Pricing & Negotiating: DITLO Contract

by Bill Cramer, Wonderful Machine

Ditlo is an innovative stock photography company that collaborates with photographers and up-and-coming celebrities to create content that they then license to commercial and editorial clients. It may be too soon to say whether this is a viable business model, but I admire them for trying it. Ditlo (which stands for Day In The Life Of) is the brain child of Bruce Kramer of Kramer Creative Group, which owns Artmix CreativeArtmix BeautyGlue, as well as Ditlo.

The way it works is that Ditlo finds interesting people who are trending in the news (whether they’re athletes, actors, musicians or chefs) who are willing to do a photo shoot specifically for stock. Ditlo matches up the celebrity with a photographer. Ditlo fronts a portion of the production costs and they provide art direction for the shoot. When the pictures sell, Ditlo pays a royalty to the subject (that’s the innovative part), they pay any other out-of-pocket costs, then they split the remainder 50/50 with the photographer.

My first impression was that it was a little weird that we’re now paying B-List celebrities to give them publicity. After all, the pictures will either be used editorially or commercially. If they get used commercially, the subject is going to get paid for use of their likeness anyway. And if they’re used editorially, isn’t that that something they normally pay a publicist to get for them? I guess it’s possible that when I wasn’t looking, the balance of power in our celebrity-crazed culture has changed the rules on me. Alrighty then, maybe this is just the new normal.

But if you’re going to go down this road (or any other), you’ll want to understand the agreements you’ll be signing. I’m sure that Mr. Kramer is an honorable man, but he’s a businessman none the less. Here’s the Ditlo contract (in italics) and my comments:

This agreement (“Agreement”) is entered into as of this ____ day of _______, 2012 by and between The Ditlo, LLC, having an address c/o 2332 South Centinela, Suite C, Los Angeles, California 90064 (hereinafter “Company”) and _______________, having an address of ___________________ (hereinafter “Contractor”) in connection with Contractor’s provision of services and grant of rights as set forth herein.

1. Services: Contractor shall perform services as a photographer in connection with the photography shoots produced, arranged or in which Contractor is engaged by Company during the Term which are set forth on Schedule A, and as updated from time to time by Company (each a “Shoot”). Contractor shall additionally be responsible for editing, re-touching (upon request by Company) and delivering to Company the photographic images from the Shoots (each an “Image”) within four (4) days after each Shoot. Contractor’s services shall be performed with diligence consistent with industry standards. Additionally, after Company has posted Image(s) from, or information related to the Shoot on Contractor shall use commercially reasonable efforts to promote Company and the Project in all of Contractor’s social media networks including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

2. Term: This Agreement shall be in full force and effect from the date set forth above until terminated by either party upon thirty (30) days written notice to the address first set forth above. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the terms and conditions of Sections 3, 4, and 5 shall survive the expiration or termination of this Agreement.

3. Contractor Compensation: Provided that Contractor is not in breach of this Agreement and has fully performed Contractor’s services, as full and complete compensation thereof and grant of rights contained herein, Company shall additionally pay Contractor a royalty equal to fifty percent (50%) of the Net Revenue received from the sale, use, licensing or syndication of the Images by Company including sales of the Images to the talent in such Images. Company shall provide a statement and pay any amounts due at the address listed above on or about thirty (30) days after the conclusion of each calendar quarter in which sums are received by Company. For the purposes of this section, Net Revenue shall mean the gross amounts actually received by Company from third parties from the sale, license, or exploitation of the Images after deduction of (i) any amounts paid to talent in such Images; (ii) refunds, returns or allowances; (iii) any VAT, duty, levy or other fee or tax withheld, deducted or paid to Company; (iv) shipping charges, insurance charges, services fees or any other out of pocket costs associated with the delivery or access to any Images including but not limited to printing and framing costs; and (v) commissions or other payments made to third parties in connection with the production, sale and exploitation of such Images including but not limited to amounts paid to agents, third party sites, or the subject of such Image. Except as expressly set forth herein, Contractor shall not be entitled to any additional sums in connection with the Shoot, the Project or the Images.

It concerns me that if Ditlo decides that the photographer is in breach of the agreement, they don’t have to pay the commission. Does that mean that if the photographer promotes the project on their Facebook page, but not on Twitter, they might not get paid? The commission should not be contingent on anything. Certainly, if the photographer takes the advance and doesn’t produce useable pictures, they should have to pay the advance back. But if Ditlo makes a profit, the photographer should share in that profit. I would be inclined to cross out the words “Provided that Contractor is not in breach of this Agreement and has fully performed Contractor’s services,”

The contract is vague about what the statement will say. I would insert the clause, “the company shall provide a statement detailing the gross fee and each individual expense item deducted from it.” This should be no extra trouble for Ditlo since they have to keep track of all of those costs anyway in order to arrive at the net fee.

It doesn’t specifically say that the photographer will get an advance and whether the advance will count against the commission.

4. Grant of Rights: For the compensation to be provided herein and other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, Contractor hereby grants Company the worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, exclusive, sub-licensable and unencumbered right in any and all media now known or hereafter developed to print, sell, license, transmit, and syndicate the Images to third parties including the l right to display, publish or include the Images in advertisements or promotions of the Company, on the Company’s website(s), social media pages, inclusion in future book(s) and gallery show(s). Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is acknowledged and agreed, that any sale or license of an Image to the subject of the Image shall require Contractor’s agreement on the 2 terms of such sale or license. Further, Contractor acknowledges and agrees that the talent featured in such Images shall have the right to use, display and publish the Images in which they are featured solely for their own promotional purposes on their personal websites and social media sites only, but not in any way for commercial or advertising unless Contractor and Company agree in writing.

Exclusive license forever concerns me. I think that it would be reasonable for the license to be exclusive while Ditlo is actively promoting the photos. But after a while, if the photos drop off of Ditlo’s website, the photographer should be able to market them on their own without paying a commission to Ditlo.

5. Miscellaneous: Contractor acknowledges that Contractor is an independent contractor and not an employee of Company and that as an independent contractor, Contractor has no authority to, and shall not in any way attempt to, obligate, or create any liability on behalf of Company. Contractor acknowledges that Company is not your employer, Company will not provide worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, state disability or employment benefits to Contractor. Contractor further acknowledges that Contractor is responsible to pay social security, income or other taxes and agree to indemnify Company and hold Company harmless therefrom, and from any claims or liability for worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation or state disability coverage related to Contractor. Company, its successors, assignees, and licensees, shall have the right, but not the obligation, to use the Works and the results of the services provided under this Agreement, your name, and biography, for any and all purposes and uses in connection with the exploitation of the Images or the Works, in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the world, in perpetuity. In the event of any question of Company’s performance of its obligations hereunder or other claims related hereunder, Contractor agrees that Contractor will not seek injunctive relief against us and/or our affiliated companies or any of their agents, licensees, distributors, assigns or partners, and that your relief, if any, will be limited to a claim for monetary damages and you do not have the right to terminate or rescind this Agreement. All remedies, rights and undertakings, obligations and agreements contained in this Agreement shall be cumulative and none of them shall be in limitation of any other remedy, right undertaking, obligation or agreement of either party, except as expressly provided herein. This Agreement is governed by the internal laws of California and each party hereto irrevocably and unconditionally consents to the sole and exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the courts located in Los Angeles County, California for any action to enforce, interpret or construe any provision of this Agreement, or other claim or controversy related to this agreement or otherwise between the parties. The parties additionally hereby irrevocably waive and defenses of improper venue or forum non conveniens for any actions brought in those courts. The execution of this Agreement has not been induced by any representations, statements, warranties, or agreements other than those expressed herein. This Agreement embodies the entire understanding of the parties, and there are no further agreements or understanding, written or oral, in effect between the parties relating to the subject matter hereof. If any portion of this Agreement is held to be invalid, illegal or unenforceable by a court of competent jurisdiction, such finding shall not affect the remainder of this Agreement, and such affected provision shall be enforced to the furthest extent permitted by law. Except for updates to Schedule A by Company, this Agreement cannot be modified, except in a writing signed by both parties. This Agreement can be executed in any number of counterparts and by facsimile or pdf, which when taken together shall be construed as one original document.

The contract specifies that the photographer will indemnify Ditlo. This is reasonable. If the photographer does something wrong, and Ditlo gets sued, the photographer should (have insurance to) cover those costs. However, by the same token, if Ditlo does something wrong that gets the photographer sued, they should indemnify the photographer.

It doesn’t specifically say that you can use the pictures in your portfolio, website and for other self-promotion (including gallery shows), which it should.

Here’s the contract:

Click to enlarge.


Pricing & Negotiating: Low-Budget Annual Report Shoot

By Bill Cramer, Wonderful Machine

The following is actual email correspondence between a U.K.-based graphic designer (whom I’ll call Dennis) and an experienced Florida-based photographer (whom I’ll call Phil), concerning an annual report shoot in Orlando for a Connecticut-based medium-sized corporation. My comments are in italics.

Hi there Phil,

I found you on Google. I wonder if you could confirm your availability and day rate for a photo shoot on the following days. The <hotel in Orlando> on January 24 & 25. <Client> based in CT are holding a conference at this time and I have been asked to find a local photographer and liked the work you have online.

We will only need 1 day of photography in total – over the 2 days or on 1 of the days – TBA. I work for <graphic design firm> and we are their design consultancy, I am based in the UK. I look forward to hearing from you just as soon as.

Kind regards, Dennis

That’s not much to go on. The following questions come to mind. Can I see a shot list (or at least a description of the pictures)? Who are the subjects (what level are they in the company)? How will the photos be used? How many final pictures do you expect to use?

This initial inquiry doesn’t give me high hopes for the budget. The fact that he’s looking for a local photographer means that travel expenses (however modest) would break the bank. The fact that he’s looking for a photographer who’s willing to quote a “day rate” without knowing the details of the shoot doesn’t bode well either. That he’s looking for a photographer who can do “one day’s work” over a period of two shoot days tells me that he’s looking for a low price. Either the designer has never worked with a professional photographer before or he only works with low-end photographers or he may be testing the photographer to see what kind of questions he’ll ask.

There’s also a bit of a disconnect in that we’ve got a Connecticut client hosting a conference in Florida; they’re discerning enough to hire a designer in the United Kingdom, but they’re apparently looking for a cheap photographer to create the actual content. It doesn’t quite add up.

Hi there Dennis,

just need to know are you looking to document the event, or do you need portraits of people as well? If yes to the portraits, would they be simple grip and grins or real portraits…


It’s a start that Phil wants to know more about what he has to do, but he also needs to know more about how the pictures are going to be used. This is a classic mistake that photographers make. They see their value as a function of their time and effort and they ignore the value that they’re providing for the client, which is a much bigger driver of the price.


I am looking for what we call fly on the wall documentary shots of the event – nothing posed or to camera, rather just natural interactions and scenarios as they emerge. Does that answer your question Phil?


Yes, it does, Dennis.

My typical day rate for corporate events like you describe is $2,000 for a single day, $3600 for two days plus an overnight stay usually at the event hotel.

Regards, Phil

Is that 2000.00/day plus expenses or including expenses? How many pictures does the client get, for what purpose and for how long? What about assistants, file processing, mileage, parking, meals, sales tax? Will you be delivering raw files or processed files? If they’re processed, can the client order any number of processed files or is there a limit? Will you convey the licensing to the design firm or the client? Who will pay the bill – the design firm or the client? If a UK design firm pays the bill, who pays for the wire transfer fee? How long do they have to pay? What’s your turnaround time on the pictures? What’s your cancellation policy?


And you are available yes? Are your fees negotiable – you are a bit more per day than I was envisaging!

Let me know, Dennis

Yikes! Dennis doesn’t seem to mind that he doesn’t have answers to any of the above questions and all he wants to know is if it could be even cheaper.


I have to check with a client to be sure. We are working on a campaign next week and need to talk to them.

Regarding the fees, I am blessed with a very robust business so I really hold the line on the fees. However, what was your budget and i will let you know for sure.


It sounds like Phil is saying, “My fees are firm, unless your budget is less.”

Hi there Phil – thanks for your help with this. I now have a bit more information re the shoot from <client>.

<email apparently from client to design firm:> “We would like business headshots for our Directors and Managers (total of 25 – 30 people).  We would also like to have a few “meeting in progress” type candid shots taken – these should be all about business (nothing Disneyesque!). The photos will be used for the purpose of our Annual Report, website, meeting books, etc. We would therefore need to get outright usage on the shots from the photog from the get-go so that they can be used randomly thereafter without renegotiation with them.”

We are trying to arrange a separate room by the meeting area where we can have the photographer set up for the head shots. The shoot day would be 24 Jan only and I have £1700 so we are not so far apart on price so hopefully not a barrier to trade! Good to hear that you are busy.

Kind regards

, Dennis

Now that Phil has committed to a price, it’s safe for Dennis to tell him more about the shoot. It turns out that it’s not just fly-on-the wall, but 30 head shots too. It’s a director-level meeting and the pictures are for the annual report (plus other uses). That’s all significant because the stakes are higher for the design firm and the communications people at the corporation. That makes the pictures more valuable than a routine sales meeting which Phil is more accustomed to. These pictures aren’t just to document the event, they’re for the most important publication that corporation will produce that year. We now see that Dennis has a budget of 1700 British Pounds, which is about 2700 dollars. That’s more than the 2000.00 Phil was asking for.

