The Wild Wild West

Price by definition is the amount of money expected, required, or given in payment for something. Price however does not equate to value or quality and is not what I compete on as I do not race to be at the bottom. There is bound to be a fellow photographer whose services are cheaper as well as other photographers who are more expensive than me. Before you decide who to hire as a food photographer or whether to base it solely on price, How to Hire a Food Photographer? gives a good overall view of the process and what to look out for.

Prices in Singapore range wildly from $10 or less per image which are offered by hobbyist photographers to $100 or more per image by professional photographers for small companies. It is also very common that photographers charge by the hour or by half day (4 hours) or full day (8 hours) rates. Hourly rates can start from $100 per hour. There are others who charge based on the scope of the photo shoot as well. It is common for loading fees to be bundled into the per image/per hourly/ day rates for small companies. For mid size and large companies, loading fees are separated out as a line item and advertising coverage is the usual basis on which to charge loading fees. The market rate for loading fees is 4 to 5 times per image or charged as a percentage of the shooting/photographer’s fee such as double or triple the photographer’s normal rates. Loading fees are also known as licensing fees and usage fees. The rates will depend on how much revenue my images will help the company bring in so an ad campaign hero shot will have much higher value than for example library shots. Loading fees are also much higher for above-the-line (ATL) works as it is likely to reach a larger audience.

Key Factors

Being a food and product photographer means that the payment is for the photography service provided and the image licensing requirements of the client. The price of a photo shoot would depend on the factors as listed below.

  1. Shot List: The number of images that you wish to shoot. For example, 1 product/dish with 3 different layouts/angles would equate to 3 shots. Typically the more images you wish to shoot, the higher the cost of the photo shoot.
  2. Complexity of the Shots: A shot of the product/dish on its own with no props and styling is less complex than a group shot with 5 dishes, many props with complicated food styling needed to make the shot work. Typically group shots, action shots, lifestyle shots, hands in frame shots, levitating shots are more complex and more time consuming.
  3. Food Stylist &/ Prop Stylist: For specific shoots, a food stylist &/ prop stylist may be required so that the shoot can be executed according to the brief. More team members on a photo shoot means the price would go up.
  4. Studio Rental: For clients who wish to utilise a kitchen studio, daily studio rental prices are an add-on cost to the project.
  5. Creation of a Mood Board: Read Why a Killer Mood Board is a Necessary Evil to find out why my clients have been opting for this add on service that I provide.
  6. Backdrops and Props Sourcing and Purchase: For clients who cannot find what they want in my existing collections and request that I source and purchase backdrops and props for their project. If you are not sure why props can make or break your image, The Importance of Props in Food and Product Photography can shed some light on this topic.
  7. Licensing Requirements: In general exclusivity, longer duration, wider geographical location and more channels the images are used will cost more. Typically smaller companies are charged a lower licensing fee as their outreach or coverage is lower than that of a large company.
  8. Exclusivity
  9. Duration
  10. Region
  11. Channels: ATL or BTL Advertising Print, Web, Social Media or ? Have you been charging loading fees? gives a long list of examples of ATL and below-the-line (BTL) media.
  12. Pre Production: Prop setups is included as part of my estimate but location scouting and lighting test shoot comes as an additional add-on service
  13. Post Production: Basic colour correction and clean up is included as part of my estimate but advanced retouching comes as an add-on service.
  14. Photographer: My professionalism, experience, style and vision as evidenced in my portfolio, my strong planning, art directing and lighting skills as reflected in clients’ testimonials and my cost of doing business would differ from a fellow photographer.

Final Words

Sharing your budget enables me to work towards meeting that number with a few options that you can choose from. It also gives you a good idea of how realistic your budget is for the project that you have in mind if most or all the estimates that you received are above your budget. I typically share reasons why my estimate is as such when it breaches a prospect’s budget and what alternatives are available to them if they cannot increase their budget. Shoot me an email if you have an upcoming project and wish to discuss more. Follow along on my Instagram where I share BTS and sign up to my mailing list so you are the first to know of any exciting news and promotions!