There are many factors that go into the commissioned image. Wile it is impractical for me to discuss every potential facet, I will attempt to cover the most common factors here.
Travel: This is where a substantial amont of the investment is incurred. Any travel within 100 miles of Chicago is charged a flat fee of $250. Anything over 100 miles will range from $300 on up plus lodging costs. The total travel cost can range from $250 for local Chicago locations up to $30,000 plus for long duration overseas commissions.
Creative Fee: This is the cost the includes the time and general creativity involved in the creation of your commissioned image. A local Chicago location requiring minimal travel and a single day of shooting would likely incur a creative fee of between $500 -1,200. However the overseas month long project would incur a creative fee of $20,000+.
Special Gear / Equipment / Guides: The use of any special or unique gear / equipment will result in rental charges being passed to the client. For instance any helicopter based aerial work usually requires a gyro system to stabilize the camera from the aircraft vibration along with the rental of the aircraft and pilot. Just as certain locations require a guide to access. This would be an added investment for the client. That said, I do not charge additional rates for the use of equipment that I currently own such as camera, laptop or normal lenses.
Permits / Releases: Any permits and or releases legally required for the creation of the image.
Exclusivity: The client is given the option to have their commission designated as exclusive to them. That means that the image created for their commission will only be available to them for purchase. Because that eliminates any future earnings from the image there is a cost involved related to the marketable value of the image. For instance the fee for an image of a childhood home would likely be minimal of say $50 where as an image of a popular landscape vista may climb upwards of $50,000 or more. This can be discussed in detail when commissioning an image.
So what's the total cost involved? Figure that a fairly simple and local Chicago area commission would cost you approximately $750-1500 when all was said and done with you admiring your image in hand. However that exclusive series of images from distant lands that involved a month or longer to create could cost you in excess of $250,000. Luckily the majority of these factors can be worked to get your commission to the price point you desire.