By Bryan Sheffield, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Multi-day photo shoot of food still life, and chefs/talent portraiture

Licensing: Unlimited use (excluding Broadcast) of up to 20 images for 10 years from the first use

Photographer: Food/Drink Still Life, and Portraiture specialist

Agency: Medium-size, full service

Client: High-end restaurant within a major metropolitan city


I recently helped a photographer build an estimate and negotiate a project for a high-end restaurant client. The creative brief and subsequent conversations described a multi-day production featuring styled food/drinks and studio portraiture of chefs and patrons. The final use of the photography would be client web, local OOH placements, and web/social advertising.

While reviewing the initial shot list and scope of the project with the agency, the photographer estimated this would need to be accomplished over 4 shoot days, with a tech/scout day prior to visiting the locations. We discussed this approach with the agency and client, and after review, they asked that we keep this production to a three-day shoot. In order to hit the entire shot list, we created a plan for each shoot day, with one of the days needing overtime to accomplish the project.

As our client would be handling various items, I added a note of the Client Provisions to describe precisely what the client was to provide. In this case, they would handle all location(s), location coordination, all casting and people to be photographed, all food/drink to be photographed and food/drink styling, and client-specific wardrobe.

Take a look at the estimate below:


I put the fees at $26,000 for the three-day shoot, including unlimited use of up to 20 images for 10 years. I came to this fee by discussing the project with the photographer and learning that they had previously worked with this client. Their previous projects had been billed at a $2,000/day fee plus $200/image for web collateral use. Originally I assumed a $1,800/per image fee but reduced this to ~$1,000/per image based on the number of images and our estimate of the client’s total budget. The combined Creative/Licensing fees included $2,000/day for the photographer, plus $20,000 for the 20 image use. I added $1,100/day for the photographer tech/scout day and anticipated 2 hours of overtime at $375/hr. We added a description within Licensing Options for additional still images to be included for $2,200 per image, as well as the option to extend the use of the 20 images in perpetuity for an additional $21,000.


We added a first assistant at $550/day to help with lighting and camera equipment management, and to attend the tech scout day to familiarize themselves with the location needs and help advise on lighting equipment. A second assistant was added to the project at $400/day and a digital tech was hired to manage the files and display the content to the agency and client as it was being captured. We added a Producer and anticipated they would need 11 days of work, a production assistant for the 3 shoot days, as well as a prep day. As a final consideration, we added two hours of anticipated OT for each of these roles at 1.5x their hourly rate based on a 10-hour day. These fees were consistent with appropriate rates in this city.


We included $3,600 for camera, lighting, and grip rentals. The photographer brought their own cameras, and lenses, and intended to rent some supplemental lighting and grip from a local rental house and a few specific specialty items were purchased as well. We added $750 per shoot day for the digital tech workstation rental to consist of a laptop, 4 external monitors, a cart, cables, etc. As we expected a large client presence on set, we planned for additional monitors to set up a viewing area for the client away from the set.  We also included $480 for 3x 1TB hard drives, and $3,300 for production supplies like tables & chairs rental, styling racks, production book printing, etc.

Styling Crew

As we planned to have one day of portrait photography, we added a hair/makeup stylist for $900/day, as well as an assistant. Because the portraits would highlight people’s hands, we added a nail artist/stylist at $1,200/day. A wardrobe stylist was hired along with an assistant to dress our five hired talent and help prep the chefs/staff. We anticipated wardrobe at $2,000 assuming $400 per outfit for our five talent. We added a prop stylist at $1,000/day for all three shoot days, plus two shopping/prep/returns days. We anticipated props might cost $2,300 but added a TBD here pending final creative needs. As we did with the other roles, we added two hours of anticipated OT for each of these roles at 1.5x their hourly rate based on a 10-hour day.

Covid Safety

Since we would be photographing indoors within client-owned spaces, we required all on set to be fully vaccinated with proof of a negative PCR test within 24hrs of their first day on set. We added $200 per person for these test costs and/or a stipend to all. We also added $400 for PPE and necessary healthcare supplies.


We included $3,055 for meals and craft services to cover the 21 people to be on set over the 3 days, as well as $250 for the scout day meals/crafty.


As we would need to pay for garage parking for all attendees at each of our locations, and added $3,200 for the anticipated parking, mileage/taxis, as well as additional meals. Our final estimate for insurance coverage was $1,500 for the project.

Post Production

We added $1,000 for the photographer to perform an initial edit of all the content and delivery to client for review and included retouching for up to 20 images at $150/hr.


The photographer was awarded the project, and the work is currently a large part of the client campaign currently running. The photographer even informed me that they recently met with the client and were told the campaign has increased their web traffic and look forward to another shoot in early 2023!

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1 Comment

  1. $550 a day for a photo assistant on an advertising job!?!?!
    What is this the 1990’s??
    The base rate for a 1st assistant is $800, advertising is a base rate of $1200

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