Them : Hello, we like your work, we want you to photograph our product.

Me : Great, please tell me more about your product and any other details that might help me ascertain the scope of the assignment.

Them : We want 4 concepts, models, styling, make-up, can you do shoot in 4 days?

Me : I don’t arrange for models / clothes / styling / location / make-up, if you are able to arrange, I can shoot in 4 days. Please give me an idea of the number of images required, any reference images, possible locations, etc. so that I may understand work required, on the basis of which I can share possible pricing.

Them : “I understand your point but price is the primary phase of this kind of decision, what’s the point in discussing the things if later on it doesn’t fit in our budget. Atleast, give us a rough idea about post production costs per photograph, your fees and other over head expenses.”


If you haven’t decided what deliverables you need, you haven’t decided your own budget. If you haven’t decided your own budget, you have no idea what pricing range to expect from any service provider. Having not even a loose idea of deliverables also means you haven’t decided the scope of the assignment, which means you can’t tell the service provider what the scope of the assignment is and the service provider can’t tell you how much they would charge. How can I tell you how much I will charge when you haven’t even told me what it is you’re hiring me for?!


Hopefully a helpful analogy here :

I recently moved apartments – I moved from Noida to Gurgaon (YAY!). For this move, I needed to hire professional packers and movers. I called up a few and said, “I need to move a 3BHK from Noida Sector 47 to Gurgaon Sector 56. Can you please tell me how I can help you determine what you will bill me for something like this?” Further conversation to determine said pricing included the service provider asking me details of what items I have in my 3BHK that need to be moved. The description was as detailed as, “One double-door book case with 5 shelves. One king-size double bed with head board and two storage drawers. One chest of drawers with six drawers.” Etc.

These are detailed specification that the service provider needs to estimate their pricing.


Similarly, a photographer needs detailed specifications:


How many models? ( Each model needs a certain time to get dressed, to get their hair and make-up done, to change into new ensemble etc. This affects time required for shoot, hence pricing. )

How many “looks” need to be photographed? ( How many sets of clothes will one model wear and change into. Determines time and hence, pricing. )

How many locations? ( More than one location means more time, ergo, pricing. )

Reference photos of the location? ( This helps in deciding lighting required and determines equipment required, which determines pricing. )

Reference photos of other similar photo shoots that you might have seen and liked. ( These will not be copied but it gives the photographer a very good idea of what kind of photos the client is thinking of. This helps in building a creative brief for the client’s particular brand and also helps determine the scope of the shoot. )

The above should hopefully help in determining the approximate number of photographs that the client requires. ( Images need editing time and the larger the number of images, the more time qill be required for post-production and the higher the pricing. )

Where will the images be used? ( This is relevant because it helps in deciding the licensing terms. Will the images be used only online or in print or for advertising on hoardings or only internal or on marketing brochures or does the client require a full license? The larger the scope of the license, the higher the pricing. These details also help determine the equipment required. )

Details of the products / subject(s) that need to be photographed.


All price quotes for photography are determined on the basis of time required, effort required, usage licensing, number of images required and there’s a creative fee involved if the client wants an elaborate or different look that might require specialized equipment. It isn’t as simple as providing a “day rate” or “hourly rate”. If I told you that I charge Rs. 2,50,000 for two hours of photography, wouldn’t you want to know how many images you will be getting, what license is included in those images, what will I be making images of etc.? Similarly, I need details from you! Just like you can’t pull a budget out of thin air, I can’t pull a quote out of my ass.

In any case, if your only basis of hiring a photographer is price, I’m absolutely the wrong photographer for you.


More anecdotes and stories in the #WTFNaina series. ( These are all true stories by the way. Some written emails, some from face-to-face meetings. They have all been piling up for years now and I’ve decided to put them to use! )

Photo above by Rainer Hungershausen. License via Flickr.