Photographer Fees (Day Rate & BUR)

There is no set day-rate for a photographer. It depends on the photographer himself and whether the job is editorial or commercial. Editorial shooting commands a lower day rate. For Commercial shoots, The Association of Photographers (AOP) guidelines suggest anything from £2,000/day upwards inclusive of BUR (Base Usage Rate) and it is common for experienced and specialist commercial photographers to charge between £4,000-£6,000/day before any additional usage licence (over and above the BUR) has been considered. The day rate reflects the profile and complexity of the shoot, outside of London basic commercial day rates for photography can start from as low as £900. In recent years I’ve know a few photographers who’ve dropped their day rates by as much as 50% for projects that interest them.

Photographer Costs (Other)

On top of the shoot fee, you should expect to also budget for digital capture fees, equipment and lighting hire costs, within the photographer’s cost allocation. If the photographer operates through an agent, markup on the photography and retouching services is commonly an additional 15-25%.

Retouching Costs

This is customarily quoted as a price per image, calculated as the number of shots from the photoshoot that are selected by the Client for retouching (even if those shots are not subsequently used in the campaign). This basic fee represents a standard-amount of high-level retouching with one major round of Client feedback and amends. Additional or extensive retouching would be charged as extra.

Usage Rights

Be aware that any additional rights licences, and crucially any continued use of the imagery outside of the temporal period negotiated prior to shooting (standardly 6-12 months), will be subject to extra charges. Unless you negotiate a complete image buyout licence and rights in perpetuity – which is very rarely given by professional photographers due to rights being part of their livelihood – you must be clear that the photographer retains all the image copyright, not the Client or Agent.

An informative resource from the AOP is available at this link: www.the-aop.org/information/copyright-4-clients/faqs

Talent Costs

Just as if you use a famed photographer, deciding to feature Kate Moss is going to cost you a lot more than casting an attractive “new face” from a reasonably-priced model agency. Talent fees will also be subject to the usage rights required, as well as the industry category in which the models are being featured, as appearing in shots for one brand may compromise their ability to subsequently work for other competitor brands in the same or similar industries.

Crew Costs

A useful guide for budgeting commercial film and video crew, across every role required including styling, is to refer to the Advertising Producers’ Association (APA) rates. The APA is the trade body for production companies, post production and VFX, and editing companies making commercials, and any good production agency will have access to the latest ratecards which came into effect in October 2012. Generally commercial is defined as ‘above-the-line’ media (loosely print, TV, radio and outdoor advertising, where space must be purchased) although particularly high-profile online/digital productions are now also likely to attract commercial rates.



Initial Brief

This can be a detailed document containing Visuals / Comps, Critical Paths, Mood Boards and a thorough description of the brand’s values, personality and guidelines, or a few sentences in an email. I’m comfortable with either.

Creative Concepting

Is there an agency or Art Director in place? Is your messaging clear? If the answer is no or you’re not sure, I can help you. Either my team or myself can develop the concept and the message for your brand, product or service. I can also suggest a number of suitable agencies or bring another Art Director into the team to help with this process.

Points to consider

  • Where will the images be used? UK, Europe, Worldwide? Digital? Print? Web, Magazine, Ad-shelter, 46 or 96 Sheet? How prominent will the campaign be and how long will the images be used for? It’s important to be clear about this at the start as this affects licensing and hire rates and although it’s not too difficult to retroactively re-license an asset or model but occasionally a model will have licensing restrictions placed up them by another client. If a model features in a prominent campaign and is being presented as the face of that brand there’ll invariably be restrictions on that model, at least for the life of that campaign.
  • Do you need any dead space for copy? Do you need space so it’s possible to pull both landscape and portrait crops out of the images?
  • Viewing distance; how large will the final image be reproduced? This may seem a little extreme but this can sometimes affect the composition.
  • Top Tip: Ensuring your photographer, model, stylist and retoucher are top-notch is the simplest route to stunning imagery.
  • Props, Set, Wardrobe & Hair/Makeup – don’t fall into the trap of skimping in this area and thinking you can do it yourself. Unless you have specialist experience in the required area, you will almost always benefit from hiring a session stylist to prep your shoot and be on-set. This guarantees the best results, whether you be shooting fashion, beauty, food or interiors.
  • Detail is king and attention to detail at this stage saves money.

