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Charging for Interior Shoots


How do I know what to charge for interior shoots? The scaling of projects is all over the place.


We are in an industry with no set rate structure. It’s a bit of a guessing game based mainly on usage licensing terms, the size of the company hiring us, and our experience in the different types of photography. 

Each photographer has to come up with their midline rates based on previous jobs, the word from others, and where they are in their career and go from there. It will always fluctuate, but the one solid component of negotiation skills is asking for a higher rate than you expect, which can work in your favor.

Providing A Brief or a Deck With An Estimate


What’s the difference between a brief and a deck? Do these usually have all the information I need to do an estimate?


Before estimating a project, you should receive a PDF showing the stylized layout and mood board information called the ‘Creative Brief’ or ‘Creative Deck’ (same thing). The brief/deck will include the logistical production details unless supplied on a separate bid spec sheet. The creative element and the production details allow you to provide an accurate competitive estimate.

Don’t Waste Time Doing Estimates With Information We Don’t Have

We can’t be spending our time doing estimates on information we don’t have. 

I’m hearing a ton of complaints from photographers wasting useless time on estimates that don’t turn out to be the real deal. I hear you! With no bid spec sheets, I get many of these requests that won’t reveal the budget upfront, so I focus on the points that help me see if this client is even ready for an estimate. Our goal is to quickly open up the communication doors, giving us a clearer sense of what we are dealing with.

My quick first step estimating questionnaire:

  • What is the Usage?
  • What is the specific Shotlist?
  • Do you have a creative deck with the layouts + mood-boards?
  • What are the talent rates?
  • Do you have stylists you like to use?
  • When is the creative call?

Estimates, Full Buyout, and Usage Rights


It was mentioned on your APA-LA webinar on Estimates a range of 8K-$16 for a full buyout. I got a job inquiry for 2 days, 120 images. They demanded a full buyout. I want $10k for the usage rights, plus my day rate. I didn’t get the job because they don’t want to pay this amount for the usage rights. What do you do? Reduce the $10k or keep your position? At the end I chose to keep my position, but I do need jobs…


Usage rates have no definite set amount, so it’s a bit of an educated guessing game. The other guessing game is when clients use the term “full buyout,” which means they own the copyright or unlimited usage for an unlimited duration. Bidding a job requires negotiation to make sure everyone speaks the same language to reach a mutual agreement. In this case, your $10k usage rate request for 120 images is more than reasonable.

Creative Concepting Fee


I feel like I’ve hit a wall with my business. I’m bidding on some jobs, but I’m not getting them. Clients want to get a crazy amount of images per day, and the budgets have shrunk. I’m struggling to stay on top of my game. Advice


I base the creative concepting fee on the amount of time it will take you. It is ultimately the same equation as the shoot rate or creative fee minus the usage amount. Of course, this is adjustable to fit into your budget as there is no absolute structured fee for this, but my approach is time + stand-alone talent = money.

Is This Estimate Request Worth Your Time?

Is this estimate request worth your time?

If only we could find out the budget, that would make it all so simple, but clients tend to keep that to themselves. 

3 ways I open up the conversation by presenting the question differently:

  1. Name a high amount to question what they have in mind.
  2. Under or over a certain amount can help to get a yes or no. 
  3. A range amount $ between $ offers a safe and manageable option.

Line Item to Cover Admin Prep Work


What would I put as a line item on my invoice for hourly random admin things? This came up recently when I had a client send me so many pages of documents to fill out; they’re also calling me and winding up on calls for hours and having me send proofs in multiple different ways. I want to bill for that time since it’s excessive but I don’t know what to call it. I would love any insight you have!


Every bid I do has prep days to cover admin organizational time. I’ve even put an in-person pre-production meeting line item in the bid with a $0 amount to show that our prep time is not free. 

It’s good to spell out your terms with all the specifics, as far as which tasks are covered by your prep days, so if they want to add more, it’s clear they will pay more.

Keeping The Calm With Out-Of-Control Clients


I am experiencing out-of-control clients requesting added or changed images as we are shooting, missing detailed composition into not included in the brief, and even complaining about actual details they didn’t want to see after I light their props – it’s crazy how uneducated these clients are! How do I handle this?


The multi-parted answer to keeping the calm with out-of-control clients is all about covering yourself before any craziness begins. 

  1. Have your estimate terms & conditions signed to protect you legally. 
  2. Break out the job details step by step by covering the costs, what is included/not included, what the client will provide, including timeline and specific dates. 
  3. It’s a good idea to submit a calendar schedule backing up the estimate line items clearly showing the expected dates. 
  4. Best to have a producer on board to handle the clear communication, allowing you to focus on what you do best. 
  5. A pre-production call is important to go over the step-by-step process, limiting any unknown surprises. 
  6. Do not begin production and incur any costs without the advance payment of at least 50% of the total upfront. 
  7. Do not hand over the final images until you have deposited the final payment. 

License and Perpetuity Estimate


I recently lost out on a job because my perpetuity number scared off the agency. They needed a 5 year license estimate and a perpetuity estimate. My 5 year license was $16,000 and perpetuity was 4 times that. Seemed fair to me because I’m not comfortable with a lifetime license of my images anyway. What are your thoughts on this? I’m gutted because I lost out on the job but I’m ok with not giving a lifetime license away for next to nothing. 


When bidding on a job requesting usage duration fee options, those are often an excellent place to start high, expecting to negotiate and not risk losing the job. 

The usual fundamental reasons you could lose a job you are bidding on:

-They have a #1 favorite choice in mind based on their style. 

-Your overall estimate price is much higher than someone else, so high they don’t even want to try to negotiate, 

-Your overall estimate price is very low, showing that you do not have the experience needed to fulfill the goals of this project. 

-Another bidder impressed them more with their treatment or ideas on the creative call.

Estimating a Job Without All the Information


How do I estimate a job when I am given the budget, but the layouts and the producer do not answer all the information I need?


Estimating a job is not an accurate term because we are liable for our “estimate” price. Since an estimate is a “bid” for a project, we have to protect ourselves as our reputation and the financial responsibility is on our shoulders.
How I read the situation:
– They may be expecting you to be the creative director creating their concepts which is an additional role to be added to your fees.
– Without all the details, you’ll need to expect fewer shots finished per day due to the exploration time required.
– Call it a rough ballpark estimate, making it clear you’ll need them to allow for revisions once you learn more information.