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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 25 Mar 2008 (Tuesday) 12:31
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What is a good deal for licensing photos?

Senior Member
438 posts
Joined Feb 2005
Mar 25, 2008 12:31 |  #1

Without giving out too many details, there is a business interested in using some of my photos to put on cards and/or posters. They wanted to buy the copyright from me, but I am not keen on doing that, as these are some of my best photos in my portfolio.

So, they talked about licensing and are asking what my rate is. What would be a good place to start for say, 500 or maybe 1,000 prints that I would allow them to print?

PLEASE help me! I don't want to overcharge because they still have to pay printing costs to get it done, but I also want to get what it is worth.

Thank you!

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Senior Member
438 posts
Joined Feb 2005
Mar 25, 2008 19:38 |  #2

I think maybe those that might want to help do not know the answer, and those that know the answer do not want to help? :D

Mike ­ R
4,319 posts
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Joined May 2006
Location: 06478, CT
Mar 25, 2008 20:27 |  #3

A good reference is the book ASMP Professional Business Practices In Photography 6 edition published by the American Society of Media Photographers. You can get it from their web site and most major bookstores carry it. Licensing Photography by Richard Weisgrau and Victor Perlman is also a good choice.

Mike R (external link)

Cream of the Crop
13,280 posts
Likes: 31
Joined Jan 2007
Location: I live next to my neighbor
Mar 25, 2008 20:33 |  #4

In case you haven't read this thread yet:​ad.php?t=137162

It has some helpful information.

=======>>> play W.A.I.N. :D

Senior Member
864 posts
Joined Feb 2007
Mar 25, 2008 22:26 |  #5

As far as the full rights to the photos.
What are they worth to you?
How much could you potentially make with them over the course of your life?

My best photos? They would be very high priced indeed.

I have one photo of a bridge I shot with a point and shoot that I wouldnt fully sell for under a few thousand.
Is it worth a few thousand? Doubt it. But it is to me.


Cream of the Crop
10,256 posts
Likes: 89
Joined Aug 2007
Location: San Jose, California
Mar 26, 2008 12:57 |  #6


The first thing you should do is go get a copy of "Pricing Photography" by Heron & MacTavish and read it.

My copy of that book is the 2002 edition, so a bit out of date, but still might serve as a guideline to start your calculations and work up a counter offer. The prices are not set in stone, but more of a framework to help you get going. They are derived from prices a survey of photographers said they charge for different types of usage.

Most photographers would never sell all rights at any price. Many publishers will ask for all rights at the beginning of negotiations, just in hope someone is foolish enough to sell them. Believe me, if they've been in the publishing business for more than two weeks, they know full well what "all rights" means, and are just hoping you don't. Your job now is to negotiate them back down to reality and let them know you are not a fool.

These usages come under the heading of "stock photography", by the way. So, you might look at the prices stock photo agencies (not micro stock) are asking for this type of usage, too.

In some cases an online calculator like http://www.photographe​​.htm (external link) might be helpful, but they don't list retail usage, posters or cards yet.

The basics you should probably respond with is one time, non-exclusive rights. If they want to expand on that, they know it will cost more.

You now need to know more what the intent of the business is, exactly how they will use your images, and in what quantity. "Cards/posters" isn't much to go on.

Posters can be for advertising, corporate use, or retail sale. What size? How large a press run? What will be the distribution (U.S.? Worldwide?)

Cards can be promotional/advertisin​g, post cards, greeting cards, and more. What size? What press run? What distribution?

You really need to define all these factor more if you hope to establish a fair price. They should be willing to tell you the specifics. Don't worry about their cost of printing, distribution etc. That's not your concern.

Following is information from a survey of established photographers and published in the book mentioned above. As a new and unknown photographer, you might ask for the lower price in the range. But if you were well known and tops in the field, or if your images are exceptional and not likely to be possible to find anywhere else or to replicate, you might ask for the high price. These fees are per photo, and must be modified by other factors below. For example, 2002 image fee for retail poster usage (16x20" Note: a retail poster's primary intent profit from sales of the poster itself.); one time use, non-exclusive, U.S. market; depending upon print run quantity, would be:

Under 5000 - low $650, medium $700, high $775

5000 to 25,000 - low $800, medium $950, high $1050

More than 25,000 - low $1025, medium $1100, high $1200

Worldwide distribution rights would be significantly higher:

Under 5000 - $800, $900, $1250.

5000 to 25,000 - $1000, $1200, $1500.

Over 25,000 - $1250, $1325, $1750.

Smaller than 16x20" is 80% of above prices. Larger than 16x20" is 125% of above prices.

For a retail poster, there would also usually be a royalty of $.75 per unit printed over 10,000.

Now let's consider rights other than one time, non-exclusive.

Exclusivity (i.e., no other use of the image for posters during a particular period of time) would add significantly. This varies depending upon length of time, but might be 200% for one year (2X the fee per photo calculated from above table).

Unlimited usage means anything else the publisher can think of in addition to what they are licensing for today, such as calendars, mugs, advertising, t-shirts, etc. This is usually just for a limited time period, but calls for a premium factor of at least 275% (2.75X), but more often 300% (3X) to 400% (4X) to be applied to the rates charged for each initial type of usage. Be very careful about giving unlimited rights. You keep the copyright, but have given them carte blanche to use your images however they like! I think it's better to negotiate very specific usage rights, not unlimited, if at all possible.

Buyout of all rights is not something a photographer would normally even consider. At a very minimum, 500%. But, this is likely way too low, if you look at the lifetime earning potential of a good image sold over and over. If it were me, and they really, really insisted, I'd probably ask $250,000 per image! If they choke opn that, we get back to discussing reality. If they accept it, hey, I'd probably take it!

Corporate poster and advertising poster prices are a bit higher than above prices, but don't earn royalties.

The pricing for usage of the images on cards would need to be calculated separately.

Multiple uses of a particular photo, say on both a poster and a card, might earn a discount on your fees for each type of usage, perhaps 10 to 20%. Purchase of multiple photos from you at one time, say 5 or more, might earn a discount off your fees for each photo, for each type of usage, perhaps another 10%.

But both these discounts are just guesstimates I'm making up here, that I might offer my own good clients in a case like this. Most likely I'd hold these cards in my deck until late in negotiation, after I see how that progresses. You might need an "excuse" to reduce your price a little more, if they get "stuck" in the negotiations and you are close to losing the sale.

The offer from the publisher is just the opening of negotiations. Time to get to work!

Good luck!

Alan Myers (external link) "Walk softly and carry a big lens."
5DII, 7DII(x2), 7D(x2) & other cameras. 10-22mm, Tokina 12-24/4, 20/2.8, TS 24/3.5L, 24-70/2.8L, 28/1.8, 28-135 IS (x2), TS 45/2.8, 50/1.4, Tamron 60/2.0, 70-200/4L IS, 70-200/2.8 IS, 85/1.8, Tamron 90/2.5 Macro, 100/2.8 USM, 100-400L II, 135/2L, 180/3.5L, 300/4L IS (x2), 300/2.8L IS, 500/4L IS, EF 1.4X II, EF 2X II. Flashes, studio strobes & various access. - FLICKR (external link) - ZENFOLIO (external link)

Senior Member
438 posts
Joined Feb 2005
Mar 26, 2008 13:30 |  #7

Appreciate everyone's helpful replies, especially from amphoto1. That helped me alot.

My main problem is I am a bit hesitant to ask over "x" amount of dollars. This business is managed by a "friend" I have known for many years, and they have given me jobs and helped me sort of "get started" in photography (they aren't a photographer though). I know they want a good deal on these photos, and if I say what I feel they are worth, it would make me concerned they would think I am out for money or asking some ridiculous amount. They really don't know much about photography and what is costs.

I always have a fear of people thinking I ask way too much for my fees, but in another way, this person is business savvy and I'm afraid of being taken advantage of.

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What is a good deal for licensing photos?
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