View Full Version : Licensing your photos
08-18-2006, 01:33 PM
I have a problem, and as far as problems go - it's much better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick - yet it's still a problem.
I've just found out that 12 of my photos will be featured in a calendar to be distributed in a chain music store in three to five states in time for Christmas. No other photographer's work will be featured.
Besides being in shock, so excited I'm sick, and everything else, I need to address the issue of licensing these pics. I didn't know my client was seriously considering this until today and I'm sure it hasn't occurred to him that I'm going to require compensation for this project. This is so beyond anything I'd even hoped for the end of my first year of being in business. This is my first real client, they gave me a huge start and I've given them hideous discounts, and plan to continue for at least a while longer. It's a good relationship.
So - what can I do that's fair, here? I was going to offer the licensing for an in-kind swap... they are working on something that if I participate in it I'll get a huge amount of exposure. Is that an okay offer to make? And not only would this opportunity give me exposure, it could make me a decent amount of money over the course of 3 days. Is this a better deal than asking for payment for the licensing? If not - any suggestions on what I should charge for the licensing?
Okay - I can breathe again. Sorry if I sound a little crazy - I just am. :shock: I feel silly posting on this particular section of the forum, but I need to call on the big guns for help.
08-18-2006, 04:39 PM
First off, congrats!! Its great to see your work in print, and its very uplifting.
Yes, the exchange you suggested could work out well for both of you if you really feel it will result in some profits over the 3 days. You should also think about what the value of the exposure really is, and how helpful it is to you, and try to put a value on it. Ie, does it expose you to real potential clients, or just a bunch of people that wouldn't' use your services. Would you spend marketing money on it as a form of advertising, and if so how much? If not, the value of the exposure is really low.
I had a client once try to convince me that I should shoot their small web based tool catalog images dirt cheap because the exposure will help jump start my career. I had to mention to them my career was fine, and I didn't think the people ordering a hammer off their web site are the kinds of people that would be hiring me to shoot advertising layouts, catalogs, or product images. Granted, a marketing manager in need of a product photographer might just be so attracted to my basic rendition of a hammer on white seamless so much that he would look in the fine print to find my name and eventually hire me. But very unlikely and not worth the investment.
As for licensing fees. Check with the various rights managed stock houses (Workbook, Getty, etc). Fees range from $150 or so to about $700 per image, 1 year, US distribution, etc. For Royalty free images, its a few cents to a couple bucks, but the quality and selection are typically low end. If your images are unique, a cut above the rest, then lean toward the rights managed images. If they look like all the other royalty free images, then reduce it quite a bit. But do remember that your images are more assignment based since they were captured for the client, and thus hold value more toward the rights managed end of the scale.
If you are going to trade off value rather than currency, make sure you value the work equally. Ie, if the client is going to make a net profit of $20K ($2 per calendar, 10,000 printed), then make sure what you accept from the client is worth the $4,000 in fees the market suggests (assuming a US 1 yr, and 10K calendars printed). If its less calendars, the client makes less, and your fees would be reduced as well.
But do remember that the value to the client is in your images, and what the market is getting for similar work. Just because you aren't full time, aren't using the latest $8K camera, or have a large studio, it doesn't mean your images don't carry the same value. Many photographers grossly under estimate their value in the market place, and thus charge way to little. Of course it doesn't help that clients are always trying to take advantage of that either. Use things like FotoQuote, or the rights managed stock sites as a way to help determine licensing fees.
If you are still stuck, call me and I'll run some numbers for you to give you some idea on where to start. But I would need to know where the calendars are to be distributed, assume 1 year, and the number to be printed.
Oh, and be careful with that stick around your eye!!!
08-21-2006, 01:15 PM
Thank you for such good advice. It makes me feel better about proposing the trade with them. I would get a really good amount of relevant exposure.
I think they just figure I should be happy that they're using the images I took for them in a project like this, and that since they paid me to take the pictures, they can use them anyway they see fit. Yeesh.
Anyway, I do appreciate your comments. Thanks for taking the time to point me in the right direction.
08-21-2006, 06:57 PM
Congrats on the big project! If it was me, I'd be looking at a trade and cash deal. Trading for some exposure can be worth while, but remember that the value of it is only realized if and when you actually make money off of any fall out from the project. In short, the promise of potentially more money down the road is not the same as money in your hand now. I'd only value the exposure at about 30%-50% of what you should be paid for the use of the calendar prints.
You might also want to take into consideration how you did photos they are planning on using. where they done under work for hire, what licensing did you give them for the initial images and so on.
08-21-2006, 07:12 PM
I'm also making money off the prints of the photos that he's displaying in both the porfolio and in his studio (large mounted prints) plus, the fee I charge for showing up and doing the job in the first place. I don't want to bleed him dry - he's a consistent customer. I'm thinking the trade is probably fair. That and attribution on the back of the thing.
And at the very least all my xmas shopping is set. ;)
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