Case Study: Producing A Successful Estimate

As a producer at Wonderful Machine, I work with photographers around the world on a daily basis to help them connect with clients and estimate projects both big and small. One of our members recently asked me to help him compile an estimate for a shoot with an agency working for a steadily growing restaurant chain. The photographer was a food and lifestyle specialist based in the Midwest, and he was contacted by a midsized agency in Chicago. The restaurant chain had more than 500 locations across the U.S., and they were working with the agency to refresh their website and integrate it with social media and online marketing.

After a phone call with the art buyer at the agency, I was sent a creative brief that detailed a shot list featuring tabletop views of various menu items along with shots of the restaurant environment. The shoot was to take place on a single day inside one of the restaurants during regular business hours, and they planned to close off a portion of the restaurant to accommodate the crew. The client requested to use the images for three years on their website and social-media outlets, as well as in web advertisements.

Here’s a breakdown of the fees:

Creative/Licensing Fees: The shot list described 13 images in three categories:
1. Two tabletop still-life images of various menu items shot head-on (camera level with the tabletop).
2. 10 tabletop still-life images of various menu items shot at three-quarter angle (camera placed slightly above the tabletop).
3. One architectural/environmental shot of the restaurant.

When determining a fee, we first factor in the creative requirements of a project. For this shoot, the camera angles and lighting would stay about the same for all of the food photos, and most of the challenge would be about making the food look great. Each food or drink item would need to be meticulously styled, requiring streamlined collaboration between the photographer, stylists, client and agency.

The primary use of the images was for a redesign of the restaurant’s website, and secondary usage would be for online advertising, email marketing and social media. I chose to price the first image higher since only one "hero" shot would be used on the website’s landing page and likely would be the main image used on social-media sites, web ads and other online collateral. The other 12 images would be used on secondary pages of the client’s website (though the agency asked for identical licensing for all 13 images).

It’s important to remember that "web" isn’t so much a type of licensing, but rather a medium. The ultimate use of the photos would determine whether it’s publicity, collateral or advertising use, and we define each of these types of uses on our Terms & Conditions page.

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