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What is the Cost of Brand Marketing Photography and Content Photography?

First off, what is Brand Marketing Photography or Content Photography? They go by many different names but essentially it is photography that is used to market a business.

That might include headshot portraits of your people, business lifestyle images of you and your team at work, images of your customers using your products or services, your products, where you work, and how you work. Collectively these images tell your brand story of what you offer, how you offer it, and why you.

These images are often used on websites, social media, printed marketing materials, blogs, videos, and more to market a company and recruit new employees.

Brand Marketing Photography is Evolving

Traditionally you had to work with a commercial photographer with the highest-end equipment, large teams, and long production timelines. Costs ranged from $5,000 to $500,000+ often beyond the budget of local, small businesses. Those commercial photographers still exist and do amazing work but since entrepreneurs, small companies, and regional branches with local budgets have entered the online marketing arena, there has been a need for photographers that can serve smaller projects with lower price points.

How Much Will it Cost?

The correct answer is always “it depends.” Let’s look at what drives brand marketing photography costs and how to develop an appropriate budget for your needs.

What Influences the Cost of Marketing Photography?

There are three basic components that drive costs.

  1. Time. The more time that is spent in pre-production planning, creating shoot lists and mood boards, location scouting, shooting, and editing the better the final product will be. There is a lot that occurs before and after the photoshoot that can improve the final deliverables.

  2. Talent. The greater the talent of the photographer working on the project, the better it will be. As with most things in life, talented and experienced people tend to cost more. Talent, skills, and experience = better images.

  3. Tools. You can produce images with your cell phone. Or you can use a high-end camera with a professional lighting kit and sophisticated post-production editing. Sophisticated tools and the top-level professionals who know how to use them add cost.

Taking these into account we can identify five levels of quality and cost.

Five Levels of Quality and Cost for Brand Marketing Photography

  1. Amateur: The do-it-yourself approach using basic consumer photography equipment and self-taught talent (often found on youtube)

    1. Benefits – Fast and inexpensive

    2. Risks – The results often look amateurish and can erode your credibility

    3. Best Uses – For emerging solopreneurs or a company’s occasional social media posts

    4. Cost – Free, once you have the basic gear

  2. Semi-Pro: Requires someone with some experience or training using consumer or entry professional-level equipment. The talent level is variable. Stylized filters are frequently used in place of advanced custom editing. Think part-time wedding photographer or hobbyist.

    1. Benefits – Better quality than DIY and inexpensive

    2. Risks – Wide variations in quality and consistency in photographers’ work, they may or may not provide a preplanned shoot list using or have a marketing background

    3. Best Uses – For emerging solopreneurs and small companies

    4. Cost for 30 image package – $450-$1,500 (can depend on local market)

  3. Local Brand Marketing Photography Professionals: An experienced professional photographer that is an individual or has a small team using professional-level equipment. They plan ahead to understand your brand, have experience in marketing, may scout locations in advance, and provide a shoot list and concept board. They can offer advanced custom editing.

    1. Benefits – Predictable quality that conveys your company is credible

    2. Risks – May not be exceptional but will be solid

    3. Best Uses – For local companies, local branches of larger companies, or high-achieving entrepreneurs used on their websites, social media, blogs, case studies, profiles, service or process descriptions, and recruiting.

    4. Cost for 30 image package – $2,500 – $5,000 (can depend on local market)

  4. Regional Commercial Photographers: High-end, experienced photographers, even higher-end equipment, large teams, and more time to produce something exceptional. Use this production level to tell a compelling story and capture maximum attention. These photographers will charge usage licenses in addition to their creative fees. Usage licenses determine how long you can use the images and where they can be used. Think large regional and national brands.

    1. Benefits – ‘Stand out’ work. This is the kind of photography that generates buzz, sets you apart, and wins awards.

    2. Risks – These longer projects with more stakeholders involved can result in an end product different from where you started so stay involved.

    3. Best Uses – Used by large regional and national companies in their advertising, on their websites, social media, blogs, case studies, profiles, service or process descriptions, and recruiting.

    4. Cost – completely custom estimates: $10,000 – $100,000

  5. National/International Commercial Photographers: The very top-level talent, no-compromises approach. Think ultra-premium top brands and Fortune 1000 companies.

    1. Benefits – Competitive at the highest level. Suitable for the largest global firms.

    2. Risks – These longer projects with more stakeholders involved can result in an end product different from where you started so stay involved.

    3. Best Uses – High-end advertising or compelling signature piece for a firm.

    4. Cost – completely custom estimates: $100,000 – $1,000,000 plus

Selecting the Appropriate Budget Level

Clarify what you want to accomplish and determine what resources you have available to you before you set a budget for brand marketing photography.

For example, if you want to increase credibility, build your brand, attract new clients, or recruit new staff you’ll typically need an experienced professional to get a satisfying end product.

Small firms or entrepreneurs with limited budgets may have to accept lower production values, but even at these levels, photography can provide impact.

Also, be realistic about your expectations. Do not expect to pay a semi-pro rate and get a professional product.

How to Get What You Pay For

If you haven’t been involved in brand marketing photography before, it’s natural to feel a little intimidated by the process. Here are a few tips to get the most out of the experience.

  • Be sure you know what you are trying to accomplish. One of the biggest reasons a project falls short of expectations is that the client can’t decide what they want and keeps moving the target during production. This adds cost and erodes quality.

  • Choose your photographer carefully. Look at their past work to make sure it is compatible with what you want. Make sure they understand marketing — not just photography. If your photographer simply shoots pretty pictures without understanding the broader context, your final images may miss the point.

  • Be available to supply the resources that the photographer needs. This can include everything from access to people, locations, and relevant logos as well as a prompt review of concepts, proofs, and edit rounds. When you make it easier for them, you will benefit.

I hope this is a helpful article for you to find the right photographer for your needs and budgets.


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