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Why I Charge $2,300 For A Photoshoot

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At PiggyVest, we’re not only interested in how Nigerians save and invest but how they earn as well. That’s why we reached out to celebrity portrait photographer, Anny Robert, who’s worked with stars like M.I Abaga, Blaqbonez and Beverly Osu, and asked him to break down the cost of one of his most expensive shoots.

From picking a reference to building a set, here is everything you need to know about pulling off a $2,300 photoshoot.

Tell me about your most expensive shoot.

I’ve done a lot of shoots that cost a lot of money. The most recent one had Idia Aisien and was for TW magazine. After establishing the concept and getting our reference image (Cardi B’s “Press”), we set out to work with my base budget. 

(Source: Anny Robert)
(Source: Anny Robert)

What’s a base budget?

A base budget is the least amount of money a professional charges for work in a similar execution range. A lot of clients come in with ideas, reference images or concepts they want to recreate. As a professional, I have a base budget for different concepts.  For dramatic shoots, my base budget is $2,300. 

Whoa. $2,300 is the least?

LMAO. Yes, for certain shoots. Not all. When you factor in the cost of recreating a set, hiring extras, styling [hair, makeup and wardrobe] and the photographer’s cut, you begin to see how it adds up. 

Let’s do a breakdown. What did recreating the set cost?

First of all, I have to mention that recreating a set is usually the most expensive part of any shoot. For Idia’s shoot, we spent over ₦500,000 on the set alone. All that money went into renting the location, getting extra cameras, feeding and paying the extras.

How much did hiring the set extras cost?

It cost us about ₦300,000. Idia and I had to put up a post on Instagram calling for extras to be the paparazzi. I got three to four people and Idia got the rest — they were about ten in total. For this shoot, we told them how we wanted them to dress and they provided their own wardrobe. We took care of their make-up, feeding and we gave them ₦30,000 each as appreciation for showing up.

Behind the scenes (Source: Anny Robert)

So, renting the cameras and location was about ₦200,000?

Yes, it cost about that much and it was even discounted. At full price, it costs a lot more. I’m grateful for the people I know who eased the process for me. I had four cameras of my own but needed seven more for the extras to hold while on set. 

Were these cameras insured?

No oh. There was no insurance. I had to beg them to be careful while handling it. The shoot itself took about 30 – 45 minutes and my interns were on standby. Thankfully, there were no accidents involving cameras while on set. 

What was the cost of styling for this shoot?

Over ₦200,000. Idia brought her own people. What this meant was that the budget for hair, makeup and wardrobe was taken from the base budget. She had two looks, so we had to factor that in as well.

Behind the scenes (Source: Anny Robert)

Care to share your personal cut for this shoot?

About ₦800,000. 

Ah! 

LMAO. It’s pretty fair. When you consider the interns I have to pay, the effort and work that goes into sourcing the right pieces to make a whole picture and the fact that I pay about  ₦200,000 on electricity per month, it all adds up. 

Wait. Your power bill is ₦200,000?

Yup. The studio is in a serviced apartment where there is always light. This works for me because I never have to worry about light, servicing generators or dealing with generator noise.  

Are your shoots always this expensive?

No. Most of my expensive shoots are a result of what the client wants to achieve. A normal portrait costs significantly less. 

Do you have a billing system?

I have packages clients can review and work with based on their budget. 

Anything else you’d like to add? 

Yes. Cost transcends physical things. As much as we can break down the cost of physical things like the set, props, styling and all of that, there’s more to this that most people never get to see. When an artist charges you for their work, remember that you’re also paying for the long hours they put into perfecting their craft. 

Experts charge for their skill, the mastery of their art, the peace of mind that comes with knowing they will deliver on the job. In some cases, people pay for the name. A name that costs everything to build. These things are not to be taken for granted. 

It’s not just a picture. It’s so much more. 

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