“Images are the intellectual property of the creator, but for that property to generate income, photographers have to know their production costs, the value of their work, and the value of the usage their client is licensing.”

Most photographers view photography as the art form it is. Those of us who aim to make a living on our art must know the business side of photography as well. This includes licensing our work to our clients for their usage. The 3 broad categories are:
Commercial – photography that is used to sell or promote a product, service, or idea
Editorial – photography used for educational or journalistic purposes
Retail – photography commissioned or purchased for personal use

The use of the images is how these categories differ. For instance, if a company hires me to capture an event where they are launching a new product, I am being paid hourly for event photography plus the commercial usage of the images by the company to promote their new product. If a local newspaper, covering the same product launch, uses my photographs in their newspaper, than the use would be editorial. An example of retail licensing would be if I photographed a wedding, which is also event photography, but now the work is categorized as retail because the end use is personal.

As the photographer, I become the sole owner of this property when I create the image. Ownership is only transferred if I contractually agree to give specific usage to my clients. I can offer 3 main types of permission:
Social Networking Promotions –  photo usage on the client’s website, facebook, twitter, instagram, and other similar pages
Major Marketing Promotions – photo usage in magazines, posters, billboards, postcard mailers, and other similar mass media print applications
Full ownership – encompasses the first two and anything else the client wants as they would then own the images

The price differences are calculated based on the percentage of the total advertisement on which my image is featured, the overall size of a printed advertisement, the number of impressions (views by the consumer) it will receive, and the length of time it will be used. For example, if my client OMhh Natural Hair Salon wants to use an image I took for them of their hairstyle on a billboard advertisement for the salon, I would:
– Consider the portion of my image on the billboard – all of the billboard, half the billboard, a quarter of the billboard, etc.
– Consider the size of the print material and the number of impressions it will receive. Obviously a billboard in Times Square will be seen more than an ad in a local newspaper as well as an ad in international magazine will be seen more than a billboard in a town with a small population.
– Consider the length of time the advertisement will be posted – a day, a week, months, etc.

The cost for licensing starts around $450 for really small usage and can range into the tens of thousands for larger usages!

Also check out Tidbit Tuesday: Removing A Watermark is Illegal to understand why photographers watermark their images and why we must respect not using images without permission.

Credit: American Society of Media Photographers

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