by Jess Dudley Wonderful Machine

Concept: Lifestyle images of guests enjoying a new hotel concept and Architectural images 0f the property itself

Licensing: Advertising, Collateral and Publicity Use of 17 images, US Only

Location: Hotel property in Northern California

Shoot Days: Two

Photographer: Up-and-coming architectural, hospitality and lifestyle specialist

Agency: Mid-Size Chicago-Based Agency

Client: International Hotel chain

Here’s the estimate:

Click to enlarge

Concept, Licensing: The goal of the project was to promote the new hotel chain in a series of three web and print ads featured in a variety of  business and travel publications. The client also wanted to capture additional shots to populate the hotel’s website. The shoot would take place over two shoot days at a newly renovated hotel property in Northern California. The photographer would need to create lifestyle images of professional talent enjoying the various amenities (spa, business center, restaurant, gym, etc.) and architectural images of the property (with and without talent). The “hero” shots for the ad campaign would consist of two lifestyle images and one architectural image highlighting the new hotel vibe. The 14 other images would consist of  a mix of lifestyle and architectural images and be used only on the web, although the client requested the same licensing to be granted across the board.

Based on the number of hero shots, the number of secondary images, the photographer’s experience, the straight forward concept and the licensing restrictions (1 year, US only), along with my experience with similar projects, I set the pricing for the hero shots at $10k for the first and $5k each for the second and third for a total of 20,000. Since the usage was primarily in those first three images, I set the 4th and 5th at 2000.00 each, and 6-13 at 1000.00 each and 14-17 at 500.00 each. This brought the total licensing fee for all 17 images to 34,000 (which only coincidentally pro-rates out to 2000.00/image). I then checked my rates against a handful of previous estimates and outside pricing resources. For an “up-and-comer” Blinkbid suggests 6900.00-12,075.00/image/year. Corbis prices the “All Marketing Pack” at 17,500.00 for one year (or 14,356.00 for 1 month). Photoshelter‘s stock pricing calculator prices the “All Advertising and Marketing Pack” at 9,654.00/image for 1 year or 15,761.00/image for five years. Though the time ranges are different, you can see that the stock pricing calculators heavily front load the value of licensing, just as we do.

Photographer Travel/Tech Scout Days:  I estimated two days for the photographer to travel to and from the location and to scout. Since the Photographer would be flying west, it was possible to travel in and do the tech scout on the same day.

Equipment Rental: We priced out the cost to rent two camera bodies (600.00/day), two power packs (150.00/day), and lenses (150.00/day). The photographer would be bringing her own grip and decided not to charge for it to keep the budget down a bit.

Basic File Prep, including upload: This covered the cost to handle basic color correction and blemish removal and the upload of the images to the agency’s FTP. Anything over and above the basic processing would be considered retouching and billed at 150.00/hr.

Retouching Hours: The agency requested we include retouching for the three hero images. We estimated 2 hours per image at a standard retouching rate (not only to compensate her for that time and expertise, but to cover her if she got busy and had to farm it out to a freelance retoucher).

Producer Days: I included 6 producer days. 2 prep, 1 travel/scout, 2 shoot and 1 travel home. Since the photographer would be flying in for the shoot, it would be OK to fly her usual producer in for the project.

Production Books: We budgeted for the time and cost to produce a printed production book. Since we would be shooting a fairly extensive shot list in a sprawling location with a sizable cast and crew, it was important to create a comprehensive production book to keep everything on track. A production book typically consists of 5-10 pages of pertinent contact info, location info, directions, calendars, schedules and concepts, basically a summary of the production for quick reference throughout the shoot.

First Assistant, Digital Tech, Production Assistant: The photographer typically travels for most of her shoots and doesn’t have a regular 1st assistant, so we budgeted for a local first assistant. We included a digital tech and a production assistant (PA) to use as a runner and extra set of hands.

Casting & Talent: We estimated for a local casting agent to hold a live casting to source the 6 talent we needed (3/shoot day). The model rates were dictated by the agency. I would have preferred to push the rates higher to ensure we drew the best talent.

Stylists & Wardrobe/Props: We budgeted for a four person styling crew to handle hair/make-up, wardrobe and minor props like suitcases, briefcases and electronics. Had the prop requests been more substantial, we would have brought in a dedicated prop stylist. Our wardrobe stylist estimated and average of 400.00/talent for non-returnable purchases and rentals.

Catering: I budgeted 40.00 per person for up to 20 people on set each day. The cast, crew, agency, client and location contact list added up to 18. As is the case on most shoots, the client or agency will inevitably bring more bodies to set, so I accounted for 20 per day.

Travel Expenses: Using, I estimated the cost for airfare (including baggage fees), car rentals (including insurance and gas) and lodging (the hotel we were shooting at was fully booked) for the photographer and producer.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Tolls, Shipping, Certificate of Insurance, Misc.: I estimated 150.00/day on site to cover non-catered meals and expendables, 100.00 to secure a certificate of insurance (COI), and 250.00 in meals, mileage and parking for the return travel day.

Housekeeping: Some of the shots would feature hotel staff and/or food prepared by the hotel so I made sure to indicate those would be provided by the hotel. And of course, the location would be provided as well. I also noted advance requirements and that the client/agency would be responsible for any applicable sales tax.

Results: The photographer was awarded the job.

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 big ad campaigns

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  1. Would love to know who the photographer was and see his finals on this great job.It would great to get a behind the scenes from it. Kudos

  2. Am always blown away by photo fees like this… In my market, shooting products, numbers like this just don’t seem to exist…..

  3. $350.00 for a photo assistant is an editorial rate NOT an advertising rate.
    Advertising rates for photo assistants in the U.S. is minimum $750.00 per day + O.T. , travel, ETC.

