Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Still life images of food products

Licensing: Trade Advertising, Trade Collateral, Publicity, and Internal use of up to seven images in perpetuity.

Photographer: Food specialist

Agency: Medium in size, exclusively works with food and beverage clients

Client: Food manufacturer

Here is the estimate:
Pricing and Negotiating estimate for still life of food products

Creative/Licensing Fees: The initial project scope included seven still life images of multiple products for a single food brand. Some of the shots would be individual products on a white background, and others would be multiple products in a single image with environmental elements/props. After discussing the requested usage with the agency, I learned that this project was definitely not consumer oriented, and the images would primarily be used to promote the products within the food/beverage industry. There was a chance the images could be used in trade advertisements, but mostly they would be used for collateral, internal and publicity purposes. While they requested perpetual use, many of the products would be seasonal and have a short lifespan, therefore naturally limiting how long they would be useful for the client. This information coupled with the straightforward nature of the assignment and a discussed budget of less than 10k put significant downward pressure on a creative/licensing fee. Since each shot featured a different product or group or products, I decided to put equal value on each image, rather than coming up with a tiered pricing model, and I landed on $500/image totaling $3,500. I had wanted to add a few thousand dollars as a creative fee to this, however based on a conversation with the agency, I knew they hoped to keep this under $10k, and I knew the photographer would be comfortable with this rate considering the circumstances.

Assistant and Digital Tech: I included an assistant to help with grip/lighting and a digital tech to help display the images to the client as they were being captured on the shoot day.

Prop Styling: At the onset of the project, the creative direction was a bit too loose to dial in exact prop styling needs, so they asked us to detail the rate of a stylist should one be needed, but to hold off on including it in the bottom line. I noted that a prop stylist would be $900/day plus prop expenses and marked it as TBD.

Studio Rental: This included one day at moderately sized studio

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the photographer’s time to do an initial edit of the images and provide a web gallery for the client to review

Color Correction, File Cleanup and Delivery of 7 Selects by FTP: This was based on $150/image for the basic post production.

Mileage, Parking, Shipping, Misc.: The photographer was likely to have $100 in mileage/parking for the day, and the additional $200 provided a bit of buffer and would cover unforeseen expenses.

Lunch Catering: This was based on $50 per person, and in addition to the photographer and their crew, we anticipated 4-5 people from the client/agency attending.

Feedback: The estimate was well received, and we were told that there were three additional projects for other brands (all owned by the same parent company/client) that they hoped we could bid on. While each one was slightly different in terms of shot count and styling/production needs, they all shared a simple creative direction, and the images would all be used in a similar manner. We developed three additional estimates, with fees fluctuating only slightly, and with expenses based on the individual needs of each assignment. To incentivize the client to work with the same photographer on all four projects, we told them that we’d offer a 15% discount on fees and find as many production efficiencies as possible if they were able to commit to all four projects at the same time. They asked us if we could formalize all of the estimates together and detail the discount/efficiencies, and we submitted an estimate that included a cover page with an overview of all four projects, followed by each individual estimate for reference. In addition to the 15% discount, we noted that two pre-production days were removed, and a prep day for both a food and prop stylist were also removed as a result of efficient pre-production.

Pricing and Negotiating estimate for still life of food products

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.

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