Pricing & Negotiating: International Luxury Hospitality Brand

By Bryan Sheffield, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Architectural images showcasing a hotel and its amenities.

Licensing: Unlimited use of up to 5 images in perpetuity. Unlimited use of up to 30 additional images for 1 year

Photographer: Architecture and Hospitality specialist

Client: Large International Hospitality Brand

Here is the estimate:

 

 

Fees: This shoot required an experienced architecture and hospitality specialist with the ability to capture strong content in a very short amount of time. The shoot time was compressed as the location was re-opening with short notice due to the state’s relaxation of Covid regulations. Also, from what we could gather in our client conversations, was that a shoot took place recently and the agency was now tasked with getting it done right the second time. That put upward pressure on the fee, and I felt that a creative fee alone was worth $10,000 for the 2-day shoot.

The client requested two licensing terms for the 35 deliverables on the shot list. They requested 30 images with 1-year Unlimited use, and an additional 5 images to have a license for unlimited use in perpetuity.

For the 1 year Unlimited licensing, I felt $750 per image was appropriate for the quantity of 30 images.

For the perpetual Unlimited licensing, I felt $2,000 per image was appropriate for 5 images.

This totaled $32,500, and I arrived at a $42,500 creative/licensing fee by combining the $10,000 creative fee with the licensing fees. On top of that, I added a $750 fee for the photographer to attend a quick tech/scout of the location.

I added a Licensing Options section within the Job Description to outline possible additional image use fees, including possibly extending the use of the 30 images to perpetual use. This included a discounted rate for the bulk perpetual use.

Crew: We added a first assistant (who would also accompany the photographer on the tech/scout), as well as a second assistant. These rates were appropriate for the given market, and the rates the photographer’s assistants were accustomed to. I suggested to the photographer to bring on a separate person as digital tech, but the client pushed back on the crew footprint during Covid and the photographer was comfortable using his 2nd assistant to simply run a Capture One tether and backup files.

Equipment: We included $2,000 for cameras/grip/lighting, and a modest fee to cover the photographer’s computer set up to be used on set, and 2 hard drives.

Covid Safety: We included costs for 3 advanced Covid tests for the photography team, plus $75 for PPE.

Misc.: The location was about a 30-minute drive for the photography team. We added a line item to cover individual mileage for the 3 person team, parking, some additional meals, and a bit of buffer for any small unforeseen expenses that might arise.

Post Production: We included $1,500 for the photographer to perform basic color correction and provide a gallery of his favorite shots. The retouching estimate was based upon the photographer and creative team assuming each image would need roughly 2 hours of work. This would be billed at $125 per hour.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project. The shoot was a success and images are out in the world currently!


Need help estimating or producing a project? Please reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs, from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Lifestyle Images For A Pharmaceutical Client

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Lifestyle images of talent interacting around a residential property

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images captured in North America for one year

Photographer: Lifestyle and portraiture specialist

Agency: Healthcare marketing specialists

Client: Pharmaceutical company

Here is the estimate:

 

 

Fees: At the onset of the project, the scope was based around 4 talent interacting and participating in lifestyle activities in and around a residential property. We anticipated three unique setups over the course of one day, however, we did not have a specific shot list to work with. While the agency requested unlimited use for one year, we knew the images would primarily be used for very targeted advertising, mostly web-based, and likely used within printed collateral pieces. Given the duration of just one year, I decided to price the three scenarios at $3,500 each, and I added a $2,000 creative fee. Based on previous experience, I knew the agency would be looking for a creative/licensing fee somewhere between 10-15k, and we were told the budget was initially tight, so we ultimately landed on $12,500. We included a tech/scout day at $1,000 for the photographer, and we included $750 for them to attend a wardrobe fitting day as well, which was specifically requested by the agency.

Crew: We knew this would likely require some heavy lifting and a lot of moving parts, so we included a producer along with a PA, as well as two assistants and a digital tech, at rates that were appropriate for the given market.

Styling: We included a hair/makeup stylist along with an assistant, and we combined the roles of the wardrobe and prop styling into one lead stylist with two assistants. At this point in the project, it seemed reasonable to combine these roles not only because the photographer had a stylist in mind that he was confident could handle it, but it was also a strategy to reduce the headcount on set, which is a covid compliance protocol we always try to implement. We made sure to include enough shopping time and extra days for attendance of a wardrobe fitting day prior to the shoot. We anticipate two outfits for each of the four talents and based the wardrobe costs on $300 per outfit. We included $4,000 for props but marked it as TBD since we didn’t have a clear sense as to what the exact needs would be at the onset of the project. Additionally, we included $750 for kit fees, shipping, and miscellaneous styling expenses.

Health and Safety: We included a covid compliance officer for both the shoot, tech/scout day and wardrobe fitting day. Additionally, we included one Covid test per attendee, as well as a few hundred dollars for PPE/supplies.

Locations: We had a general sense of the type of house that was needed, however, we also sensed that the client would be quite picky. We included what we felt was ample scouting days plus a location fee that would more than cover such a location in this market. We also included $500 as a location fee for the wardrobe fitting, as we’d need a location for that to take place.

Casting and Talent: I included $1,500 for casting, which was based on local knowledge of a casting agent who I knew would be able to cover our needs for that amount of money. Considering covid, rather than a live casting, they remotely collect virtual auditions that talent record themselves, with our casting director’s guidance. The agency planned to cover all talent fees, so we made sure to make a note of that.

Equipment: We made sure to include photographic equipment along with a workstation for our digital tech and production supplies. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve increased line items for production supplies considering the additional items needed to have a safe set (more tables/chairs to spread out, fans for airflow, etc.) in addition to normal items like tents and walkies.

Vehicles: While the house could possibly serve as a staging area, we included a production RV to help spread out and provide a dedicated styling area.

Catering: I included $70 per person for a light breakfast and lunch that would also conform to our covid protocols.

Misc.: I included $750 for insurance (however we did not know the policy limits at this point required by the agency), as well as added funds for miscellaneous expenses that might arise throughout the production.

Post Production: The agency planned to handle retouching, so this just included the photographer’s time to transfer the content to a hard drive and hand it over.

Results: The project was awarded to the photographer. During the pre-production process, a new concept came to light that would necessitate an additional day of shooting. We compiled another estimate to serve as an overage request that contained similar line items to the initial estimate but accounted for an additional day. The overage request for this new concept totaled approximately $60k, and that estimate was also approved.


Need help estimating or producing a project? Please reach out.
We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs, from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: International Luxury Hospitality Brand

By Bryan Sheffield, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Architectural images showcasing a hotel and its amenities.

Licensing: Unlimited use of up to 5 images in perpetuity. Unlimited use of up to 30 additional images for 1 year

Photographer: Architecture and Hospitality specialist

Client: Large International Hospitality Brand

Here is the estimate:

 

 

Fees: This shoot required an experienced architecture and hospitality specialist with the ability to capture strong content in a very short amount of time. The shoot time was compressed as the location was re-opening with short notice due to the state’s relaxation of Covid regulations. Also, from what we could gather in our client conversations, was that a shoot took place recently and the agency was now tasked with getting it done right the second time. That put upward pressure on the fee, and I felt that a creative fee alone was worth $10,000 for the 2-day shoot.

The client requested two licensing terms for the 35 deliverables on the shot list. They requested 30 images with 1-year Unlimited use, and an additional 5 images to have a license for unlimited use in perpetuity.

For the 1 year Unlimited licensing, I felt $750 per image was appropriate for the quantity of 30 images.

For the perpetual Unlimited licensing, I felt $2,000 per image was appropriate for 5 images.

This totaled $32,500, and I arrived at a $42,500 creative/licensing fee by combining the $10,000 creative fee with the licensing fees. On top of that, I added a $750 fee for the photographer to attend a quick tech/scout of the location.

I added a Licensing Options section within the Job Description to outline possible additional image use fees, including possibly extending the use of the 30 images to perpetual use. This included a discounted rate for the bulk perpetual use.

Crew: We added a first assistant (who would also accompany the photographer on the tech/scout), as well as a second assistant. These rates were appropriate for the given market, and the rates the photographer’s assistants were accustomed to. I suggested to the photographer to bring on a separate person as digital tech, but the client pushed back on the crew footprint during Covid and the photographer was comfortable using his 2nd assistant to simply run a Capture One tether and backup files.

Equipment: We included $2,000 for cameras/grip/lighting, and a modest fee to cover the photographer’s computer set up to be used on set, and 2 hard drives.

Covid Safety: We included costs for 3 advanced Covid tests for the photography team, plus $75 for PPE.

Misc.: The location was about a 30-minute drive for the photography team. We added a line item to cover individual mileage for the 3 person team, parking, some additional meals, and a bit of buffer for any small unforeseen expenses that might arise.

Post Production: We included $1,500 for the photographer to perform basic color correction and provide a gallery of his favorite shots. The retouching estimate was based upon the photographer and creative team assuming each image would need roughly 2 hours of work. This would be billed at $125 per hour.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project. The shoot was a success and images are out in the world currently!

Pricing & Negotiating: Still Life Images For Pharmaceutical Client

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Still life images of a pharmaceutical product

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images captured for two years

Photographer: Portraiture specialist

Agency: Pharmaceutical marketing specialists

Client: Pharmaceutical company

Here is the estimate:

 

 

Fees: The project was fairly straightforward. The client needed images of a product on a white background, and images of hands holding the product. Right from the start, we were told that they have a budget of $15,000, so my goal was to account for all necessary expenses while making sure that the fee for the photographer was appropriate for the usage. While the licensing included unlimited use, we knew these images would likely be used primarily for collateral purposes, and they were willing to limit the duration to two years. For this project, I felt $5,500 was suitable for a creative/licensing fee.

Crew: I included a first assistant to help the photographer set up grip/lighting equipment, and a digital tech to help the client review the content as it was being captured both on-site and remotely over zoom.

Styling: I included a hair/makeup stylist to prep the talent on the shoot day, as well as a wardrobe stylist for three days to help source clothing for them. Since the scope was relatively simple, I did not include a styling assistant for either role, as I felt they could handle the responsibilities easily on their own.

Health and Safety: While not included in the bottom line, I noted what a covid compliance officer would cost, should the team require one on-site.

Casting and Talent: We planned to work with a local casting director to hire three models, and the agency planned to pay the talent directly.

Locations: We included one studio rental day.

Equipment: In addition to the photographer’s gear, we included an appropriate amount for a digital tech to rent us their workstation for the day.

Meals: We kept it pretty low-key on the meals to be able to adhere to the budget given, and accounted for ordering lunch from a local restaurant instead of having an elaborate catering setup.

Post Production: The agency planned to handle retouching, so all we needed to include was a hard drive to hand over the content at the end of the day.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.


Need help estimating or producing a project? Please reach out.
We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs, from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Lifestyle Images For A Pharmaceutical Client

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images captured in North America for one year

Photographer: Lifestyle and portraiture specialist

Agency: Healthcare marketing specialists

Client: Pharmaceutical company

Here is the estimate:

 

Fees: At the onset of the project, the scope was based around 4 talent interacting and participating in lifestyle activities in and around a residential property. We anticipated three unique setups over the course of one day, however, we did not have a specific shot list to work with. While the agency requested unlimited use for one year, we knew the images would primarily be used for very targeted advertising, mostly web-based, and likely used within printed collateral pieces. Given the duration of just one year, I decided to price the three scenarios at $3,500 each, and I added a $2,000 creative fee. Based on previous experience, I knew the agency would be looking for a creative/licensing fee somewhere between 10-15k, and we were told the budget was initially tight, so we ultimately landed on $12,500. We included a tech/scout day at $1,000 for the photographer, and we included $750 for them to attend a wardrobe fitting day as well, which was specifically requested by the agency.

Crew: We knew this would likely require some heavy lifting and a lot of moving parts, so we included a producer along with a PA, as well as two assistants and a digital tech, at rates that were appropriate for the given market.

Styling: We included a hair/makeup stylist along with an assistant, and we combined the roles of the wardrobe and prop styling into one lead stylist with two assistants. At this point in the project, it seemed reasonable to combine these roles not only because the photographer had a stylist in mind that he was confident could handle it, but it was also a strategy to reduce the headcount on set, which is a covid compliance protocol we always try to implement. We made sure to include enough shopping time and extra days for attendance of a wardrobe fitting day prior to the shoot. We anticipate two outfits for each of the four talents and based the wardrobe costs on $300 per outfit. We included $4,000 for props but marked it as TBD since we didn’t have a clear sense as to what the exact needs would be at the onset of the project. Additionally, we included $750 for kit fees, shipping, and miscellaneous styling expenses.

Health and Safety: We included a covid compliance officer for both the shoot, tech/scout day and wardrobe fitting day. Additionally, we included one Covid test per attendee, as well as a few hundred dollars for PPE/supplies.

Locations: We had a general sense of the type of house that was needed, however, we also sensed that the client would be quite picky. We included what we felt was ample scouting days plus a location fee that would more than cover such a location in this market. We also included $500 as a location fee for the wardrobe fitting, as we’d need a location for that to take place.

Casting and Talent: I included $1,500 for casting, which was based on local knowledge of a casting agent who I knew would be able to cover our needs for that amount of money. Considering covid, rather than a live casting, they remotely collect virtual auditions that talent record themselves, with our casting director’s guidance. The agency planned to cover all talent fees, so we made sure to make a note of that.

Equipment: We made sure to include photographic equipment along with a workstation for our digital tech and production supplies. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve increased line items for production supplies considering the additional items needed to have a safe set (more tables/chairs to spread out, fans for airflow, etc.) in addition to normal items like tents and walkies.

Vehicles: While the house could possibly serve as a staging area, we included a production RV to help spread out and provide a dedicated styling area.

Catering: I included $70 per person for a light breakfast and lunch that would also conform to our covid protocols.

Misc.: I included $750 for insurance (however we did not know the policy limits at this point required by the agency), as well as added funds for miscellaneous expenses that might arise throughout the production.

Post Production: The agency planned to handle retouching, so this just included the photographer’s time to transfer the content to a hard drive and hand it over.

Results: The project was awarded to the photographer. During the pre-production process, a new concept came to light that would necessitate an additional day of shooting. We compiled another estimate to serve as an overage request that contained similar line items to the initial estimate but accounted for an additional day. The overage request for this new concept totaled approximately $60k, and that estimate was also approved.

Need help estimating or producing a project? Please reach out.
We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs, from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Social Media Shoot For International Beverage Brand

By Bryan Sheffield, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Environmental 15-second video portraits of talent interacting with products and the environment. Videos needed to be vertical in format, and created on iPhone 12.

Licensing: Web advertising use of up to two 15-second videos on TikTok for three months, and web collateral use in perpetuity.