Ahhh, that’s what I suspected, Dennis.

These meetings usually have portraits involved because it’s a rare occasion to get everyone together….25-30 portraits plus the meeting shots is a good amount of work, I usually tack on a little more with the portraits. So then what’s then the US dollar value of the fee?

I would need a dedicated space 20×30′ foot is a good size to set up a location studio. I need to know what kind of background they want. Do we need to match up an existing look? No problem with the unlimited usage.


Again, Phil is focused on the fact that the head shots are a bit more work rather than the fact that it’s an important project for the client. If Phil is as busy as he says he is, why is he ignoring usage when he has the leverage to charge for it? And why is he offering such a deep discount for a second shoot day? Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all approach to his pricing (and his production values), he would do better to recognize that different projects may require different levels of service and different pricing. Phil is accustomed to working without an assistant (he just finds someone to sit in for a test shot) and he just does basic tweaks to the files, converts them all to jpgs and sends them off to the designer. That may be what everyone does for event photography. But when I hear annual report, I think of a higher level of production. I would be inclined to bring an assistant to help carry the lights, set up, break down, sit in for test shots, run errands in an emergency. For the small additional cost, it’s a valuable insurance policy to make sure things go well when you’re photographing the CEO and the board of directors. I’d also be inclined to process the files individually once the client has chosen their favorites, rather than batch process a thousand pictures most-of-the-way.

Sorry Phil, I meant dollars!

Can you still do it for $2000 Phil?
 We do want to match an existing look – I will send you a reference for that and talk you through it too for clarity. Good news re usage. And I am assuming you can now confirm you are available all day on the 24th?


Hard to say whether Dennis’s budget really was in dollars or pounds. But it doesn’t really matter. No experienced photographer should let a client arbitrarily dictate their fee (especially a busy photographer).

The fact that the designer wants to “match an existing look” makes the assignment more valuable than if the photographer was being asked to do the shoot in their own style. First, it’s more difficult to satisfy a client when you’re being asked to match some other photographer’s picture and you don’t know exactly how they did it and you might not even like the way they handled it. Second, the pictures aren’t going to be as useful in the photographer’s portfolio since they’re in someone else’s style.


Yes, the 24th is fine, give me times when you can, and yes I will do it for $2000.00 if I don’t need to rent/buy a special background to match what you have. Send reference to me when you can.


I think Phil is selling himself a little short here. Backgrounds cost money (and time to get them and a place to store them). Even if he already has one that he could bring, if it’s providing additional value to the client, he should charge for it. Same with studio strobes. Strobes cost money to purchase, insure, repair. Why not charge for them?

Good morning Phil – me again!

<Client> is now confirmed BUT they have asked if you could shoot on Wed 23 and Thurs 24 January at the same venue. I hope you can! Can you let me know when you get a moment please?

Thank you, Dennis

Good morning Dennis…no worries, I have to move something, I can work on that this morning, but just confirm…back to the original, 2 days = $3600 including all the portraits. Can they get me a room at the venue for the overnight? I am 90 minutes away. I would love to see a schedule so I know the hours, and if they provided you with a shot list.

Thank you. Phil

Hi there Phil.

$3600 for 2 days is good. Yes to room at venue – I have asked for this already. Now that we have agreed dates and cost together I am going to put you in direct contact with <client> re schedule, shoot room, accommodation and shot list – I think that will be easier for you.

Two important bits to get right:

1) I will need you to bill me direct and I will then re-invoice the client as part of their complete Annual Report project – please can I ask you to have all cost conversations with me and not <client> as I will take a modest margin for organising this on their behalf.

2) Jane my colleague here at <design firm> will make contact with you re photo style that she is looking for from a design perspective. <Client> will provide all other direction for your venue etc.

All good – looking forward to working with you on this. I approached 3 photographers in the FL area after looking at work online – you were by far the most responsive and easy to work with so I am really pleased you can do the new date.

Kind regards, Dennis

It’s not unusual for a designer to have the photographer bill him rather than the client. But the fact that he’s concerned about what the photographer might say indicates to me that he’s not telling the client what the photographer is charging him (which would be the case if he were actually charging a mark-up). In fact, I suspect he’s not really doing a modest mark-up, but rather I think the designer is charging a reasonable amount to the client, paying as little as possible to the photographer and pocketing the difference. All perfectly legitimate, but just evidence of how often photographers sell themselves short, oblivious to the fact that everyone else around them is making money.

Morning Phil,

Please find the notes from <design firm>  that describe how we envisage the different shot types to look.

If you have any queries on this, please do not hesitate to get in touch by return.

Kind regards, Dennis



This additional direction tells me that the designer has thought a lot about the project and they’re looking for a very specific result. Call me cynical, but I can’t help thinking that Dennis intentionally pulled a bait-and-switch on our hapless photographer. I think that Dennis intentionally underplayed the significance of the project and once he locked in the price, he revealed the true details and expectations of the job. But Phil’s very casual estimate has enabled this to happen. Even if Dennis is merely disorganized and not malevolent, the mission creep has left Phil shooting an annual report at event coverage prices. If Phil had spelled out what he was actually delivering for his 2000.00 fee in the first place, he would be able to rework the estimate as the project “evolved.”

Good morning Dennis, thank you for the additional information….

Reviewing this document shows me that the client wants a little more then what was original described. So the photos of the executives are not typical business head-shots, which usually take 5-10 minutes each. What the team is asking for is definitely more creative, staged and time consuming.

The photography assignment was originally described as “fly on the wall” documentary type photography, nothing posed, just natural. The document describes otherwise, setting up scenarios to create group interactions. All the above is fine, and I am perfectly comfortable doing this, but not what I originally envisioned. The creativity level is definitely higher, which I am all for by the way.

It’s really important for me to have a clear understanding of the work at the bidding process so I can price accordingly.  I don’t think you nor I had this on Wednesday. Now that we both have the shot list from the creative team, I think we need to re-address the creative fee which at this point should be at least $4,500.00. Since we are 5 working days out, I really really don’t like to upset the citrus cart, but the job is up a few notches.

Please see what you can do regarding the creative fee with your client now that we know what is required and then I can make a few more simple requests to be sure we all have what we need and move forward.

Thank you, Phil

This is an awkward way to negotiate. It’s bad form to ask a client if you can charge them more. The answer will generally be “no.” The photographer should simply say, “Thank you for letting me know about the changes. I’ll send over a revised estimate right away.”


I think we are nearly there. I understood that I was buying your time over two days based on what I can see from your online creds. I think you are signalling that you are up to the task which is great – what I don’t understand is why that should now suddenly cost me more. That is certainly not how I buy photography in the UK.

A few clarifications on your feedback:

We don’t want you to set anything up – in fact our preferred way forward is for fly on the wall type shots that are candid and unposed. I am confident that the event itself will provide those scenarios as a matter of course.

The b&w example headshots shared were taken in 30 minutes – there were 10 execs. I would ask you to work with the time you will get allocated for this task and do your best possible work mindful of what we are looking for – if you can only deliver ‘typical business head-shots’ in the time allocated then we will have to go with those.

Having now seen Jane’s shot list you have a busy day on the Thursday and then a shorter day on the Friday which doesn’t look too onerous. As a gesture I am pleased to provide you with $3800 as the total fee but I will not go higher – hopefully you feel you can agree to work on this basis so we can move on. I am not available for the rest of the day as traveling so will not be able to respond to you until Monday am UK time.

Kind regards, Dennis

Dennis is now contradicting himself. The photo direction clearly states that, “…the subjects should be directed…” Now he’s saying that he wants to go back to fly-on-the-wall. Which is it? From the beginning, Phil positioned himself as a hired-hand, working by the day. So that makes it difficult for him to change the price when the project changes but the time doesn’t. He has also let the client dictate all the terms from the start, which makes him appear inexperience and/or desperate. In the end, the photographer agreed to a 4000.00 flat fee without any conditions on the usage or payment schedule.

Here’s what I would have proposed:


If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns


Pricing & Negotiating: TV Network Work Made For Hire

By Craig Oppenheimer of Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Environmental portraits of cast members from a television show, including landscape images of the town featured in the show

Licensing: Work Made for Hire

Location: A small city in the Southwest

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Up-and-coming conceptual portrait specialist

Agency: None (in-house creative team for TV channel)

Client: Specialty Television channel

Here’s the estimate:

estimate_terms_redacted_v2Click to enlarge.

Concept, Licensing:

The client was in the process of filming the first season of a new reality show, and they wanted to capture individual portraits and a group shot of the 5 main cast members, as well as landscape images of the town in which the show is filmed. The shoot would take place on a single day during the actual filming, so many of the production elements (like hair/makeup styling, props and wardrobe) would be provided by the film production crew.

After discussing the project with the production manager, I learned that the images would mainly be used to promote the show on the channel’s website and possibly in on-air advertisements for the station. However, we were told that the channel has a non-negotiable work-made-for-hire contract that they require all photographers to sign. In fact, we were made aware of this about a month earlier when the same channel asked this photographer to bid on a separate local studio portraiture shoot for a different show. That project didn’t move forward, but through a series of conversations we found that their bottom line budget for similar projects is in the ballpark of $10,000.

The vast majority of the projects we estimate allow us the ability to limit licensing in some way. Sometimes we’re able to have a tight hold on the licensing (for example, Collateral use for 3 months), and other times we need to include a much broader licensing (for example, Advertising, Collateral and Publicity use for 5 years). While these both include a range of usage, the copyright is retained by the photographer. The main difference between “exclusive use in all media forever” and a “transfer of copyright” is 3rd party use. By agreeing to a work-made-for-hire contract, the photographer would concede copyright ownership and the ability for the client to authorize 3rd party use. These contracts are common when working with clients in the television/film industry, and it stems from agreements between these clients and video production teams where transfer of copyright for video footage is standard.

We’ve worked on a handful of projects for photographers and TV channels and have been presented with similar contracts. In fact, we recently worked with the photographer featured in this project to obtain a portfolio meeting at another TV channel in NY, and before confirming a meeting, their photo editor sent over their contract in an effort to be as up front as possible in regards to their copyright requirements. Here is what that contract looked like:

Click to enlarge.

Now, typically I’d be inclined to integrate a hefty fee for a work-made-for-hire project since there is tremendous value for the client to own the copyright of the photos. However, since I knew their budget from that previous local studio shoot, I was able to extrapolate what their budget might be for a shoot with a bit more production and travel involved. Also, I knew their likely usage limitations from my discussion with the client, and I also took into consideration that the shelf life of the images would likely only be a year or two. Cast members could change, the show could be cancelled, and the promotions done by the channel could potentially change over the course of the following seasons. By integrating pricing more in line with their intended use (rather than requested use) and taking into account the likely budget, straightforwardness of the project and the eagerness of the photographer to get in the door with this client, I settled on a fee of $8,000.

After determining a fee, I like to also refer to pricing resources like BlinkBid and FotoQuote to see what they might recommend. In many instances the licensing options from these pricing resources don’t match up to the exact usage requested from the client, and they especially didn’t correlate in this case. For example, BlinkBid outputs a fee between $20,000 and $30,000 for international use of 1 image in all the categories listed for 1 year. FotoQuote also averages $20,000 for their most extensive “all advertising and marketing” pack for 1 image for 1 year. While it would have been great to charge 30k+ (and even appropriate in rare cases), I knew that in this instance, rates that high would blow the client’s budget and didn’t match up to the value of the client’s intended use.

Assistant: The photographer would be flying in with his assistant, and this accounted for the shoot day and travel days there and back.

Local Digital Tech: In order to save on travel, we planned on hiring a local tech. I’d typically include additional fees for a workstation (around $750 for a monitor, computer and cart) but the tech would be using a laptop and simply be dumping cards while reorganizing files.

Equipment Rental: The photographer would be bringing his own gear, so we included rental fees for 2 camera bodies (~$200.00 per camera per day), a few lenses (~50.00 per lens per day) as well as strobes, power packs and stands (~$250.00 per day). We feel that it’s important to charge for this because it’s not expected that he would own this gear, and it covers the cost to maintain and update his equipment.

Photographer Travel Days: This covered his travel time for one day there and one day back.

Airfare, Lodging, Car Rental: I used to research and determine travel costs for the photographer and his assistant.

Meals, Misc: The film production team would provide catering, but I included $100 per day for the 3 days (travel, shoot, travel) for snacks and miscellaneous expenses.

Housekeeping: I made sure to note the items that the client would be providing along with the advance requirements. While the client would handle all retouching internally, they asked that we provide the photographer’s rate in case they needed to farm out the work to him.

Results: The estimate was approved and the first season of the show is now being aired. The images landed in print ads as well as on the client’s website.

Hindsight: This project was particularly interesting due to the work-made-for-hire agreement. This estimate isn’t a representation of rates for all instances of copyright transfer, but it’s an example of what we’ve seen from a few other clients in the television industry. Another photo editor for a separate TV client/project informed us that they also require a work-made-for-hire agreement, and in order to stay competitive she suggested a pretty healthy work-for-hire rate of $10K-$20K per day.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.


