These terms are common in our industry but can be confusing —
The ‘older’ term DAY RATE (or HALF DAY RATE) is a little bit unclear regarding what is included in that rate for the day: (all) shoot and post-processing, or just the photo shoot, … and what about licensing etc.
If it is a full day of shooting there will be 1 or more days of post-production and a client might think all is paid by booking 1 day at the ‘day rate’.
Another point I’d like to mention: if a client asks, ‘… but how much do you charge for a full day of work, don’t you have a price list?’ — yes, I do, and that is what I clarify and itemize in the estimate — please keep in mind, I have to break up the project into its phases from pre-production, production, post-production including everything that these stages require, … and my estimate will show what the CREATIVE FEE or PHOTOGRAPHY FEE for the photo shoot (e.g. for a full day) will be … plus everything else like PRE-PRODUCTION, POST_PRODUCTION, LICENSING, CHARGES, etc..
My estimates don’t take long, I just need a little time to think about the involved tasks.
CREATIVE FEE includes mostly some degree of sub sequential post-production work and (even if it doesn’t really fit the name ‘creative’) a licensing part can be included as well but in general just for simplicity reasons — so, what CREATIVE FEE really means in the end depends on how a photographer defines the term.
PHOTOGRAPHY FEE is commonly just the time for the photo shoot, w/o pre-production, post-production, licensing, and so on.
A good tip is NOT to focus on the term alone and not to compare pricing of photographers based upon that specific terminology, but instead to read the line items in the estimate and see what they include.
Back to day rates
Yes, the CREATIVE FEE or PHOTOGRAPHY FEE can be expressed per hour, per day, or other units. It’s the photographer’s time and skill you pay for and for a specific amount of time.
PRE-PRODUCTION tasks and POST-PRODUCTION tasks can also be expressed in units like ‘per hour’ or ‘per day’ or ‘per item’.
CHARGES and EXPENSES are on a per item base or per time-unit base.
That’s why the question about ‘what is your day rate’ doesn’t really lead to the answer what the project costs will be — it might just tell in what category the photographer is working: beginners and semi-professionals charge less than established professionals and, professionals represented by an agent cost even more.