Fstoppers Answers - "Ten Headshots for a Corporate Client, What Do You Charge?"

Fstoppers Answers - "Ten Headshots for a Corporate Client, What Do You Charge?"

Every week, we ask our eclectic group of writers to weigh in on a question that is asked in the comments from our own readers. The questions can be anything relating to photography, and we invite everyone to participate in our segment called "Fstoppers Answers". This week, we ask "Corporate Headshots for Local Realtor Firm. Ten Clients, One Headshot a Piece. What do you charge and why?"

James RobertsonStaff Writer | Commercial PhotographerMy base cost for this would be $1500 flat for my local market. It may be one headshot per person, but that doesn't mean we're taking one photo per person, it probably means we're taking more than 10 per person. Realtors are usually fairly extroverted people, so I wouldn't anticipate too much of a struggle for that "confident yet approachable" look, but there's still a decent amount of setup time and effort involved..let's say two hours start to finish.
Beyond the shooting, I still have editing, for 10 people that's another hour at least if I'm lucky, but could very well be closer to two as well. Once everything is finished and delivered, then we come down to what they had their photos taken for in the first place - advertisement. These photos are going on bus stops, billboards, brochures, business cards, websites, Facebook pages, twitter accounts, email signatures, event notices, etc. etc. That's a whole lot of a marketing budget, thousands of dollars - $150 one time for the photo for all of it isn't bad at all.


Peter HouseStaff Writer | Commercial PhotographerFor a job such as this I would start by estimating the amount of time it would take me. Simply going from experience I know that I wouldn’t be there more than 4 hours including set-up, taking the headshots, and then setting down. There would be no point to charge the client a full day rate, so I would offer a half day rate instead to cover the 4 hours of work. In my case I charge a half day rate of $1000, so that would be my starting point. In addition to that we would add our retouching fee of $100/hr for about 5 hours of work. Lastly we would go over any usage terms the client might need and bill appropriately for those. Depending on the size of the firm and the kind of marketing campaign they expect, this would most likely not exceed a couple hundred dollars. So in total, for such a project, my estimate would probably come in around $1500-$2000, or about $150-$200/headshot. It’s always up for negotiation however, especially with smaller local businesses.


Rebecca BrittStaff Writer | Commercial PhotographerJust this last Friday (10-04-13) I did a headshot shoot of this nature. A realty firm with 10 realtors. I charged them $100 a piece (plus sales tax). I took my set-up to their office and did the shoot there for their convenience. I usually charge more for a single headshot shoot so I offered a discounted group rate. Each session actually came with two edited shots, one a Peter Hurley style shot and the other your typical vertical portrait. It's an easy and fast way to make a good profit for an afternoon's shoot while still giving the client a nice rate.


Mike KelleyAssociate Editor | Architecture Photographer$250 a piece + licensing. That's only after I try to get them to use someone else. That being said, I'm showing up with thousands of dollars worth of gear, taking a picture that they'll use to make a profit with for years to come, and hopefully capturing them at their absolute best so they can appeal to their potential clients. A headshot can stand to make someone in real estate thousands, or lose them just as much. This would be for one finished file that they will hopefully use across multiple media for years to come. Licensing fees are, of course, variable, and to be honest I'd probably have to come up with some licensing scheme for this on the fly because corporate headshots are not my forte.


Rich MeadeStaff Writer | Fashion PhotographerFor that I'd actually have a couple different prices depending on the logistics. If I could set up one day to get them all shot, and only incur one day of production costs (assistant). I'd charge $500 a person for Unlimited Promo use for 1 year. That would be for one finalized shot, and I'd charge something like $100/shot thereafter.
If I had to break it up, into separate shoot days I'd bump the price up to $750/person to account for at least my assistants rate, and the potential jobs I'd be missing out on by scheduling the headshots.


Zach SuttonAssociate Editor | Headshot PhotographerI'd likely charge around $125-$150 per headshot, which is still a bit of a discount from my standard price (And I'd make that known in my estimate sent to them). I'd also have a $100 set up fee for a studio. Depending how they handle that price (Around $1350-$1600), I'd lower the price accordingly, but wouldn't go below $1000. My local market sometimes goes quite a bit cheaper, so I will sometimes have to lower my price a little bit to stay competitive with them.


David BickleyStaff Writer | Fitness PhotographerFirst off this would vary greatly depending on the region. Obviously different markets require different rate considerations. Here in the midwest I would most likely charge my standard day rate of $1,700 plus licensing depending on the usage. With small businesses or start-ups I will sometimes build this into the day rate given budgetary constraints. My goal especially with small start-ups is never to break the bank and in some cases I've even opted for equity in the company in lieu of immediate compensation. In the end, everything is negotiable and I love that process of finding the right compromise.

As always, if you have a question to ask, feel free to comment below.

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Man, compared to this I'm really undercharging. On Monday I shot a round of 12 head shots for $600. That included travel, bringing all my gear to their office, setup and tear down, plus processing... Granted, I only delivered low-res shots for online use and my total time invested was about 2.5 hours.

E Port's picture

Barry, you are definitely undercharging. Help yourself and the rest of the community out by doubling your rates. Nice headshots BTW.

At least he is charging something and not doing it for free :)

Great photos, Barry!

If your just sending out low-res ok. But consider a high low out put. I usual give people both and charge more. Area is something that isn't really talked about either. If you live in bumble poke county you can't charge double.

Edit: also really good stuff there!

You are so right about the personality of an area. I live in an area with people who generally don't find any value in abstract things like advertising, marketing, branding, etc. Most of the local businesses would rather use snapshots rather than hire someone to take headshots, much less pay reasonable rates.

It was a bit of a shock when I first moved here, but they honestly don't want to pay for anything.. Of course, this town is a bit strange.

I agree you not charging enough . Your time and skills are valuable and it's something you should not hesitate to charge for.

Wow! Talk about undercharging! My recent headshot group of 14 people was $1,200. I think you should definitely raise your rates. Good work.

Your headshots are great and could easily command twice what you're asking. Double your rates! :)

Great post.

Although I'm in a different market (video) this is really interesting to read. For one, it appears I am drastically undercharging. Then again, so is all my competition apparently :s

Another very interesting thing to see is the licensing some of you charge. With a video, I usually deliver the endproduct in either webquality or higher quality for use on beamers, or fairs or whatever, but besides that the fee stays the same, nor are there any recurring costs for the client. Would it be wise to implement licensing costs for a startup videoproducer? Most of my video's end up on the end-user's youtube channel or website.

I do a lot of photo work but also do video on the side. I think it depends on what you agree on. If its just a web video I wouldn't be to bothered about licensing to much, but if they want to use it elsewhere, in a shop display etc.. I would do a separate license for the it.

Thanks, that makes sense I guess. I'll have to think about if I'm ready to add licencing costs to my business.

I have a general question (I'm not in the field of photography, so I really have no idea how the industry works):
What's the deal with licensing fees - especially on something like a headshot? I never understood this. I didn't experience this until I went looking for a wedding photographer and found all sorts of different policies on the rights to the photos. I'm hiring someone to take pictures - shouldn't the customer determine what they do with them?
Not trying to cause a heated debate - just curious from a professional's perspective.

E Port's picture

The more you understand us as artists the more it makes sense. (some) Musicians get upset when their music is duplicated or played on the radio without reimbursement. Why should it be different for photographers?

In music the radio station only pays when they play the song. So its a one time payment. Here it seems you have to pay for the shots to be made and then again for the right to use them. IMO it would make more sense to include the rights to the images(but charge a higher price obv.) A chef is also an artist but wouldnt make much sense to pay for a dish to be made and then again to be eaten.