Communicating very clearly is an incredibly important aspect of your business. Keep always in mind you don’t necessarily know what the other person knows and doesn’t know. Quotes are by no means exceptions and I’d like to share how I normally structure my quotes when it comes to Food Photography.
I may discuss pricing on the phone, but I’ll keep it intentionally pretty vague because the risk for misunderstanding can be quite high. Discussing on the phone can be valuable in order to have a better understanding of the project and the client and also to get a sense for what the budget might be.
Even if I’ve had a phone conversation, the actual quote will always come in writing through this platform and, upon approval of the quote itself, a legal contract will follow with all the terms through the same platform.
In order for me to do my thinking and price my services as accurately as possible, the client will have to answer all these questions (see also my other blog post How To Price Your Work:
What type of products/dishes?
How many images in total?
How many different products/dishes?
Who is art directing the project?
Who is creating the shot list?
What type of usage and for how long?
Where are you looking to photograph?
When are you looking to have the images ready?
Who is providing the food?
Who is cooking the food?
Who is styling the food?
Who is providing the props?
Who is doing prop styling?
Who is doing retouch?
The break down of my quote typically follows this structure:
1 - Creative Fee
That’s my work + usage rights. My work could be just executing what other people have planned (showing up, taking photos, delivering the raw photos) or it could include a brainstorming part during pre-production plus post-production. The fee is going to be based on a given number of shooting days and a given number of images.
I normally include usage in the creative fee and I know many people don’t. The reason I do is that, if I list usage as a separate item and the client decides not to use the images anymore or to run them for 1 month rather than 1 year, I believe they can technically ask for their ‘usage money’ back. I’m not 100% about this though and that’s why I stay on the safe side.
2 - Styling + Food
This includes the cost for props, prop styling, food styling and the actual food. It could be one person handling all this or it could be even 4-5, depending on the size of the shoot. I will have to first get these numbers from the potential subcontractors and also ask them to hold the date(s) while we wait to hear back from the client.
3 - Production
This item includes all expenses other than the ones above needed in order to produce the shoot. They may include studio rental, equipment rental, permissions, photo assistants, tech, insurance, etc. For large projects, this is normally handled by a producer who will price everything based on the project description and add a markup on top of that. If the projects are smaller, I may take care of all this myself with the help of an assistant. If the this part requires more than 1-2 hours of work on my end, I will also add a production fee.
4 - Post-Production
Normally includes image retouching and delivering (this could be a hard drive or any other delivery method). This item is not in the quote if they only require raw files.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to do your math first and think very carefully about your overhead. It’s so easy to forget things, especially when we are so excited about the job we might be close to getting. If costs that you had not anticipated come up, you’ll be held responsible and will have to cover those. I use a rule of thumb of adding a 20% buffer to all costs. After all, if they end up being smaller than expected, you will have exceeded the client’s expectations and they will be very happy.
Thoughts? Please share your experience with the community by commenting down below. If you enjoyed this information, please share it on your own channels.
Thank You and Happy Shooting!