Photographer: Lifestyle/portraiture specialist with motion capabilities

Client: International beverage brand

Here is the estimate:

Fees: This shoot was a part of a larger motion project being simultaneously produced by a video production company. The production company’s charge was to find a lifestyle photographer to create two 15-second environmental portrait videos of up to 3 talent directed into action. While the content creation seemed rather straightforward, the client was smart to seek a photographer with a strong portfolio of lighting and a proficiency of directing talent into joyful emotion, as well as capturing people in motion within a frame. Another need from the photographer was the ability to capture strong content in a very short amount of time due to the talent’s limited availability. On paper, the assets could be captured quickly, but the larger ongoing production and talent schedule meant we needed to estimate for two 12-hour shoot days to mirror the video production schedule. These combined needs put upward pressure on the fee. For the licensing, the client requested 3 months Paid Social Media Advertising. I felt $12,000 would be appropriate for one year of usage for this client, and then we subtracted 50% for a shorter duration. This brought us to $6,000, which we further lowered a bit to $5,500 after learning about a very tight budget. We also added a $500 fee for the photographer pre-pro work on the shoot direction and social media platform research.

Crew: We added a first assistant to help with lighting and the ease of the photographer’s days. These rates were appropriate for an advertising production in the given market. The production company required the estimate account for a 12-hour day, so 2 hours of overtime were estimated for each day at a 1.5x hourly rate.

Equipment: We included $1,000 for cameras, grip, and lighting rentals. Without knowing the specific location, we knew the photographer would need some LED and HMI lighting, modifiers and support. The specified camera, an iPhone 12, wouldn’t be able to support different exposure adjustments in aperture and ISO speed, so advance lighting tests were needed. The iPhone was brand new and provided in advance by the production company for the photographer to do some imaging and lighting tests prior to the shoot.

Miscellaneous: We had $250 as miscellaneous expenses. This would cover mileage and parking for the photographer and assistant, as well as any additional snacks/beverages before or after their time on set each day, and provide a bit of buffer for any unforeseen expenses that might arise.

Client Provisions: We included a Client Provisions note that all locations, product and product styling, all talent, wardrobe and wardrobe styling, hair, makeup, catering and craft services, Covid safety protocols, as well as all post-production, would be handled by the production company.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and the shoot was a success!

Have questions? Need help estimating or producing a project? Please reach out.
We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs, from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Headshots For A Law Firm

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Headshots and environmental portraits of law firm partners

Licensing: Unlimited use of up to 20 images for 5 years

Photographer: Portraiture specialist in the Southeast

Client: Law Firm

Here is the estimate:

Fees: The client initially presented a project scope resembling a corporate lifestyle production with a seemingly endless shot list and a request for a one-day shoot (for what looked like a two-day shoot at a minimum). We had a discussion with the client, letting them know what we felt was feasible in a single day, and we were able to put a tighter box around the scope by just including portraits of their four main employees/partners in and around their office. It was at this time I asked about their budget, and we were told they had $10,000 to spend. This wasn’t a surprising budget, but I knew it would be a challenge to include appropriate fees/expenses across the board while capping the bottom line.

They had initially wanted 50 images, but given the budget, we limited that to 20 images and included a $6,000 fee, which happened to break down to $300/image. It felt light given the usage, but the straightforward nature of the newly defined project scope put downward pressure on the fee. Also, given all of the factors, the photographer was pleased with this amount. In addition to the creative/licensing fee, we also included $500 for a tech/scout day, so the photographer could see the location ahead of time and talk through logistics and creative approach with the client.

Crew: I included a first assistant to attend both the tech/scout day and the shoot day. I also included a digital tech who would double as a second assistant on the shoot day.

Equipment: This covered the photographer’s own equipment, and while I would have liked to charge more for the camera/lighting/grip he’d be bringing, we kept this expense to a minimum, given the budget.

Misc: I included $100 for any unforeseen expenses.

Postproduction: I included $300 for the photographer to provide the client a gallery of content to choose from, and then $100 per image to cover retouching for each of the 20 selects.

Feedback: The client demanded that they needed usage in perpetuity rather than be limited to five years. Typically, we would have gone back to them with an increased fee to accommodate that, but they essentially let us know it would be a deal breaker to increase the budget. The photographer was begrudgingly willing to simply include the perpetual usage to seal the deal.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.


Have questions? Need help estimating or producing a project? Please reach out.

We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs, from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Best Way To Register Your Copyright

by Varun Ragupathi, Wonderful Machine

Yes, you own the actual copyright to your work when you create it, but you do not have the full protection of the law unless you register it. That one little [online form] from the copyright office will change your life.

This is how longtime director and photographer Michael Grecco sums up the process that ensures your photographs are protected. The first step is, of course, creating the imagery itself. But what’s also important is registering that work with the U.S. government’s copyright office to prevent outside parties from unjustly using your imagery. Your ability to defend yourself against an infringement depends on your timely registration of your copyright. Most photographers don’t realize that while they own the copyright to their photos the instant they’re made, it’s only by registering the copyright that they’re truly protected from infringement.

As with just about anything related to our government, the process by which you register your copyright is, to use Michael’s words, “deceptively complicated.” Across three detailed videos, Michael breaks down and simplifies the step-by-step guide to protecting your work, covering the “why” as well as the “how” regarding this vital action. Let’s take some time to highlight the key points of each video, all of which can be found below.

PART ONE: BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION

As a primer of sorts for this rather involved topic, Michael takes the time to explain the definition and importance of copyright registration. Here are some of the big takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Why the difference between having and not having your work copyrighted could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
  • Why you can earn up to $150,000 — plus legal fees — per image if you register your copyright before someone tries to steal it.
  • Why published and unpublished work needs to be registered separately and differently — and why every image registered at one time needs to come from the same year.
  • The number of images you can copyright per registration, and how much time you have between publication and registration to receive full protection for your published work.
  • How to determine if your work can be considered “published.”

PART TWO: REGISTERING YOUR UNPUBLISHED WORK ONLINE

In the second of his three videos, Michael sits down and goes through the actual process of registering your property on the U.S. Copyright Office’s website. This is where we get into the nitty-gritty of ensuring your work is protected by the law. The biggest thing to note here, other than how to navigate the online form, is that organized archiving is key. Make sure that all your files are grouped logically and labelled consistently — after all, you may very well be uploading hundreds of images at once, so it’s imperative you know where they are and why they go together.

PART THREE: REGISTERING YOUR PUBLISHED WORK ONLINE

While the process for registering your published work is quite similar to what you’d do for unpublished imagery, there are a few extra steps you need to take. Whereas unpublished work can be dated by the time it was created, published images must be labeled by when they were, well, published. If you did a shoot for a magazine in, say, July of 2019 but the issue featuring your work didn’t run until October 2019, you need to date your images with the latter month and year (the day of publication is irrelevant). Take a look at the video above to see the other differences between registering unpublished and published work; Michael’s also got some tips on how to best keep track of the images you upload to the copyright office’s website.

And that about covers one of the most important and necessary aspects of protecting your intellectual property. You busted your butt to not only create images, but also to earn a living from them, so complete this process regularly to ensure you get fully compensated for your work. Hopefully this seemingly daunting task becomes a little less scary once you hear from Michael!

For more information on the subject, check out Honore Brown’s how-to guide and chat with photographers on the subject.

Need help registering your copyright? Send Wonderful Machine an email with any questions or concerns!

Pricing & Negotiating: Celebrity Shoot For Alcohol Company

Concept: Environmental portraits of a celebrity

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images captured for two years from first use

Photographer: Portraiture specialist

Client: Large alcohol brand

Here is the estimate (click to enlarge):

 

Fees: While the portraits would be rather straightforward, the celebrity talent required a photographer who had experience working with high-profile subjects and — due to said talent’s busy schedule — the ability to capture strong content in a short amount of time. That put upward pressure on the fee, and I felt that a creative fee alone was worth $4,000.

For the licensing, even though the client requested unlimited use, they were most likely to place the content in regional advertisements — primarily on in-store displays. I felt $6,500 was appropriate for one year of usage, then added 50% to account for a second year, bringing me to $9,750. I arrived at a $13,750 fee by combining the $4,000 creative fee and the $9,750 licensing fee. On top of that, I added a $1,500 fee for the photographer to attend a tech/scout day on location.

Crew: Given the nature of the project, I included a producer and PA to help coordinate the day and help hire/manage the rest of the crew and styling team. We added a first assistant (who would also accompany the photographer on the tech/scout day), second assistant, and a digital tech as well. The digitech’s rate included a $500 fee and $1,000 for a workstation and, overall, the rates were appropriate for the given market.

Styling: We included a hair/makeup stylist and a wardrobe stylist, as requested by the client. The wardrobe stylist would just be preparing clothing provided by the talent, so no shopping/return days were needed.

Equipment: We included $1,500 for cameras/grip/lighting and a modest fee to cover production elements like tables, chairs, etc.

Health and Safety: We included two days for a COVID compliance officer (which covered the tech/scout day and the shoot day), plus a few hundred dollars for PPE.

Meals: This rate was $75 per person on the day of the shoot.

Misc.: The venue was a bit out of town, so this fee covered mileage, parking, some additional meals, and bit of overhead for any unforeseen expenses that might arise.

Postproduction: We included $500 for the photographer to perform basic color correction and provide a gallery of his favorite shots. We also added $350 for a hard drive to deliver all of the images, as the client would handle retouching.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and the client ended up expanding the usage to include an additional year for one image for a fee of $3,750.

If you have any questions — or if you need help estimating or producing a project — please reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs, from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Human Interest Video For A Restaurant

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Testimonial video of a real customer and employees

Licensing: Internal and Web Collateral use of all content captured in perpetuity

Director: Lifestyle and hospitality specialist

Client: Large restaurant chain

Here’s the estimate (click to enlarge):

Expert Advice: Photographer Scams

Varun Raghupathi, Wonderful Machine

Online scams are nothing new. These days, as schemes get more and more elaborate, it seems that anyone can fall victim, and photographers are no exception.

In recent weeks, several of our members received emails containing what looked like an interesting assignment. The sender, purportedly an editor named “Jack Moss” from anothermag.com, found the photographers on Wonderful Machine and asked them to produce a fashion shoot. But some details did not quite add up and, one after the other, the photographers started forwarding these emails to us.

We are sharing all the details here to help photographers stay alert and protect themselves against similar scams in the future. This is what the inital email sent to the photographers looked like, provided by Francis Hills:

EA Photographer Scam Jack Moss Fake Email Drop Shadow
The scam email sent to Francis Hills. The scammer sent this email to at least four WM member photographers.

Fake assignments

“I’m Jack, a beauty, fashion and lifestyle writer and editor at anothermag.com, a subsidiary of Dazed media and Dazed digital,” read the initial email. “I saw your profile on wonderfulmachine.com which led me to some of your work online and after going through your portfolio, I would like to learn more about your services.”

Jack, not exactly the world’s foremost expert on comma usage, was inviting his prospects to “concept, shoot, and produce 36 images, featuring 3 models.” The scammer also mentioned that “you will be required to work with a company recommended hair/makeup artist and a wardrobe stylist, and bring a smart, fun approach and distinct style.” Here’s part of the PDF he sent to the photographers:

EA Photographer Scam AnOther Mag Fake PDF
Part of the fake job description PDF sent by the scammer to photographers.

The scammer offered $3,500 in photographer compensation — $1,500 upfront and $2,000 after the shoot — while earmarking $9,500 for the total shoot budget (to include talent fees). The client would supply the wardrobe. Additionally, the photographer would hold the full image rights and said images would be posted as editorial content on AnOther Mag’s website for a year.

Seems legit, right? Well, as we started reading carefully, several red flags appeared:

  • The email came from a Gmail address. If it were a real assignment, it would likely come from a Dazed or AnOther Mag email address.
  • The real Jack Moss is not only a Digital Features Editor for AnOther Magazine, he holds the same role for Another Man Magazine. The email signature for the fake Jack Moss did not mention this.
  • The project description, which was attached to the email, was not on Dazed or AnOther Mag letterhead. In fact, the PDF itself is quite plain, which usually isn’t the case when a real client comes calling.
  • There were several typos and syntax errors in both the email and the project description. A fair number of scammers are not from the U.S. and therefore struggle with English. Adam Lerner, one of the targeted photographers, mentioned that things felt “off” the whole time. To cover his bases, he set up a chat with the client to discuss the assignment and received a call out of East Hampton, New York from the number 631-731-6280.
    • During the talk, Adam noted, “he had answers to all my questions despite being completely flat in his demeanor. No enthusiasm. And a very thick accent that sounded West African. I didn’t really get too bothered by that because people in fashion tend to be from everywhere, but I also wasn’t completely re-assured to the legitimacy of this shoot after the call.” So, while the accent and grammatical errors might not be enough on their own to prove things aren’t up to snuff, they can add up to a scam if combined with other red flags, like the ones discussed here. 

In the 12 years Wonderful Machine has been in business, this is the 4th or 5th time this has happened. After doing some research, we learned that fake assignments are some of the most common scams used against creatives. In this case — as with most others — our members were cautious and did not choose to accept the offer. What would happen if they took the gig?

If accounts of previous such scams can serve as an indication, the photographer would most likely receive a check from the “client.” This check would include the payment for their fee, as well as for the talent. The sender would then ask the photographer to deposit the check into their account and promptly send a payment to the talent agency (or another service needed to prepare for the shoot). If the photographer followed these directions, their bank would initially accept the original check, after which the photographer would dutifully send their check to the talent agency. So far, so good.

Except the agency would not be legitimate — it would be associated with the scammer. In the meantime, the photographer’s bank would discover the cashier check was also fake and it would bounce. By that time, the money has already been sent, and the editor is nowhere in sight. Goodbye fee! Goodbye contract! Goodbye gig! Here’s what that check would look like, via Jon Morgan:

EA Photographer Scam Jon Morgan Fake Check

As you can see, the scammer sent Jon $7,500 to cover his upfront fee ($1,500) and the talent compensation ($6,000). The final $2,000 would be given to Jon after the work was done, bringing the total to the $9,500 mentioned in the brief.

How to protect yourself

It’s only natural for freelance photographers who are trying to market their business to share information about themselves and their work with as many people as possible. This, of course, includes strangers.

The internet provides countless legitimate business opportunities, but it’s important to be aware of the risks. Here are some precautions that can help photographers protect themselves against scams:

  • When considering assignments from people with whom you have never worked before, ask a lot of questions. Where is the shoot taking place? When? Who else is working on it? If you do not receive sufficient information, it should raise a flag. And if you do? Verify that information using Google and LinkedIn.
  • Be skeptical of the example images used in mood boads. Akilah Townsend, another photographer who got an email from “Jack,” figured out it was a scam in part because “the images he used weren’t tasteful, in my opinion. They didn’t look like what AnOther Mag would produce.” While subpar imagery might not be strong enough evidence on its own, it definitely counts as a red flag. Akilah continued to follow up, noting the gmail address was weird and doing some research online to get to the bottom of things.
    • She said the final nail in the coffin was when the scammer “signed an email with a different editor’s name” — Akilah googled that name and found out that person, Ethan D’spain, was at a different magazine. “My agent asked who the other person was and [“Jack”] claimed it was his friend helping with the project,” Akilah said. “Too many fishy things.” Here’s that second email the scammer sent to Akilah and her agent, Candace. Note the misspelling of “D’spain:”
EA Photographer Scam Fake Follow Up Email
A follow up email sent to Akilah by the scammer, who mistakenly signed off with a different name than he originally used.
  • If the potential scammer is using the name of a real creative, email that person to confirm it’s not them. For example, Francis Hills reached out to the actual Jack Moss, who quickly replied by saying he did not send the initial email.
  • Read everything carefully, paying attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation.
  • If something looks weird, paste fragments into Google and see whether anyone else has received a similar message. Scammers are too busy to write unique letters to each individual they are attempting to scam. Yes, they do copy and paste — especially if English is not their first language! So, check if anybody shared anything on a blog or some online forum. Are there any company reviews coming up?
  • Call the phone numbers they provide and try to talk to people. If the phone number doesn’t seem right, call the main phone number for that company and ask for that person. If they do not answer, or insist on communicating via e-mail only, it definitely is a warning sign as well. You can also vet names and numbers by visiting Unknown Phoneor ICANN lookup.
  • If you suspect you are a target, ignore the e-mail and do not engage the individual. Instead, report the case to the Federal Trade Commission by calling their hotline 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357) or filing an online complaint on their website. You can also visit the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Fraud Complaint Center.

Last but not least, share your story – write on your blog, post on social media, talk to other photographers. There is no better way to combat scammers than to publicize what they do and make other people aware of their tricks. The reason we were able to publish this piece is because of how proactive our members were in getting this scam on our radar.

To that end, thank you to Francis Hills, Adam Lerner, Jon Morgan, and Akilah Townsend for telling us about this scam and how they figured out it wasn’t a real shoot. While it’s always a letdown to realize a potential job is actually a scam, it sure beats having your bank account information fall into the wrong hands!

To learn more about photographer scams, read:

Think you’ve been a victim of a scam? Please contact Wonderful Machine by emailing us or calling us at 610 260 0200.

Pricing & Negotiating: Farmer Portraits for Financial Services Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Environmental portraits of farmers at work

Licensing: Print and web collateral use of up to 12 images for three years

Photographer: Industrial and portraiture specialist

Agency: Medium, based in the South

Client: Financial services company

Here is the estimate:

Redacted estimate for farmer portrait photoshoot.

Creative/Licensing Fees: The agency planned to line up customers of the client who were farmers, and photograph them at two different farms over two shoot days. While we weren’t sure of exactly where the farms would be, we found out that one of them would likely be within driving distance of the photographer, while the other might require a quick flight and some travel. We were told that they needed six images from each farm, and they requested collateral use for three years. Based on a conversation with the agency, it was clear that these would likely end up being used for trade shows, social media, and possibly for their website. I started by coming up with a tiered pricing model based on one-year usage, with the first image being worth $1,500, the second image worth $750, and images three through six worth $500 each. That totaled $4,250, which I then doubled to reach a three-year price, and then doubled again to account for both sets of images/farms, landing at $17,000. That broke down to $8,500/day or just over $1,400/image, and based on the limited use, along with our understanding that they might have a tight budget for the project, we decided to shave the fee down to $13,000. The agency had also asked for a licensing option to include unlimited perpetual use, and we decided to base that additional cost on the $17,000 that we initially came up with, which would total $30,000 if they went for that option.

Travel/Scout and Pre-Production Days: We detailed a schedule in the job description that combined all of the travel, scouting and shooting into a four day window, as the photographer wanted to take advantage of dusk and morning shoot times while minimizing the length of the project. In total, we included two days to account specifically for travel and added one day to account for the pre-production work that the photographer would tackle ahead of time. This included lining up his assistant, booking transportation, and communicating with the agency about the project before the shoot.

Assistant/Digital Tech Day(s): The photographer and the agency wanted to keep a minimal footprint on location, so we combined the roles of assistant and tech into one. We included all four days of traveling and shooting for this person’s rate.

Equipment: This included the photographer’s cameras, lenses, grip, and lighting equipment, plus his laptop for the assistant/tech to use on site.

Airfare, Lodging, Car Rental: Since we didn’t know exactly where each shoot would take place, it was hard to estimate travel costs, and the agency asked that we just put in some placeholders while they figured out the logistics. I based the numbers on $500/flight, $250/night for lodging, and $350/shoot for a van rental.

Mileage, Parking, Meals, Misc.: Again, since locations were a bit unknown, it was hard to be accurate, and I included $500 per assignment/farm to account for these items. Roughly, I anticipated about $300 in meals/per diems, and $200 for other miscellaneous expenses.

First Edit for Client Review: This included the photographer’s time to do an initial edit on all of the content and prepare a web gallery for the agency to review.

Color Correction, File Cleanup and Delivery of 12 Selects by FTP: We based this on $100/image for the minimal post-production work.

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 1 610 260 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.

Pricing & Negotiating: A Corporate Lifestyle Project With an Expanding Scope

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Corporate lifestyle images of employees at work

Licensing: Collateral use of 30 images in perpetuity

Photographer: Portraiture specialist

Agency: Mid-sized, based in the Midwest

Client: Large law firm

Here is the estimate:

Corporate lifestyle photoshoot initial estimate.

Creative/Licensing Fees: The project started like many others I’ve seen. A law firm needed corporate lifestyle images of their employees at work within their offices. Based on the brief we received, we decided that two shoot days would be necessary to check off all the boxes and to make sure that all the key employees were available to participate. They hoped to license 30 final images, primarily for use on their website and for other collateral purposes. Based on my experience on other similar projects, I anticipated that a fee somewhere between 4-5k/day, or a few hundred dollars per image would be appropriate, despite the perpetual duration requested. I decided to include $4,500/day, or $300/image, to arrive at a creative/licensing fee of $9,000.

Scout/Pre-Production Days: I included $1,000 to account for the photographer’s time to look at the location prior to the shoot, and discuss the project with the agency/client.

Assistants: We wanted to keep a relatively small footprint, and we included one assistant who would play double duty as a digital tech, as well as a second assistant to lend an extra pair of hands for both shoot days.

Hair/Makeup Stylist: We anticipated the need for light hair/makeup styling, and included a stylist for both days.

Equipment: This included the photographer’s camera, grip, and lighting equipment for both days.

Mileage, Parking, Meals, Misc.: We anticipated $35 per person per day for the crew for meals, and included approximately $100/day for mileage, parking, and unforeseen expenses that might arise.

First Edit for Client Review: This included the photographer’s time to do an initial edit through everything captured, and provide a gallery of content for the client to review.

Color Correction, File Cleanup, and Delivery of 30 Selects by FTP: We based this on $50/image for the light post-production that the photographer would perform on the selected images.

Feedback: The agency was receptive to the fees/expenses and told us that there was a chance this project could potentially grow in scope, but they needed to continue the conversation with their client. About two months later, they finally got back in touch to inform us that they wanted to expand the project to include five cities. Additionally, rather than corporate lifestyle images, the creative scope shifted to focus more on environmental portraits of individual employees, and there were 353 employees collectively in each of the five different cities/offices. While it wasn’t completely dialed in, we acquired a rough breakdown of approximately how many people were in each office and developed a plan for ten shoot days. Five days would be at a location local to the photographer, and the rest of the shoot days would be at a mix of locations, a few of which required a bit of travel.

Here was the revised estimate we sent:

Second estimate for corporate lifestyle photoshoot.

We included a breakdown of subjects in each city along with an itinerary to ensure we were on the same page with the agency regarding the approach for the project. Since the scope changed to individual portraits, I thought that each image might be a bit less valuable than evergreen corporate lifestyle shots, and there was less of a chance they’d use a portrait of a lower-level employee as the face of any larger marketing campaigns. I decided to go with $100/image totaling $35,300, which also broke down to just over $3,500/day, and I felt this was reasonable given the additional fees the photographer would make for their travel days, equipment and post-production time.

For the crew, I broke out separate prices for travel days and shoot days for the first assistant/digital tech, who would be traveling with the photographer. We anticipated hiring local second assistants in each market, and while the plan was the same for the hair/makeup stylist, we included a slightly higher rate for them for a shoot in a larger market that would demand a higher fee for such a role. We kept equipment charges modest compared to the first estimate since the photographer owned his gear, and used Kayak.com to estimate travel expenses. For post-production, we brought the per image fee down from $50 to $25 for the color correction and file cleanup.

After reviewing the estimate, the agency let us know that they wanted to add back in the corporate lifestyle shots, along with some group photos of staff and detail shots of the office environments as well. However, they only wanted to do this at their headquarters where most of their staff was, and focus solely on the individual portraits at the other locations. We submitted the following revised estimate:

Third estimate for corporate lifestyle photoshoot.

In order to accomplish the new project scope, we felt that we would need two additional days at their headquarters, which was the location local to the photographer. Additionally, we needed to account for 24 additional images. While I discussed pushing the fee higher with the photographer, I also wanted to stick around the $3,500/day mark even though I felt the value of these additional 24 images was higher than the individual headshots. We also wanted to include a slight discount in return for a commitment to hiring the photographer for so many days. Ultimately, we landed on $42,500 as a creative/licensing fee, which was based on a candid conversation with our agency contact on what would be palatable to the client.

Additionally, we were asked to remove the hair/makeup styling, and were informed that they had hoped for us to stay around an 80k bottom line. We removed the styling, dropped equipment down a bit, and came down even further on the post-production on a per-image basis (while still including what we felt was appropriate overall for the time dedicated to retouching).

The project was awarded, and the shoot went off without a hitch.

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.

Pricing & Negotiating: Architectural and Still Life Images for Grocery Store

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Still life images of produce, architectural images, and group portraits of employees

Licensing: Unlimited use of up to 83 images in perpetuity

Photographer: Food and portrait specialist

Agency: Small, based in the Northeast

Client: Grocery store and produce distributor

Here is the estimate:

Image of the first estimate for grocer store client.

Creative/Licensing Fees: The project had four components consisting of 1) still life images of food items against a solid background, 2) interior architectural images, 3) exterior aerial architectural images, and 4) environmental group portraits of employees, which would be captured over two days at two facilities/markets. Overall, they were hoping to end up with 50 product shots, 20 exterior architectural images, 7 aerial exterior architectural images, and 6 group shots, and they requested unlimited use of these images in perpetuity. The client only had one major market for customers in which they’d be advertising, and despite the request for unlimited use, the images were most likely to be used for collateral purposes. As much as I’d prefer to come up with a tiered pricing model, I had a feeling that based on previous projects with similar clients, we’d be looking at a couple of hundred dollars per image if we were lucky. I initially thought that a fee somewhere between $6-8k per day would be appropriate given the limited exposure. While I first suggested a creative/licensing fee of $16,000 to the photographer, we decided to come down slightly to $14,000, which we thought would be palatable on both ends.

Tech/Scout and Pre-Production Days: We anticipated that the photographer would scout both locations prior to the shoot on a single day. Also, I included a pre-pro day to account for the photographer’s time to help line up the crew and correspond with the agency about the details/logistics.

Assistant: The photographer wanted a lean crew to be as nimble as possible, especially because we anticipated working in a tight environment. We therefore included just one assistant for both shoot days.

Food Styling: We included a stylist for two days to account for one prep day and one shoot day, as all of the food images would be captured on just one of the two days, and we included an assistant for the stylist on the single shoot day as well. The client told us that they would provide all of the food items, and even though the stylist wouldn’t have to shop for food, their prep day accounted for product intake and organization.

Drone Operator: The photographer planned to outsource the aerial exterior architectural images to a drone operator, and they would capture the content on just one of the two shoot days. We included $1,500, which we anticipated would cover the operator and their equipment.

Equipment: I included $1,000/day to cover basic camera, lighting, and grip equipment, all owned by the photographer.

Mileage, Parking, Misc: I included $250/day for miscellaneous expenses that might arise, mainly as a buffer to account for unforeseen expenses.

First Edit for Client Review: This was based on $500/day and included the photographer’s time to batch edit all of the content and create web galleries for the client to review.

Color Correction, File Cleanup, and Delivery: I typically include at least $50-$100/image for basic post-processing, but since we wanted to keep the expenses to a minimum, we went with $25/image for the light post-production work. Overall, that totaled just over $2k, and I felt this was reasonable for the photographer’s time.

Feedback: We were asked to separate the project into two different proposals while making a few updates. First, they reduced the number of still life product shots from 50 to 25. Also, rather than shooting still life images of the products on location, they were interested in capturing that content at the photographer’s studio. This was a direction that the photographer suggested and hoped they would want to go in, and she was willing to integrate a discount into her fee and charge a very modest studio/equipment fee to steer them this way. Additionally, they would be bringing all of the prepped and organized products to the studio, so a food stylist would not need a prep day. As for the architectural images, they were willing to do without the drone content, and overall they were hoping we could find ways to come down collectively. We accomplished that by dropping the photographer’s fee a bit in consideration of the reduced shot count and by making a few tweaks to the expenses. Here were the estimates:

Second estimate for grocery store client.

Third estimate for grocery store client.

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 1 610 260 0200 or reach out. We’re available to help with any pricing & negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Product Interaction Shots for Beverage Brand

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Professional talent interacting with various beverages in a residential property

Licensing: Collateral use of up to five images for one year

Photographer: Food/beverage and portraiture specialist

Agency: Mid-sized, PR-oriented, based in the Northeast

Client: Beverage brand

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing Fees: We learned early on that the goal of this project was primarily to create content for social media, and there was also the possibility of the images living on the client’s website and being used for other collateral purposes. They only needed five shots and were willing to limit the usage duration to one year. These restrictions put downward pressure on the fee, as did the photographer’s limited experience working on commercial productions. I felt that each image was worth $500-$750, and on top of that I wanted to add $2-3k for the photographer’s creative fee. I ultimately decided that $5,000 was appropriate for a combined creative/licensing fee given the factors.

Photographer Scout Day: I included one day for the photographer to go see the location and do a walkthrough with the team. Typically I’d include a fee closer to $1,000, but I had a feeling the budget would be tight on this project, and the photographer was willing to go with a $500 fee for this.

Assistants: The first assistant would double as the photographer’s digital tech, and we included a second assistant as well for the one shoot day.

Producer: I included five days for a producer to help pull the project together and handle all bookings and logistical elements.

Hair/Makeup Stylist: I included one stylist to help prep the five talent we anticipated booking.

Wardrobe/Prop Styling: While I often break out these roles, I felt that given the minimal number of talent, a stylist could help arrange both of these elements, depending on the creative direction. I included appropriate shopping and return time for one stylist along with an assistant. I also included $500 per talent for wardrobe, and based on a conversation with the art producer at the agency I marked props as TBD which would be dependent on the final creative direction and location provisions.

Location Scouting and Location Fees: I included three days for a scout to help find a location and to be the liaison to the homeowner on the shoot, and I marked the location fee at $3,500. Additionally, I included $500 to cover floor protection and cleaning supplies.

Casting and Talent: As a cost-saving measure, we’d cast from cards rather than hold a live casting. Oftentimes I’d charge $500-$1,000 to handle this process, but we waived it and integrated the work into the producer’s time. I included $1,800 per talent based on a rate of $1,500+20% agency fee.

Equipment: This covered the photographer’s camera bodies, lenses, lighting, and grip equipment.

Catering: This was based on $65 per person for a light breakfast and lunch.

Production RV: I marked this as TBD, as it’s nice to have for a production like this, but the location could also serve as a staging area. We planned to discuss the potential need or lack thereof after we had a sense of what the location options were.

Post Production: I included $300 for the photographer to do an initial edit and provide a gallery of content for the agency/client to consider, and $100 per image for basic color correction, file cleanup, and delivery.

Mileage, Parking, Additional Meals, Misc.: I included $500 to cover transportation and miscellaneous unforeseen expenses that might arise during the production.

Feedback: After submitting the estimate, we were told that they had a $25k budget, and we were asked to revise based on this. Fortunately, the agency was willing to handle location scouting as well as retouching, and we compiled a revised estimate based on this. In addition to addressing those items, we also marked the scout day for the photographer as TBD and reduced a day for the producer. While we couldn’t quite get down to $25k, we felt that dropping it to under $30k would still be in the ballpark. Here was the revised estimate:

Results: The photographer was awarded the project. During the pre-pro process, the agency requested two additional talent to match an updated shot list, which impacted talent fees, wardrobe costs, catering, and a few other misc. expenses. Additionally, after the agency chose a location and had a conversation with the prop stylist, they approved additional shopping days and prop costs. In total, they approved nearly $10k of overages.

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 pricing and negotiating needs, from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Portraits for a Fashion Accessory Brand

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: 6 subjects photographed against a solid background wearing fashion accessories                                                                                          

Licensing: Unlimited use of 12 images for 6 months

Photographer: Portraiture specialist on the East Coast

Client: A fashion accessory brand                                                                       

Here is the estimate:

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

Creative/Licensing Fees: The client asked the photographer to bid on a project for the brand’s new campaign, despite having little to no creative brief. The client saw a picture they liked in the photographer’s portfolio, and wanted to accomplish a similar aesthetic while integrating their product. We knew that they envisioned photographing 3 men and 3 women, all in a similar setup against a solid background, and they hoped to walk away with 2 images for each subject, totaling 12 final shots.

Initially, the usage was described to us as primarily being focused on social media, placement on their website, limited print advertisements and a mix of other guerilla style postings out-of-home, all for 6 months. When I discussed the usage with the client, it became clear that they wanted unlimited use during this time frame, despite the limited intended use they described. On one hand, the usage did seem quite limited, especially in duration, but on the other hand, the prominent brand would likely take out ads in high profile publications, and would likely pay a lot for their ad buy. Additionally, downward pressure was put on the fee due to the photographer’s limited experience working with such a brand, his eagerness to collaborate, the simple nature of the project, and the likelihood that only one or two images might see the light of day in advertisements, as most of the images would likely just end up on their website and on social media for a short duration.

After weighing all the factors, and based on the client’s intended use, I initially priced each of the first 6 images at $1,500 each, and then each of the additional 6 images (the second portrait for each subject) at $750 each, which brought me to $13,500.  My gut instinct based on other similar projects was that a fee between $10k-$15k would be appropriate for the day, and based on this experience and the eagerness of the photographer to get the job, we ended up going with $12,000, which broke down to $1,000/image if you look at it that way.

Travel and Pre-Production Day(s): The shoot would take place across the country, and the photographer would need a full travel day to fly there, and a full travel day to fly back. I also included one pre-production day for the photographer to book travel, wrangle crew and go through the paces with the client prior to the shoot. Typically I’d include a producer to help with these tasks and to handle the coordination of the entire project, but the client planned to coordinate many of the elements for this project, and the photographers was comfortable with just 1 day of prep to handle his tasks.

Assistant and Digital Tech Day(s): The photographer would be bringing an assistant with him, and hiring another one locally. I’d typically anticipate that the traveling assistant would be the “first assistant” and the local would most likely be the “second assistant”, but we flipped that in this case, as the photographer’s traveling assistant gave him a favorable rate for the three days out of town. We included one day for the digital tech, anticipating $500 for their day, plus another $500 for a basic workstation.

Hair/Makeup Stylist and Assistant Day(s): The client said that they had a few people in mind for hair/makeup styling who they planned to hire directly, but asked us to provide a sense of cost if they wanted the photographer to handle this. So, we therefore detailed TBD prices that didn’t impact the bottom line.

Studio Rental: This was based on feedback from a few local studios that we contacted to discuss rates and availabilities.

Equipment: While the photographer would be traveling with a bit of gear, he’d still need to rent a decent amount upon arrival, and this rate was primarily based on quotes received from the studios to provide such equipment.

Airfare, Lodging, Car Rental: I used Kayak.com to price appropriate travel expenses for the photographer and his assistant.

Parking, Per Diems, Misc.: This included $60/day/person as a per diem for the photographer and his assistant while traveling, plus $50/day in miscellaneous and unforeseen expenses.

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 client with a gallery of images to consider

Retouching: This was based on a post processing rate of $150/hour, assuming two hours per image for each of the 12 images.

Insurance: We included this expense to help the photographer increase and maintain an appropriate policy.

Results: The client asked for two revisions. First, they decided to put hair/makeup responsibilities on the photographer, and asked that we send a revised estimate including those expenses, which was not a problem at all. Second, they asked if they could get 1 year usage for the 6 month price we quoted. I typically don’t recommend giving up something for nothing in return, but based on my previous experience with similar projects/budgets, and given how eager the photographer was to get the project, we decided to accept their offer. We submitted a revised estimate, and the photographer was awarded the project.

A few days later we were told that the client might want to add an additional day to the production, to capture a few additional shots with different talent, and with a slightly different background/setup. Specifically, they hoped to capture 3 subjects, with this additional day yielding 10 more images. Initially we were told that they only had $13,000 for this additional day, including all associated fees/expenses.

After calculating some rough numbers, I knew we weren’t going to be able to hit that, so I gave them a ring to negotiate. I learned that they could limit the usage to Web Collateral use and placement in up to 10 window displays of 3rd party retailers. This was a big jump down from the Unlimited use we were previously granting them. With this in mind, we submitted the following estimate:

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

We landed on $6,000 for this additional day/usage which was appropriate considering all of the factors. We also detailed the associated expenses with the additional day. We removed the first assistant (while essentially marking it as TBD) since the photographer didn’t feel they’d be needed on the second day consider the lighting setup would be similar to the first day, and his second assistant and tech could lend a hand as a cost savings measure. We increased equipment a bit for this additional day to account for a specific background the client wanted to procure, and included appropriate travel expenses in addition to more post processing time.

The overage for the additional day was approved, and the photographer quickly launched into pre-production to line everything up.

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.

Pricing & Negotiating: Architectural Images for International Hotel Chain

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Interior and exterior architectural images of seven hotel properties

Licensing: Web Collateral and Web Advertising use of up to 56 images in perpetuity

Photographer: Architectural specialist

Agency: Medium in size, based in the Northeast

Client: A hotel brand part of a larger international hospitality conglomerate

Here is the estimate:

Estimate for Architectural Images for International Hotel Chain

Creative/Licensing Fees: When the project first landed on my desk, it was similar to a lot of hospitality projects in that the brand wanted a mix of images showcasing everything their hotels have to offer. The creative brief initially encompassed architectural images, lifestyle shots, food, amenities, and more. In my experience, many agencies that propose similar shoots are typically biting off more than they can chew, and their budgets typically don’t align with reality. After learning more about the project and discussing what it would take to accomplish a production of that scale in multiple locations, I was ultimately happy to hear that they decided to focus the efforts of this particular project on just acquiring architectural images, and putting the lifestyle shots on hold. That being said, they had seven different properties, three of which were in foreign countries, and they had a very specific style of black and white photography that they hoped to achieve.

In discussing what was feasible in one shoot day, we landed on eight shots per hotel as a reasonable deliverable. They were willing to limit the usage to web advertising and web collateral use (mostly their website and social media), although they did request perpetual use. On one hand, I wanted to start around a few thousand dollars per image, however I also knew that the photographer would be up against other architectural photographers (both domestic and abroad), and we wanted to make it appealing for them to hire one photographer, rather than several. Additionally, it was likely that they’d use just one or two of the images in a more robust way on their website, and many of the shots would ultimately just fall to social media. While the parent company of the hotel chain was one of the largest in the industry, this particular hotel chain was a smaller brand in their portfolio, and I had a sense they might not have what we wanted in terms of a creative/licensing fee within their budget. Based on the photographer’s experience working with this agency for some of their other clients, and on my experience on similar projects with other brands, we landed on $24,500, which ultimately broke down to $3,500/hotel.

Travel/Scout Days: The first four shoots would be at hotels within the US, and we anticipated one travel/scout day prior to each shoot. We then anticipated a full travel day and a full scout day prior to each of the international locations (which helped to account for limited flights, travel delays and more extensive travel time), followed by one travel day back home.

Pre-Production Day(s): In addition to lining up all of the travel plans, the photographer would also need to communicate with each of the hotel chains and essentially plan seven different small productions, and this covered all of the time involved to handle that workload.

Assistant Days(s): The photographer would bring their assistant with them, rather than hiring locally, and this included 7 shoot days and 11 travel/scout days. While it would have been cheaper to hire local assistants and not include the expense for their travel, sourcing crew (especially internationally) would unnecessarily add to the photographer’s workload. Additionally, working and traveling with a single assistant who understood the project just as well as the photographer would help to streamline communications and execution.

Airfare: This covered one-way flights to/from each location, and I used Kayak.com to help research pricing. When estimating projects like this, I typically add 15% to the cost of a ticket to account for price fluctuation, and also add around $100 in baggage fees per person to account for equipment and oversized/overweight items.

Lodging and Meals: The agency specifically asked us to mark this as TBD and not include this in the bottom line of our estimate. We were comfortable doing so for the lodging since we assumed the hotels could provide accommodations, and while we anticipated that meals could be covered within the hotel property, we still included additional funds for supplemental meals while in transit in the per diem line items below.

Equipment: The photographer owned all the gear they would need to bring, and we based the charge on $1,000/day, factoring in a discount of 3 days equaling a weekly rental, times two weeks.

Car Rental and Local Transportation: I included $350 for each of the domestic trips and $450 for each of the international trips to account for car rentals, taxis, and other modes of transportation needed for each shoot.

Per Diems, Parking, Carnets, Misc.: I included $50/day/person as a per diem, and anticipated at least another $1,000 would need to be spent on other miscellaneous expenses that would arise during the productions and while traveling.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: I included $250 per shoot for the photographer to do an initial pass on the images, and provide the agency with a gallery of images to consider.

Post Processing Day(s): I initially anticipated that we’d charge at least $100 per image, but it felt a little light, and I knew that it would take the photographer the better part of a week to handle the post for this shoot, so I included 6 post processing days, rather than basing it on a per image rate.

Results: We were asked to provide the client with the cost difference between this estimate and one where each of the domestic shoots would be independent trips, followed by a trip to capture the international locations consecutively. We determined it would add roughly $6,000 worth of travel expenses and additional travel days for the photographer and their assistant. The client opted to go with our initial proposal, and the photographer was awarded the project. As for lodging and meals, the client did end up providing accommodations and meals on-site.

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.

Pricing & Negotiating: Testimonial Video for Camera Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Video interview of a photographer and a retoucher

Licensing: Web Collateral use in perpetuity

Photographer: Portrait and fashion specialist

Client: Photographic equipment and software company

Here is the estimate:

image of the photographic estimate for a video interview of a photographer and retoucher

Director/Talent Fee: In addition to a successful career in commercial photography, the photographer was well known in the education community, and was a brand ambassador for a handful of equipment manufacturers. One of the companies he frequently collaborated with was designing a website for a new product and wanted to feature a video of the photographer and his retoucher talking about the product on the landing page. The photographer would direct the video, and would also be the on-camera talent along with his retoucher. The fee needed to take into account the photographer’s directorial input, along with a fee for them to use his likeness, as well as a usage fee. I started at $3,000 for a director fee and added $2,000 to account for both the licensing and the usage of his likeness. I had wanted to add a bit more to the licensing/talent fee, however, based on other similar projects the photographer had worked on, and his relationship with this brand, I felt that $5,000 would likely be the maximum fee palatable for this client.

Retoucher Talent Fee, Travel Days and Travel Expenses: In addition to a talent fee of $1,000 (which the photographer knew would be acceptable to his retoucher, and not far off from what we’d expect to pay as a “real people” talent rate), we included two travel days since the retoucher was based in a different city and would need to travel in for the project. Airfare, lodging, and car rental expenses were based on research, and I included $75/day for meals while traveling.

Studio Rental: The photographer owned his own studio, and we charged a modest rate for its use.

DP/Videographer: While the photographer was certainly capable of shooting this kind of project, he’d be the on-camera talent, and couldn’t do both at the same time. We included this fee to bring on another person to film the testimonial. This person, along with the help of his assistant would also help capture audio.

Grip/Assistant: We included an assistant to lend a hand on set with equipment, audio, and other miscellaneous tasks.

Equipment: The photographer owned all the gear needed for the project, and we charged appropriately for its use.

Meals, Production Supplies, Misc.: I include $50/person for meals, plus $100 for misc. unforeseen expenses that might arise.

Video Editing: We knew that the client wanted two separate videos, each twenty seconds in length. Other than length, the exact parameters were vague at the time of estimating so we erred on the side of caution and included $2,000 to cover 2 days of the photographer’s and retoucher’s time to collaborate on the edit together.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

Hindsight: Given how quickly the project was awarded, I do wonder if we could have aimed a bit higher on either the fees or overall bottom line.

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.