast, a hot lunch, snacks and drinks.

Miles, Parking, Misc: We usually charge 100.00 for a certificate of insurance and the other 100.00 will cover odds and ends.

Advance: We normally get a deposit of 50% of the bottom line before the shoot. Consequently, we don’t charge a mark-up on any of the expenses.

Results: The photographer was awarded the job and Wonderful Machine handled the production.

*Hindsight: If I had to do it over again, I would have budgeted for a pre-light day. We didn’t have one on this project and we ended up wishing we did. Although the photographer is no stranger to this type of shoot, setting everything up and dialing in the lighting beforehand will save you precious time on the first shoot day. Of course, it would have also meant additional charges of studio (1500.00), assistants (850.00), equipment (1200.00) and possibly an additional photographer fee.

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 scale ad campaigns.

There Are 10 Comments On This Article.

  1. Thank you! This is very, very useful. A few questions: How long did it take to get the lighting right? For stationary objects in a studio it was probably well-enough not to have had the extra expense. Also, how many hours did the shoot actually take? Two 9-5 days?

  2. Business articles like this one, with both feet on the ground of facts and the head nicely cooled by a professional manner, are my favorite content on APE.

    Great for avoiding monkey business and for creating a real, sustainable business.

  3. So there’s no photographer fee on this one. Was that included in the producer fee? or just not necessary?

    Thank you very much for these post. As one who is trying to get his pricing structure down these are very helpful!

  4. Forgive my stupidity here but where does the agency come in to this? Who is the agency here? Agency representing the company who owns the products been shot I presume?

    • It generally works something like: Food company goes to an Agency. Agency goes to a Photographer (or many times 3 photographers simultaneously). Photographer replies with an estimate. Agency runs the estimate by the food company. If everyone is happy they do the shoot.
      More or less that is the rundown. This here little part is the estimate. In this case Wonderful Machine helped the photographer by preparing the estimate.

      • Thought as much! So is it worthwhile being listed on Wonderful Machine? Never heard of them before this…

  5. Suzanne Sease

    I would like to add:
    I would have a pre-light day so the photographer makes more money and call it “creative fee” licensing fee doesn’t include shot fee so that term to a former art buyer would be confusing. $6,000.00 an ad with four separate shots seems low to me- that makes it $2,000.00 a shot. And I would define collateral as a food product could get a lot of usage in FSI.

    Just me thoughts. Trying to get photographers what they deserve when they can!