Commercial photography is used for sales, branding and marketing purposes. Photographers work out of their own studios, at their customers’ places of business, outdoors or in other locations. Businesses use photography for editorial purposes, print or catalog advertising, online advertising, websites, large displays (for trade shows) and internal business uses. These pros specialize in photographing fashion, jewelry, food, products, artwork, real estate, architecture, and more. Photo delivery formats include DVD/CD, online gallery, flash drive, album, or physical prints and proofs. Clients can request any amount of finished and edited shots. Several factors affect the cost of commercial photography.
Reputation and experience
Commercial photographers with high-profile clients or a long-standing career as well as those who have shot for well-known ad campaigns may charge higher rates than photographers without the same reputation.
Equipment and overhead
The cost of purchasing and maintaining professional photo equipment affects a commercial photographer’s rates. For example, Jim Greipp of Pau Hana Productions in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, works out of a 5,000-square-foot studio and shoots with a $20,000 Hasselblad camera. He also carries $2 million in liability insurance and has enough lighting equipment for almost any job. Photographers with the right space, equipment and experience can deliver a much more polished end product than someone who is just starting out or working with lower quality photography gear. In general, photographers with more equipment or a large studio to manage have more overhead, and overall costs to clients are higher.
Straightforward product photography (without complex sets or models) is typically the least expensive type of commercial photography. Photo sessions are generally either held in the photographer’s studio or at the client’s location. Rates vary widely, depending on the reputation and overhead of the photographer. Pau Hana Productions charges $350 to photograph a product in the studio with three different views.
Some commercial photography requires live models or other elements that typically cost more than basic product photography. The number of final photos requested, models used, travel expenses, retouching fees and specifics all can increase pricing. Here are two project fee examples from Pau Hana Productions:
Magazine cover: $425
$300 for photography
$85 for travel
- $40 for photo retouching
Medical device brochure: $2,100
$1,200 for photography
$600 for a male and female model
- $300 for photo retouching
Some commercial photographers charge half- or full-day rates for their services. This type of pricing structure works well for event photography as well as some product photography. Here’s an example of day rates for commercial photography from WestBoundary Photography in Rio Vista, California, charges $1,000 for a half day (4.5 hours) and $1,500 for a full day (8 hours) and $200 for each hour over a full day. The company adds 20 percent of the total cost if the photographer is required to file a permit. For example, many national parks require a permit to shoot commercial photography in the park. These fees can vary based on the logistics and degree of difficulty of the job for WestBoundary Photography.
Some commercial photographers charge a minimum rate for services, especially for projects on location. This minimum rate covers the labor, equipment and transportation costs of the professional. WestBoundary Photography charges a minimum rate of $650, which covers two hours of onsite work.