Pricing & Negotiating: Hotel Lifestyle Shoot

by Jess Dudley Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Lifestyle, chef portraits and plated food images to promote a resort

Licensing: Three years of regional Advertising, Collateral and Publicity use of 20 images, in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee only

Location: Resort in Georgia

Shoot Days: Two

Photographer: Southeastern hospitality and lifestyle specialist

Agency: Client Direct

Client: Independent Resort Property

Here’s the estimate:

I thought it would be interesting to share this particular hotel lifestyle estimate on the heels of our previous Pricing & Negotiating post so I could highlight the difference in value between two nearly identical projects. Both were two-day lifestyle hospitality shoots at a single hotel property. The major differences are the size and reach of the clients and the breadth of the licensing. In the previous post, we were working through an ad agency for an international hotel chain to shoot 17 images for national use, with much higher expectations and production requirements. In this case, we were dealing directly with a single high-end hotel client interested in licensing 20 images for regional use.

Concept: The client wanted to highlight the property through a variety of available-light lifestyle images featuring talent enjoying the grounds, restaurants, services and amenities. The client compiled a shot list of 10 scenarios from which they hoped to license 20 images (2 per scenario). The scenarios would feature resort staff and anywhere from 1-4 non-professional talent (friends/family of the marketing team) and range from plated dining room scenes, to guests checking in, to talent strolling around the property’s more photogenic landscape and architectural elements. From our perspective, the production would be pretty minimal. The photographer would simply need to book his assistants, pick up gear, show up and start shooting. The client would source the talent, handle wardrobe, props, food, catering, all styling, and of course, the location. This told us a lot about the client’s production expectations and hinted at budget.

Licensing: The 3 year licensing duration, 10 scenarios and the fact that we were working with a high-end client all applied upward pressure on the value. Exerting downward pressure was the the lack of an ad agency (which could indicate smaller ad buy/less extensive use), the fact that the client was single, somewhat remote property and finally the geographical limitation of the licensing. As it turns out, the client planned to primarily advertise on the web, only running 2-3 print ad insertions/year in a few local magazines, solidifying our assumption of a smaller ad buy. Weighing all of these factors, I priced this out  at 1500.00 for the first two scenarios, 750.00/scenario for 3-6 and 500.00/scenario for 7-10, bringing the fee to a total of 8000.00. I checked my rates against a couple pricing sources. Corbis doesn’t display regional or state by state rates. BlinkBid’s bid consultant recommended 621.25-887.50 per image per year for a regional Local Small Business to purchase comparable licensing, which was in the ballpark. Photoshelter’s stock pricing interface suggests a rate of 15,000/image for one year or 22,000.00/image for three years for regional collateral and advertising use, but its pricing criteria didn’t allow me to hone the use as much as I needed to in this case.

As a side note, we use a few general rules of thumb when it comes to increasing or decreasing fees based on volume or duration. In general, doubling the duration does not necessarily double the value to the client—campaigns/images get tired, people/property/styles/trends change. Also, doubling the number of images licensed does not necessarily double the value to the client. Accordingly, I’ll add 50% to increase duration from one to two years and 100% to increase duration from one year to three years. With respect to increasing the number of images, the second is typically valued at 50% of the first, unless the image represents an additional unique concept, in which case we would value the image/licensing closer to 100% of the first image. At a certain point, I may introduce additional price breaks if we get into larger quantities.

Photographer Production Day:  The resort property was about 2 hours from the photographer’s home so I included one full “photographer production day” to cover the half day of round trip travel and half day of walk-through at the resort the day before the shoot.

First Assistant/Digital Tech, Local Assistant: I estimated for three full days for first assistant/digital tech, which covered two full shoot days, four hours of round trip travel time and four hours of walk-through time. 500.00/day is a normal rate for a tech but wouldn’t typically include necessary equipment, and certainly not a full-blown workstation cart which normally rents for 750-1000.00 depending on the setup. In this case, the photographer would shoot with a DSLR tethered to his own laptop running Capture One. We opted in this case not to charge for the laptop rental. As for the local assistant, we included one for both shoot days.

Equipment Rental: The photographer planned to rent two DSLR bodies (300.00/day), 2 fast lenses (65.00/day), two strobe kits for supplemental light if needed (300.00/day), and a variety of silks, scrims, frames and stands (~235.00/day). All of the gear would have to be rented for three days since the photographer and tech would have to pick it up before the walk-through.

Lodging Nights: The resort was fully booked during the shoot window so the client could not offer to provide lodging. We estimated for rooms for the photographer and digital tech for 2 nights at a nearby commuter hotel.

Images processed for editing & Selects Processed for Reproduction: This covered the time, equipment and costs to handle the initial import, edit and upload for client review and basic processing (color correction and blemish removal) for the 20 selects. Anything over and above the basic processing would be considered retouching and be billed at 150.00/hr, which is covered in the terms and conditions.

Miles, FTP, COI, Parking, Meals, Tolls, FTP, Misc: I estimated 200.00 for mileage, 50.00 per person per day for meal costs to cover breakfasts and dinners, 50.00 for the COI, 100.00 for the FTP and 150.00 for parking, tolls and miscellaneous expenses.

Results: The photographer shot the job and has already begun discussing the next project with the client.

Marketing note: This project came about because the photographer had managed to set up a meeting with a marketing manager at the resort. Within a few weeks the photographer received a request for an estimate. It just goes to show marketing is all about putting yourself out there and occasionally being in the right place at the right time.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.


Pricing & Negotiating: Hotel Lifestyle & Advertising Shoot

by Jess Dudley Wonderful Machine

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

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

Location: Hotel property in Northern California

Shoot Days: Two

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

Agency: Mid-Size Chicago-Based Agency

Client: International Hotel chain

Here’s the estimate:

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results: The photographer was awarded the job.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns

Pricing & Negotiating: Sports Apparel Advertising Shoot

by Jess Dudley Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Individual environmental portraits/lifestyle images of two sponsored athletes

Licensing: 3 images for North American Point of Purchase, Online, Out of Home, Print Advertising and Print Collateral

Location: One residential location and a practice facility (both provided by the client)

Shoot Days: 2

Photographer: Established portrait and lifestyle specialist

Agency: None. Client direct through a freelance art buyer

Client: National niche sports apparel brand

Here’s the estimate:

Licensing: There were a number of factors influencing the fee. Though the usage was pretty extensive, it was limited to three images. The client’s apparel is widely available, but it’s not a prominent brand outside of its very specific customer base. The client needed three years of use, but since their product line changes every year, the value of the pictures will likely drop significantly after that first year. The fact that the shoot would feature somewhat well-known athletes made the shoot more valuable than it might otherwise be, but if the client decides not to renew the sponsorship agreement because the athlete gets injured, falls from grace, retires, etc. the images would lose value fast. Lastly, the first two images were unique, but the third image was just a variation of the second – making it worth somewhat less in my mind.

All that considered, I initially figured on 10,000 for the first image, 10,000 for the second and 2500 for the third, for a total fee of 22,500 (and about 27,200 in production expenses). Getty suggested 12,000/image/year for their Print, Web and OOH pack. Blinkbid quoted 11,550-16,500/image/year. After some back and forth, the client decided they wanted the project to come in under 40k, so we had to figure out what to cut if our photographer wanted the job. When it became clear that they were unwilling to make do with less usage, I looked at which production expenses I could trim. But even after eliminating 5000 for the on-site producer, I still couldn’t get down to 40k. At that point, the photographer and I discussed trimming the photography fee. She was willing to be flexible because the photography fee was reasonable to begin with, and the additional production fees (travel days, post-processing and editing) were healthy. So I dropped the fee down to 19,250.

Photographer Travel/Tech Scout Days: I estimated two days for the photographer travel to and from the location and to scout.

Production Days: Initially, I budgeted for an on-site producer (me). But when the client came back asking us to hit 40k, that was the first thing to go. Since the schedule was somewhat relaxed, and talent, catering, wardrobe and locations would be provided by the client, it made it possible (though not ideal) to ax that from the budget. Together with airfare and expenses, removing my on-site production time would account for a 5000.00 swing. I did still handle all of the pre-producton (sourcing, booking and coordinating crew, making travel arrangements, scheduling, production books etc.).

First Assistant Days: The photographer would be flying her first assistant in, so I included two travel days and two shoot days. The days would be short, so I wouldn’t need to factor in overtime.

Local Assistant and Digital tech: We initially estimated for a full workstation and digital tech, but when we were forced to trim the budget, we pulled out the workstation rental, saving 1500.00 (750.00/shoot day), the trade-off being that the client would have to review images on the photographer’s laptop. We also included a local assistant to help with gear and run last minute errands if necessary.

Wardrobe Stylist/Groomer Days and Supplemental Wardrobe/Props: We would only be shooting one subject per day and wardrobe and hair & make-up would be pretty low-impact. Accordingly, we felt it would be sufficient to use a single stylist capable of doing both. Also, that stylist would only need to be on-set for one of the two shoot days. One of the athletes would be providing all of her own stylists and supplemental wardrobe. The client would be providing primary wardrobe for the other athlete but still wanted a stylist to purchase a few supplemental items to round out their branded wardrobe. We normally account for a day of prop/wardrobe returns, but since I expected it to be pretty minimal, I decided it would be cheaper to just keep the stuff than pay someone to return it.

Images Processed for Editing: Lately instead of “digital capture fee,” I’ve been saying “Images processed for editing” which is a little more clear. It covers the time and equipment necessary to organize, edit and rename the files and to create and deliver a web gallery for the client to edit from.

Retouching Hours and delivery of reproduction files by FTP: The client requested fairly extensive retouching and post-processing treatment of all three images. The photographer was skilled enough to handle that on her own and estimated 3 hours per image at a standard retouching rate (not only to compensate her for that time and expertise, but to cover her if she got busy and had to farm it out to a freelance retoucher).

Equipment Rental: We priced out the cost to rent two camera bodies (600.00/day), three lenses (150.00/day), two power packs (140.00/day), four heads, stands, soft-boxes (120.00/day), misc. grip and expendables (240.00/day) at a rental house local to the shoot.

Lodging, Airfare, Baggage, Car Rentals: Using, I priced out the costs for all travel expenses. I usually round up to the nearest $100.00 to give myself a little cushion and always included the costs for checked bags and gas/insurance for the rental car.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Misc: For this one, I figured on 150.00/day for miles, parking, and miscellaneous expenses and 50.00/person/day for meals for the photographer and first assistant (the client was providing the catering).

Housekeeping: Finally, I noted the items the client would provide, the possible travel cost variance, the advance requirements and that they would pay any applicable sales tax.

Results: The photographer was awarded the job and the clients were very happy with the pictures.

Hindsight: Although the photographer delivered great value for that budget, we both ended up feeling that an on-site producer would have allowed things to run more smoothly. Even though the client promised to handle the catering, the photographer still ended up managing that on the shoot day. And there were plenty of little questions and interruptions that could have been avoided if an experienced producer had been there to handle them, freeing the photographer up to concentrate more fully on creating great images.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Editorial Assignment for The American Lawyer Magazine

by Bill Cramer, Wonderful Machine

I got a call a little while back from Maggie Soladay, photo editor at The American Lawyer magazine. She had an assignment to photograph a pair of attorneys who were trying to keep the city of Harrisburg, PA out of bankruptcy. She needed a portrait of them in a setting that would give the viewer a sense of the city. She expected to use one photo with the article.

Maggie said she could offer a fee of 500.00 plus up to 900.00 in expenses. I asked her if she paid for space and she said no, but if she used a picture on the cover, she would pay an additional 500.00. I asked her if she had a contract or if she’d like to use mine. She said she’d send one over. I told her that it sounded like it could work and that I’d take a look at the contract.

Here’s the contract she sent:

It’s pretty short and to the point. It could be a lot worse, coming from a magazine about lawyers. Here’s the breakdown:

1) The pictures are original and not defamatory. Fine.

2) Included in the fee, they get exclusive first use of the pictures and non-exclusive reuse “in context” for editorial or promotion use. “In context” means that they have to show it in the layout as it originally appeared. I don’t mind this because it’s rare that this would happen, and the fact that it’s in context generally means that it’s more about the article or the publication than the photo. I’m more concerned that they can use any number of pictures any size for 500.00. There was a time when I might drive a harder bargain than that. An additional 500.00 for the cover would be quite low if it was a consumer magazine that sold on the newsstand, but for a trade magazine I think it’s (on the low end of) reasonable.

3) They can use the photos for article reprints and for “out of context” use for a predetermined fee (see schedule A). The prices for the article reprints are a little on the low side in my experience, but not unreasonable. The prices for out of context print and web re-use are less generous. 25% of the 500.00 fee is only 125.00, which is what I’d normally charge for use of one image smaller than 1/4-page. Here, they can use the picture any size for that fee. I’d normally expect 100.00 for web use and they’re offering 55.00 (seems like an odd number).

