Stock photography and mock-ups

When pricing a project - for example an indentity design with a style-guide - how do you budget for stock photography and mock-ups?

Do you just allow a lump sum for it, or is it more scientific?

Your total rate should include mockups and stock photos.

Under no circumstances should you make cliens feel like they are paying exatra for them, as it would be highly unprofessional.

I wouldn’t call it unprofessional to let a client know they are paying more for something.
I’m not a fan at all of photoshop mockups. They are toys in the real world of design that mean nothing and might represent the unattainable.
Here’s a random screenshot from an image search for drafted branding signage package drawings. THIS is professional. (and takes about 20-30 minutes after all prelim sketching is done. Note the 24sf note at the top? That is for building permit purposes in the town where this would be located. Signage size limits. Structural details. Materials sourced. A lot of stuff out there a professional should know.


edit: I went and found the actual link to credit it:
evergreensign. com/services/design-consultation-permitting/

Whether or not stock imagery is needed is usually apparent from the beginning.

When I think the job will need an image or two, I’ll add enough to the initial quote to cover them. I’ll spell out in the initial quote that stock imagery will run $XX per photo when I’m uncertain. Similarly, I’ll often point out that licensing advantages exist when clients buy the stock images directly rather than me buying them. When there’s a client-requested change in the job that results in the need for unanticipated stock art, I’ll tell them that the change will result in them paying for the images.

As for pre-made mockups, I don’t use them; I make my own.

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That’s more than a little generalising and simply not true.

When I work on book projects, publishers always have a specific stock photography budget. Most of the time, their picture researchers source them and provide them to me to work with, or will sometimes work in consultation with me to source them, depending on the project. Either way, it is a specific component.

Even with corporate work, if stock photos need purchasing, I usually make this clear, in the name of transparency. There are times when I include it in the cost, but mostly not.

I certainly wouldn’t say it was an unprofessional approach. It entirely depends on the project and the client.

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Say for example: you’re purchasing images from Shutterstock for a project - what would be the advantages of the client purchasing that direct and have you ever had push-back on getting the clients to do that?

When clients purchase the images with their account, the license belongs to the client. They can keep the images (photos, illustrations, videos, fonts, etc.) and reuse them as needed. If I buy the images, the licenses belong to me, even though the client reimburses me. Most stock art licenses are not transferable. Some clients care about this; others don’t.

I tell them the pros and cons, then let them decide. What they choose doesn’t matter much to me since it doesn’t affect the project. In some ways, I’d rather download stock art myself with my account. That way, I make a little extra money for the effort and don’t need to wait for clients to do their part. However, what I’m more concerned about in this situation is making sure the clients understand the issues and make whatever decision is best for them.

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We use the lightbox function quite often to suggest to clients imagery to purchase. Most are savvy enough to know they need control of the imagery and the license. It often becomes part of their asset system. Some stock requires a separate purchase for web use too. That can get messy if the designer has the image under license themselves.

We also tend to deal with the larger stock companies that allow a designated purchaser to buy licensing as a proxy for the client. This involves more interfacing with customer support at the stock companies and more billable time that is spelled out under the image acq budget in any proposal we do.

But when it comes to stock mockup templates to showcase a logo? We just don’t use them. We sometimes have to make the effort to go to a client’s site and photograph the area where the signage or logo will be going and do a dimensioned drawing on top of that photo. Or to show what a new sign might look like in its actual environment. I’m not sure when it became chic to use stock templates to put logos on things that don’t exist. If doing brand standards, a dimensioned diagram showing clear space and proportion is far more useful than showing that logo on a fake sign or business card.
From another random google search:

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Thanks @PrintDriver and @Just-B - that all makes a lot of sense :+1:

I’d say it would be “highly unprofessional” to take a client’s money without being 100% transparent about what they’re paying for.

Thank you.

Yes, it became “chic,” but it looks to me as though many have come to think it’s obligatory.

When I design someone’s business card, I show them a freakin’ rectangle. That’s what they’re buying. Drumming up a cartoony perspective view of the design on a stack of cards in a cardholder on a desk, followed by a battery of other phony trick mockups (because there’s never just one), IMO, would insult their intellect.

I know if I was a client looking at my designer’s self-indulgent series of contrivances aimed at drawing ooo’s and aahh’s from my ugly face, what they’d hear would be me asking," Did I pay for the time it took you to do all this pointless crap?

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Did I pay for the time it took you to do all this pointless crap?

^Yes! That!

We used to call them comps. I still do call them that, but comps are different from mockups. They’re tight but not finished versions of what’s being proposed. When shown in person, they’re typically mounted on mat board. Comps are tools that help clients visualize the end product and sell them on the solution.

As Hotbutton mentioned, when it’s a business card, we show them a rectangle. When it’s graphics for a vehicle, we show them a tight sketch or photo of a car — often their vehicle with their graphics. If the job is packaging for an item on a grocery store shelf, we might show a comp with their product on a grocery store shelf surrounded by competing products to demonstrate how their product would stand out from the others.

When it’s a larger-budget job, we’ll show them tighter comps. But I wouldn’t be inclined to blow half the budget on small- or medium-sized jobs putting together photorealistic versions of, for example, logos on signs, vehicles, mugs, t-shirts that aren’t part of the project. Instead, I’d show them a tight comp of their logo. They’re not paying to see what their logo might look like on a random sign or coffee mug or whatever — those would be separate projects and out-of-scope for the project at hand.

Over the past four or five years, I’ve seen way too many mockups where it looks like the designer spent far more time creating detailed mockups than designing the item for which the client is paying.

Photorealistic mockups are fine in some instances where they’re needed to sell or demonstrate an idea. When they serve a specific strategic purpose, yeah, they’re worth doing. However, way too many beginning designers seem to think they’re an obligatory part of every project and, perhaps, an excuse to indulge their artistic inclinations at the expense of their or their client’s budget.

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Totall agree as this only complicates things when you are buying stock photos it is your job to choose and deliver the end product… its like in a restaurant you wont hand out a bill that includes flour and egg prices!

I have a subscription monthly for stock images.

I think it’s about 250 a month or something for any amount of downloads.

I put clearly that I can download up to 5 images for 15 quid each.

Up to 15 images for 10 quid each
20+ images 5 quid each.

This tends to cover the stock image subscription.
Plus if they need a lot of stock images I can cap at something like 150 quid for as many as they want.

The other option is they can buy/source the images and supply them but the quality and license is their onus and I have a disclaimer about supplied images.

Given stock images from the site I use are about 20 quid each per image, my pricing models work for most.

Next thing I’ll do is price a surcharge for image research, pretty standard.
Or they can find the images on the stock site and I’ll download them.

Straight from the start they know how many images they might need.
How much it costs
And options to reduce their costs. Including buying sand supplying images themselves for free.

Power always has to be in the clients hands.

The quote always has a an appendix for stock image pricing.

Always priced separate from the design work.
It’s an additional charge.

Like ordering a side dish.

It’s not my responsibility to supply images for the client. I’m the designer, not photographer.

If they need images, they need to be bought, or supplied.

No hidden charges. Up front, options.
Never been an issue.

Mockups I do free of charge.
Part of the process.

There was one contract I had for billboards nationwide and they wanted mockups in situ.

Of course we charged for this.
The installer went to each location to measure up. Installer usually takes photos of finished anyway.

Just had him take photo at each location. This was extra, but cheaper than hiring a photographer.

Which we proposed pricing options for all this. Client went with bog standard camera phone photos.

Installer sent them to me. I mocked up over 80 locations

Then when it was installed there was a dosier with mockup and actual side by side.

This was of course all extra.


But if someone wants a logo on a mug or cushion or pen, …no charge for that

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Yes, your rate should include anticipated photo acquisition. And you should be up front about the fees to the client. It is in no way unprofessional to itemize imagery. And it is in no way unprofessional to tell the client the estimated budget for imagery is just that. A budget.

We did a job once where the client wanted a specific image. Had to be that image, and only that image. Once everything was contracted through the estate of the person in the image and the stock house holding the photo itself, the total licensing fee was over $5000 USD. Did you account for that in your image estimate? The client was willing to pay for it though. Everything was managed in a totally professional manner, a change order was processed, and everyone was happy.

Maybe for your little town flyer, you don’t itemize imagery and use freestock sources, but get up there in the business and entertainment world and your client may require all kinds of specific licensing and imagery that may not be stock. Everything has to be negotiable and visibly on the table.

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