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Pricing the commercial assignment

By Roger B. Daines, M.Photog.Cr., ASP, CPP
First published in May 2004

Ideas to always keep in mind when pricing assignments.

For commercial assignments, the photographer needs to charge not only for his time, as in a sitting fee, but also for how and how often the image will be used. Here’s some things to keep in mind when pricing such assignments:

• Establish a fee for the initial photography; it can be a day rate, a creative fee, a specific assignment fee or an hourly rate.

• Know what it costs you per week/day/hour to be in business. Remember to include things like pensions, health insurance, profit margins, et al. Once you have established this cost, that is the lowest fee you should ever charge.

• Charge for the expenses you incur in completing the assignment, such as film, processing, travel accommodations, mileage, image optimizing, and shipping costs.

• Charge for how often and where the image will be used. What publications will it appear in? For brochures and catalogs, ask how many pieces will be printed. What size will the images be in the final use? How many insertions?

• What licensing rights are needed— one-time, non-exclusive or world rights? (One thing that is not negotiable with me is my copyright. I will not sell copyrights.) Take the time to work up a valid estimate, and let client know you will get back to him within the hour.

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