4) In the past, a three month embargo period would be considered a little excessive for a monthly publication, but it’s not unusual these days. And given the subject matter, embargo time is not a big issue here. Additionally, I’ve found that if an opportunity arises to re-license an image to a third party during an embargo period, you just have to clear it with the assigning photo editor. Typically, as long as the issue has hit the news stands, most publications are pretty flexible regarding the embargo period.

5) Even after reading about personal jurisdiction, I still don’t understand it. Here’s how Maggie explained it, “Paragraph 5 of the contract says that, ‘Each party consents to the personal jurisdiction of the federal or state courts located in the State of New York.’ What does that mean? Our artists and photographers are all over the world. England for instance has very different media laws than we do.” I’m not sure why it’s not sufficient to say, “Should a dispute arise, it shall be governed by the laws of the State of New York.”

A few facts to consider. The American Lawyer is published by ALM. It’s sold by monthly subscription for 445.00/year. It’s not sold on newsstands. Their circulation is 9600 with a readership of 89,000. Their average reader’s household net worth is 2.4 million dollars.

To some photographers, this fee and contract will sound like a pretty good deal. Others will think it’s a little stingy. For someone like me, it’s pretty much middle-of-the-road. Whether it works for you depends upon how busy you are and what fees and terms you’re accustomed to getting. I later asked Maggie how frequently she accepts revisions to the contract. She said, “Never. Unfortunately I was instructed that we cannot use photographers or illustrators who require revisions.” How frequently do you pay more than 500.00/day plus expenses? “500.00 is the fee for all of our shoots but allowed expenses within budget differ. We don’t have flexible budgets per issue so I am really straight, clear and fair upfront. I can’t afford surprises and I like clarity from the beginning.”

I chose to do the job. Here’s the call sheet:

The subjects were great. My dad grew up in Harrisburg, so I enjoyed poking around the city. I finally found a spot in a parking garage that framed them nicely and offered up a good view of the city. Here’s how it ended up in the magazine:

Here’s the invoice:

Months later, I got an additional payment for a reprint (turns out they’ve raised the reprint rates slightly since I signed the original contract):

And a few months after that, I got another:

In addition to her day job as photo editor at The American Lawyer, Maggie is the New York City chapter chief of Salaam Garage, a humanitarian media organization that works with non-profit organizations to support positive social change.Read more…

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give Wonderful Machine a call at (610) 260-0200. They’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large scale ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Table-top Product Advertising Shoot

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine Producer

In the interest of sharing Pricing & Negotiating articles at more frequent intervals, we’ve developed a more concise nuts-and-bolts format that covers the essential points of an estimate without a lengthy breakdown of every last detail. Here’s our first “abridged” review of an estimate:

Shoot Concept: table-top product shots of 4 product packages and 8 food ingredients on a white background to go into 4 finished ads

Photographer: still life specialist

Location: a New York City studio

Product: food

Agency: medium-sized New York agency

Client: well-known packaged food brand

Licensing: North American advertising and collateral Use, including print, web and out-of-home (billboards, transit, etc.), of 12 images for 1 year.

Shoot Days: 2

Here’s the estimate (click to view larger):

And here’s the breakdown:

Licensing: Though the photographer would be creating and licensing 12 images, they would only appear in 4 finished ads. The concepts could conceivably be captured entirely in-camera in just 4 shots. However, the agency and photographer agreed that it would be better to shoot each element separately to provide flexibility in composition, perspective and size in the post production process. So we calculated the licensing fee based on 4 images. Also, unlike most campaigns which focus on one product, each of these ads promoted a different variety of this particular brand’s product. For this reason we opted not to factor in any sort of volume discount for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ads, as we would do if we were licensing different pictures of the same product. Additionally, the photographers level of experience was a consideration, he was relatively new to large advertising projects. Based on these factors and our experience with this particular agency and similar past projects, we decided to price the fee at 24,000.00. (We then checked our fee againstFotoquoteBlinkBid and two stock photo sites. Using the “all advertising pack” option, Fotoquote, Blinkbid and the stock sites suggested a price of about 12000.00 per image, or roughly double what we quoted. BlinkBid however, was in line with our numbers. It’s Bid Consultant calculator has an interesting feature that allows you to fine tune the price based on the photographer’s level of experience.  Using the appropriate “up and comer” multiplier brought the suggested rate down to 6000.00 per image, right in line with our initial pricing.

Producer: Producer rates tend to range between 750.00-1000.00/day. I normally budget at least one day of prep for a typical studio shoot, it’s a good to have a producer on set to make sure things run smoothly, and often will want to include a day to manage wrap, invoicing and crew payments.

First Assistant: I figured one per shoot day would be appropriate for this project. Rates can range from 250.00-400.00 depending on the location and amount of expertise required.

Second Assistant/Digital Tech: Normally, an experienced digital tech, complete with a large monitor, fast computer and all the appropriate software is going to run between 1000.00 and 1500.00 per day. In this case, the studio bundled the workstation in with the rental, so we hired a digital tech without the computer for 600.00/day.

Equipment and Studio: Priced at cost. Although the photographer has his own studio, we needed a larger, more polished space to accommodate this project.

Background, Plexi: This covered the purchase and delivery of white seamless paper and plexiglass for the background.

Stylist, Food, Etc: We wanted a top notch stylist to handle the product. We estimated 1200.00 plus 20% agency fee per day (the stylist we worked with was repped), a stylist assistant to help with purchases and prep, and a food budget to cover the cost of the necessary ingredients.

Capture fee: This covered the time and equipment necessary for the photographer to do an initial process, edit, organize and back-up of the files and present them to the client.

Retouching: Since we were dealing with stripping, retouching and compositing, the photographer and I estimated 3 hours per final image.

Catering: Priced at cost. I usually estimate 40.00/person/day for light breakfast, a hot lunch, snacks and drinks.

Miles, Parking, Misc: We usually charge 100.00 for a certificate of insurance and the other 100.00 will cover odds and ends.

Advance: We normally get a deposit of 50% of the bottom line before the shoot. Consequently, we don’t charge a mark-up on any of the expenses.

Results: The photographer was awarded the job and Wonderful Machine handled the production.

*Hindsight: If I had to do it over again, I would have budgeted for a pre-light day. We didn’t have one on this project and we ended up wishing we did. Although the photographer is no stranger to this type of shoot, setting everything up and dialing in the lighting beforehand will save you precious time on the first shoot day. Of course, it would have also meant additional charges of studio (1500.00), assistants (850.00), equipment (1200.00) and possibly an additional photographer fee.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large scale ad campaigns.

Pricing & Negotiating: Still Life Shoot for Clothing Retailer

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine Producer

I was contacted recently by an East Coast photographer to help quote on a project for a well-known clothing retailer. The retailer’s mid-sized ad agency had approached the photographer and shared layouts for a catalog promoting the following season’s clothing line. The catalog would feature a combination of fashion portraits and still life pictures on seamless backgrounds. Our photographer, a still life specialist, was asked to just quote on the still life portion of the project which consisted of 23 pictures. The comps showed shirts, pants, shoes and accessories shot from above, on a flat surface, arranged as an outfit. Along with the layouts, the agency provided a detailed shot list specifying 3 days of shooting at a local studio.

A few days later, the photographer and I dialed into a creative call with the agency to learn more about the project. As with all creative calls, this was a great opportunity for the photographer to show his enthusiasm for the assignment, share creative ideas and convey confidence to the agency. During the conversation, we learned that the catalog was part of a much larger rebranding effort for their client that would help the brand reach a younger demographic. This was our first hint that the project may be a larger production than your typical studio catalog shoot.

Here’s what we discussed on the creative call:

  • We talked about the possibility of shooting variations where the clothes were stacked or organized more abstractly rather than the paper-doll way shown in the comp. We spent a lot of time talking about the look of the pictures. Clearly the styling was very important to the client.
  • The licensing needed to include use of 23 images in the fall catalog and on the company’s website for a period of 3 months.
  • The agency wanted us to deliver the raw files from the shoot – organized, renamed and tweaked. Their in-house retoucher would finish them off.
  • We would plan on a pre-light day so that we could hit the ground running on the first shoot day.
  • Our wardrobe stylist would need to attend a “fit-day” to review the clothing with the client and agency. The stylist would also need a prep day to make any necessary alterations prior to the shoot.
  • The client would provide all of the clothing and accessories but we might need to provide some minor props.
  • They couldn’t tell us how big the press run would be but given the client, we knew it would be huge (>1m)

With this information, I could start to put together some numbers. For a typical national catalog shoot, we normally quote $4,000-$6,000 a day for the creative fee including licensing. Catalog use is certainly advertising use (which might otherwise command a higher fee), but unlike other advertising that might show up in magazines or on billboards, catalog use is normally limited to the actual printed piece.  And because of the nature of fashion, the images tend to have very short life spans and tend to require a lot of shoot days (both factors providing some downward pressure on the day rate). Some catalog work is so much about volume and so little about skill that rates can be as low as 1000.00 per day. In those cases, the work is usually done directly for the client (rather than through an ad agency)—and often using the client’s studio and equipment.

In the mean time, we got another call from the agency explaining that they would like us to quote on broader licensing. In addition to the catalog use, they needed 3 months of paid advertising use and print collateral use. A few hours after that, I received another email saying that they now were planning on a 2-day shoot with licensing for just 12 images and they’d like to make it happen for under $100k.

I checked to see what our pricing guides suggested:

Blinkbid: For catalog, web use and print advertising Blinkbid quoted $11,550-$16,500 per image per year or (arguably) $2,887-$4,125 for 3 months. So in the neighborhood $30k for 12 images (factoring in a bit of a quantity discount).

FotoQuote: Their advertising and marketing pack for 3 months suggested a range of 13,728 and 27,456 for one image.

Getty Images: Using their Flexible Licensing, an Advertising Pack of print, outdoor and web for three months in the U.S. would be $12k per image.

Given such a short licensing duration (3 months), I think it’s unlikely that the agency is going to make ads out of all 12 of those photos. So considering all that (not to mention the budget suggested by the client), I decided to price the first two images at 5,500 each and the remaining 10 at 2,000 each, which brought us to a total photography fee of $31,000.

We included the rates for an assistant and a digital tech for both shoot days as well as the pre-light day, and included a second assistant for just the shoot days. The photographer had a producer that he worked with regularly, and at his suggestion, we budgeted 7 days to account for his time to hire the crew, attend the shoot and manage all the post-shoot paperwork. (This seemed a little fat to me given the project.) I also included (at the request of the producer) a production assistant (also a little excessive). I budgeted 1200.00 for the photographer for the pre-light day (which in retrospect, might be a little thin.)

The stylist was just as important to the agency as the photographer, so we included rates for a seasoned soft goods stylist who would also be shopping for the supplemental props. The quote we received from the stylist broke out separate fees for their shoot days and prep days, and we included them as separate lines in the estimate. The stylist would be bringing their assistant and a tailor/seamstress to alter the clothing. We budgeted 4 prep days for the stylist – 2 to get props and 2 in the studio to prepare the clothes, make any necessary alterations, and set up at least the first couple of shots. The stylist assistant would handle the returns.

While the props were originally supposed to be minimal, the agency ended up sending over a few sample images of nice travel accessories and other items that they wanted to have on hand. For those props, we budgeted 2000.00. We included costs for seamless paper and foam core for the stylists to lay out the clothing on and pin it to if needed.

We would need the studio for the two shoot days, a pre-light day, and the additional wardrobe stylist prep day. The photographer also specified 5000.00/day for equipment rental. That might sound like a lot at first glance, but it would allow us to run 2 sets at a time so the stylists could be setting up one shot while we were shooting another.

I tend to include a nominal amount of crew overtime charges as a matter of course to avoid any surprises later. It also gives us some wiggle room in the budget in case other unexpected costs arise.

We also included a post-production day for the photographer to organize and do final tweaks, then deliver the raw files on a hard drive. (The ad agency would be handling the retouching themselves.)

I chose to add a line-item for insurance. It’s customary on motion picture projects and increasingly on bigger still projects to add 1-2% to cover the cost of equipment insurance, liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

I budgeted 1250.00 for mileage, parking, messengers, etc. for all the little things that add up when running around town looking for props, picking up equipment, etc.

I always put “plus applicable sales tax.” That covers me in all cases and it doesn’t unnecessarily inflate my bottom line when we do have to charge it. I always spell out items that the client is going to provide (I forgot to mention that the client was going to do the retouching). And we normally expect to get at least half of the production expenses up front.

The whole project came in at $92k.

You can view the estimate here:

I heard a few days later that the client chose another photographer. But I wasn’t able to get any more information than that.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing one of your projects, contact Wonderful Machine.

Pricing & Negotiating: Spokesperson Advertising Shoot

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine Producer

One of our photographers recently contacted me to help him quote on some advertising photographs for a prominent international corportion. He had recently completed a self-assigned fashion shoot, and a promotional mailer from that project caught the attention of the client’s ad agency. Over the past few years, the ad agency had helped the client completely revamp their image, and in the process they had developed one of the most recognizable campaigns in recent years. The agency had now developed an updated concept (which happened to be very similar to the photographer’s promo) representing the next step in the evolution of the campaign, and they wanted  to consider our photographer for the shoot. After an initial phone call, the agency sent over a shot list and requested an estimate.

