Pricing & Negotiating: Pet and Vet Portraits for a Pharmaceutical Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Portraits of three dogs and three veterinarians against a solid background

Licensing: Unlimited use of 6 images in perpetuity

Photographer: Animal and portraiture specialist

Agency: Medium in size, based in the Midwest

Client: Large pharmaceutical company

Here is the estimate:

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

Creative/Licensing Fees: The campaign focused on a new medicine for dogs, and the creative approach was straightforward. The agency hoped to capture individual portraits of three dogs, individual portraits of three professional talent portraying veterinarians, and three images each featuring one dog and one veterinarian together, all against a solid background in a studio. While this totaled nine different shots/setups, they only planned to license six images (three dog/vet interaction shots, and three shots that would be composites of a dog sitting next to a veterinarian). The final deliverables and the approach to the setups would allow for the agency to choose what dog they wanted to be sitting next to which veterinarian after the fact, rather than shooting every possible combination of dog and vet together.

Putting upward pressure on the fee was the unlimited usage requested by the agency and the prominence of the client, but downward pressure was placed on the simplicity of the creative approach and the client/agency’s intended use, which we found out was likely trade advertising and collateral use for a limited amount of time. I developed a tiered pricing model based on two types of shots (one for the composites, and one for the vet/dog interaction shots) since they felt different enough from one another, but at the same time, it was likely the best of each type of shot would be used more heavily than the others. For one year, I figured the first shot was worth $3,500, the second shot was worth $1,750, and the third was worth $1,000, totaling $6,250, which I then doubled to account for the second set of three images, which brought me to $12,500. I then added 50% to jump from one year to three years (what we felt was their actual intended duration of use), bringing me to $18,750…which I then brought back down to an even $18,000, and which conveniently also broke down to $3,000 per image for six images.

Assistant/Digital Tech: When discussing the project with the photographer, I initially recommended having at least one or two assistants plus a digital tech. However, since the setups would be very straightforward and the shoot would take place in the photographer’s own studio, she was comfortable working with just one set of helping hands, so we included an assistant who would double as a tech for the one shoot day.

Producer: The shoot was simple, but there would be some talent wrangling and logistics that needed to be taken care of ahead of time that we didn’t want on the photographer’s shoulders, so we included a producer for two prep days and one shoot day.

Hair/Makeup Stylist: We would just need one hair/makeup stylist, without an assistant, to prep the three talent (the human talent, not the dogs).

Wardrobe Styling: Two of the veterinarians would be dressed in scrubs, which was straightforward, and one would have a more formal outfit. We included one shopping day, one shoot day, and one return day for a stylist to procure the wardrobe and be on set to make sure the talent was styled appropriately. I included $300 per person for each of the three talent for wardrobe costs.

Casting and Talent: Rather than a live casting, we included $1,500 to cast from cards/headshots, for both the human and animal talent. The photographer was well connected locally with animal wranglers, and this covered her time (or the producer’s time if she wanted to offload this) to drum up all of the options to present to the agency and then handle bookings. The photographer was based in a small market where a small amount of money got her a long way in terms of talent options, especially considering the usage, and we settled on $1,000 + 20% agency fee for each of the talent based on local knowledge of talent rates. The photographer was also well versed on animal talent rates as well, and we included $400 for each dog, to include up to 4 hours on set per dog.

Dog Handler/Trainer: The photographer had a trainer that she had worked closely with over the years, and we included $750 for the trainer to attend the shoot and help wrangle the dogs while working with them to perform in front of the camera.

Studio: The photographer owned her own studio, and while she wasn’t typically accustomed to adding it as an expense, I convinced her that it would be appropriate and acceptable to charge a modest fee for this type of project and client/agency.

Equipment and Production Supplies: The photographer owned her own gear, and we billed appropriately for its use. I also added a few hundred dollars for additional supplies like tables, chairs and production books to accommodate the client/agency in her studio.

Catering: I included $50 per person for a light breakfast and lunch.

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 agency with a gallery of images to consider.

Retouching: We needed to account for the time it would take to composite three images, and do some basic touchups on three additional images. I included 10 hours, based on an hourly rate of $200.

After delivering the estimate, the art producer responded that she thought we were in the right ballpark, but needed to run some numbers by her team/client. When she got back in touch, their only request was that we add a fit day for the talent, so the client/agency could pick out wardrobe ahead of time and make sure it fit prior to the shoot. I added $750 for a photographer pre-pro day, an additional half day for the producer, an additional day for the wardrobe stylist, $600 per talent for a fit day fee and a half day rental fee for the studio. This increased the estimate by about $4,000, and we were asked if there was anything we could do to bring it down just a bit, as that jump felt a bit high to the agency to add on a fit day. We ended up bringing down the photographer’s prep day fee, only including an extra half day for the wardrobe stylist, bringing the talent fit day fees down to $200+20% and waiving the studio charge. Here is where we ended up:

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

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.

There Are 2 Comments On This Article.

  1. What good first assistant/tech is willing to work for $350? This is an insulting rate for an advertising job. Pay your assistants what they’re worth.

    • Hi Molls,

      For this particular market and circumstance, the rate was appropriate, but I’m all ears to hear what you feel is an appropriate rate in another market.