What is Commercial Photography?

Commercial photography encompasses a wide range of categories, and a common question asked by new and aspiring professional photographers is whether their work qualifies as commercial photography.

In general, commercial images are sold or licensed by the photographer, to individuals or companies who will use it to sell products and services, or to convey a message. Commercial images carry economic value, i.e. they help to create economic returns by being part of the process of generating business, brand equity or economic goodwill for the image owner and/or licensee.

In a nutshell, if your image will be used by a paying client to promote a product, service or company/organisation, it qualifies as commercial work.

Some examples of commercial photography are listed as follows:

1. Conceptual
2. Fashion
3. Beauty
4. Lifestyle
5. Food & Beverage
6. Corporate

7. Automobile
8. Product / Still Life
9. Portraiture
10. Fine Art
11. Industrial
12. Photojournalism

13. Public Relations / Events
14. Stock Image
15. Architectural / Interior
16. Sports
17. Editorial
18. Landscape

Industry Rates in Professional Photography – Year 2008/09 Survey Results

Highly Skilled / Specialist Photographer S$3,500 & above
Skilled & Experienced Photographer S$2,500 & above
Competent Photographer S$1,500 & above
Minimum Fees S$400 – S$600 & above
Half Day Fees S$1,000 – S$1,500 & above
Full Day Fees S$1,600 – S$2,500 & above
Cover Page (excluding retouching [D.I.]) S$500 – S$1,000 & above
Per Image Page (Double Page Spreads [DPS] are counted as 2 images) S$150 – S$250 & above
Advertorial Page Double the rate of an equivalent editorial
Food and Beverage (prepared/styled food for Menu or Ad. Does not include packaged food) S$250 – S$300 per image & above
Products (shots are delivered “as shot”, i.e. without any retouching and/or etching out; [includes packaged food])
a.) at minimum 30 images S$50 per image & above
b.) at minimum 50 images S$30 per image & above
Products (shots are delivered “etched out” but without retouching; [includes packaged food])
a.) at minimum 10 images (each image contains 5 products shot as a group) S$100 – S$150 per image & above
When Models/Talents are required Commercial & Advertising Rates Apply
1st Hour S$200 & above
Each subsequent Hour S$150 & above
4 hours package, including min. 200 images delivered S$450 & above

Note: The rates above are average values taken from a representative pool of professional photographers in 2008/09. 

Important: Rates typically differ according to technical/artistic difficulty, time and skill level required. As a rule, it is critical to give an accurate brief to the photographer. This helps the client avoid additional and unnecessary costs.

Loading Fees

The number people that will see the image you create for your clients can determine its commercial value. In advertising, the better the coverage (estimated number of people the ad will reach), the more likely the advertisement will create sales eventually. Of course, there are other major factors that contribute to effectiveness of an ad, however, for professional photographers, talents, writers and other creative professionals, advertising coverage is the usual basis on which to charge loading fees.

Loading fees are a standard billing component for most, if not all, commercial photography assignments. Loading fees serve to ensure fairness and equitability in payouts for the creative contributors of commercial works like print ads, TV commercials, bus ads, point-of-sale materials, direct mailers and even free gifts or premiums. These commercial works are broadly categorised as either Above the line (ATL) or Below the line (BTL). In a nutshell, loading fees are much higher for above the line works due to their wider and higher coverage. Besides coverage, loading fees also include the number of media, number of countries and usage timelines for the assigned images.

First Usage

If the photographer is quoting for new assignment, the photography charges should be calculated to reflect the types of media that the images will be used in. Charges would be higher for ATL usage compared to BTL due to higher coverage. Apart from ATL/BTL usage, charges should also reflect the number of different media, number of countries included and usage timeline. Charges for these items are usually included together with photography fees as a single sum in the quotation, but can also be placed as separate items, as some photographers prefer.

Repeat Usage

If the client chooses to use the images again after the first assignment is delivered, a new quotation should be created to reflect the extended the usage timeline, increased the number of media and/or usage of the images in more countries. These items can be billed under the heading of Loading Fees or Re-usage Fees. Photography Fees no longer apply.

Media types commonly classified by Ad Agencies

Electronic Media

  1. Free-to-Air TV Commercials
  2. Cable/Satellite TV Ads or similar
  3. TV Mobile
  4. Cinema Commercials
  5. Video Wall
  6. Website/Online
  7. 3G Mini Drama

Mass Print Media

  1. Press (Newspaper)
  2. Press (Magazine)
  3. Electronic Posters
  4. Posters/Banners/Murals in Retail Stores
  5. Light Boxes (Dura Trans)
  6. Overhead Bridge Displays
  7. Escalator Panels

Outdoor Print Media

  1. Billboards
  2. Building Banners and Signage
  3. Life Size Standee
  4. Phone Booth
  5. Posters in Tunnels
  6. Hoardings
  7. Window Decals
  8. Lift Decals (Interior/Exterior)
  9. Bus-Stop Posters and Light boxes
  10. Vending Machine Ads
  11. Other print media which are highly visible by the public

Transit Media

  1. Airport/Ferry Terminal/Train Station/Subway (MRT) Station/Bus Terminal:
    • Banners
    • Light Boxes (Dura Trans)
    • Posters
    • Murals
  2. Bus Panel – Interior and Exterior
  3. Bus – Wholly Painted
  4. Bus Stop Dura Trans
  5. Car Park Dura Trans
  6. Taxi Bumper Decals
  7. Taxi In-Cabin
  8. Taxi Top Dura Trans
  9. Taxi Wholly Painted
  10. Train/MRT:

• In-Cabin Ad
• In-train Doors
• In-train Floor
• In-train Panels
• In-train Poles
• In-train Seats
• In-train Windows
• Station Doors
• Station Dura Trans
• Station Floors
• Station Pillars
• Station Posters
• Station Seats
• Station Walls

11. Train/MRT Wholly Painted
12. Out-Stations (Outside Entrance Displays/Ads)
13. Private/Commercial Vehicle Wholly Painted – eg. Delivery vans, Private Buses, etc.

Electronic Media

  1. Train/MRT Platform Video
  2. 3G Video
  3. Automated Teller Machine Video (ATM)
  4. In-house Video
  5. In-store Video
  6. In-Flight Video
  7. Roadshow / Exhibition Video
  8. Q Video
  9. Corporate Video (Outdoor)
  10. Corporate Video (Internal)
  11. e-Direct Mailer (EDM)
  12. Email Blast
  13. Moving Spotlight (In-store/Out-store)

Print Media

  1. ATM/Credit Cards
  2. ATM Displays
  3. Application/Contest Forms
  4. Booklets
  5. Brochures
  6. Buntings
  7. CD-ROMs
  8. Calendars/Pocket Calendars
  9. Catalogues
  10. Carrier/Shopping Bags
  11. Decals
  12. Direct Mailer (DM)
  13. Direct Mailer Pack*
  14. Flyers
  15. In-store Posters and POSM**
  16. Leaflets
  17. Newsletters
  18. Packaging

19. PR Kit*
20. Phone Cards
21. Sample Prints
22. Stationery – eg. Envelopes, Letterheads, Memo Pads, Note books, etc.
23. Stickers
24. T-Shirts
25. Take-ones
26. Tent Cards
27. Transit Cards
28. User Guides
29. Zo Cards

*Direct Mailer Pack / PR Kit: normally contains leaflets, brochures, inserts, booklets, application forms, etc.
**POSM: Point-of-Sale Materials eg. Aisle Displays, Hanging Mobiles, Shelf Talkers, Standees, Wobblers, etc.

You must be logged in to view this content.