RATES - defined
Although you won’t see a specific dollar amount listed here, you will learn the thought that’s behind my estimates and the process I use to quote each job I do. Most commonly, I quote a shoot based around factors:
1. Who. Referring to the client. Are you a small architectural firm with high quality design, with smaller budgets? Or, are you a multi-national corporation, with offices around the USA and beyond? Why is this important? In this business it's important to manage expectations, and to do that well means delivering quality results within a variety of different budgets. Working within your budget is important to me, and it makes communication about price vs. deliverables much easier. Also, the larger the company - the more exposure the work has to a broader audience - which in turn can generate more business for your company through promoting your projects with the images you’d be hiring my to create.
2. What. The subject. The physical thing or person being photographed and how much of it/them is being photographed is a vital piece of information when I’m considering the work involved in producing marketable imagery. Is this a corporate portrait being used on social media and your company website only? Is this person the CEO and the face of company? Is this a mixed-use commercial space that will need exterior and interior shots, taken at various times of the day? Are we talking 4 total shots, or 27? Multiple angles, multiple sets... the more complicated the work, the more that goes into production. On the flip side, a more simple shoot may mean less production... it may also mean more room for creativity. It's complicated, but not hard to see why the subject is so important.
3. When. Are you looking to book me for a shoot tomorrow? Next week? Or, can we schedule this within a reasonable timeframe, giving me at least a week to plan and assemble a crew if necessary? Also, what is you expected turnaround time? Typically for me, final deliverables are ready about 10 business days after you choose your final selections from a proof gallery. This won't effect price in the biggest way, but this is a factor that will influence my approach to prioritizing my workload. If you need me tomorrow and the shoot could really use an extra set of hands (an assistant), and maybe more equipment than I stock and maintain, then there will be quite a higher amount of work hours put into pre-production in making sure everything is set to go smoothly.
4. Why. Lastly, and sometimes most importantly, this refers to the intended use of the images. Remember, even though you’re hiring me to make photos of your project, the images I create are protected by the Copyright laws of the US. The price you will pay for the images is a use fee, granting you a license to the images. So, the "Why" is one of the biggest determining factors in how I price. The inherent value of the images is determined by how broadly the images will be shared with the world, and where they are seen. "We'd like to use these photos to promote our business on our website and social media." Ok, pretty common, and not indicative of an expensive licensing fee. Or, "We'd like to buy ad space in Architectural Record and use these images in advertising." A bit broader use and, for you, a greater potential as a revenue driver = slightly higher use fee. Or, "We'd like to also share these images with the Interior Designer on the project, and publish them in a magazine." Nice! You could gift the interior designer a license (at a reduced cost to you), by buying them a license in addition to your own, or add them onto the shoot and split the cost of the shoot between you both (more on this below).
Wait! I mentioned the Who, What, and Why, but what about the Where and How?
Well, I'm traveling to every single shoot. I'd rather not nickel-and-dime over mileage if that means not being considered for shoots far from Boston. I'll travel anywhere. Anywhere. Through my camera is a great way to see the world. So, I choose not to bill for things like mileage, gas, or tolls. That said, in some circumstances I do ask that parking fee be reimbursed, if that’s ok with you. So, the Where won't really have an impact on price, usually. Unless, we're flying somewhere or a hotel stay is necessary, then we can discuss those job related, more specific, high dollar expenditures that may be necessary to get the job done. In some cases we can split these costs, or I may ask that you pick up the bill.
And, the How? How will I make the pictures and process them and deliver them? Well, if I ever arrive to a shoot without my camera and lenses, that'd be a bad day. I primarily use Canon's full frame camera system for architectural work (usually their top tier or flagship camera or the latest in the 5D system). Along with the Canon camera, I use a variety of their tilt-shift speciality lenses (17mm, 24mm, 50mm, and 90mm), and some fixed focal length large aperture lenses (14mm, 85mm,and sometimes a 200mm). We can tether to a computer on site for a slower pace and we can monitor every little detail while we shoot, too. And, I’m a huge fan of lighting a scene - even if it’s just a subtle enhancement of the natural light in the space already. Getting it right on site… that’s the goal.
And, that leads us to...
Pricing - HOW I DO IT
My rates include a combined Fee for Photography and the Licensing of a pre-determined set of final images to be delivered after a shoot, and I call this a Creative Fee. This fee is usually the largest line item on my contract and invoices, and is the foundation of pricing schedule. This price is always determined by the scope of the project and may ultimately depend on your budget. This is typically the price I’m billing for my work and what I look to make on a shoot.
I almost always try to bring along a Photo Assistant. This person is usually a recent college graduate or a veteran in the field of assisting. To be clear, they are not my employee, but a subcontractor, thus the price of hiring them is not set by me. Each professional Photo Assistant in the industry has their own rates and the cost of hiring them on the shoot is passed on to the client. Having an assistant along to setup equipment, move gear, move furniture or other elements within a scene, check image files as they import from the camera into the computer, and sometimes to run out and pickup lunch, is an invaluable asset on shoots of any size and scope. The cost of having them along, in the Boston area, is usually between $300-450 per shoot day.
As I mentioned above, I don't always charge for Travel. I have to travel to every shoot I do, so I don't typically charge for common travel expenditures - except for parking fees in some cases. But, if the shoot is out of state (beyond a 4hr drive from Boston), out of the country, requires a night's stay at a hotel, a flight, parking in a city garage or lot (those can cost $30, $40, $60/day), or we need to rent a van for more gear than my SUV can handle - very rare, but could happen... then we'll discuss charging for those job related travel expenses before hand and will consider your approval before including that price in a quote.
Post-Production. That'd be weird if I just gave you the photos straight of the camera. I prefer not to. Every photo I deliver has to at least be minimally edited. Though more and more firms have staff who are equipped with photo editing software and some knowledge on how to edit photography, my images are almost always composites - meaning multiple shots of the same scene are taken with the intention of combining them to select elements in a scene or to balance exposures and lighting properly. Most of these retouching decisions are pre-visualized in the field, and communicating those edits to someone else is too great of a challenge and can lead to the mishandling of the image files, resulting in images I didn’t intend on creating. I simply cannot entrust the results of someone else’s editing to reflect the style of my work or, more importantly, be a result of my vision for the final edit. While I do not typically charge for this as a separate line item, it is a part of how I determine my Creative Fee. In the rare instance I am backed up, or a phase of retouching is outside my skillset (not very likely), then we may discuss sending files to a professional retoucher under my direction - there are a few retouchers I work with on a regular basis that can lend a hand, for a fee, in balancing my workload. Just know, that this service can add between $500-2000 to the price of the shoot. Again, like photo assistants, retouchers are not my employees, and they charge the rates they determine.
Also, on the rare occasion that it may be necessary to have multiple camera setups around a site, or similar points of view being photographed simultaneously, or we're going to be traveling for a while without easy access to my office during off-hours, I may require additional cameras and lenses - beyond what is already in my kit. And, for this, we'll discuss Rental Equipment. If it's necessary, we'll discuss this and I won't rent anything without your approval.
NOTE: Always read, sign and date an estimate from me as soon as possible, or at least within 15-days of receiving a price quote, to ensure the prices and my availability are locked-in. A signed estimate enters us both into a contract agreement, but if an estimate is not signed, then there is little legal authority to enforce our agreement. Every part of a photo shoot is a collaboration between me and my clients. If you have needs or expectations and they’re listed in my estimate, it’s in your best interest to sign my agreement and hold me accountable for producing imagery according to your expectations. This protects me, too - as I do love being paid for my work, on time. So, out of respect for me and my industry, please sign my contract before the assigned shoot date.
Licensing – How it works.
But, we paid for the shoot and paid you for the images, we own them right? We can send them anywhere, right?
No, no… read on.
It's quite simple really. Once I setup my gear, find angles and viewpoints, direct the scene or elements in a scene, light a space, person, or thing, and determine the whens and hows a photo is captured, I click the shutter - that is the precise moment a copyrighted piece of intellectual property is created. How a client comes to obtain the right to use the photo(s) is determined by how I license the photo(s) to them.
I choose to license photos to each client, respectively, in a format determined by the Who, What, and Why listed above in my Rates section.
My licensing packages generally do not include third-party rights, meaning a client may not give images away to another business or person for their use. Any magazines, outside vendors, or manufacturers should be referred to me in the interest of purchasing a license to the images they are interested in. Reputable businesses and publications understand these rights, but may need to be reminded to have third-parties contact the photographer to purchase, and request permission to publish, photograph.
Multiple-parties on a photo shoot will save money by splitting the cost of a shoot between each party involved. Adding parties onto a shoot increases the price of the shoot incrementally by a small percentage but, divided among all parties, this makes the shoot a bit cheaper for all involved.
Most of the time, for my architectural and corporate clients usually, the license they purchase for the right to use the imagery is granted in perpetuity. I don't see a reason these days to restrict your use to a limited amount of time. Most of the work I do is a document of the work my clients created, a portfolio piece, a masterpiece. So I would hope you'd want to show it for a really long time.
Offering me photo credit and assuming traffic through your website and social media will drive my business is a nice consideration - and I'm a firm believer in good karma - but, photo credit is not a substitute of any rates and fees that I bill for, and is not considered as a form of compensation.
Remember, without photography most of the world's magazines would not exist, and websites would looked a lot like this page… sorry, I know this is a lot of text. Most companies have budgets specifically set aside for photography. Also, magazines love free photos (ever see a photo credit listed as "Courtesy of...," or, the photo credit is attributed to the person or business the article/story is about. That was most likely provided to the magazine for free). But, anytime someone other than who/what the article is about is listed, or it just simply reads "Photo by..." I should hope that person got paid for their work. There’s a reason fee structures like “space rates” exist. Publishing photos without permission and without proper compensation is not only unfair, but may be illegal in most cases, and is punishable under intellectual property laws at the federal level.
In short... If I make the photograph, I own the photograph. But, if you'd like to take ownership of the imagery, then we can discuss a transfer of copyright (just know this is a very costly transaction). Or, you may offer me a work-for-hire contract that buys me out of my copyright before production even begins (this option may not be used after the production has started, and it most certainly costs more to hire me under these circumstances, too).
The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) is a national professional photographers organization and advocacy group, frequently involved in influencing legislation at the national and local level in support of photographers and their copyright protections.
I first joined ASMP as a student in 2006. Here's a note from them about Copyright:
“The business of professional photography is broken into three main categories of use. Commercial refers to photography that is used to sell or promote a product, service, or idea. Editorial refers to photography used for educational or journalistic purposes. Retail refers to photography commissioned or purchased for personal use.
The difference between these categories is not in the type of photography, but in the use of the images. Commercial, editorial or retail, photographs are intellectual property. Unless the photographer is an employee or they have contractually transferred ownership, the photographer becomes the owner of this property when they create an image. Licensing this property for specific uses is how a photographer’s business generates gross income.” – ASMP
Copyright gives the photographer the sole right to decide who can use the work that has been created. US Copyright Law, Title 17 of 1976.
You create it — you own it. Copyright comes into existence automatically when the original image is captured.
Any person or business must have permission (a license) to publish (reproduce) images in any medium, physical or electronic.
The photographer does not have to register the work with the US Copyright Office to acquire copyright.
The photographer’s name and/or the copyright symbol does not have to appear on or next to the image to have copyright protection.
Phew!! That's the end of the CEO-style information dump and my administrative side of the business. Let's get to the good stuff and put a lens on a camera and make some pictures!
Thanks for reading!!
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The images on this website are © Joseph Ferraro, and may not be reproduced, copied, projected, used, or altered in any way, alone or with any other image(s), by use of computer or other electronic means, without specific permission from Joseph Ferraro Photography.