Photographer, Designer, Creative Director


Commercial Photography Pricing

Unlike buying a product or service where you pay a single price and have an object or have work performed, commercial photography is based on three primary factors; creative fees, expenses, and usage licensing. Let me show you an example of a fictional quote for a job to create very high quality branded photos for a Flower Boutique to use in their advertising campaigns, website, email marketing, and social media.


Job Name: Real Beauty Flower Shop – High Production Value Photography

USAGE LICENSE 5 Images @ 500 ea. = $2500
This license is strictly limited to the terms and conditions below, and governed by the Copyright laws of the United States, as specified in Title 17 of the United States Code:

  • Licensee: Real Beauty Flower
  • Licensor: Kara Meloy
  • Credit: Kara Meloy
  • Date: 11-01-2017
  • Duration: Perpetual
  • Quantity: Unlimited
  • Exclusivity: Exclusive
  • Region: Worldwide
  • Media: Any media, print or electronic

Creative Fees $2700

  • Pre Production @ 150.00 /hour for 4 hours
    This includes meetings with clients and the marketing team to gather and document requirements as well as planning for the photo shoot.
  • Session Fee @ 2,000.00 /day for 0.5 days
    This includes the time and talent for the main photographer while on set. Creative fees are typically billed in half or full-day increments.
  • Post Production @ 100.00 /hour for 8 hours
    The time spent on post-production. In some cases, the photographer may outsource this work to a full-time retoucher and it will simply be included as a line item.
  • Travel @ 75.00 /hour for 4 hours
    Travel to and from the shoot location. This estimate assumes one trip to “scout” the location and one trip for the actual session.

Expenses – Crew $2000

  • Digital Technician @ 1,000.00 /day for 0.5 days
    This person manages the digital images as they are captured, cataloging the images as they are shot and tagging which ones will be used for different purposes. They are also responsible for on-site backups and ensuring that all technology stays working properly.
  • First Assistant @ 1,000.00 /day for 0.5 days
    This is the photographer’s main assistant. He/she is responsible for making sure the photographer has everything he needs to create the images. While the photographer is the “captain of the ship”, the first assistant is his first mate and handles much of the actual “hands-on” work with the lighting, sets, and talent (models), freeing the photographer to concentrate on the image and the client. This person is often used to coordinate communication between the client or the client’s representative and the photographer.
  • Hair Stylist @ 500.00 /day for 0.5 days
    This person is responsible for ensuring that the talent’s hair is styled properly for the session. She stays during the session to perform any necessary touch-ups.
  • Makeup Artist @ 500.00 /day for 0.5 days
    This person is responsible for ensuring that the talent’s makeup is styled properly for the session. She stays during the session to perform any necessary touch-ups.

Expenses – Insurance $500

  • Insurance @ 500.00 ea.
    This is additional insurance taken out for the specific session to cover the location and crew. It is in addition to the standard liability insurance carried by the photographer.

Expenses – Location/Studio $3500

  • Location Fees/Permits @ 1,500.00 /day for 1 day
    Many public locations require special permits for commercial photography. Commercial photography can be defined as any photography that involves an exchange of money. Some locations also require permits for photography if there is more equipment than a simple hand-held camera.
  • Set Build/Prep @ 500.00 /hour for 4 hours
    Time for the photographer, assistant, and/or prop master to prepare the set for the session.

Expenses – Miscellaneous $2350

  • Craft Service @ 250.00
    It sounds ridiculous, but commercial photography is time-consuming and everyone needs to eat. This cost is typically charged to the client.
  • Prop Purchase @ 500.00
    Cost of any special props that are needed for this specific session.
  • Expendables @ 100.00
    Cost of expendable items used during the production.
  • Equipment Rental @ 1,500.00 ea.
    Any specialized technical or location equipment rentals necessary for this particular project.

Expenses – Talent $500

  • 3 Adults @ 500.00 ea.
    Cost for the models’ time and talent.

TOTAL $14,050

So what’s this licensing thing? I thought I already paid for the photographer to create the images!

Well, you did pay for the photographer to create the images. You just haven’t paid to USE the images yet! 

Think of it this way, if you were to go to Getty Images to for a single stock photo of an athlete, you would end up paying approximately $1535 for the right to use the image for 3 years in a digital-only medium. You don’t own the image, you are simply licensing the right to use that image. You get to pay less for the image because the creator is licensing it to multiple people to pay for his expenses to create it. However, when you custom-commission a photograph you are paying for both the image license and the cost to create it. Generally, you are getting an exclusive license to use the photograph, meaning that the photographer can’t resell it to anyone else. And even if he could, well, not many other people would want to pay for something that is customized for your company and brand.