The frequent refrain from clients I hear when I ask (as a part of our conversation about my producing work that will run as an advertisement or for corporate/commercial uses) about what the photograph will be used for and to what extent is "...oh, we're not sure where we'll use it yet....", which is double-speak for "we want to get the lowest price from you, and if you really knew how much we'd be using your photographs you'd want to charge us more, so we're not going to tell you everything..."
That's not to say that there aren't clients who aren't straight with you up front - there are, but there are many who are not.
Here's what one agency's proposal cover sheet actually* contained, as a part of an advertising pitch they made to their client:
The following estimates are provided for the various components based upon the media plan options presented today for XXXX XXXXXXXXX. All pieces will be based upon the XYZABCD concept, and will be customized as necessary for the specific media that was selected.
Photography that is unique to NYC and it's environs, and reaches both the parents and children is an essential part of this campaign concept. We have looked into a stock photography solution, and were unable to find appropriate shots and highly recommend producing original photography, that can be used for print, collateral, outdoor and web in the New York region.Talent
We recommend a full-day shoot, in one New York City location. This will allow time for shooting photography for both the "parents centric" and the "children centric" ads in the same day, which is the most cost-effective approach. The budget for this shoot, including all photographer's fees, location scout, permit fees, stylist, and photographers rights package is $12,000-$14,000.
The estimate for professional services to review and select an appropriate photographer, coordinate shoot logistics, recruit and retain appropriate talent, attend and art direct the photo shoot, and review and select final photography is $5,500 - $7,500.
Talent fees for two ads, including a full buyout for the distribution outlined are estimated at $4,500-$6,500, which may include up to four talent.Professional Services
Print AdThe estimate for production of two print ads ("parent centric" and "children centric"), including copyrighting, art direction, headline illustration, coordination and management of photo shoot, art production and overall project management is $18,000 - $21,000.Online Banner AdThe estimate for creative development of an animated banner ad campaign is $5,500 - $6,500. This estimate includes adapting the creative concept for web use, art direction, copyrighting, and execution of Flash banner ads with static .gif backups. This provides one banner for each "parents centric" and "children centric" execution.
So, when you're contacted by a prospective client for a campaign, recognize that many things are already determined. They will often have already proposed a budget to the end client, however, more often than not, I have been called for a quote for an assignment and been told that what I provide will be for their pitch. Often, this is the case when you are the preferred photographer, that will likely win the assignment if the client wins it.
During the conversation, ask the person calling for the campaign's "media schedule" so you can determine proper usage. Ask for them to e-mail you the PDF, or fax it to you. As above, click here to see what it looked like for this pitch. If they say they don't have one yet, you can say that your estimate will be higher than it might otherwise be without it, and then ask what the usage will be - number of insertions, circulation, size, and so forth.
Your creative and usage/licensing fees will be either combined, or separate (see the points on this debate here), and once the client has outlined their usage, using photography business software like fotoQuote (details about them here), and be sure to use the PLUS language to outline the rights package (as detailed here).
By the time a client calls a photographer, more often than not, many of the details are worked out, the pitch and campaign approved in concept, and dollars allocated. Be sure to ask the right questions during your client dialog so everyone is working from the same page when you prepare your estimate. Ask for comps/layouts so you know what you're going to be expected to produce.
These things are true whether they're for a major campaign, or a one-time small-town paper campaign. They're true when they're for a brochure, an annual report, point-of-purchase poster, billboard, web page ad, and so forth.
* note: To protect the source, slight changes have been made to the media schedule and estimate proposal, but the content, look, feel, layout, and all language except identifying names/campaigns, and actual dollars involved are as presented. These dollar figures are comparable to those presented.
Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.