    • Acuatlly $350 is pretty Standard for Advertising Rates, I’ve never seen a $750 rate unless it’s going to a digi tech. Maybe 5yrs ago when big budgets were nromal. However, if those jobs are still out there for $750 either your lucky, or i’m just not there yet.

    • BS

    • Not a big BS, but unlikely. When times where good and you where the first assistant for a very high end photographer you might get paid $500 – $650 per day in NYC.

      I pay my assistant starting at $225 and some jobs $250 plus OT in a major city.

      • Totally true: Ad rates for my assistants are $500 to $750 and were typically $750 to $850 5 years ago in large markets.

  4. Thank you for posting this article! Very helpful, especially when approaching bigger clients!

  5. Thanks again, Jess and Wonderful Machine. These posts are truly invaluable.

  6. even though the shoots I coordinate are nowhere near this scale, I love these posts – so informative and helpful! thanks :)

  7. Thank you for the post! This helps me to get a perspective on a shoot of this scale.

  8. […] to cover her if she got busy and had to farm it out to a freelance retoucher)." Quoted from Pricing & Negotiating: Hotel Lifestyle & Advertising Shoot __________________ Members don't see ads in threads. Register your free account today […]

  9. So unrealistic as to be unbelievable. I’m in this business and wouldn’t be for long at these rates. I provide similar types of images to very high profile hospitality clients. In my opinion this only gives false hope to those that are trying to get into this type of work. 17 images is doable in two shooting days, but a crew of 20? Not hardly.

    • RSS – Me too.

      I’ve never had a crew this big and that includes multiple talent. As for 17 images in two days, I could do it, but not often and I’m a fast shooter.

      Considering the hotel was fully booked at this time I would also expect a lot of waiting around time trying to work around the presence of guests in common areas etc. I can clone out the person standing way in the background, but the idiots who keep walking across and through the shot really slow things down. That’s why I’m always sent in low season and just have to work around less than ideal weather.

      I don’t doubt that Jess is being truthful, I just don’t find it to be a representative experience.

      • I think this all depends upon the resort.

        Many resorts now want images that are shot fast, “slice of life” lifestyle that looks and feels real with real people.

        • We all have different experiences and in mine, the kind of resort that you have mentioned is typically someone with no budget.

          I find that, “on site talent”, usually look and feel awkward and posed because they are self conscious. While they may sign a Release in exchange for a couple of drinks, usually that’s about what they’re worth. Professional Talent just let loose to do their thing are usually much more natural. If they look unnatural and staged, that’s usually the photographer or Art Director’s fault.

  10. So Jess, what would you guess the gross profit is on this?

  11. Never mind, I just noticed that you were part of Wonderful Machine. Sorry dude.

  12. Thanks for the post, good info :)

  13. So much great info no matter what scale you are working on. Thanks!

  14. Great post!
    Valuable insight to those who don’t bid these sort of projects yet!

  15. Is this estimate unrealistic? based on the usage I have a hard time believing it, but not unheard of. What sounds fishy is an up and coming photographer billing that rate? I also find it unrealistic not to have any future licensing fee in the contract. I personally find it unethical not to let a client know what future usage cost would be. The client would have to be dumb not to have some type of cost for future use listed.

    I am in pre production for a similar health spa shoot. my clients media buy would be smaller then a major hotel chain. My estimate was nowhere near the estimate
    3 days shooting fee $7500.( 17-20 shots based on time. 3 Assistants at $275.00 each plus OT if needed. $80 per image digital capture. Prop stylist $650 shoot day, 1/2 fee prep days. hair/makeup $500 per day. plus food, expendables and a few other things. Client to supply all models, chef, and training staff.

    Usage unlimited web/brochure/PR only. They also want billboard price for future usage. $1000.00 per billboard based on media buy of $10,000 per billboard.

    The good news after my walk through they want to add another 2 days of shooting,

    • 10 years ago we never put future usage in the contracts.

      I never do, unless a client asks.

      Why give out numbers that I may not have to? Why do the extra work? Why bid against yourself?

  16. I find the overall quote and fees pretty in-line what I would expect for a project of this scope. The fees seem to be about right $2000/image for a 1 yr. usage as described. The only thing that shocks me is the missing lines:

    Digital capture
    Image processing
    Image archive

    Based on this project I’d expect something along this line:

    Digital capture $7,000.00
    Image processing $7,000.00
    Image archive $ 500.00

    which would include uploading the low res selects for web gallery selection, (of course after minor retouching as you only want to show your clients the best) Plus the few back and forth of getting the right
    selects ready to present to your end client for approval prior to final selection.

    Also Digital imaging seems a tad low. I’d assume there would be some basic work on 17 images. Maybe more work on the hero 3 images. so.. for that I’d be

    Digital imaging $5000.00 – $8000.00 ( $1000/per main image – (not major composites) then $500ish per
    second image depending on how particular the client is)
    Digital imaging archive $500.00

    Gotta back up those RAW files and those high res layered files. You never know if a client may come back a year later and re-license a few alternatives… or have another few holes to fill in their overall campaign.

    The you have them ready to go, and are able to make another sale! For less work. :-)

  17. I charge $125 – $150 an hour

  18. pix – Tell me it isn’t so. Please.

    Do what you think is right, but I would urge you to rethink your pricing strategy.

  19. FYI to all of you:

    WM posted another estimate on a resort in GA that required more local usage. This estimate is quite a bit lower.

    You all may find it interesting…..



  20. […] it would be interesting to share this particular hotel lifestyle estimate on the heels of our previous Pricing & Negotiating post so I could highlight the difference in value between two nearly […]

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