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Quoting for stock photography

One thing I've always struggled with is quoting for stock photography in advance of a project.

For example;

Proposals include project estimates based upon experience of solving similar business problems / briefs previously (timescale wise). However, it's only when the project has started and the concept has been developed that it may become apparent that stock photography would be the best approach for imagery.

Now we always suggest to our clients that it may be wise to budget for extras such as S.P., and give a rough idea of what this would cost, but it's always difficult giving an idea of cost until the concept has been developed. Catch-22.

How do you go about this?

Do you tend to quote to first draft stage and then quote how much it would cost to finish the project if they go with the concept?

Personally we like to let the client know up front how much something will cost to completion but it's not always that straight forward.

Any insights and experiences appreciated.


Part of the briefing process should highlight if photography is required and at this point the subject of a bespoke shoot or the use of stock images should be discussed. If the client baulks at the potential cost of a photographer, studio, model, stylist, etc. then the suggestion of stock photography should be raised, but with the caveat that you do get what you pay for.
As a designer, you can only build in the cost of researching suitable stock images and the final decision is ultimately down to the client. If they need a brochure with images in it, then they should be prepared to either supply the imagery up front or being willing/prepared to pay for a shoot or the stock imagery.

Hope I've understood your post correctly!
Hi Steve,

We include a certain amount of stock photography in our 'packages' for those clients who can't supply their own images. We tell the client how many they can have and where we get them from. If they want more they understand that they will have to pay extra, which seems to work just fine for us. The most important thing is that if you use stock photography the client knows where they stand with payment.

You have to be quite strict as I think it's these little things that can push the cost of a project up and you don't want to be paying for it!

I hope this helps!

Holly :icon_smile:


New Member
Thanks for the replies.

It's interesting to see how others quote for this. It's not too bad when you know that the brief may require a brochure, for example, from the outset as we can then take this into account and quote accordingly.

Sometimes we get given a brief and part of the initial creative process is determining what media / medium to use. In this case it's near on impossible to quote for the entire project upfront as you don't know yet what form the end piece(s) will take.

It gets a little more complicated when this is the case but, as mentioned above, as long as the client knows upfront as much as possible what the costs are to answer the brief, then I think that's the best we can do.


New Member
Another two pennies worth...

I guess it's like taking your car to the garage. The mechanic can only really accurately estimate the job when they have diagnosed the problem.
Another two pennies worth...

I guess it's like taking your car to the garage. The mechanic can only really accurately estimate the job when they have diagnosed the problem.
Then the mechanic can tell you lots of other expensive stuff needs doing as well!:icon_wink::icon_biggrin: