If you’re not in it every day, it’s hard to know how much to budget for your commercial photography or advertising project. I get quite a few inquiries from people who know what they want, but they’re unsure of all of that goes into a commercial photoshoot and the costs associated with it. So, here’s a handy little cheat sheet to give you a better idea of:
- What (and who) is involved in a commercial photo shoot.
- What to expect (often, there are many more tasks, details, and professionals at play than some would expect.)
- Ballpark price estimates, depending on the size of the project.
**Keep in mind that every photographer does pricing differently to best serve their clients and fit their services. In addition, you may not need all of this for a small project. Or, you may need more than what’s listed if you’re doing a large production.
I encourage you to get in touch so I can provide the most accurate estimate and guidance for your particular project. From there, I’d be happy to put together a treatment and a bid for your project with stylist recommendations and examples if you’re interested.
But for now, here’s a general cost breakdown for commercial photography:
Photographer’s Creative Fee ($3000+ per day)
Professional, high-quality commercial photography costs more than stock images for a reason. Think of it as purchasing a custom art piece painted just for you by an experienced artist versus buying a generic print anyone can get on the internet for $50. It’s not only about the time that went into it, but the professionalism and artistry as well. The thoughtful creativity makes the professional piece much more valuable. You can’t get it anywhere else, and it’s perfectly personalized to fit your needs, tastes, and brand.
Image licensing costs (varies)
I encourage you to determine the purposes for your images upfront. As you might expect, image licensing varies by usage. (For instance, do you plan to use it on print packaging, paid online ads, social media, billboards, etc.?)
The broader the image license, the more you’ll pay. So, you can save money by knowing exactly how you plan to use your images upfront. If you aren’t sure yet, I recommend paying for the photos and licensing you need now. Then, schedule a separate project later for additional images if you need them (instead of paying a higher fee for broader licensing and potentially paying for images you won’t use).
Photographer’s Agent Costs (25% of photographer’s fees)
Many times, the photographer adds the percentage on top of their fees. The agent helps both the photographer and the client by facilitating the process.
Producer ($1500+ per day of preproduction/set days)
Producers are beneficial for large projects and complex productions. They take a bird’s eye view in developing the overall product. The producer works with all the individual professionals to produce seamless and cohesive results. A producer is essential if many creative professionals are involved in the project or production.
Stylists per day ($1000+, plus sourcing costs and prep days)
Assistants per day ($300+)
Assistants save time and money by making the shoot or production progress more efficiently. It also prevents professionals from moving back and forth between tasks. They can devote all of their attention to the job at hand, meaning fewer pauses and better quality.
Digital tech, plus kit fee ($1200+ per day)
I think digi techs have superpowers and often save the day with their impressive on-the-fly troubleshooting skills. While you probably aren’t building a tech kit, I like this article explaining the role (and value) of a digi tech.
Prop and equipment rentals/purchase costs (varies)
We’ll work together to select, source, and design the best props for the set within your budget. Contact me for more info.
Retouching starts around $250+ per image as an industry standard, and it goes up per rounds of retouching included. GIFs, motion clips, and stop-motion have higher post-production costs since editing and retouching are more involved than with still shots.
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Lindsay is a Los Angeles food and product photographer. She specializes in Still Product & Food Photography, Lifestyle & Portrait Photography, Stop Motion, and Food Styling. Connect with her here for product marketing!