An interesting discussion developed recently on the business thread at Photocamel.com. A new photographer took some pictures of a friend performing some magic tricks. The friend then signed with a distribution company which plans to publish a DVD of the magician’s tricks using one of the photographer’s images on the cover.
The photographer wanted to know whether he should demand a royalty or simply ask for a credit.
What was particularly interesting about the responses was the number of professional photographers who hummed, hawed and suggested that he speak to someone else. The only specific response was to demand a flat rate of $250-300 plus credit… and to make sure that these sorts of negotiations are completed before the agreement to use the image is given, not afterwards.
That second point is obvious. You’re always going to be in a weaker negotiating position after you’ve agreed to the use of a photo than before. But you’re also going to be in a weak negotiating position when you’re trying to help a friend, even when that help can bring rewards.
But what the responses really showed was the flexibility that photographers have in negotiating their image rights and royalties. Sell a used car, and Kelly Blue Book will give you a rough idea of what you can reasonably demand. Sell a photo, and you’ll also have to consider who’s buying it, what they’re using it for and what they can afford before you name a price and decide whether it’s a flat fee or a royalty.
The American Society of Media Photographers has a useful list of programs that help professional photographers to produce accurate estimates. For photopreneurs who see photography as a second income, those programs are certainly useful starting points in negotiations too, but it’s tempting to be flexible when your mortgage doesn’t depend on the results.
And that’s why other photographers found it so hard to answer what should have been a simple question. When it comes to asking how much to charge for the rights to one of your own photos, the only correct answer is “as much as possible.”
[tags] photography business, photo pricing, photo quotes, photo job estimates [/tags]