“What should I invest in photography for my business?”
The question running through your head is best answered when you think about WHY your business needs imagery and the impact that imagery can have.
Your NEW customers’ first and strongest impression of the quality and value of your work will most often be through the images they see:
Online - your website, online publications, social media, or images you share directly.
In print advertisements
In your own printed promotional material
On display in your own office.
The quality and style of those images goes a long way to telling them what to expect from your work, And that helps them determine if they’ll work with you or not.
What’s right for you?
Will these images help you bring in the next contract or client? How many new clients do you expect over what time frame?
How much will that impact your bottom line?
How much will you have to spend implementing the photos in order to achieve that return? Think media buy costs in advertising, the cost of producing prints for your office, ad campaigns, etc.
Now take that income and subtract the expenses above and you’ve got your ROI a photography project could produce for you.
Chances are, over the lifetime of the photos they’re not going to bring you just one more client, but you’ll see a gradual increase in business over time as you continue to use them, as most of my clients do. The better those images are, and the more prominently you display them, the more likely you are to get the return you picture.
How do you get the most out of an image? My recommendation is always to display your images as large as possible in as many places in possible, because large images command attention, and that’s what you want for your business - more attention on your work. The constraint here is, of course, budget. Large ad placement in magazines can get pricy, and huge beautiful prints for your office don’t come cheap either. That budget question ties back in to what results you expect these images to produce for your business.
So, now that you’ve got that number in mind, let’s dive into what I can do for you.
Photography has three major factors that affect its price.
Image production - This is what it takes the make the images in the field according to the vision we agree on. Everything I’ve learned, all the equipment I’ve got, and a well trained assistant who is knowledgable in photography and how I work.
Post Production - Film needs to be developed, and digital images need to be edited. Sometimes this process is simple, and sometimes it can get very complex.
Licensing for Usage - Creative work like imagery is licensed for specific intended uses, much like a movie that you buy for watching at home is not meant to be played in a movie theater for 500 people. Licensing is based on the potential audience. if you’re showing the image to 50,000,000 people, that has a larger impact than showing it to 5, and more eyeballs on your work means more customers.
A few other factors that may influence the cost are:
Extensive pre-production, like meetings, scouting and site visits, planning out more involved shoots that involve stylists, models, producers, and other parties
Travel costs for distant projects
Equipment rentals for specialized equipment on more creative shoots
Helicopters for high resolution aerials.
1. Production, The Photoshoot
Most of my projects operate on a day rate basis for the production. When it comes to architectural photography, that means about 12 hours for a full day from sunrise to sunset (more in July, less in January), or about 6 hours for a half day when fewer images are needed or there is a shorter window of availability for the subject.
Current rates for a typical project:
Full Day: $2500 - up to 12 architectural images
Half Day: $1500 - up to 6 architectural images
How many days do you need? That is a factor of how many images we need to produce to accomplish your goals. Some days we can squeeze in a few more photos if conditions are favorable and the subject lends itself to easier production. Some places are just a pain to shoot and can take longer. it’s best to err on the side of budgeting plenty of time so we make sure to get every shot we need to fully showcase the subject.
2. Post Production, The editing
Producing polished images doesn’t just happen in the field, most of the work is actually done on the computer by combining images I made in the field to bring out more than the camera can see in single shot and to enhance the image just a little bit beyond what we saw in person, to move it from a simple picture of WHAT we saw standing there to how to FEELS to be there.
$50 per typical image image (most residential imagery and sites that don’t require extensive photoshop magic)
$100 per image that requires extensive retouching (twilight images, commercial images, hotel rooms, etc.)
3. Licensing, the usage
“What does the photograph want? The photograph wants to be seen.” - Moiz K. Malik
An image does you no good collecting dust in a file cabinet or tucked away on some hard drive. The image wants to serve you, to convey its fabled ‘thousand words’ and to have an emotional impact on the viewer. It’s up to how we display that image to determine if that impact actually happens. So we need to get that image in front of people in the right way to make it happen.
Here are the most common usages:
Your website - where it might be viewed on a massive beautiful monitor of a design lover (hooray!), or on the tiniest cellphone on the market (boo). You don’t get much choice in which, just hope for the best and make it look good for both.
Social Media - Most definitely on a cellphone, so it’s going to be tiny. It’s possible for an image to reach a lot of people and have an impact on social media. But it will never touch people as deeply as larger media.
PR & Competition Entry - Your work is award worthy, and now you’ve got the photos to prove it and sway the judges in your favor. A few more awards can help you bring in those dream clients and move on to the bigger projects you dream of.
Print Advertising - here’s where you’re getting to play into the power of size - the bigger, the better. Look at the media kit for the publication most widely read by your customer base, and reference the estimated net income you calculated above. What’s going to get you as close as possible to guaranteeing the results you want? That’s the path you take.
Books - make you’re making a custom book to send to your customers or you’re stocking up for your monograph.
Large format print - make a massive print of your favorite image from the project and display it prominently in your office for your clients to see. Let them get lost in the detail and feeling of your work so they can fall in love and decide for sure that they’re working with you.
Direct - Sending your work out to potential clients or others in your industry is a great way to show off your work without pouring money into ad placement, while still having a big impact due to the personal connection.
Included - For most projects, I include basic web usage, social media, PR & Competition Entry, and Small Run Print Advertising up to 1/4 page, which is good for most local & trade magazines.
For everything else, we’ll crunch the numbers based on your intended usage.
Now you know what it takes to produce a full scale architectural photography shoot with me, and the same system applies to most commercial work, including my food photography, hotel amenities like a relaxing spa & restaurants, lifestyle location work, and so on.
The simple route - great for real estate and businesses just getting started.
But, wouldn’t you know it, sometimes I actually like to just take my camera in my hand and wander around taking photos. As much as I love pouring over every aspect of producing the perfect image by sweating the minutiae in the field and pouring over the images in post, I also really love just trusting my gut and all the photography education and practice I’ve had over the years, and just roaming with the camera in my hand and photographing what comes to me. Sometimes the simplest, easiest picture will accomplish your goals just fine.
Maybe you’re really excited by what you see above, but you’re not quite ready for a project of that scale. If this is your first time working with a professional photographer, or you crunched the numbers above and the return you're expecting doesn’t leave room for such a sizable project, maybe we can fit in something a little more simple to help move your business forward so you can eventually get up to those bigger projects that will bring the serious growth you have planned.
$25 per image - production, post, and basic licensing included. Minimum price applies based on distance I have to travel.