Pricing & Negotiating: Real Employees for Trade Ads

Apr 13, 2016
Pricing & Negotiating

Shoot Concept: Environmental lifestyle images and portraits of client employees

Licensing: Unlimited use of 36 images for 1 year

Location: Client facilites on the West Coast

Shoot Days: 3

Photographer: Lifestyle and portrait specialist

Agency: Mid-sized agency based in the Midwest

Client: One of the largest manufacturers you’ve probably never heard of

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: Late last year we worked with one of our West Coast-based photographers to estimate and produce a project for one of the largest brands you've never heard of, but probably crossed paths with at some point. This is partially due to the nature of their product and the fact that they are trade oriented and don't deal with consumers directly. The agency was developing a new web presence for the client, along with a number of trade print ads, all of which humanized the brand by highlighting the employees who manage the day to day operations. The concept was relatively straightforward; the photographer would need to capture environmental portraits of client employees at client facilites on the West Coast. Although the locations and talent would be provided, there was still a lengthy shot list, operational locations, and a fair amount of production involved.

This was a somewhat challenging fee to pin down because of the scale/reach of the client, the agency's requirement of “unlimited” use in spite of the limited intended use, and a shot list that seemed to split the difference between an image-based approach and a library approach. Though the client was expecting to walk away with 36 selects, the shot list only consisted of 12 hero shots (four scenarios/shoot day). The additional 24 images were described as “pickup" variations of the 12 principal images. Because of the straightforward concept and relatively static scenarios, it was difficult to imagine these variations creating much value for the client.

Much as I try to avoid this thinking, I established a ceiling in the back of my mind, due to the “typical” library rate range of 7,500-15,000/day (which generally wouldn’t include a limit on the image count or duration of use). Additionally, we determined the value for the 12 principal images was considerably higher than the 24 variations. Weighted in this manner, we set the fee at 26,500.00 for the first 12 images (1 @ 5000.00, 2-6 @ 2500.00 each, 7-12 @ 1500.00 each) and 15,000.00 for the 24 variations (13-24 @ 750.00 each, 25-36 @ 500.00 each), bringing us to a total of 41,500.00 for the creative and licensing fee for this project. This falls on the higher end of the library ceiling I’d set (particularly considering the limitations), but the photographer has a unique approach and aesthetic favored by the client and agency, so we felt we could start with healthier fees. We were confident that the agency would come back to us to negotiate if our numbers didn’t align with theirs because of the photographer’s preferred position. We must have hit the mark, because the agency approved the bid without a single question or requested revision (which is exceedingly rare).

Client Provisions: We made sure to indicate that the agency and/or client would provide locations, casting and talent, requisite releases and any major set or product props.  

Tech/Scout Days: We included a tech/scout day to walk through the three locations the day before the shoot.

Assistants and Tech: We included two killer assistants and a top-notch digital tech. The lighting kit would be minimal, but we’d be moving a lot and wanted to make sure we had enough hands on deck. The tech included a small mobile workstation in her fee.

Producer: We included a producer (including travel fees and expenses) to manage the crew, employee talent, locations, stylists, catering, parking, scheduling, local transportation, and just about any other logistical concerns that may come up throughout pre-production and the shoot.

Equipment: We estimated 1,500.00/day for a pair of DSLR bodies, a number of lenses, portable strobes, walkies and a one-ton grip truck.

Styling: We brought on two stylists (and one stylist assistant) to manage HMU, supplemental wardrobe (the subjects would provide a few of their own outfits and the client would provide necessary uniforms) and supplement personal props like handbags, folios, phones, etc. Major set props would be provided by the client – basically, we would work with existing spaces as is.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This fee covered time, equipment and costs for the initial import, edit, batch color correction and upload of the images via FTP (or similar) for client review and selection. A digital tech will handle most of this on set, but often the photographer will want to fine tune and finesse the edit a bit before sharing with the client/agency.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: We included basic select processing (color correction and minor cleanup/touchups) as a lump sum (based on 125.00/image in this case), giving us a bit more ground to stand on if the client ultimately selected fewer than 36 images, as they would still be responsible for the full post processing amount. 

Travel Expenses: The producer would be travelling in for the shoot so I used Kayak.com to determine reasonable airfare, lodging and car rental costs. 

Catering, Insurance and Misc.: We included catering for 23 crew, agency, employee talent and client for each of the three shoot days, insurance to cover necessary workers comp/general liability premiums and a healthy "misc." line to cover client dinners, local transportation and any other unexpected miscellaneous expenses that may pop up throughout the shoot.

Results: As I mentioned above, the initial estimate was accepted without any revisions. The shoot went as smoothly as it could have and everyone was stoked with the final product.

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 ad campaigns.

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