Additional Content Creation

Can you get more out of your shoot by creating extra video/behind-the-scenes content for YouTube? If you’ve gone to the expense of organising a shoot try and think of ways you can add additional value by generating additional marketable assets. If you’re doing it, show it off.

Proposal Back To Client / Response To Brief

If the creative team hasn’t provided Scamps or Comps either my team or myself will prepare them for you. These sketches or image compositions will be used to communicate our proposed solution. In some cases and typically with projects that require a fashion or set stylist, mood boards will be created.

We will reply with a quote, a written description of our proposed solution and comps. Where needed.


UK or Abroad? Grand or Grunge? High-End or Budget? Think of it like choosing a hotel or holiday destination: what’s most important, what’s desirable, what’s a nice-to-have, what do you want to avoid, and ultimately what can you afford? My Production Team can recommend and arrange the best facilities to suit the brief and budget if you don’t have fixed ideas.


In the very basic sense think of a photographic studio as just a largish room with a high ceiling and power sockets, however this may not always be enough. Having the right facilities on hand ultimately saves time and money. I tend to shoot all my studio work in London and not because ‘London is cool’, London provides, by far, the widest choice of shooting environments. Daylight studios, daylight white studios, large cycloramas, kitchens, backwashes, and three phase power. You’ll be close to numerous equipment rental facilities and it will provide the very best and most cost effective access to models, stylists and other crew. However, before now I’ve turned a partially demolished Victorian abattoir and a farm tractor house into studios. I will always suggest options that are precisely suited to the proposed work. There are hire studios available in Hampshire if you’d prefer to shoot locally.

Location Houses

If the job requires the images to have a lifestyle feel, a situational context that relates to a particular aspect of the brand or message it may well be necessary to rent a location house. I strongly recommend avoiding the temptation to make use of a colleague’s house but consider selecting a suitable location house through an agency. Houses suitable for photography and filming tend to have larger than average rooms and frequently higher ceilings. They also tend to be brighter and styled to be natural but non-intrusive. Being forced to use wide lenses, which will unnaturally distort an image, because of environmental constraints is not a good solution. Having space to set lights, safely move around the set without tripping over tripods and cables and not having to move furniture around for access has a positive impact on productivity.

Permits, Permissions and Insurance

Taking photographs on public land doesn’t require special permission but, especially in London, not all public access land is actually publicly owned. It’s frequently necessary to obtain permits in advance, unless you opt to shoot guerrilla style, especially in the City and Royal Parks and these permits typically cost a few hundred pounds. However, sometimes just being polite and considerate and asking for permission in advance can get you the access you require.


I have arrangements with various model agencies and a black book of models that work independently. Wherever possible try and find the budget to make use professional models, they know how to present themselves to the camera, look natural and are quick to work with. All of this raises productivity, which means you get more for your money.

Negotiations and Licensing

This is something I’m very used to doing and because of my contacts throughout the industry am more than happy to take ownership for.


Who is the subject and do they (or their representation) have any requirements that need to be accommodated? When casting models, profile your end-consumer first, the look or message you want to portray through your imagery, any aesthetic specifics, and your budget for casting to commence. It will often then come down to relationships and availability. Live-cast alongside your Casting Director if you can – models can look very different in real life compared to their (heavily-photoshopped) cards.

For fashion and beauty work I’d strongly recommend running a casting day. Agencies as well as some of the larger studio complexes, like Holborn Studios, have facilities for casting.

The Teams

Building a team that works well together makes the process of creating a rewarding experience. The great thing about working with freelancers is that you get to choose who you work with. I have an extensive contact list of trusted professionals, all of whom I can rely on to not only bring along their immense talent but a smile and as well as their team spirit. Love them all.

