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 Kayak.com, 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.

Wonderful Machine

There Are 18 Comments On This Article.

  1. “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.”

    Going forward, how would you handle this while writing/dealing with estimate and the client? How would you verbalize the added value of having an experienced producer onboard? “We need a producer so you people can leave the photog alone and not ask stupid questions”. Obviously that has to be verbalized in a very professional way while at the same time asking to increase budget.

    The subject of having a producer onboard has been covered here before. It was also the line item cut out of the estimate from what I recall.

    For this production, in what way did you try to sell the idea to this client? Going in, did you know it was a losing battle because of budget contraints? Did the client consider it?

    Thank you for the post. It’s an excellant way to educate some of the new photogs coming in. I have used some of these posts to help answer questions coming from students.

    • 500.00 covers the cost of a basic Dropbox account for three years (~300.00) and a nominal mark-up for the time and energy required to initiate/upload and maintain it. This was not used for archival purposes but rather client convenience, allowing them to access the files using the same link for the duration of the license.

      • That’s what I’m saying. Your “nominal mark-up for the time and energy required to initiate/upload and maintain it” is equal to 2/3rds of assistant shooting day cost ;) And was 2Gbytes of _free_ account not enough for 3 (three!) photos? :)

        You have really rich clients ;)

        • There are always CDB that go uncovered. Insurances — liability, theft, worker’s comp, car, and more. Can one argue about FTP? Sure, but it’s kind of taking from Peter to pay Paul. The client asked to have the numbers massaged to meet what one might label an arbitrary target. Why does a client feel comfortable with $40K instead of $41K, when $41K might more accurately reflect the amount the photographer and rep feel is needed to shoot to the client’s needs? It’s just a human thing. We all have our own sense of number. The sense of number can be a bad thing. How so? Well take a magazine day rate for example. The rate has been stagnant for decades because $500 or whatever has a certain ring to it. So icksnay on the amscray and quiteay on the ftpyay, okay?

  2. Detailed business posts like this one are my most liked type of post on Aphotoeditor.com.

    How about doing this once a week, e.g. every Tuesday? Similar to the “Daily Edit” it could be the “Weekly Estimate”.

        • Of course. Don’t believe everything you read.

          Just to be clear – are you suggesting that the estimate portion of the post above is real, but the result/hindsight is fiction?

          Thanks.

          • We wish we knew what was real and what is made up. This website does it’s best to help offer photographers suggestions into pricing accordingly. We would love to see a legitimate commercial photographer chime in regarding these “estimates” and let us know if they are accurate or not.

            • I am a legitimate commercial/advertising photographer as well as the Vice President of ASMPWNY. It’s a very legitimate estimate with real world pricing. My only question is about the FTP line item. I’m very surprised the client didn’t balk at that…or they missed it. What am I missing?

            • What do you base your skepticism on? Wonderful Machine is a very legitimate business, that, as far as I know, is beyond reproach as to their posting of estimates. Or as you put it “estimates” There is no reason to question them on this.