A Stock Photograph’s Worth: Pricing and Licensing

Our latest contribution to Agency Access’  blog The Lab is posting today.  It shares some methods to determine pricing stock photography.    Be sure to link to the blog directly to read answers from industry experts on many more questions.

Question:  What are some methods to figure out pricing for the licensing rights of photographs I want to sell as stock?

As is the case with so many aspects of our industry, there are not many hard and fast rules when it comes to estimating fees. So much depends on the final number and the reasons for the wide swings in prices vary from project to project and photographer to photographer.

When a client calls us to license an image for stock use, here are a few ways we determine the price.

Things to Keep in Mind & Questions to Ask

•  How iconic is the image? Is it an image that is an important image in the photographer’s collection? Did it help define his/her style? If so, are these images priced higher than others?

•  What is the usage? If the client is purchasing a large amount of usage, are they intending to actually use the image in all of those places or do they just want to own it without restrictions?

•  Do they have a budget? Knowing this is helpful in saving some back and forth. Your images may be worth more to you than what a potential client can afford.

•  Are they also considering commissioned work? If so, are they looking for stock as a lower priced alternative? Or, are they choosing stock because of deadline issues? Sometimes they are willing to pay more if they need the image faster than if they were able to shoot it.

•  How high is the production value of the image? How much would it cost to reshoot this image? The higher the production value of the image is, the higher the cost of the image.

Once we know the answers to those questions, we look for comparable sales or commissioned works in our history. Our experience in licensing images for stock use helps a lot when pricing new requests.

If you do not have experience to draw from, here are some tips for pricing stock images:

1)    There are online resources such as ASMP’S Licensing Guide  and  APA National’s Business Manual that can help educate you on the process and help you determine what a reasonable approach is to licensing your work.

2)    There are programs available such as Blink Bid , fotoQuote Pro and HindSight.   HindSight. All are photography pricing guides that help you determine a fair price for your image.

3)    The larger stock houses allow you to choose images and get a quote for using the image. This is helpful as a reality check against the rate you are considering charging. Just be careful because it is hard to determine if the image you chose is valued the same as yours.

Regardless of how you arrive at your pricing, we know that the more you estimate the more experience you will have. And the more experience you have, the more confidence you will have in setting the prices for your own images. It important to always remember that your images are only worth what the market will bear, so always be aware of what available options and resources you have. 

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