Here is what we knew: The project would involve 2 days of photographing a celebrity spokesperson interacting with various props and products in a West Coast studio. The agency was hoping to cover 5 situations per day, including very specific but subtle variations within each situation. These variations were intended to create a range of expressions and angles from which the agency and client would choose their final selects. The shot list for day 2 was almost identical to day 1, except it consisted of shooting against a different background (at the same studio), which was still to be determined based on further creative direction.

The agency would be coordinating and paying for the talent, hair/make-up, wardrobe stylists, wardrobe, props and a trailer for the talent. All we needed to account for was the photography fees, photo crew, equipment, studio and catering.

I wanted to start by determining the photographer’s fees, so my first question for the art buyer was about the usage and number of images. She replied that they needed licensing for all images captured, though they only wanted 10 selects retouched and delivered. The licensing language that she asked me to include in the estimate was:

All print media now known or hereafter invented (to include, but not limited to consumer newspaper, industrial, in-store, direct mail, brochures and any other collateral material, out-of-home (to include but not limited to billboards, bus shelters, wild postings, kiosks, wall murals, window signage and display work), electronic media (to include but not be limited to worldwide web and client brand portal archiving)

Even though the client intended to use up to 10 images in the campaign, they asked that the quote include licensing for all of the images created rather than just a limited number of selects. Naturally, licensing for more pictures is going to be worth more than licensing for fewer pictures. But if we’re shooting 10 situations with subtle variations of each, it’s not going to be worth much more than those first 10. We do our best to reconcile the discrepancy between what they’re asking for and what they’re likely to do with the images. The licensing needed to include advertising use in the U.S. and Puerto Ric o for 1 year from first insertion.

Digging through similar estimates that we’ve done recently and other pricing guides, here’s what we found:

BlinkBid: National advertising use in print publications, on websites, in collateral and on OOH (out of home/billboards) = a range between $9,450 and $13,500 per image, per year, though these rates didn’t quite cover the scope of the use.

fotoQuote: The new version of fotoQuote has “quote packs” that cover a wide range of usage in various media outlets. The most extensive pack is labeled “All Advertising & Marketing.” This pack includes print advertising in magazines, newspapers and directories, as well as web advertising, web collateral, use on mobile devices, promotional emails, direct mail, in store displays, billboards and transit ads along with a few additional items as well. For this use, their suggested range for 1 image is between $16,090 and $32,181 for 1-year use. This is more in line with our expectations.

Getty: They also offer “Flexible Licensing Packs” including one labeled  “All Advertising Pack.” This includes unlimited collateral, print advertising and web use, which is further detailed to include direct mail, electronic brochures, billboards, magazine/newspaper ads, freestanding inserts and directory advertising, web advertising, use on corporate websites as well as on mobile devices, and any indoor or outdoor display. Their price for 1 image in the  specific industry for 1 year is $18,790. Again, this is comparable to what we expect to see on projects of this scale with clients of this size and prominence.

Armed with this information along with past estimating experiences, I decided to price the 10 images at $110,000 for this use. Each of the images generated would be somewhat similar to the others. The photographer wasn’t shooting 10 different concepts, he was shooting 10 adaptations of the same concept. The greatest impact and greatest value comes with the first image. In situations like this we feel the first image is worth the full rate and each subsequent image has a lower value. By pricing the first image at 20,000, the high end of the range for this type of licensing, and the additional images at 10,000 each, the low end of the range, we came to rest on a fee of 110,000.00.

Here’s the first estimate we sent over.


In addition to the photographer, we accounted for two assistants and a digital tech. The agency wasn’t looking for any extraordinary retouching or compositing on set, so a basic digital tech was sufficient.

The production day accounted for time to arrange the assistants, equipment, catering, etc.

We included the photographer’s own studio at $2,000/day (the normal rental rate which includes a basic lighting setup and grip equipment) and equipment rental of 1600.00 for a camera system and supplemental lighting.

With a project of this scale, in addition to the work that the digital tech does to manage the files on the shoot day (helping the clients see the pictures and making sure the files are backed up), there will typically be additional time required afterwards to organize, edit and process the images, run web galleries, upload/deliver them to the client. I budgeted 2 digital processing days for that. Then we allotted 20 hours of retouching time to process and retouch the 10 selects.

For catering, we accounted for 15 people at $35 per day for 2 days.

Insurance and miscellaneous accounts for various items that may come up during the production and helps the photographer pay for his standard liability insurance.

We made sure to indicate what production elements the agency had committed to manage and pay for directly.

Still no word on the second day’s background, so we left that off this estimate.

Lastly we highlighted that an advance equal to 50% of the bottom line would be required to initiate production.

A few days after submitting the estimate I received a phone call from the art buyer. Our numbers landed in the middle of the two other estimates she’d received. She wouldn’t reveal names or exact numbers, but did share that the other photographers were not local, and they would be traveling from as far away as Europe. She then told me that all of the estimates would put them over budget, and asked for an estimate limiting the duration to 6 months.

So I had to figure out how cutting the licensing duration from 1 year to 6 months would affect the fee. Of course, I can’t just cut the fee in half. Most ad campaigns are going to have maximum value early on and then diminishing value over time. We generally figure that doubling the duration of use might increase the value by a factor of 1.5. Moving in reverse, if we’re cutting the duration in half, we could divide by 1.5 which would leave us at $73,333. However, at that point I was having second thoughts that my 1 year rate was too low to begin with. So I decided to divide by 1.25 instead which got me to $88,000, and submitted the following estimate:

After more waiting, our contact returned with some news. While they were still deciding on creative direction, she let us know that their budget for set construction for the background on the second day was $10,000. So we included it in the estimate and noted that it will ultimately be based on final creative direction. Also, she told us that instead of using the photographer’s studio, they had a specific LA studio in mind, for which I was able to find rates for.

The additional production coordination warranted bringing on a production coordinator so we added one to the estimate. The photographer had a inexpensive young producer he wanted to use. Also due to the studio change, we had to increase the studio fees and equipment rental fees. He was going to need a medium format camera with a digital back similar to the Phase One P65+ ($550/day) with an 80mm lens ($35/day) and a 120mm lens ($50/day). Also included in the rental would be 3 Profoto Pro7B Packs ($70/day each) with 4 PRO7 heads ($20/day each), as well as various stands, modifiers and accessories.

We then submitted the following revised estimates for 1 year and 6 month usage.

The AB came back and simply asked us to reduce the cost of the 1 year estimate by 8500.00. Remarkable considering the the bottom line. After carefully reviewing the estimate I found that the only thing I could really cut was the licensing fee. One of the most basic rules of negotiating is don’t give up something for nothing. But in this case, that’s what we did. Of course, there’s a range of what constitute a reasonable fee – especially on a large project like this one, and the photographer and I agreed that this one was still reasonable. Here was our revised 1 year estimate:

A few days later, an email popped up in my inbox with the subject line reading “Congratulations.” I was delighted to hear that they awarded the project to our photographer! In spite of our hand-wringing over the 1 year quote, in the end the client opted for the 6 month licensing for $88k.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing one of your projects, contact Wonderful Machine.

Pricing & Negotiating: Public Service Announcement

by Jess Dudley Wonderful Machine Producer

Public Service Announcements (PSAs) are advertisements intended to raise awareness of a topic and to change public attitudes (rather than sell a product), often advocating better health practices or safety. The typical patron of a PSA is a government agency or non-profit aimed at improving public welfare.

Recently, one of our photographers was asked to submit a cost estimate to produce some photographs for a PSA. Though the concept was simple and straight forward, the details were still a bit vague when the photographer contacted me for pricing help. Here’s what he knew:

  • He’d been contacted by the creative director of a mid-size East Coast ad agency.
  • The client was a large non-profit organization whose primary interest was in public education and health policy.
  • The PSA concept featured a close-up portrait of a woman in a light filled, airy environment. About half the frame was negative space for copy, and there was a “gritty” treatment layer overlaying the image.
  • The talent would be a real patient who had realized the benefits of the non-profit through improvements in health care practices.
  • The use was described as a PSA that will be distributed on the non-profit’s website, possibly in print publications and in the form of posters hung in airports and train stations.

After reviewing the details and discussing possible production approaches, the photographer and I developed a list of questions to ask the creative director and got the following responses:

Wonderful Machine: Would you like us to cast the talent or will the talent be provided?
Creative Director: We’ve already selected the talent and determined availability.

WM: The comp hints at more environment than a studio sweep, would a white daylight studio work as a background?
CD: We’re open to shooting at a daylight studio. We just don’t want flat seamless. We want some texture to the background. A window, horizon, clouds. Something to subtly break up the negative space.

WM: What duration of use will you need?
CD: 3 years.

WM: What is the geographic distribution?
CD: Southwestern United States.

WM: Do you have a budget in mind?
CD: Nothing set in stone, but we need to mind our “Ps and Qs.”

WM: We think this can be accomplished at a studio in a few hours, are you expecting to shoot for more than about half a day?
CD: We only have the talent for 3 hours in the early afternoon. So it will have to happen in half a day.

WM: Will anyone from the Agency and Client be attending the shoot?
CD: Yes. Two people from the agency and one from the client.

Although the PSA would be displayed like a typical commercial ad, it’s purpose was not to generate revenue, but rather to promote public awareness. So it’s not worth nearly as much as a regular ad shoot. Additionally, the concept was straight forward, the talent would be provided and the shoot wouldn’t take more than 6 hours including set-up and break down, which is a consideration. BlinkBid shows the fee for regional Collateral, Out Of Home and Print Use at 2800.00 – 4000.00/year. Additional years aren’t discounted in BlinkBid’s Bid Consultant. So for 3 years they price this use between 8400.00 and 12000.00. Also, there’s no specific selection for PSA use in BlinkBid. Corbis doesn’t provide regional pricing, only national. They price the OOH Use at 1170.00 for the first year, Print Use at 7815.00 and Collateral Use 2550.00. To extend the use to 3 years, Corbis multiplies each of those numbers by about 1.66 bringing the total for this use to 18,456.00. They also don’t have a specific selection for PSA use. Adjusting for regional rather than national use might bring it down to around $10k which is in line with BlinkBid. This is really the kind of project where the fee could be anything, depending on the cause and how the photographer felt about it. After discussing it with the photographer, we decided that we wanted to come in at about 1/2 of the normal advertising rate, so we settled on 4500.00 for the fee.

Since the lighting would consist entirely of natural light, the photographer only needed one assistant on set during the shoot. The digital tech would provide an extra set of hands to help load in, set up and break down. During the shoot, s/he would man the laptop, wrangle images and process galleries.

The photographer owned all of the equipment he needed for the shoot. He’d be using a camera body (@250.00/day), two fast lenses (2@75.00/day), and some miscellaneous items like a reflectors, flags, silks and stands (@200.00/day).

The photographer also had his own shooting space. He charges 500.00/day to rent the small studio which would be ideal for this shoot; white, with a couple nice big windows.

Since we were only shooting one subject from the shoulders up, we were comfortable working with a stylist capable of light wardrobe styling and hair & make-up. We budgeted a half day to buy 200.00 worth of wardrobe. We would ask the subject to bring some of her own clothes as well.

Since the crew and agency would be setting up for the shoot around lunchtime we included catering for the crew, talent, agency and client. Generally we’ll budget 35.00 per person for light breakfast and lunch but were able to trim it down to 25.00 per person since we wouldn’t be providing any breakfast.

Indexing is what that photographer likes to call it, but we normally call it Digital Capture and Delivery by Web Gallery for Editing.

Retouching hours to apply the gritty treatment layer to the image after basic processing.

Miles, parking, shipping, insurance and miscellaneous was pretty low since the shoot would take place at the photographer’s own studio.

Lastly, we made sure to clarify that the talent would be provided by the client or agency and that a 50% advance is required to initiate production. After attaching our standard terms and conditions we sent the estimate to the client.

Wouldn’t you know it, a budget materialized 10 minutes later.

WM: Just calling to follow-up on the estimate. Do you have any questions?
CD: What can we do to get this down to 7600.00?

WM: Right off the bat, one thing we might be able to do without is the additional wardrobe. Would you be comfortable relying entirely on the subject’s own wardrobe? (That would knock of 200.00 for the wardrobe and 325.00 for the stylist time.)
CD: Absolutely. I’ll ask her to bring a dozen tops.

WM: Are you comfortable reviewing images straight of the camera or do you need a separate display? (That would be 300.00 for a second assistant rather than 500.00 for a digital tech.)
CD: If it gets me closer to 7k, I’m cool with it.

WM: Aside from the licensing, there’s not much else than can be easily trimmed. Let me check in with the photographer to figure out a way to come shave off another 600.00.
CD: Great. Let me know what you can do. This is a hard 7600.00.

After contemplating the peculiar budget, we dialed down the use from 3 years to 30 months, reducing the fee and bottom line by an additional 500.00. The last hundred came out of the equipment rental line. Since he’d be using his own equipment he could bend a bit on the rates, particularly for the miscellaneous stands, reflectors, etc.

