Pricing & Negotiating: Executive Portraits for a Large Agency

Jul 30, 2014
Consulting Case StudiesPricing & Negotiating

Shoot Concept: Create executive portraits and corporate lifestyle images of employees at work in their corporate headquarters and on-site at one client location

Licensing: Digital collateral and digital advertising use of up to 40 images

Location: Corporate headquarters and one retailer location

Shoot Days: Three

Photographer: Corporate lifestyle specialist

Agency: Large agency in the Mid-Atlantic

Client: Business consultant

A well-known ad agency recently commissioned one of our East Coast photographers to shoot a library of images for their client’s rebranding effort. The agency’s B2B client provides consulting services to mid-large sized national brands. The goal of the shoot was to capture a range of corporate lifestyle images of real employees at work in their company offices and on-site at one of their client’s locations. The images were created for, and would be primarily used on, the client’s newly redesigned website, so while the production machine was in motion, the agency wanted to create 10 executive portraits to round out the website about page. On top of the web use, the agency also requested digital/web advertising use to cover their trade advertising needs.

Although all of the images would be used on the site, it was likely that only a handful would be used for any of the somewhat limited advertising use granted. However, as is often the case, the agency was unwilling to carve up the usage into different components, making it impossible to impose more than one licensing agreement on different sets within the library. Additionally, the agency was unwilling to bend on the duration of use. Just as with the extent of the usage, we determined that the likelihood of the client taking full advantage of perpetual use was low enough that we were willing to be flexible on that point. The images have a shelf life, and we assume that the value to the client degrades considerably after three to five years — executives change, services change, and imagery needs to be refreshed. After careful consideration and discussion with the art buyer, we decided to price the usage closer to the value of the intended use.

To determine the licensing fee, I considered the caliber of the photographer (in-demand), reputation of the agency (solid), size of the client (niche), intended audience (non-consumer), limited use (web/digital only), assumed shelf-life, number of shot days (2.5, but we priced as 3 — half days are a myth) and intensity of the production (pretty low). I also considered that 1/4 of the images would consist of executive portraits. After weighing all of the factors, we landed at $20,000. Other pricing sources like Fotoquote, Blinkbid’s Bid Consultant and the various stock sites would have us quote the usage fee in the six-figure range, but those pricing resources don’t account for the nuance and just keep multiplying, regardless of the influencing factors and/or diminishing value to the client, and photographer, over time.

From a production standpoint, this project was relatively low impact. The photographer would need to show up to the provided locations with his or her crew, and make pictures of the provided resources. That being said, because we were working through a fairly large agency, their expectations would be slightly more intensive than you may initially expect.

Here’s the approved estimate:

Example of an approved estimate

Tech/Scout Day: I included a tech/scout day for the photographer and agency to walk through the offices and client locations to make sure everyone was on the same page creatively, and allow the photographer to consider lighting and equipment needs.

1st Assistant Days: I included four days for the first assistant — one to prep gear (and/or attend the scout) and three to shoot.

2nd Assistant Days: The second assistant would be on hand for all three shoot days.

Digital Tech Days: The tech would only be needed on the corporate lifestyle days. The agency wouldn’t need to review the executive portraits on set, so we were able to forgo that expense on the portrait day.

Equipment: $4500 covered costs for a DSLR, a backup, lenses, grip equipment and portable strobe kit, some of which the photographer’s production company owned and would be renting at market rate for the shoot and some that would need to be rented from a local rental house.

Producer: Even though a great deal of the production elements would be provided by the client and agency, we felt that a producer would still be beneficial during the shoot. Since there wasn’t much in the way of pre-production I only included one day for prep (arrange catering, book/confirm the five crew members and pull together a call sheet), one day for the tech/scout and three days for the shoot.

Production RV: The client couldn’t guarantee the availability of convenient staging area so I included a production RV for the two lifestyle days. Since we would be stationary for the executive portraits, it wasn’t necessary on the third day.

Groomer: The subjects would be instructed to arrive camera-ready. The groomer would be on hand to make sure they were finessed a bit and looked their best when on camera.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: Covers time, equipment and costs for the initial import, edit, batch color correction and upload of the images to an FTP for client review and selection.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: Color correction, basic touch-up and specialized processing of the 40 selects. As the result of considerable post-processing, all of photographer’s images all have a distinct feel, which increases the cost for standard file prep.

File Transfer: This covers the cost to deliver the 40 selects via FTP.

Catering: I estimated to provide lunch on the two corporate lifestyle days. Because the third day was a “half day” we didn’t need to cover catering.

Miles, Expendables, FTP, and Misc: This covered out-of-pocket expenses the photographer and crew would accrue between mileage, FTP costs and any other miscellaneous expenses that may arise.

Housekeeping (see the project description): I noted all of the production elements the client would be providing.

Results, Hindsight and Feedback: The photographer shot the project and the client came back to license 10 additional images. We set the rate for those at $750 each, including processing.

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.