Details: Production Needs of the Job – The Expenses

Always remember that each job is unique and you must ask lots of questions. Make no assumptions when pricing a job. Even if you are not in doubt about a detail, ask and confirm it. With practice, you will find that you are frequently reminding the client what is needed or taking care of a detail he didn’t even consider and, in the process, you are instilling confidence. If you are questioned about all your questions, assure the client that this is the only way you can provide numbers that are realistic. You ask the questions now to make the assignment run smoothly and stay on budget throughout the project.

Expenses are typically billed with a mark-up. This is a customary and expected business practice. When preparing your estimate, make sure you add the mark-up to quotes you are given from vendors.

As a professional, you would be well advised to set established charges for expenses that are consistent — a web gallery or FTP delivery, for example. You should also evaluate those charges annually and adjust as needed.

Here is a partial list of possible expenses for a photography assignment.

  • Permits
  • Hotels
  • Airfare
  • Mileage, tolls, parking
  • Car rental
  • Customs and carnets
  • Gratuities
  • Meals
  • Tips
  • Messengers or shipping
  • Props — purchased or rented
  • Backgrounds
  • Location rental
  • Wardrobe
  • Catering
  • Trailer rental
  • Misc. supplies (e.g., tape, bulbs, gels)
  • Equipment rental
  • Digital processing fee
  • Proofs or web gallery
  • Retouching
  • Master digital file
  • Repurposed digital files
  • Prints
  • Archiving
  • CD or DVD burning
  • FTP
  • Assistants
  • Models
  • Casting director
  • Wardrobe, prop or food stylist
  • Hair or make-up artist
  • Location scout
  • Carpenter
  • Set designer


Photographers differ on how they illustrate their pricing to clients. Some separate fees, others lump everything together. Regardless of how you break your price out to clients, it is critical that you calculate your price by considering all three of these distinct fee areas.

Next: Details: Know Your Market