Stylist, Hair and Makeup, Assistants, Computer Op – DIT, Runners

I have access to the very best in the industry as well as very talented starters.

Sign Off to proceed

Once my response to you has been signed off I can start penciling dates and pulling the crew and kit together.

Equipment Hire

I have an extensive range of equipment including the very latest super high speed Elinchrom PRO HD heads however it may be necessary to hire addition equipment for particular effects. I have accouns with the three biggest UK facilities giving me access to the very latest cameras, lenses and lights – both flash and continuous.


(Travel & Parking/Loading) – How will each member of the shoot get to and from the location, and what needs to be organised as a result? If abroad, are their any visa or passport requirements that need to be considered? Let me know who among your team will be attending and I can make suitable travel arrangements if required or advise on what needs to be arranged from your side.


Who needs to be fed and watered, and what are their expectations and dietary requirements? Please let me know what your expectations are in regards to this, I can arrange everything from tea, coffee, sandwiches and cakes to a freshly cooked sit down meal. Larger studios and studio complexes also offer catering as part of their services.

Scheduling and Shoot Planning

Once availability has been established you’ll have the option of settling on a start date. Once this has been agreed I will then confirm all the bookings. Jobs can be temporarily paused or put on indefinite hold at any time up to 48hrs before the shoot. Any intervention after that deadline may incur a cost up to the cost. Foe further details please refer to my Ts and Cs. The charge for late cancellation is typically covered by the advance payment.

Preparation Days

With many jobs the Photographer, Art Director, Stylists, Home Ecs. etc. will require preparations days. These days are used to collect, chose or shop for props, collect and check equipment, reconnoiter locations or perform tests.

Advance Payment

(Typically and approximately 50% of the final invoice total)

The advance payment has to be received and cleared at least 48hrs before the shoot commences.

Call Sheets

A call sheet will be produced and distributed around all attending the shoot. It will contain a list of all attendees, their contact details, a schedule of the day’s activities as well as any other relevant information regarding anything from access to local shops and hospitals. Please take time to read this document and remember to print out a hard copy.


I not only have insurance to cover my own as well as rented equipment but Public Liability Insurance also. In many cases extensions to the basic operational policies are required and these would be made clear in the quote. These policy extensions would typically include:

  • Employers liability
  • Equipment cover
  • Props, sets & wardrobes
  • Production office contents
  • Cash
  • Neg & hard drive
  • Producers indemnity
  • Pre Production cover
  • Post Production cover



Shoot Hours

Most models are contracted for an 8-hour day with 1-hour lunch which can be extended at extra cost; think about restrictions of daylight hours if you are shooting outside. Studio and location over-runs can easily be accommodated but the cost of over-runs will be added to the invoice .

I expect everyone to be at the location, whether thats a studio or a field about an hour before work commences. This gives everyone a chance to grab a coffee, breakfast and introduce themselves to the team. Starting work in a calm and un-flustered state of mind helps maintain a positive mood throughout the shoot.

On Set

If you or anyone in your team doesn’t understand something, just ask. Everyone on set will be more than happy to explain what’s happening and the processes involved. Additionally, if you have an idea don’t be afraid to come and have a chat to me about it, all the senior members of the team are empowered to make suggestions.




How many round of retouching do you expect to be needed? How many people are involved in the final approval/sign-off process? Generally I would expect 2-3 rounds, so any more is likely to be additional to the standard prices quoted. I would ask that approvals are completed in a speedy manner and that the most senior decision maker is involved from the very start, this saves time and money.

Delivery, Sign Off, Final Invoice

Once the invoice has been paid in full you will be free to use the images as per our agreement. If you wish to extend the usage of the images either in time or territory then let me know and I can offer you an extension and negotiate the necessary licenses from the models.



© 2017 Jacques GiIham. All image rights reserved throughout.