We submitted the revision, the creative director quickly approved it and the shoot went off without a hitch.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing one of your projects, contact Wonderful Machine.

Pricing & Negotiating: Custom Publication

by Jess Dudley Wonderful Machine Producer

One of our Midwestern photographers recently asked me to prepare a cost estimate for one of his custom publication clients. Custom pubs look very similar to regular magazines, but they’re commissioned by a single sponsor and they’re designed to reach a targeted audience of customers, users, members or employees. Custom publications can be produced in-house, by custom content firms or by traditional ad agencies and design firms. It’s big business. They even have their own association, the Custom Content Council.

Custom publication estimates can be structured in the same way as a regular magazine contract but the rates tend to vary more widely. If the publication is focused on a commercial brand or product, you can expect to charge more than your typical magazine rate. If the custom publication is for an association or charity, you might get less. And if it’s a magazine for an airline or hotel, which tend to have content that’s comparable to regular editorial (and often contain third-party advertising), the fees will be about the same as regular editorial.

The publication in this quote was produced by a small ad agency. Though they aren’t a custom pub specialist, they are definitely experienced with custom pubs and their client is a Fortune 500 company. The assignment was to shoot an environmental portrait of a worker at a manufacturing facility in New York City that uses the client’s services, plus to provide documentary coverage of other aspects of the factory.

To get started, I called the art director at the agency to learn more about the project:

  • Who is the audience? Company employees.
  • How often does the publication come out? Quarterly.
  • How many copies do you distribute? 500,000.
  • How many images do you plan to use? 2-4.
  • How many pages have you allocated for the images? 2-3.
  • Would you like to see pricing on any other licensing options? 6 Months Intranet.
  • We’d like to scout the location the day before the shoot. Will we be able to get access to the facility? Yes. The art director will attend the scout as well.
  • Do you have an opinion about the style of the pictures – available light? Strobe? Existing light for the manufacturing shots. Strobe for the environmental portrait.
  • Will we need to handle any wardrobe, propping or styling of any kind? Subject will arrive camera ready. No additional styling, props or wardrobe needed.
  • Will anyone from the Agency or Client be present at the shoot? Just one art director from the agency.
  • Will your AD want to review images on a monitor the day of the shoot? No. No need for a digital tech or display.
  • Should we include catering on the shoot day? No. You can just order in lunch on the day of the shoot. The AD will pay for his own meal.
  • How many other photographers are you considering? 2.
  • Are any of them local to the shoot or would all of them have to travel? All three would have to travel.
  • Do you have a budget in mind? Nothing set in stone, but generally we don’t spend more than about 10-12k per assignment.

With all that in mind, I assembled the estimate and terms & conditions:

-For the fee I looked at a comparable editorial space rate as a starting point. If the space at a publication with a comparable circulation (like DetailsLatina or Town and Country) was in the 500-750.00/page range including concurrent web use (check out our day v. space rate post for more on how to structure that type of contract). Three pages would be worth 1500.00-2250.00. I looked at previous projects I had quoted for this agency and other similar custom pubs. I considered the prominence of the client and the fact that the assignment was coming through an agency that liked the photographer enough to pay for travel to a market saturated with photographers. I decided that the fee was worth 3500.00.

-We budgeted 350.00 for a local assistant (assistants in New York City tend to be a bit more expensive than in other parts of the country).

-The Digital Capture Fee covers the time, equipment, software, internet access and expertise necessary to create the web gallery for the agency to edit from. For most editorial clients, we charge 150.00-300.00 for a simple shoot (for bigger productions, we’ll charge for a digital tech instead). But 500.00 is more reflective of the actual value of this part of the job.

-We budgeted for 2 tech/travel days. The day before the shoot, the photographer would travel and scout the location. And the actual shoot day looked pretty long, so I planned on a third day to travel home.

-The photographer used his own photographic equipment (in this case, two camera bodies, four lenses and a lighting kit), but we tend to charge a separate line item for that instead of bundling it into the fee. We looked at what it would cost to rent the gear locally, then backed out the baggage charges.

-I got a quote of 468.00 for the airfare, but I rounded up. Airfares can change a lot between when you send out the estimate and when it gets approved. So it’s important to say that you’re going to charge for the actual cost.

-The photographer told me he’d need to check three bags, so after referring to the airline’s baggage policy (25.00 for the first, 35.00 for the second and 125.00 for the third – each way) it came to 370.00.

-Lodging in NYC is expensive (and it’s one of the reasons that we chose to hire a local assistant). I found a hotel near the factory for 378.00/night. Again, I rounded up. I’d rather have the invoice come in a little bit under the estimate than a little bit over.

-The file prep charge covers color correction, blemish/spot removal, minor retouching and delivery of three high resolution images.

-Miles, Parking, Meals, Taxis, Tolls, Certificate of Insurance & Misc. covered all of the estimated miles to/from the departure airport, parking at the departure airport, meals for the entire trip, local transportation in NYC, a certificate of insurance likely required to shoot at the manufacturing facility and any unforeseen miscellaneous expenses that may arise.

-Lastly, just to avoid any confusion, I listed the items that would be provided by the client, the agency and the subject.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing one of your projects, contact Wonderful Machine.

Perhaps Many Photographers Don’t Understand The Value Of Usage

A reader sent me this story, so that it might instill confidence in young photographers like herself. I think you will find that it does that:

I worked with one of the local college’s ex-students on a shoot for a magazine editorial about a year ago. The ex-student lied about having my permission and gave the image to the college, which then used the image on a billboard advertisement that wraps around a 20 story building on a very busy road in the city. It is a recognizable image of mine, and shows the faces of two models from a local agency. It was actually one of the models who spotted it first and I received a very embarrassing phone call from her agent who asked me how that shoot ended up on a billboard.

I went online and researched some suggestions of how I could handle this, but I couldn’t find much available. Crawling through some forums, I found that a few photographers had their images stolen and placed on a billboard, and they charged $500 for the use. The billboard was already up there for 1.5 months and it was supposed to be up there for 3 months total. I called the model agency and they told me that they ended up with $1500 for each girl for a year’s usage. They said that they knew the figure was low, but at least they would receive some pocket money.

I also consulted with a couple of local creative agencies who also offered some advice. They were helpful at first, although once they started talking to the college they decided to back off. I think they probably thought it wasn’t worth it (despite that I offered them the incentive of a commission). They were perhaps scared of losing a potential client over a nobody photographer like me.

So I spoke with the college directly and they asked me to come in to discuss this and negotiate a pay-out. I didn’t want to go in – I couldn’t see a reason to apart from them using this opportunity to intimidate me. They were a little manipulative over the phone, suggesting that my photograph would potentially be featured there for 12 months and it would be great exposure for me if I didn’t charge too much. I offered them $1500 per month, which they thought was ridiculous (I thought what they paid the model agency was ridiculous!). They told me the billboard space was only costing them $2700 per month. So I said I’d seek further advice and come back with a figure. They were desperate to get me to come in.

After much research, I found that it’s tricky to put a price on usage. I found the best advice to be 10 – 30% of the marketing budget (from small to large scale). In this scenario, they hadn’t commissioned this shoot and it wasn’t just about using my image, it was also the humiliation I went through explaining to my team members (particularly the model agency) how the image got into the advertiser’s hands. It also concerns the disassociation of my image to me (now known as the face of that college and it impacts my professionalism – even the creative agency that I sought advice from assumed I stupidly gave the files to the college (I had given them to the ex-student to use for his portfolio).

So I went with my gut instinct, and ended up charging them a figure that I thought was fair. I wrote them a letter a week later, explaining my situation, the inconvenience this has caused me, my humiliation to those involved, and that I thought after all this the figure was fair. I stuck with this:
2.5 months and they take the image down – $1500 per month = $3750
3 months – $1500 per month, $4500
12 months – $1250 per month, $15000

In the end, they decided they wanted my image for 12 months. After a few emails back and forth, I ended up settling on $9000. That’s ok, it’s a little less than what I was asking for but it’s a little more than 30% of their budget for the billboard space, I didn’t want to pursue this any further so I was happy to settle on that. They even offered me the incentive for future work with them.

After a google search, it seems like this problem occurs often and perhaps many photographers don’t understand the value of usage.

Pricing and Negotiating – Non-Fiction Book Cover

by Jess Dudley Wonderful Machine Producer

A well-known publisher recently commissioned one of our New York photographers to shoot the exterior of a building for the cover of a non-fiction book. The publisher initially agreed with the photographer on a price just to execute the shoot with the understanding that if they decided to use one of the images, they would then negotiate a separate licensing fee.

It’s somewhat unusual for a client to pay for a shoot and not get any reproduction rights to the photos (or at least the option to use the photos at a predetermined price). This is normally a recipe for an awkward negotiation. But in this case, the publisher wanted to get moving on the art, and they were comfortable that they could come to an agreement with the photographer once they saw the photos and once they knew how many copies they were going to print. Worst case scenario, the client wouldn’t license any of the images and the photographer could put them into her stock archive.

The shoot fee the photographer had already negotiated was 3000.00, plus digital capture and web gallery (500.00), equipment rental (315.00 for her own camera body and two lenses), transportation (50.00), meals (50.00) and misc. (50.00).

As it turned out, the publisher loved the pictures and wanted to license one for the front cover of the book, with an initial printing of 500,000 copies. At that point, the photographer asked me to help negotiate the usage fee. The publisher sent over the following contract:

Rights Granted – In consideration of the payment of fees as outlined below, you grant Publisher and its affiliates, exclusive rights to use and reproduce the Artwork, in whole or in part, on the cover of all print and digital world English editions and formats of the Work or derived from the Work, throughout the world, now known or hereafter devised, and for such other uses as set forth below, and for use in advertising, publicity or otherwise in connection with the Work for the life of the Work as set forth below (“Book Use”), and such other formats and uses as outlined below. You will retain copyright in the Artwork itself and all other rights to the Artwork, except that you will not license or sell any rights in the Artwork (including any other photographs from the same photo shoot or artwork substantially similar to the Artwork) for any Book Use. Publisher will own the copyright in the cover of the Work. In the event Publisher receives a request from a foreign publisher to use the Artwork for its foreign translation editions of the Work, Publisher will direct such foreign publisher to negotiate directly with you.

Fees – (a) Book Fees: For all rights granted herein with respect to all Book Use, Publisher will pay you a fee of $ [insert fee here] (the “Book Fee”), following acceptance of the Artwork to Publisher (together with any required releases) in accordance with Publisher’s instructions plus preapproved and documented travel expenses in a form acceptable to Publisher. (b) Fees for Additional Formats/Uses: In the event Publisher elects to publish, use or grant to a third party the right to publish or use the Work in formats set forth below, Publisher will pay you the following additional fee, which will thereafter cover all exclusive uses in that category: (i)  CD, DVD and other physical audio and/or video editions: $750.00. (ii) Ancillary/Merchandise: [insert fee here]

In simple terms, they wanted use of the picture in English language editions of the book, in any format, world-wide. They want to use the picture to promote the book. The photographer will retain the copyright to the photograph (including the right to negotiate separately with foreign language publishers of the book), but can’t license it to any other book project. The publisher wants to own the copyright to the cover art containing the photograph. They want to split the licensing fee into three parts: print (book) use, digital (cd/dvd/audio/video) use and merchandising use. They specified that they want to pay 750.00 for the digital use, but have asked us for a price for the book use and the merchandising use.

There’s a subtle difference between a printing and an edition. A new edition happens when there are revisions to the content. There can be multiple printings within a given edition.

The fact that they’re printing 500,000 copies on the first go-around gives us a good sense of the value. But since they’re asking for the right to use the picture on all future printings and editions makes it hard to know what it’s ultimately going to be worth. It’s not unusual for clients to ask for very broad usage. But it’s up to the photographer to figure out whether to quote a big price for big usage or to offer a more moderate price for more moderate usage. In this case, I was concerned that the price for all editions might be too steep, so I chose to amend that language and work up a price for just the first printing (keeping in mind that part of the value of the picture is that it would be used in advertising to promote the book). I also crossed out the line stating that the Publisher would own the copyright in the cover of the Work which would conflict with my “first printing” revision.

To determine the “Book Fee,” I consulted a number of estimates I had done in the past as well as BlinkBidFotoquote and Corbis. BlinkBid’s pricing consultant doesn’t seem to cover book publishing and Corbis and Getty require you to contact a sales rep to get pricing. The projects I’d worked on previously were stock quotes for somewhat smaller projects, with print runs of 5000-10,000, and the negotiated fees generally landed around 1500.00. Fotoquote provided a lot of options and good information for this particular use (English language, front cover, 500,000 print run) and suggested a licensing fee between 2173.00 and 4397.00. Considering our revisions, the fact that it was a much better than average photograph, the fact that the publisher had already paid the photographer 3000.00 to shoot the picture and that an additional 750.00 fee would be paid for digital use, we decided to price the book use at 3000.00 for the first printing. The 750.00 fee for supplemental CD, DVD, Audio and/or Video Editions was fine considering all of our pricing sources included the concurrent digital use in the base fee. Lastly, we wanted to negotiate Ancillary/Merchandise fees as needed, since the term is so vague and could include any number of uses. So, instead of inserting a fee, we wrote “to be negotiated separately.”

