Rates for commercial photography projects vary depending on a variety of aspects. The two key aspects are cost and usage.
Costs are based on the cost of producing the images. This includes costs such as modeling fees, location fees, equipment rental, permits, travel and catering costs, digital processing fees, and the photographer’s creative fee. These fees are itemized in a quote you will receive.
Usage fees are a license from the photographer to the licensee for the use of the images for a specific purpose and period of time. These fees vary with the type of usage – print editorial, advertising, web, billboard, etc. They also vary by the scope of usage – local, regional, nation-wide or worldwide. Exclusivity also affects the license fee. If the image are to be used exclusively for a period of time and cannot be licensed to other clients, this will affect the license fee. And finally, the time frame for the usage affects the licensing fee. Time frames can be a month, a year, two years, etc. Again, the licensing fee will be included in the quote you receive. You can later extend the license for an image if needed.
Because of these licensing issues, it is important to discuss with me the intended usage of the images we create. If you only plan to use an image for one year on your web site, then there is no need paying for usage for national advertising campaign or for 5 years of print usage.
Often your budget may be tight. I can help develop a quote that fits your budget and usage needs and can provide tips and ideas to save money while still providing outstanding images that help tell your story.
Editorial usage rates are typically less expensive than commercial rates, since they are not used to sell a product or promote a company.
Like photography charges, writing fees are made up of cost and usage. The cost component depends on the amount of research involved, whether travel is involved, the complexity of the subject matter, and the length of the story. Usage charges depend on the intended usage and scope of the work. Stories intended to run locally and to a narrow audience cost less than stories intended for a larger, more regional or national audience.
You can typically save money by combining the writing with the photography costs. Many of the costs such as travel can be shared, and usage fees of a combined story/photo project are typically more cost effective than hiring both a photographer and a writer.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q. If I pay you for the photo shoot, don’t I own the pictures and can do what I want with them?
A. Copyright doesn’t work that way. By federal law, the copyright for an image belongs to the photographer unless said photographer is working under a “work for hire” agreement. In other words, if the photographer is an employee of your company and working under your direction, then the company, not the photographer, retains copyright. While some photographers will assign all rights to an image to their client, most successful commercial and editorial photographers do not do this.
Q. But I want to have the ability to use the images in any form I need, forever. I don’t want to have to license the image from you every time I want to use it.
A. Unlimited rights for an unlimited time can be provided, but those rates are typically MUCH higher than licensing for a specific usage and time. You will basically be paying for something you don’t need or won’t use. As a freelance photographer and writer, images and stories are my stock in trade. As most business people know, running a business is expensive and requires long term investment. I have to pay not only my direct expenses, but rent, retirement, payroll, marketing and advertising, utilities, and a host of other costs, as well as replace my very expensive capital equipment (cameras, lenses, lights, etc.) on a regular basis. I also need to make a profit or there is no need to be in business. So to make images affordable to clients, I sell specific usage of the images for specific time frames. This allows me to resell the usage of the images at a later time, without requiring the buyer to pay for usage they won’t need or use.
Q. But I know another photographer who will do the work and give me all rights to the images. All I have to pay them is to work by the day.
A. By all means use them if you like. Those photographers typically won’t be in business very long and often don’t have the skill, equipment and experience necessary to create unique, outstanding images. Give me a call if you are looking for an experienced professional photographer and/or writer that knows how to deliver outstanding images and stories that make my customers money, and has consistently done so for a number of years.
Q. Lets say we license and image for two years, and after that period we want to extend the license for another two years. What is the cost? I don’t want a huge surprise or to be taken advantage of.
A. The cost to re-license or extend the license of an image is typically slightly less than the initial licensing fee. Of course it depends on usage, but for the same usage for the same image for the same time, the fee is almost invariably less than the original fee.
Q. If we license an image for regional print usage, then later we want to use it for national print advertising, what is the additional cost?
A. The cost normally depends on the scope of the intended use. A feature image that will be used as the centerpiece of a national advertising campaign will be valued at a much higher fee than say an image that will be used on the inside fold of a mailing piece. I use an industry standard pricing tool called FotoQuote to help calculate my licensing fees. These rates are based on usage by thousands of image buyers and photographers across the world and are the defacto standard for image licensing worldwide. It is impossible to know the exact licensing fee in advance without knowing the intended usage and term.