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Running a Commercial Studio Photography Business:

Interview with Philip Sydow

We continue interviewing industry photography professionals, and this time we got an interesting interview with Philip Sydow, a commercial studio photographer from Virginia.

We continue exploring world of commercial photography, and this is another interview with one of industry professionals, studio photographer Philip Sydow.

Philip is a commercial photographer based in Williamsburg, Virginia, who enjoys blending his technical and creative interests. This nearly genetic predisposition to seek balance between left brain and right brain activities also explains why his career arc has always veered outside the lines of convention.
While pursuing his love of photography, Philip has previously worked as a commercial model, a NASA research engineer, a founder of a successful software start-up, the head of business development for a global security company, and a licensed high school mathematics teacher.

Learn more about Philip is on his studio website: Philip D Studio.

More about pricing for commercial photography from Philip Sydow:

After the interview was conducted, Philip sent us a detailed explanation of how they calculate their prices for commercial clients, explaining relationship between Creative Fees and Licensing/Usage charges. We hope this will be a great starting point for many beginners. Thank you Philip!

For commercial clients, our fee structure follows the typical industry model: Creative Fees (pre-production, production, post-production) + Expenses + License/Usage Fees.

Our pre-production fees (covers things like pre-production/creative meetings, planning, scheduling, booking talent, etc.) typically bill out at 50-75% of the hourly production fee.

Although we do not charge a “day rate“, our production fees start at $100/hour and go up based on the number of people involved (assistants, creative team) and complexity of the shoot.

Our Post-production fees vary according to the work involved, whether it’s basic color correction and light retouching, high-end retouching, or composite work. Typically, our high-end retouching runs about $60/hour which covers my time or that of a contract retoucher if I need to pull one in.

Expenses vary obviously but cover things like props, set-building, consumables, memory cards, craft services, parking, travel, permits, postage, etc.

License/Usage fees vary according to the usual parameters of degree of exclusivity, form of media, duration, circulation/number of impressions, scope/market (local, regional, national, etc.).

For our personal clients, our fee structure is totally different since those clients use our services differently. Typically we charge a session fee ($300 for 2.5 hours is our starting point) and then we have a range of products from prints to banners to albums.
Obviously, the print prices vary with size and surface (photographic paper, canvas, acrylic, metal). For example, we price an 11×14 photographic paper print at $135 whereas a 20×30 fine art canvas is over $400.

There are several important considerations when it comes to pricing: Your cost of doing business (CODB), your desired earnings, and your market (both what your potential clients may be willing to pay as well as what your competition may be charging).

You can’t blindly copy your competitor’s pricing strategy but you should understand it because it may influence your discussions with prospective clients.


Philip Sydow Photography:

More of Philip’s’s work can be found on PHILIP D Studio website

Follow Philip Sydow on Facebook: PHILLIP D Studio



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