How to Price a Professional Commercial Photography Shoot

When you are pricing out your professional shoot for your commercial photography business, there are a several things to keep in mind. Below, we will detail each aspect of developing your pricing. Several factors and valuations must occur as you create your bill.

Step 1 - Value Your Creativity

You are a professional, which means you must be extremely creative during the photo shoot process. If your subjects wanted average pictures, they might have had a friend shoot them instead. Include a creation fee in the price list you develop.

Step 2 - Value Your Time

Pricing should include the amount of hours or days it will take for you to shoot and deliver the product. Keep in mind that editing, retouching and "Photoshopping" can take many hours for best results.

Step 3 - Insert Your Costs Plus Mark-Up

The following are some of the charges you must also take into account when pricing your shoot. Some of these are costs that should be passed through to the customer, others are costs that you may decide to absorb, and some are intangible components of your end resulting art work.

  • The cost of the film, processing and time spent producing the photos.
  • A cost for the print or scanned images.
  • A charge for reproduction when the customer wants to reproduce the photos you have taken.
  • Remember you own the copyright to the negatives or digital files on all images shot. Some customers might wish to buy the reproduction rights. You need to decide how much you would charge for these types of rights.

Step 4 - Location-Based Shooting Charges

Most of your commercial photographic shoots will happen off site. These offsite locations may require you to hire special makeup artists. Make sure to include these fees and costs in your price list.  

Step 5 - Determine the Value on Equipment Wear and Tear

Using digital equipment like cameras and computers on location brings about significant amounts of wear and tear. In addition, in today's digital era, hardware and software become obsolete in less than 3 years and you must seek replacements.  Since you are going to bear these types of replacement costs at some point in the future, a small percentage of your fees needs to be allocated to insulate against these inevitable future expenses.

Step 6 - Determine Post-Production Costs

After you have completed your commercial photo shoot, you bring back your photographs to the lab or your studio and you begin to perform your post production work. This type of work includes everything from downloading, naming the files, correcting the colors,  and backing up all the photos on an external hard drive. You might also have to burn CDs or DVDs.

Step 7 - Rush Jobs! Price Them Accordingly

Last but certainly not least, in the digital era, everyone expects things to be completed yesterday. Draw a line in the sand and communicate your turnaround time to your clients. If a rush job or order is placed, clearly outline what additional costs may be charged in order to attend to the request.

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