Corporate and commercial photography rates and fees

My corporate and commercial photography rates follow the industry-standard formula of being comprised of two separate fees: a creative fee (plus any expenses incurred on assignment) and a usage fee.

Corporate and Commercial Photography Creative Fee

The creative fee is the rate you’re paying for my time, talent and equipment. Creative fees (sometimes called photography fees) reflect the experience, creativity and vision a photographer brings to a particular assignment, along with the complexity of the project. Issues such as the total number of finished images needed, scheduling, site logistics or the need for specialized skills or equipment can all impact the creative fee.

My standard minimum creative fee for corporate and commercial photography is $100 per hour, billed in half-hour increments with a one-hour minimum. While this fee is a minimum, more than 90 percent of the corporate and commercial photography assignments I encounter fall under this minimum. For assignments in excess of eight hours, the ninth through 12th hours will be billed at $150 each. If more than 12 hours are required to complete the assignment (not counting simple travel time), each additional hour over 12 will be billed at $200.

Corporate and Commercial Photography Usage Fees

Photo usage fees (also known as licensing fees) reflect the value of the usage for each image in the assignment. This is determined by a number of considerations, including how widely and for how long the images will be reproduced and distributed. The more extensive the rights required by the client, the higher the usage fee.

If you’re a new or inexperienced photo buyer who’s not familiar with the industry-standard usage fee concept, the American Society of Media Photographers offers this analogy: think of television commercials. Commercial advertising slots during the Super Bowl are expensive because the game has a huge audience, while ads on a local cable program cost relatively little because not many people will see them.

Corporate and commercial photography licensing works much the same way: an international, publicly-traded corporation on the Fortune 100 will almost certainly have a higher budget for producing a company newsletter or annual report than a smaller company with a local or regional focus. While both companies in this example would pay the same commercial photography creative fee when making similar assignments, the larger company will likely pay more in usage fees because the photos are intended for a much larger audience.

Another issue is determining commercial photography usage fees is the degree of exclusivity required by the client. In addition to their immediate value, images have ongoing value as stock photos. Photographers rely on their library of stock photos to create an ongoing revenue stream (my own stock photo library is currently managed by ZUMA Press in San Clemente, Calif.). If photos from an assignment must be kept off the market for an extended time, the usage fee must be higher to offset those lost future earnings.

While all this may sound complicated to the uninitiated, it’s really not. I determine usage rates using the industry-standard FotoQuote software and I’m happy to provide free estimates for all potential corporate or commercial photography assignments. By tailoring the usage rights being licensed to only those rights actually needed by the client for their project, I’m almost always able to work within any reasonable budget constraints under which the client is operating.

Please note my use of the word “reasonable” in describing budget constraints. If you want unlimited commercial use of all images from an assignment for $200 — and want need me to drive 250 miles to even get there, like a public relations agency for a major tobacco company which once contacted me did — then please don’t even waste your time contacting me.

Likewise, please keep in mind that I won’t even consider signing a work-made-for-hire contract for anything less than $5,000 (and that’s an absolute minimum). I will, however, be glad to provide you with a free corporate or commercial photography estimate detailing how the usage rights you actually need for your project can be obtained within the budgetary constrains with which you’re working.

Corporate and Commercial Photography Expenses

For assignments requiring the use of one or more photo assistants, each assistant will be billed at cost, typically averaging $150 per day in most markets I serve.

Travel time


shipping handling, cd burning, contact sheets, etc.

payment, grant of rights

Corporate and Commercial Photography Usage Fees

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