After reviewing the changes with the photographer and initialing the amendments, we sent the contract to the publisher. They flatly rejected it, saying they did really want those terms. So that left us to decide what the value was, not knowing how many copies the book would sell. Fotoquote suggested a range of 3600-7200.00. My gut instincts told me to double the book rate to 6000.00 for the unlimited number of printings (we left the digital at 750.00). Almost immediately, the publisher came back and offered 5000.00. The photographer accepted the fee and signed the agreement.

The 3000.00 shoot fee and 5750.00 licensing fee brought the total fees for the project to 8750.00. That might seem like a lot of money to some people, but considering that an author’s advance for a big non-fiction book can be $500k, $8500 is reasonable and proportional. Also, as useful as the pricing guides are, they don’t in themselves justify (for better or worse) the value of a photograph. The value ultimately comes down to how much the client is willing to pay for it and how much the photographer wants for it.

One little detail I’m still not sure about are the ramifications of the publisher owning the copyright to the book cover (which of course contains the photographer’s photograph). I can understand that they would want that. I’m just not sure that they need the photographer’s permission in order to resister the copyright to the whole package or to defend an infringement. (See more about derivative works.)

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing one of your projects, contact Wonderful Machine.

Real World Estimates – Contract

by Wonderful Machine CEO Bill Cramer.

For about six years now, I’ve been shooting assignments for AARP. I’ve mostly worked for their member newsletter, AARP Bulletin. And more recently, I’ve shot a few things for their website. They also have a nice magazine called AARP The Magazine, which has a paid circulation of over 22 million according to Audit Bureau of Circulations. The subjects they have me shoot tend to be senior citizens (as you might imagine) and the stories cover just about anything, from nursing home romances to social security swindlers.

Recently, photo editor Bronwen Latimer hired me to do an environmental portrait of a guy named Bob Dunn, who each year flies from his home in Delaware to play Santa Claus at a mall in Oklahoma. (Interestingly, I learned from him that there are three main companies who are in the business of representing professional Santas, and until recently Kodak was one of them.) The photo was for a story on seasonal workers and Bronwen asked me to make a picture of him at home in his Santa suit. I’m not sure how many photographers would think to put AARP on their list of dream clients, but I’ve always enjoyed working for them. Everyone there is really nice, they pay pretty well, they have a pretty reasonable contract and they have a massive audience.

I’ve found that a small percentage of magazines I’ve worked with over the years have no contract at all. In those cases, I send them mine. Of the rest, about half have a contract that governs assignments into the indefinite future, while others, like AARP, send out a contract for each assignment. When I do get contracts with no time limit, I tend to add an expiration date. Here’s the contract (click to enlarge):

Here’s how it breaks down:

1) Assignment. Who my assigning editor is and how the pictures will be used.

2) Description and Logistics. Who the subject is and when the shoot is scheduled. I can’t recall if it was the case here, but I frequently get calls for shoots that have already been scheduled. I find that some clients like to lock down the subject first, then find a photographer who’s available on that date. In cases where I’m already booked for that date, I’ll ask the client if I can check the subject’s availability for another available date rather than turning down the shoot, and often that works out.

3) Due Date. Strictly speaking, my normal schedule to turn around a web gallery is 48 hours. But as a practical matter, I deliver it as soon as I can. I don’t necessarily charge a rush fee even if the client asks to see it sooner than that. My normal turnaround time for reproduction file preps is another 48 hours and I frequently do charge rush fees (usually 75.00 additional for 24 hour delivery).

4) Compensation. I normally get 600.00 or 650.00/day plus expenses (assistant, digital fee, mileage, parking, tolls and meals (when appropriate) for assignments for The Bulletin and Many publications pay based on the actual space the photos occupy in the magazine in addition to or instead of a day rate. But space has never been a consideration because the pictures tend to be small in the Bulletin and on their website. They’re capping the expenses at 700.00, which I think is reasonable for web assignments. They seem to have a bit more latitude on Bulletin assignments (and I suspect even more for the magazine). Most contracts will establish that the photographer is an independent contractor rather than an employee, which is fine. However, there may be situations for some photographers who work at the client’s office/studio and with the client’s equipment, that then should be paid as an employee, with the client matching the payroll taxes.

5) Use. Even though the Assignment paragraph says that the picture is for “online and other digital media,” the Use paragraph says that AARP can use it “in any media provided that the photographs remain associated with the Assignment Article.” It’s vague to me whether that means any AARP publication or whether they’re referring just to They can use it for promotional purposes. Third party use is extra. Even though I think it could be more clearly written, I chose not to try to correct it. However, I’ve seen many cases where magazines offer very low budgets and ask for lots of use beyond the basic first print use and I’ll usually strike most of those extras.

6) Recording. Not sure if this applies to “behind the scenes videos.”

7) Deliverables. They ask that the photographer add metadata to the images. That’s unusual, but perfectly reasonable. (Now I just have to get into the habit of doing it.)

8) Representations and Warranties. Fine.

9) Miscellaneous. The agreement lasts as long as the term of the copyright to the photographs. I’ve never seen that before. It’s fine though, and I don’t know that it makes any difference. We will all be long gone. AARP returned a signed copy of the contract to me, which is really nice. Typically, whoever sends the contract signs it last. In cases where the photographer sends a client their contract, the photographer shouldn’t sign it first, because if the recipient makes revisions, it looks like the photographer agreed to those revisions.

Santa was a good sport, as you can see:

Here’s how they used it:

Here’s the invoice and model release (click to enlarge):

Invoice comments: I always refer to the date of the contract on the invoice so it’s clear which contract applies to that job. I have a full-time assistant, but I find most magazine accounting departments want to see an assistant invoice anyway, so I just create one. I usually charge magazines 300.00 for a web gallery and 25.00 for basic file prep. I normally only charge the client for meals if it’s a full day shoot. This one was just a few hours, so even though we had lunch on the way, I didn’t bill it to the client (though I did pay for my assistant’s meal.)

Release comments: I’m not sure what the “good and valuable consideration” would be in an editorial situation like this, but I don’t normally pay subjects for magazine shoots unless they’re hired as professional models. The release says that the model “understand(s) that AARP owns the copyright to the photos.” Not sure why it would matter why the subject would need to understand that. It contradicts the photographer contract.

Interview: When I cornered Bronwen for an interview, she deferred to MaryAnne Golon who was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. MaryAnne is Consulting Director of Photography & Multimedia for AARP. And for those of you who don’t know, she has had a very accomplished career as a photo editor, including running Time Magazine’s photo department for a while and winning lots of awards along the way. She will be on the POYi jury this year for the University of Missouri and she is an advisory board member for Facing Change: Documenting America (, “a group of seriously talented photojournalists and writers creating a historical look at America during these turbulent times.” You can read more about MaryAnne at

I know that AARP hires photographers for AARP: The Magazine, AARP Bulletin and Does AARP use photography in other ways or for other products?

AARP assigns original photography for the magazine, the Bulletin, and the website based on established industry editorial rates and licensing.  Other areas of AARP may assign photography for advertising, marketing, and promotional uses across all platforms including print, broadcast, and the web.  The Brand area of the Association handles celebrity ambassadors and experts and assigns accordingly either for specific uses or as work for hire.

I’ve read that AARP has over 50 million members. Roughly how many people see the magazine, the bulletin and the website?

All 50 million members of AARP receive AARP, the magazine, and AARP The Bulletin by mail.  Web usage by members has been on the rise.  Here are some interesting factoids from 2011: has 5.5 million unique visitors every month with 825 million individual page views.

How frequently do the Bulletin and the magazine come out?

The Bulletin publishes 10 times a year and the magazine 6 times a year.

How do you describe the Bulletin in terms of the format/paper, compared to the magazine (tabloid, newsletter?)

The Bulletin is AARP’s nimblest print vehicle and is intended to be newsy.  It is printed on a high grade newsprint and can very much be seen as a newsletter.  The magazine is bi-monthly and is printed on high quality stock and is a glossier lifestyle publication.

How much does the Day Rate vary from photographer to photographer or from project to project?

There is little variation of the day rate unless rights beyond editorial are negotiated up front.  The magazine day rate is $800 per day and the Bulletin and website pay $600 per day.

Space has never come up for The Bulletin because it tends to use photographs fairly small. Does the magazine pay space over the day rate when they use a lot of pictures from an assignment or large pictures?

There is no space over day rate at AARP. The rates are comparable or above industry standards and include non-exclusive online and one-time print rights for the publications.

Do you have any thoughts about how editorial photographers are going to have to adapt generally, to the changing marketplace?

Freelance editorial photographers will need to develop multiple client bases if they have not already done so. The editorial market is shrinking in the journalism realm, but growing in other areas including lifestyle, fashion, and portraiture. I think social media is a great tool for freelance editorial photographers to link out to their websites and highlight their recent work. Twitter and Facebook are the giants of the social platforms.  LinkedIn is a more serious business-oriented site for posting. There are available platforms, such as Tweetdeck, that freelancers can use to post simultaneously to several sites at once to market their work.


If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing one of your projects, contact Wonderful Machine.

Real World Estimates – Reportage For Advertising Use

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine Producer

Recently, an ad agency contacted one of our photographers about an estimate to shoot a series of still photographs for a campaign for a popular sporting goods manufacturer. A year earlier, the photographer had quoted on a similar project for the same agency, but the two of them couldn’t come to terms on it (the photographer wasn’t comfortable delivering extensive licensing on so many pictures for what he thought was a low fee). But his diplomacy, patience and professionalism were rewarded when the agency came back to him with another project. Knowing that the client was cost-sensitive he wanted to make every effort to deliver a reasonable proposal. But just as he knew the client’s sensitivity to price, the client knew his and came back to him anyway. They were interested in the photographer not just because of his style of shooting, but also because of his post-processing technique.

The shoot was to take place on one day at a factory half-way across the country. The project required making portraits and candid photos of employees at work, as well still life pictures of the final product. The shoot would require only minimal pre-production. All of the elements in the pictures (the people, the location, the props) were already in place, and the photographer’s (mostly) ambient light style of shooting would allow him to get his pictures with minimal equipment or disruption to the operation.

The photographer had gotten the initial details from the agency (including a shot list) and then asked me to talk to them. After reviewing the concept and approach with the photographer, I prepared a list of questions for the art buyer:

  1. Do you want the photographer to use his signature available light shooting and post-processing style? Yes.
  2. Do you want the photographer to work with the people and process as it is, or dress it up in any way? As is, but of course filtered through the photographer’s unique style.
  3. Would all of the elements of the manufacturing process be available to shoot at any time of day, or would we have to work on a certain schedule? Each step of the production process was going on all the time. The shot list broke the shoot up into four situations within the facility, with loose guidelines for each.
  4. Does the whole manufacturing process take place in one facility or will we have to move from one location to another during the day? Everything was contained in one big facility.
  5. Do you want all of the pictures (including the still life pictures) to maintain the same ambient light look (even though the photographer may add light here and there)? Yes.
  6. How many final images do need? 18
  7. What licensing do you need for those pictures? Worldwide print advertising use (in sport publications only), web advertising use, point of purchase, collateral (print and web) for 2 years.
  8. Are there other photographers bidding on the job? None (at this point). I also found that the agency was pushing hard to use this photographer because his past work and unique style was the actual inspiration for the concept.
  9. Do you have a set budget? No.
  10. Are you going to want to approve the pictures as they’re being made? No. (Normally, on an ad shoot, a photographer is going to want the client to sign off on each picture before moving on to the next one. The photographer and I decided that his project required a more fluid approach. If he was going to get 18 final images in one shoot day, there would be no time to stop and get approval every 20 minutes. And since the approach was more one of discovery rather than replicating a comp, he didn’t want to lose momentum by stopping frequently.)

With all that in mind, I got to work on the first version of the estimate.

Fee. While the licensing was pretty extensive, there were limitations to consider. The print ad use was limited to sport publications and it was unlikely the agency would be using all 18 images in ads simultaneously. To determine the fee, we looked at the number of situations outlined in the shot list, rather than the actual number of shots. The images within a situation amounted to a hero shot and variety of detail shots.  Based on the number of situations (4), licensing, style and sophistication of the production, we decided to set the fee for the first situation at 9000.00 and each additional situation at 3000.00. We checked our pricing against a few other sources. BlinkBid’s bid consultant suggested a range of 5950.00-8500.00 per image per year, which is a great starting point. Corbis was in the same ballpark, 8500.00 per image per year and FotoQuote was slightly lower at about 5000.00-6500.00. What these pricing calculators can’t take into account are the sophistication of the production, similarities between the images or caliber of the client/product/agency.

Assistant. Since the shoot was going to be pretty low-tech, the photographer decided to just have one assistant and to have him look after the photo equipment as well as manage the digital files. The photographer and the client were comfortable reviewing images on the fly in order to keep moving quickly (mostly seeing them on the back of the camera with a few breaks during the day to see them on a laptop). Against my better judgement, I went along with the idea of one assistant. For the small additional cost, I think it’s worth having a second assistant on just about any shoot. And when working out of town, I’ll normally book a local second assistant who will know where to go when the photographer needs something in a pinch.

Equipment Rental. The photographer didn’t need to rent that much gear  for this low production, available light project. We budgeted for 3 rental days of a 5d mk II @ 200/day, a 24-70 @ 35.00/day, a 50 1.2 @ 35/day and a 7d body for backup.

Digital Capture Fee. For most editorial and corporate shoots, I charge a capture fee for each shoot day (which pays for the time to create and post a web gallery) plus either a file prep fee (when the processing is straight-forward) or a retouching fee (when it’s more elaborate). For most advertising projects, it makes sense to have a digital tech on hand to help the client view the pictures as they’re being made as well as organize, rename and run any galleries necessary. But we chose the run-and-gun approach for this shoot

Retouching hours. The treatment the photographer gives to his final images is somewhat unique and time consuming, so we billed accordingly.

Scouting and Travel Days. Since the locations (and the action at each location) were fixed, the scouting would be relatively brief. We decided it could be combined with the travel day. The photographer would need to figure out where he was going to stage his equipment and review all the areas on the shot list. This allowed me to bundle the scouting with the travel day. The photographer planned to fly in the day before the shoot, scout that afternoon, shoot the next day, and return home the following morning.

Airfare & Baggage. I estimated for airfare for the photographer and his assistant. Since they wouldn’t have to bring a lot of gear, we only had to account for 2 checked bags each way per person @ 25.00 each. The tickets were 337.00 per person and baggage fees would total 100.00. I rounded up a dollar and made it a point to remind the art buyer that this fee would increase the closer we got to the shoot, so making a decision sooner rather than later was most cost-effective.

Car Rental. We looked up rates for a two-day SUV rental. Enterprise had cars available for about 100.00/day. I also included the full insurance coverage at 20.00/day and 40.00 in gas to refill the tank.

Lodging. The photographer and assistant would each have their own room for two nights. I found rooms at a Residence Inn for 120.00 per room per night, including taxes.

Catering. We estimated catering for 8, including the photographer, his assistant and 6 others from the agency and  client. We typically estimate 35.00 per person for a light breakfast, normal lunch and snacks throughout the day.

Miles, Parking, Tolls, Meals, Misc. This item covers miles the photographer has to drive to the airport from his home/studio, any parking, tolls, meals that he pays for on the travel or shoot days (excluding catering), and any miscellaneous expenses that may pop up at the last minute.

Location, talent. We wanted to make sure that we clearly stated what the agency and client will be providing if the photographer wasn’t providing it. Every necessary component of a shoot should be addressed in the estimate.

Advance. We normally ask for 50% of the estimated costs so that the photographer can pay their vendors in a timely fashion and buy/rent what they need for the shoot. Some agencies have rules about paying out a certain percentage of the expenses and a certain percentage of the fee, which we are usually fine with as long as the photographer has enough to cover out-of-pocket expenses.

Here is the first estimate:

The art buyer ran it by her colleagues as well as the client and got back to me the next day. Not surprisingly, a budget had materialized. She told me that they would like to keep the estimate below 25k because it’s their policy that if an estimate exceeds that amount, they’re obligated to consider three vendors and run the estimate through a cost consultant. This is not the first time I’d heard about the “keep it under 25k rule.” So the give and take began.

The fastest way to cut costs is to reduce the licensing terms or number of images licensed. The client was very specific about the licensing they needed, so it seemed our only option was to limit the number of images. Even though we priced this based on the number of scenarios, we decided to trim the amount of shots down to 15 and prorate the fee on a per-image basis. Had we needed to reduce the number of images by more than three, we would have reevaluated the cost per image. This adjustment also reduced cost of the file preps and brought the bottom line down to 24,225.00.

Here is the second estimate:

The art buyer ran the second estimate by her colleagues and the client. Now they decided that they wanted 20 images from the shoot (two more than initially requested). So we bumped the fee up accordingly and resubmitted the estimate.

Here is the third and final estimate we sent to the agency, which the client approved. Apparently, the AB can skirt the cost consultants by issuing 2 POs if the estimate comes in just over 25k:

About a month after the shoot, the agency contacted the photographer and asked to license an additional image from the shoot to be used in a single spot on television as well as online for up to one year. We gave them a price of 3000.00 and they agreed.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing one of your projects, you can reach Jess at

Real World Estimates – Flat Rate Magazine Contracts

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

As we’ve discussed in a previous post, structuring photographic fees on the basis of a day rate vs, space is customary for many national magazines and is generally the most equitable for both the photographer and the client. But we’re increasingly seeing publications prefer to pay flat fees for photo shoots. While working this way can keep the costs predictable for the client, it puts all the financial risk on the photographer. Any unforeseen expenses can eat into your creative fee quickly if you’re not careful. Here are a few things to consider as you negotiate your next magazine job.

For starters, it’s important that you don’t immediately jump into a budget discussion when a client first contacts you. It can be disconcerting to a client, editorial or otherwise, if you show more interest in the money than the project. Yes, it’s important to understand their budget, but save that conversation until after you’ve expressed an interest in the assignment and an understanding of the concept.

Once you’ve heard the details of the shoot, ask the client if they have a contract or if they’d like to work with yours. Then, ask if they have a budget set for the shoot or would they would like to see an estimate. Unlike a lot of commercial projects, most magazines have a pretty clear idea of what they expect to pay for a given assignment. If the client is offering a flat rate, that can mean one of three things. Either it’s a flat creative fee plus photographic and travel expenses, or it’s a flat fee including photographic expenses plus travel expenses (like this assignment for Fast Company). Or, it’s a flat fee including all expenses.

When presented with a flat budget, it can be tempting to decide on the spot whether the rate is satisfactory for the time, skill, licensing and expenses involved. But in most cases, it’s prudent to call the client back after you’ve had a chance to run the numbers and review their contract. What seems like a lot of money at first may be less impressive once you subtract off all your costs and account for the licensing. And of course, be clear before you hang up the phone about what the “flat” rate covers and what it doesn’t.

Figure out how you’re going to execute the job and then list all of the expenses you’ll incur—subtracting them from the total budget. Compare what’s left to the amount of work involved and the licensing required. Is it reasonable? If it isn’t, don’t assume that it’s a take-it-or-leave-it situation. Most clients are willing to negotiate if you handle it in a thoughtful way. Determine what would make it work for you. Then try to understand which items are important to your client and which aren’t, so that you can make an offer that satisfies their needs without giving away the farm. For some clients, the rights are most important and they’ll be willing to bend on price. Other clients will have a strict limit on what they can spend and they will be more willing to negotiate the licensing. We were recently negotiating a contract with a casino whose legal department completely rewrote our contract. It didn’t take a genius to see what their priorities were. So rather than giving them limited licensing for a moderate fee, we gave them all the terms they wanted and simply raised the rate commensurately.

In another recent situation, we were presented with a contract from a custom publisher that specified that they could use all “works” created on the assignment for editorial use forever. We felt that the fee they were offering would be reasonable for their initial needs (which was four images), but that to have use of any or all of the images from the shoot was excessive. The photo editor was sympathetic to our concerns, but her legal department wasn’t willing to modify their contract. Then we saw that it was actually the assignment brief that defined what constituted the “works.” So the photo editor just rewrote the brief to define the “works” as just four images and specify that use of additional images would be negotiated separately (which they later were). This simple change was enough to satisfy the photographer, the photo editor and her legal folks too. A win-win-win.

Here’s an example of one magazine’s flat rate contract:

And here’s a flat rate contract template we use when the client doesn’t have their own contract (click here to download a Word version):

Most of the terms are similar to our day rate against space contract, except for paragraph 2:

COMPENSATION – The Client will pay the Photographer a flat fee, inclusive of all normal expenses, to be agreed upon per assignment, for a specified usage.

Once the contract is in place, all you have to settle on for each assignment is the fee and the usage. We’re normally comfortable with a simple email from the client saying, for example, that for xxxx.xx including expenses they would use a full-page opener plus an additional half-page picture.

There are a lot of limitations in the rest of the contract that you can negotiate to keep in or take out. But as with any contract, the main thing is to be clear about what you’re going to get and what they’re going to get.

For more information on Wonderful Machine’s consulting services, please contact Craig Oppenheimer at or 610.260.0200.

Real World Estimates – Magazine Article Reprints

by Jess Dudley Wonderful Machine Producer

Most magazine assignments don’t have big budgets on the front end, but if you play your cards right, you can help make up for it on the back end. One way to do that is to be savvy about article reprint licensing.

After a CEO or hedge fund manager lands on the cover of a publication or in a feature spread, they will usually hear from the reprint department of the magazine offering to license them reprints of the article. Reprints are a repackaged version of an article without the heft or distraction of the rest of the magazine, and they’re typically used by the subject of an article to promote their company. Eprints are like reprints, but rather than being printed, they’re packaged as a PDF that can be sent out by email (to a specified number of recipients) or posted online (for a specified period). Reprints and eprints can be valuable promotional tools because they carry what amounts to an endorsement from a trusted publication or news source.

When a photograph is used in the original publication, it’s considered editorial use. But repackaging and distribution by a third party constitutes advertising use which is often worth a lot more than the original job. The first thing photographers have to do to insure that they get their fare share of this value is make sure they reserve those rights. When a client sends you a contract, look at the fee and look at the rights you’re conveying in exchange for that fee. Do they match up? Decide what’s a fair price for one-time editorial use (per day and per page). Then add on additional fees for each additional use.

Some publishing companies are big enough to have their own in-house reprint departments. But most magazines will farm that work out to reprint companies like FosterParsReprint OutsourceScoopWright’s or YGS. The sheer size and number of these companies should give you an indication of the value of reprints.

Some clients will want to secure reprint rights upfront, bundling it with the shoot fee. Others will want an option to purchase reprint rights (at predetermined prices) as the need arises. Still others prefer to negotiate reprint rights on a case-by-case basis. All of those are reasonable positions to take provided the compensation is fair. Here’s one magazine’s reprint terms:

For a period commencing on the first date you shoot or create the Photographs (or any of them) and ending three (3) months after Publisher’s first publication of any one or more of the Photographs in the Magazine (the “Exclusivity Period”), the exclusive right and license, throughout the universe, to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, display, prepare derivative works based on, and exercise any and all other rights of copyright in and to, any one or more of the Photographs, in any and all media and methods of transmission now known or hereafter developed:

(ii) in a stand-alone reprint format, for the benefit of or on behalf of a third party, whereby any one or more of the Photographs is reproduced along with other material from the applicable issue of the Magazine, with or without additional material supplied by the applicable third party (each a “Reprint” and the rights referred to in this sub-paragraph 3(b)(ii) shall be referred to herein as the “Reprint Rights”).

(c) Commencing upon expiration of the Exclusivity Period, the perpetual, nonexclusive right and license, throughout the universe, in all media and methods of transmission now known or hereafter developed, to exercise, promote, and market, any Reprint Rights.

Cutting through the legal jargon, it basically says that the publication has the right to license the photographer’s image(s) to any third party for reprint use, in perpetuity, without any additional compensation the photographer. If you spot similar language in a contract without sufficient compensation for that additional use, you might consider crossing it out.

And of course, if a magazine doesn’t have their own contract, you’ll want to have them sign yours. Here’s a template you can use, as well as an explanation of it.

Once you’ve come to terms with your client, you can wait for the magazine or a reprint management service to drum up reprint interest with the subject/organization. Or even better, you can follow up with the subject yourself. Here’s a template we use:


Thanks again for being such a good subject on the XYZ Magazine photo shoot. You can view a web gallery of all the pictures at the following link:

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to get article reprints, have prints made, license any of the pictures, or if there’s any photography I can help you with in the future.

All the best,


When formulating a price quote, consider the following:

  • Get a PDF of the original article. Often a reprint quote will be requested before you’ve seen the magazine yourself.
  • Determine the size and number of images and their significance to the overall package. The greater the number and size of the image(s), the more valuable they are. Multiple images of the same subject (that they could easily cut) might not be worth as much as multiple images of different subjects.
  • Who is the end user? It may be that multiple subjects from different companies were photographed for one article. If the main subject is ordering the reprints and your shot features some distant business associate twice removed, the photo is not going to be worth very much to the main subject. That will create downward pressure on the value because the client could easily eliminate your image from the reprint all together.
  • How important is your subject? Is it the CEO (which would have a higher value) or a middle-manager (which could have lower value.)
  • How big is the company? A bigger company may stand more to gain by using your pictures than a smaller company.
  • How many reprints do they want to send out? The greater the number of reprints, the greater the value.
  • Do they want eprints too? If so, how many (if they’re emailing them out) or for what duration (if they’re posting it on their website)?
  • As size, quantity and duration increases, the value increases, but not in direct proportion. (For example, we figure that doubling the number of reprints increases the value about 25%.)

Armed with that information, you can calculate the value. While it can certainly vary, we’ve found that reprint pricing is relatively consistent from client to client. After some years of experience pricing reprints, we’ve created a pricing matrixthat we use to put us in the right ballpark.

Here are a few recent successful reprint quotes:

You can find additional reprint pricing guidance on fotoQuote. And photographer Jason Grow also has a pricing guide as well: