Ashley Morrison's Blog

July 29, 2010

Base Usage Rate.

In their book, Beyond the Lens, the Association of Photographers give Photographers (in the UK), guidelines as to what they should be taking into account, when negotiating the fee for the use of their images. They talk briefly about the Base Usage Rate (BUR) and then go to great lengths to give us percentage figures, so as we can calculate what the Licence fee should be, for the use of the images that we produce and / or create, for others to use.
Most Photographers know that they own the Copyright of the images that they create; however, calculating their value and/or determining what they should charge, often causes them lots of problems.

So, here is my take on the Association of Photographer’s BUR pricing system and how it works – which I hope others will find of value:

As a commercial photographer, I simply produce & provide images for others to use.

So my goal is to produce & provide the best images possible, so that others will want to use them… and use them a lot.
Simple.

However, putting a price on those images is not quite so simple, especially before they have actually been produced or created.
Why ?

Because there are more than 100 different ways to shoot any subject – from quick snap-shots using just a basic camera…
George V dining room at Ashford Castle
.. through to full production staged shots using larger camera systems, lights, models, stylists, etc, etc…
George V dining room at Ashford Castle
.. which means all images are not equal or the same.

So depending on which way I choose to shoot it, that will, in some way or other affect the value to me… which will ultimately affect the fee and/or the minimum amount I would need to charge to cover my costs.

However, because the images are being produced for others to use, then the value to them or what the images are worth to them, also needs to be taken into account here. Media use, Period of use & Territory of use, being the 3 main things that will therefore determine that value – which is a totally different thing.

So both of these points needs to be taken into account beforehand – and this is were the Association of Photographer’s BUR pricing system comes into play – to help me determine the value of the images and what the fee ‘should be’ to ensure I get it right. So as I don’t either over estimate or undervalue what I am being asked to provide my clients with, to meet their needs here.

The BUR figure is therefore like my starting point.

That is: the amount I would normally charge to produce images that would be ‘good enough’ for standard use. (Standard use being be either: 2 media for 1 years use or 1 media for 2 years use, in 1 country).

So I start by working-out what my basic production costs would be, to produce images that would be up to that level first, by taking the following things into account:

Pre production time:
Photography time:
Post production time:
Travel time:
Retouching time:
Crew / Assistant:
Stylist / Hair / Make-up:
DVD & back-up:
Prints / Contact sheets:
Insurance:
Location / Studio fee:
Props, Wardrobe:
Rentals:
Sets / Expendable:
Courier / P&P:
Actors / Models:
Travel / Fuel:
Miscellaneous:

(Please note: some of these things may not apply – it’s simply a check-list to help me work-out what my basic costs would be, to take some pictures here, that would be ‘good enough’ for normal standard use).

So that’s my base rate or BUR figure.

(Added note: The AOP in their book, Beyond the Lens, suggest this figure should not be less than one’s negotiated daily fee – which doesn’t really make sense to me, unless it takes you a full day to produce every image – so I normally prefer to calculate it on a ‘per image’ basis, so each image or ‘set of images’ has its own value – by including my basic production costs in that figure, so as I know where I stand before I quote a fee.)

(Also note: my ‘hourly rate’ doesn’t change here just because of the job title – so this figure is calculated out using my standard ‘hourly rate’ figure – not a ‘hourly rate’ figure which has already taken the client’s usage into account – because the client’s actually usage requirements may change once they see the final results. So this is my base rate figure for normal standard use, which is my starting point when negotiating the fee beforehand, for the use of ‘some images’ which I am about to produce… because we are still basically talking about the unknown here, as the images have not yet been created, taken or produced.)

Then using the Association of Photographer’s on-line usage calculator – which can be found on their website here: Usage Calculator – I can workout what the fee should be, for me to have the budget in place to meet their usage requirements, based on what all they have said they need to use the images for.

(Please note: when using the AOP’s usage calculator here, remember this is just for the additional use part – as your BUR figure has already taken into account the amount you would charge for the first 2 media, for 1 years use in 1 country).

So the quoted fee or Licence fee, would be based on the client’s actual usage requirements – as opposed to what it would cost me, to just turn-up and take some basic pictures here.

Example:
If the client says they only want to use the images for Web use only (1 media) or for Magazine ads & Brochures (2 media), then the Licence fee would be similar to my BUR figure – as it would be based on either 1 media for 2 years use on the Internet or 2 Media for 1 years use in 1 country i.e. standard use.

If however, the client said they required more use of the images than this, then I would negotiate the fee starting with the BUR figure and add (+%) to that figure – or if they said they required less use of the images than this, then I would negotiate the fee by giving them a discount (-%).

So the Media use, Period of use & Territory of use, are the 3 key things that I would take into account, as well as the number of images they want to use, when quoting a fee for the use of my images.

(As it’s the client’s usage requirements that will usually determine the value of the images to them – which this system helps me put a figure on – so as I have the budget in place to insure I get it right.)

Because there are more than 100 different ways…
Bedroom in one of the Courtyard cottages at Doonbeg Golf & Spa Resort
.. to shoot…
Bedroom in one of the Courtyard cottages at Doonbeg Golf & Spa Resort
.. any…
Bedroom in one of the Courtyard cottages at Doonbeg Golf & Spa Resort
.. subject.

So it’s actually based around this very simple formula:-

Little use = Little value.
Greater use = Greater value.
.. to them.

When Quoting a fee, I try to keep it simple for my clients to understand; as well as, make the deal as clear as possible, so as to avoid any misunderstandings down the road.

Example:
The Quote below is based on a client (Ace Company Ltd) asking me to produce & then provide them with 6 images, for them to use in 3 media, for 3 years. (As you can see, I have estimated my Base Rate for standard use to be £210.00 per image).
So to help me meet this client’s planed usage requirements, the fee – based on that information and using the AOP’s guidelines – would be calulated out like so:
BUR +100% for the additional media, plus for 3 years use (in those 3 media) we would add 100%, which would then equal the total amount required.

This is known as the Licence fee… which if approved, would then become my budget to meet this client’s needs:
Quote
Please note: Licence fee based on the above … meaning the information above, which is based on my understanding of the facts, which I have simply listed. Should that information change, then naturally the Licence fee would change too – so a new Quote, based on that new information, would therefore need to be submitted.

(Added note: it’s the +% amount that I use, to help me raise the bar, to meet their additional usage requirements.)

So I use the BUR figure to workout the Licence fee – and it’s that fee that I then use to determine what I can ultimately do – to achieve my goal.

Which is to produce & provide the best images possible, so that others will want to use them… and use them a lot..

A win, win situation for everyone, should I succeed.

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69 Comments »

  1. Hi Ashley,

    I came across your work on Flickr and found my way back to your blog. Firstly, what great work you do!

    I wanted to approach this subject from another angle, I apologise if this has been covered already and I have missed it.

    Your post and the comments are all directed at calculating a price for original work, i.e. a requested shoot. You mention that the copyright belongs to the photographer and so the client is paying for a licence to use YOUR images. This all makes sense.

    But moving forward, how do you calculate a price when selling rights or a license of the same image to other clients? For example if someone wanted to purchase a photo I had done previously for a client, would I apply the same pricing, even if I had covered my costs in the original shoot? Surely £200+ for one image is excessive compared with the stock photo sites, but also, by reducing the cost would been seen negatively by my original client (although she wouldn’t know what I was charging).

    I’d appreciate your thoughts on this if you have the time, thanks

    Abi

    Comment by Abi — April 3, 2014 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

    • Unless you are agreeing to do work made for hire beforehand and/or you are asking the 1st person to pay you for your time & expenses to do the work for them beforehand – then you haven’t actually been paid to do the work – so you are really just asking them to pay you for the use of your work after you have created it – which is when you will be Invoicing them for the use of it.

      So as a self employed person who basically employes himself to produce images for others to use – if the 1st person who wanted to use an image which I had created, only wanted to use it for say 1 month in 1 media in 1 country (for a magazine feature for example) then the fee would be based on that information.
      If a 2nd person wanted to use that same image, and they wanted to use it for say 3 years in 5 media in 1 country, then I’d obviously charge them more, as they would be getting more from me than the 1st person did.

      Because it’s all about the ‘Value to them’ – rather than the ‘Value to me’… or ‘Value to you’ in your case.

      So it’s the value to the other person that you need to look at – as that is what will determine the amount that they will be willing to pay you – no matter what it cost you.
      Because no-one really care how much it costs you to produce an image, they are only interested in what it’s going to cost them… to get what they want.

      So your BUR figure is simply your starting pointing when it comes to negotiating the fee for the use of your images – be it ones that you are about to create or have already created.

      Hope that helps answer your question.

      Comment by Ashley Morrison — April 3, 2014 @ 6:14 pm | Reply

  2. Ashley, I’ve been reading this with much interest, investigating the different ways of pricing photography. I am aware of the usage calculator and info on the aop site (although I don’t have the book), and have also been reading a thread on flickr on the same subject to which you contributed, from about 5 months ago. As you have been so generous with your info and replies, which have possibly been the most useful pricing information I have found to date, I wondered if I might ask some further points for clarification/advice?

    A little background info – I have been working for a company supplying materials to the A&D/construction industry, with its own showrooms, and have developed my interior/commercial photography alongside, including going part time to do more photography. Much of my work has been for the company itself, and spun off into doing some work for others in the industry. Like many others I can gather from here and elsewhere, I have charged a negotiated ‘day rate’ and delivered the images. I know I have probably been undercharging, but of course this work has been for people I already know, or work for, and has provided me with valuable shooting experience, so I’ve been happy with the arrangement and it works both ways. I’m now in the position of quoting for a larger job and also looking to step up the photography, so investigating more fully how to price ‘properly’.

    My first question, which I may have missed but in all I’ve read doesn’t appear to have been answered to my satisfaction, is how to arrive at BUR. I do understand that this varies based on costs etc., but should it be a day rate divided by how many images produced in a day? or the cost of production divided by images produced? The aop suggests it is your day rate, which seems excessive to me, and you seem to agree. But if, given your own examples, your BUR for a given image is approx. £200, how do you arrive at that? If you set out to photograph just that one image, you wouldn’t charge just £200, would you? If I charge, say, £500 as a day rate, I might produce 2 or 10 images, giving a BUR of £250 and £50 respectively. I do now understand that the more images produced, the less time spent on them and therefore potentially less value to the client, but my costs of going out and producing the images is largely the same whether I shoot 2 or 10.

    My next question, which leads on from this, is that there must be a limit. Lets say I’m asked to shoot some decent – but not extravagantly produced – images for a company with a small number of properties. They want some images from each, totalling maybe 100 images for their website. Maybe I could charge my day rate for the 2 or 3 weeks it’ll take me to shoot, which is nice, but using the calculator to determine further licensing, depending on figures used, can come out with figures of 10’s or even 100’s of thousands! Which I am pretty sure a company of this size wouldn’t pay for some images for their website.

    and finally, what I can gather from those asking further clarification, and also arguing against your pricing model, is that what lies behind it is the fundamental difference between your stance that you are charging for use of YOUR images, and that clients generally view images they pay to commission as being theirs. In my more limited experience, everyone who asked me to undertake such photography expects to do whatever they like with the images, expect copyright, and consider them theirs; that if they pay me to produce images specifically for them, they are their images. How are you able to take commissions on the basis that the resulting work is actually yours? Certainly the company I work for uses the images they commission (from me and others) for years on their website and advertising. Obviously not all images can be used forever, showrooms get refurbished, fashions change etc. But assuming a client is going to want to use the images for whatever they want for a long time, the licensing costs become astronomical. Based on my experience of how my company uses images, I’m pretty sure they’d find it unacceptable to be told they could only use the images for a year or 2, and then pay (highly) again. And a creative agency I’ve been speaking to on another job expect copyright. When I told them I would actually be looking to licence the images, they were like, why? what difference does it make how we use them? Your writing on this has helped with my understanding of why, bur it does seem to me that there is a fundamental difference between what photographers think they are charging for and what clients think they are paying for.

    Sorry, my post has ended up much longer than intended, but I’d really appreciate some further feedback on these points. It’s fantastic that you are prepared to be so candid, in what is an otherwise very opaque area.

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Smith — January 30, 2014 @ 11:54 am | Reply

    • And a creative agency I’ve been speaking to on another job expect copyright. When I told them I would actually be looking to licence the images, they were like, why? what difference does it make how we use them?

      Well if the use of your images isn’t important to them – then just ask them to agree to pay you for ‘your time’ instead – and on the day, just take what ever pictures they want you to take during that time with your iPhone.

      See then if they still feel the same way about it all – because an hour of your time is still one of your time, so it shouldn’t matter what camera system you use or whether the images are any good or not – right !!

      Because all that matters is that you turn-up and be there for the numbers of hours that they have agreed to pay you for.

      Comment by Ashley Morrison — January 30, 2014 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

  3. Hi Ashley,

    I find this very useful as I have absolutely no idea how to work out the BUR for my sort of photography. I tend to shoot events for private clients mostly and that’s easy to bill for, but as soon as someone needs to use any of those images for PR or advertising, or a client wishes to book me for that sort of work, I get confused. I don’t shoot the sort of images you do (many hours, a lot of lighting, a team of people, to produce a handful of excellent images for a business to use to advertise themselves) so I can’t even begin to start charging over a hundred pounds per image as a BUR. Therefore while this post has been very useful to see how the calculator is supposed to be used, it’s also posed a lot more questions for me!

    For example, a big problem is that almost everyone needs web use. The internet is a global thing – but I can’t just charge Worldwide use the second they mention they want to post something on their website or on social media, especially if the client is relatively local – i.e., a UK-based business/enterprise or even a local business versus, say, Virgin.

    If a client wants to use images on their website, and social media, and in company literature, for say 2 years, and they say they mainly focus on the UK and Middle East, for example, what do I do? UK and Middle East, two territories. Two years, there’s my duration. Social media and company literature, well that could be numerous media but let’s call it two for simplicity. But then the website is another media, but both website and social media will be visible all over the world. Worldwide is a territory that will push up the bill astronomically, even though there’s little likelihood of there being valuable eyeballs seeing the work anywhere other than in those two countries – but at the same time the work *will* be seen around the world by some people through the internet.

    Do I break it down: work out the rate for 2 territories and 2 years and all the media that will not go on the net, then work out another fee for two years and worldwide territory for the internet-based media (website and social media) then add them together?

    Also, it seems the book and the online equivalent vary wildly – you mentioned the book suggests you add up each percentage, whereas online they multiply each percentage. This leads to discrepancies of thousands of pounds using the two versions even starting with a low BUR. Which to use? Plus, I’m inclined to think the book must be a bit outdated unless it’s been revised and reprinted every few years?

    Regarding working out a BUR from a ‘standard rate, if the standard rate is supposed to include two media for one year or one media for two years, okay, but that still leaves me having to work out what that ‘standard’ usage is worth. I can work out my overheads and work out my billable days (hard because essentially I’m a part-time pro photographer as my other job is TV camera operating, so how many billable days do I put? Rhetorical question :) ) and come up with a figure that I feel covers that, and for my event work I say that includes all their internal and personal use, but if they are images to be used outside a company’s walls then how do I then work out what the ‘standard’ use adds to the price?

    I turned originally to the Usage Calculator to help me with that, but as it needs a BUR that relies on already having worked out a price for ‘standard’ usage, it’s kind of a catch 22! I need the BUR to work out usage rate suggestions, but I need to work out a rate for standard usage in order to start working out what the BUR should be.

    Do you see my frustrations? ;) Can you address any of my queries in any way, help me work it all out?

    Best wishes,
    Owen

    PS I love reading your blog but I am desperate to see where you’re actually putting your lights, that’s of much more interest to me than seeing a comparison between before and after – interesting though that is! Have I missed a section on your site where you show how you’ve lit some rooms? I find the dark art of lighting fascinating.

    Comment by Owen Billcliffe — January 25, 2014 @ 9:53 am | Reply

    • If a client wants to use images on their website, and social media, and in company literature, for say 2 years, and they say they mainly focus on the UK and Middle East, for example, what do I do?

      Is this what you are saying the fee you are quoting would be for here…
      Licence to use
      .. or is it for something else ?

      And if it is – and they wanted you to tick more boxes, less boxes or different boxes here – would the fee then change as a result ?
      And if so, by how much ??

      Comment by Ashley Morrison — January 25, 2014 @ 10:48 am | Reply

      • Hi, so yes that mock-up accurately outlines the example usage details I posted, and is similar to what I would put on my own form, except for the use of ‘Internet’ as a territory as opposed to ‘worldwide’ The online calculator doesn’t seem to feature that territory. So my problem is: using the online calculator how does one appropriately factor in the ‘worldwide’ nature of the internet if it’s unlikely to actually have a worldwide impact despite being on the worldwide web?

        That is: adding Worldwide to the territories whenever someone mentions website use or other web use seems to both negate the adding in of other specific territories, and push up the fee way beyond what is actually reasonable given how much of the world is actually likely to see the images when used on the web.

        Do you see what I mean? How do you differentiate between ‘internet’ and ‘worldwide’ as a territory, and what % factor do you assign it?

        Comment by Owen Billcliffe — January 25, 2014 @ 10:55 am

      • There is no ‘Rule Book’ as such, Owen – so this is just a suggestion to help you determine what a ‘fair price’ would be, for the use of your images, when you are negotiating the fee beforehand.
        So I say ‘Internet’ rather than ‘Worldwide’ – unless they are saying they also need to use the images in the various media listed, throughout the world too.

        These days, being able to use the images on the Internet is normally included in one’s ‘standard use’ rate – as it’s either the 1 media they want to use the images in or one of the 2 media they want to use the images in.
        So if it’s the only media that a client want to use my images in, then I’d say my base rate would be for 2 years use in that 1 media and the ‘Territory of use’ would be ‘Internet only’.

        Which would be like my starting point when is comes to negotiating the fee for the use of my images i.e my Base Usage Rate (BUR).

        So should they then say they need to use the images for longer than that or in other media or in other territories, then I’d add +% to that figure, to enable me to meet their needs.
        Because producing an image that they will actually want to use is very different to just taking a picture that they can use – which I talk about here: To take a picture or to create an image !

        Comment by Ashley Morrison — January 25, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

      • Okay I get a clearer understanding of the distinction you make, but my question is, if you make ‘Internet’ a territory, distinct from Worldwide, where do you personally peg ‘Internet’ in terms of the percent effect it has on the rest of the price.

        Also, I know you touch on it in other comments, but I’m curious where you personally stand on the apparently radical difference between how the BTL book compiles percentages applied to the BUR, and how the online equivalent does it. At first I didn’t really understand why the online one multiplies the territory by the media by the duration, but actually that does make sense against adding them all… I think. Either way, it’s very different and even more confusing to know which one to look at as a guide.

        I realise there’s no rule book, but that’s why I like finding out how established folk do it, so I can find my own zone based on principles I learn from those more experienced than me at this whole pricing thing! :) Really appreciate your replies.

        Comment by Owen Billcliffe — January 25, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

      • As I said before, these days, ‘Worldwide web & promotional emails’ is usually part of my standard rate or BUR – as it’s usually the number one thing that most clients will need to use my images for.
        So therefore, usually no +% is added, unless I consider it to be additional use for some reason – which is where the AOP’s usage calculator then comes into play – as that’s there to help you to work out what the ‘additional usage’ fee should be.

        Editorial use would be an example were ‘Worldwide web & promotional emails’ would be considered additional use – as normally I would say Editorial use is for:-
        Media use: Editorial feature in ……….. magazine only.
        Period of use: 60 days from 1st publication date (ends 1 year after invoice date).
        Territory of use: UK & Ireland only.

        And so the licence fee is based on that information – which because it’s less than ‘standard use’, then we are talking about a discounted rate here, e.g. my BUR-50%.

        Note: It still costs me the same to produce the images no matter how much or how little others want to use them – so that why I’m talking about a % of my BUR – because all that any client is being asked to pay for, is for the use of my work, rather than for me to do some work for them.

        Comment by Ashley Morrison — January 25, 2014 @ 2:50 pm

      • .. I’m curious where you personally stand on the apparently radical difference between how the BTL book compiles percentages applied to the BUR, and how the online equivalent does it.

        I still usually go by their book and use a spread sheet to work it out – rather than what Photo Agents London have come up with here – but then again, both of these are just suggested figures to help you negotiate the fee anyway – so a bit of common sense** and gut feeling is still often required :)

        Still, the logic behind both are the same:-

        Little use = Little value.
        Greater use = Greater value.

        Which is basically what I go by, when trying to determine what the fee should be, for the use of my work.

        **Client wants you to provide them with 20 for them to use in 6 different media for the next 3 years – but you know they will probably only use 2 or 3 of the images in all those media and the rest in just 2 media at most – so you keep that in mind when quoting a fee.

        Comment by Ashley Morrison — January 25, 2014 @ 3:11 pm

  4. A question that was recently asked on a photography forum:-
    “How do I work out a sensible hourly rate in order to calculate my BUR?”

    My answer:-
    Because you are self employed and your company produces images for others to use – then it would depend on what you (the boss) would like to pay yourself (the employee), should you decide to spend your (companies) time here producing some images for others to use.

    So it’s a bit like asking yourself: If I were to spend my time here producing some images that were ‘good enough’ for someone else to use in either 2 media for 1 year or 1 media for 2 years in 1 region – how much would I (the boss) like to be able pay myself (the employee), for each hour that I spent doing this work.

    Comment by Ashley Morrison — September 8, 2013 @ 10:40 am | Reply

  5. Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing some research on that. And he just bought me lunch since I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

    Comment by Mathilde Zyskowski — April 17, 2013 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

  6. Yes, sorry Ashley you did, I did not read accurate. It now makes sense. Thank you so very much for explaining in such detail.

    With a complete buy out licence, would I still be permitted to display the images in my online portfolio/printed portfolio if I wanted to?

    Comment by Andrew J — April 13, 2013 @ 11:10 am | Reply

    • When you say “a complete buy out” Andrew – are you talking about:
      1. providing a client (them only) with a ‘Licence to use’ your images in all media, for unlimited years, throughout the world.
      OR are talking about:
      2. assigning the Rights [Copywrite / Rights to make copies] of your images over to a client – so as they could sell copies of them on to others for them to use (since they would now own the images), as well as used them as much as they like themselves (in all media, for unlimited years, throughout the world).

      If it’s the latter, then you may have to ask them if you can use ‘their images’ (since they would now own those images).
      Otherwise, you could obviously use your own images for whatever you wanted, unless otherwise stated on the agreement.

      (For example, some clients may ask for an ‘embargo period’ – during which time, you are agreeing not to published your images in any way – but otherwise, they are just paying you for a Licence to use your images).

      So it would all depend on what you or your client actually mean here, when you or they say “a complete buy out”.

      Comment by Ashley Morrison — April 13, 2013 @ 1:18 pm | Reply

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  26. Hi Ashley, Many thanks for the informative posting. You mention in your example when calculating licence fees for additional media that you’d charge an extra 100% for 1 extra media.

    The AoP calculator seems to have different % for different media so if a client wanted 3 differing types of media, which additional % rate would you normally use? Its probably very simple but its a new system to me and I’d like to understand it better.

    Comment by Lee Christiansen — May 6, 2012 @ 10:20 am | Reply

    • That’s correct, so depending on which additional media it was or how many different media they need to use the images in, the % amount may change here.

      Because you would now need to take that additional information into account, when you are going to produce these images e.g. you may now need to use a medium format camera or shoot it as an upright as well as in landscape, etc, etc – if they wanted to use the images on Billboards & Posters, as well as on their website and magazine ads.
      Which basically means, you may need a bigger budget here, to meet their needs… hence the +% to help you achieve that and cover any additional costs, that you may now occur over and above what you could take some pictures for, if it was only for normal or standard use.

      (Added Note: Remember, when talking to the client, it’s all to do with the ‘value to them’, rather than to do with ‘you’. So therefore, you are saying the fee goes up +% due to the things that are important to them, when negotiating the fee for the use of your images – rather than saying to them: “because it will cost me more or because it will take me longer to do, etc, etc, then that’s why you will need to pay me more” – because it’s not about ‘you’, it’s about what is of ‘value to them’ ).

      So for example:-
      For the additional use in magazine ads, I would usually add 100%, same for Brochures, Ambient, Billboards & Television.
      For the other media, I would usually add either 50% or 25% in some cases.
      For 'All Media' use, the AOP say you should add 750%, because if you add them all up that would the total % … which should therefore give you a big enough budget to help you meet your client's requirements here.

      Please note: these are just guidelines to help you negotiate the fee – they are not saying this is what you must charge or even what you should charge – because that is totally up to you.

      Comment by Ashley Morrison — May 6, 2012 @ 10:49 am | Reply

      • Thanks Ashley. I’ve got a feeling I’ve been undercharging for far too long. I need to revisit my daily rates and how I charge % for use.

        Comment by Lee Christiansen — May 6, 2012 @ 11:13 am

      • Basically what this system does or tells my client, is that I could take some pictures for £210 per image here, if they didn’t really need to use them that much.
        However, to meet their requirements – which I have listed here for them to clearly see – then this is the sort of figure (or budget or fee) that I would now be talking about, to help me produce those sort of images instead… which would obviously be different to the ones I would be taking for £210 per image.

        Because it’s the budget, that will ultimately determine what I can afford to do or even think of doing here – which in turn will affect the true value to them.

        As providing them with some images that they don’t actually want to use that much, isn’t going to be worth much to them – even though they could use them as much as they like.

        Because there is a difference between providing them with some images to meet their needs and just providing them with some pictures that they can use if they want to – which this pricing system will help you with, because it takes their actual usage requirements into account.

        So you may not be undercharging for what you are actually providing them with at present; however, you could be undervaluing what they are asking you to provide them with, if your images are currently not meet their usage requirements or what all they have said they need to use your images for – because you haven’t really taking that information into account, when you were quoting a fee.

        To illustrate what I’m talking about here: lets say this recent client just asked me for a price, to come along and take some pictures of his hotel – and I didn’t bother asking him what all he needed to use the images for, so I just gave him a price based on me turning up to take some pictures.

        Then I could have just turned up and taken some pictures like this… First image taken at the Library at the Club house in Dromoland Castle
        .. rather than producing an image like this…
        Final image of the Library at the Club house in Dromoland Castle

        Now if I had quoted £210 per image, then I wouldn’t really have overcharged for the first image, as it would be of little value or use to him – in fact he may even feel I had overcharged for this and would therefore probably be very reluctant to pay me anything at all. However, if I had quoted £210 per image and provided him with second image, then I would have been a fool – as that is the sort of image he will get a huge amount of use out of, for years to come.

        So, the amount I would be charging and/or the amount this client would be willing to pay for the use of these 2 images – all be it the same picture of the same room taken by the same photographer using the same camera – would be very different.

        Image 2 would therefore be +% more or in this case +++% more, due to what all the client in the end said he wanted to use the image for – rather than want it cost me to produce, as both images would have roughly cost me the same.

        Comment by Ashley Morrison — May 6, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

      • Good point Ashley. I guess I need to rethink how I package my prices and you’ve given me a few things to think about.

        Comment by Lee Christiansen — May 6, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

  27. Dear Ashley, thank you very much for this article. I found it very useful. 

    What would happen in the following case (this is what I am trying to figure out): I was contacted to shoot 40 lifestyle images. Lets say my total production costs were 160 eur – that gives me a BUR of 4 euro/image. But as you do with lifestyle shootig you always grab extra shots – did not influence the production cost maybe a couple more minutes post processing. The client loved the 40 extra shots i had and he wants all of them. I had explained that the BUR is based on the production costs and he rightfully says ,,well if i take the 40 extra images it won’t influence the production costs anymore”. The BUR will now be 2 euros/image. How ever you put it my production fees are covered and so are the creative fees but if he wants to reuse 10 images next year I can only base the license fees on the BUR of 2 euros and no the initial 4 euros. Have I shot myself in the foot by saying the production costs don’t actually change if he wants to use the extra images? How can make more money out of this client if he wants more images?

    Comment by Andrew J — April 10, 2012 @ 8:08 am | Reply

    • Hi Andrew
      When you quoted the fee (beforehand), did you say your BUR was 4 Euros per image, based on you agreeing to produce & then provide them with 40 lifestyle images for them to use, for the agreed amount of use ?

      If so, and the client agreed to this beforehand, then the agreement stands at 4 Euro per image.

      The fact that you produced more images or that you went the extra mile on the day – afterwards – doesn’t change this original agreement.

      So if you ended up producing 80 images (afterwards) – and the clients wants to use all 80 images now, then it should be 80 x 4 Euros.

      Just the same as if he wanted to use your images in more media or for a longer period of time or in other territories. Because you are billing him for ‘the use of your images’, not for your time or how much it cost you to produce them… or at least that is what you should be billing him for; otherwise, you are basically agreeing to do work made for hire.

      So basically what has happen here, is you started out talking to him about one thing (the price per image, based on his usage requirements – which was of value to him) and then you confused that with something else (your time & your expenses – which is only of value to you). And he (as a business person) has picked up on this and is now using this to his advantage.

      So the next thing he will be saying is:

      Well if I have paid you for your time & expenses to do this job for me – then what difference should it make now, as to how much I use these images for… right !! Because it’s not like you need to spend any more time shooting stuff or that it will cost you any more… right !!

      This is a very common mistake a lot of photographers make, by the way – which I did too many years ago, because I was to busy thinking about myself – my costs and what the value was to me – rather than staying focused on what was of value to them. So I got confused and basically ended up agreeing to do work made for hire, without even realising that that was infect what I was agreeing too. Which resulted in me therefore wondering why I wasn’t making any more money for doing a ‘really good job’, than I was for just doing ‘an okay job’… until the penny finally dropped one day.

      Thanks to the AOP & their BUR pricing system… which actually took me a while to get my end around, because I was still to busy thinking about myself – my costs and what the value was to me – rather than in terms of what was of value to them.

      Comment by Ashley Morrison — April 10, 2012 @ 9:52 am | Reply

      • Hi Ashley,
        I am really gobsmacked by all the info you are providing on your website (every consider writing an E-book? I would buy it!). I have been trying to conduct business in such a way I do not cannibalize future jobs for myself or fellow photographers. You sharing your knowledge certainly contributes in preventing that. But sometimes there are situations when I get stuck,..again. Like for example the AOP’s license calculator confuses me. Not because it is not working right but just simply because I don’t know in which category I have to place certain usage. I was wondering if you could let me know what you would do. For example, editorial usage, would that be the ‘Print – Press’ option? Could you comment on what a total buy out fee would be based on and what the percentage of this is? What category would a web advertising campaign be, ‘Digital – Internet Advertising’ ?

        I am so very grateful for all the valuable contributions you have made to the photographic community, thank you.

        Comment by Andrew J — April 11, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

      • “For example, editorial usage, would that be the ‘Print – Press’ option?”

        Yes, I guess it would Andrew – but remember the ‘Period of use’ would less than ‘Standard use’ – so the Licence fee would therefore normally be less than your Base Usage Rate (B.U.R.) – which is the amount you would charge for ‘Standard use’ of your images. So you would basically be giving them a discount here, as a result e.g. your BUR-50% for them to use your images in 1 media for up to 3 months in 1 country only.

        According to their online calculator, “total buy out fee would be” 10 years (600%) x All Media (300%) x Worldwide (450%) = 8100.00% of your B.U.R. figure.

        But according to their book, Beyond the Lens, my understanding is it would be your BUR +% i.e. All Media (+750%), 10 years (+500%), Worldwide (+500%) = your BUR +1750%.

        Just so you know, I have been using their book’s percentage figures for nearly 10 years now – so that’s still what I go by, when negotiating the fee for the use of my images.

        (But remember, these are just guidelines to help you negotiating the fee, so either way, these percentages are not set in stone).

        “What category would a web advertising campaign be” – it depends, but I would normally just put it down as:- Media use: Worldwide web & promotional emails only.” Period of use: 2 years (if it was only 1 media, as that would then be the same as ‘Standard use’). Territory of use: Internet only (if it was only 1 media, as that would then be the same as ‘Standard use’).

        So the Licence fee would therefore be the same as my BUR figure, in this case – as 1 media, for 2 years use in 1 region = Standard use.

        So it’s just a simple formula that you can use, to help you determine what the fee should be – for the use of your images.

        Comment by Ashley Morrison — April 11, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

      • I must be doing something wrong. The agency askes to deliver 5 tiff files for usage in european editorials, corporate website and an online advertising campaign. I put these details into the calculator and got:

        1 – Licence period
        1 years @ 100%

        2 – Media options
        Digital – Company Website @ 100%
        Print – Press @ 100%
        Digital – Internet Advertising @ 75%
        Total 275%

        3 – Territory options
        Europe Union only (EU) @ 200%
        Total 200%

        Total = 100% * 275% * 200% = 550.00% OF B.U.R. (EUR 423)

        Total = EUR 2326.50/image

        Total production cost eur 2125/5 images= eur 423/image

        The license price of eur 2326/image for 1 year just seems so high even considering what they will be spending on the total campaign. Maybe I am just not used to these figures but considering my production costs and the intended usage by the client, have I made a mistake?

        They are considering a 5 years license or buy out. That is even more than the 1 year.

        Comment by Andrew j — April 12, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

      • Like I said above, I tend to go by their book, which suggests you add the percents rather than multiply them – and so I just use a spread sheet.

        So if your BUR was €423 per image, then for 2 media for 1 years use in Europe, I would say the Licence fee should be your BUR+200% (as it’s only the Territory of use that is above your standard use fee here).

        So you would be looking at €1,269.00 per image here – which would be your base rate fee + 200% (as it’s just the additional use part that you are adding on to your standard rate or base rate figure).

        Comment by Ashley Morrison — April 12, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

  28. You don’t discuss how you determine the percentage to add or subtract from the BUR based on different usage requirements. Does the book “Beyond the Lens” provide this information and real examples, or is it left to each photographer to determine what percentage to charge? I went to the webpage for the book, but there isn’t much information there either. I’ve read many books on the business of photography and most offer vague information about how to price for usage, so it would be nice if this book actually provides some specific information and real world examples that are applicable to today’s marketplace.

    Comment by Andrew — November 1, 2011 @ 12:51 am | Reply

    • Yes – Chapter 5 in their book contains a number of pages listing the percentage figures for the various Media, as well as, Territories & Period of use. However, they do leave it quite open as they are just suggested percentage figures – so it may say something like: add 30% to 100%.
      Which means, as always, a bit of common sense is required – but I have found it to be very helpful, to have these figures in front of me when talking to a client and/or negotiating the fee – as it’s all very logical, once you know what your BUR is.

      I use a spread sheet, by the way, which has all the percentages and figures already typed in – so I can quickly punch in the numbers relative to the job on hand and have that information in front of me, when talking to the client and negotiating the fee.

      Anyway, in the example I posted, I had worked out my BUR was £210.00 i.e. my basic production costs (the price per image that I would quote, to produce & provide them with 6 images, for them to use in 2 Media, for 1 year, in 1 country.)
      So then using the AOP’s guidelines, I added 100% on for the additional media (£210×100% = £420) and then added another 100% on for 3 years use (£420×100% = £840), to arrive at what the fee would be, for me to produce & provide them with 6 images, to meet their needs i.e. Licence fee based on the above information.

      Comment by Ashley Morrison — November 1, 2011 @ 9:07 am | Reply

      • Thanks for the quick reply Ashley. I found a bit more information on the AOP site after I made my post here, and noticed that the BUR and additional media and license extensions are all discussed in Chapter 5 which deals with Advertising Photography. So would you use the same pricing structure when doing Corporate and Design Photography where you are working directly with the end client? I would imagine much of your Interior Photography would be client direct, and my experience and understanding of this market is that they expect much broader licenses, or a package rights, for much lower fees.

        I just finished reading The Art and Business of Photography by Susan Carr, and I also heard her interviewed recently. She says when she was shooting for architects and interior designers she always provided an unlimited, non-exclusive license. She also says that in today’s market place, with the myriad marketing opportunities available to clients online and in print, clients don’t always know how they’re going to use images. So it’s fair and reasonable to provide them with a comprehensive package of rights, rather than nickel and diming them for every additional usage that might come up in the future.

        I know everyone is free to set their own business practices, and perhaps things are done differently in the UK than they are here in North America, but I’m curious if you apply these same principals to both advertising and client direct work.

        Thanks again.

        Comment by Andrew — November 1, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

      • Lots of questions here Andrew and some good points, so I’ll go through each of them one at a time.

        “So would you use the same pricing structure when doing Corporate and Design Photography where you are working directly with the end client?”

        Yes – because you are simply producing and providing images for ‘others’ to use – so how you go about putting a price on that doesn’t change – just because of ‘their’ usage requirements. Their usage requirements may change the amount you charge and/or what they are prepared to pay you – which in turn may change to the look of the images or what you can afford to do – but you are still just agreeing to produce & then provide them with your images for them to use … unless you have agreed to do ‘work made for hire’ that is !!

        “.. and my experience and understanding of this market is that they expect much broader licenses, or a package rights, for much lower fees.”

        ‘Want’ is not the same as ‘Need’ – which is why you negotiate the fee based on what they ‘need’ to use your images for, rather than what they would like to use your images for, if it made no difference to the price.

        “.. she was shooting for architects and interior designers she always provided an unlimited, non-exclusive license. She also says that in today’s market place, with the myriad marketing opportunities available to clients online and in print, clients don’t always know how they’re going to use images. So it’s fair and reasonable to provide them with a comprehensive package of rights, rather than nickel and diming them for every additional usage that might come up in the future.”

        No problems – so long as the fee and/or the amount they are prepared to pay, is in keeping with what they are asking you to provide them with.
        But if they are saying they need unlimited use, then please read this post on All Rights … and understanding what it is you are asking for – or this one on The way I see it – if someone says the ‘use’ doesn’t really matter.

        Because if you are throwing in ‘unlimited use’ like it really doesn’t matter, then you could be cutting your own throat – should you start providing them with images that they use a lot more than you assumed they would, when you quoted that fee.

        “I’m curious if you apply these same principals to both advertising and client direct work”

        If someone – be it an advertising agency or a direct client – wants me to produce and then provide them with some images, because they want to use them – then ‘yes’ the same principals apply. The fee (Licence fee) is based on their usage requirements. So I need to know what those requirements are first, before I can give them a price for that. Because otherwise, I could be way of the mark in my thinking – especially if I was to always assume, that in ever case, they were needing me to provide them with some images for them to use in a multi million, worldwide advertising campaign, over the next 10 years – when in fact, all they really needed was for me to provide them with some images for them to use in a few small ads in their local magazine.

        So when I’m quoting a fee, I always take my client’s usage requirements into account – and I put that information down in writing, so as we both know what that fee relates too i.e. the Media use, the Period of use & the Territory of use – as well as the number of images and what they are of. That way, we both know what the deal is, before I undertake the assignment, to produce some images to meet their needs.

        Should I then decide to go the extra mile after I have quoted – and produce a set of images which they afterwards wanted to use for other things – over and above what I had quoted for – then I would get rewarded for that – which to me is only fair – and a win, win situation for everyone, should I succeed.

        Now look at what Susan Carr is suggesting – and you will see there is no incentive for her to go the extra mile for her clients – because producing ‘better’ images which her clients will then want to use more and/or for a longer period of time, etc – is actually counter productive. So for her, it’s all about cutting costs and providing them with the minimum – so as they will hopefully come back for more. Because the only way for her to make more money, is for her to shoot more – not to for them to use her images more – because that’s just doing her out of future work.

        May be she hasn’t realise this yet – but one day ‘the penny will drop’ – and when it does, I have no doubt she will regret having said such a thing – because it doesn’t make sense for any business, to give away more than they need to, for the price they are quoting.

        Comment by Ashley Morrison — November 5, 2011 @ 10:47 am

      • “.. rather than nickel and diming them for every additional usage that might come up in the future.”

        So if her clients wanted to take out an ad in a magazine, I wonder would she suggest the publishing company should do the same i.e. just charge a flat fee – for her client to appear in as many of their magazines as they want, as often as they want, over as many pages as they want and for as many years as they want – rather than nickel and diming them for every additional use, over and above what they would normally pay for a one page ad, in one issue, in one of their magazines.

        I very much doubt any publishing company would agree to this Andrew – as we are not talking about nickels & dimes here – especially if they are a national or international publishing company, who produce 20 or 30 different magazines each month. And if they were to quote her clients a fee based on that information i.e. unlimited use – then I’m quite sure her clients would walk away, as the amount would be (or should I say, would need to be) huge.

        By the way, have you ever looked to see at what a one page ad costs in a local magazine verses a national magazine verses an international magazine i.e. 1 media, for 1 month, with the only difference being the Territory of use.
        It’s like add a zero each time – and that’s just one ad in one media for one month.

        Now if someone is asking you to produce & provide them with some images for them to use – don’t you think you should take that information on board – because from your client’s point of view, it may not be nickels & dimes they are talking about – it could be a serious amount of money, which they are planning on spending around the images which they are asking you to provide them with… in the hope to fulfil their needs.

        Start thinking along those lines and you should start to understand why the AOP recommend this pricing system – and why it’s percentage based on the use.
        Because it’s your client’s use that will determine the value to them – which you need to somehow determine, to insure that you have the budget in place, to meet their needs.

        Hence the BUR system.

        Comment by Ashley Morrison — November 5, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

      • As for this statement:

        “She also says that in today’s market place, with the myriad marketing opportunities available to clients online and in print, clients don’t always know how they’re going to use images.”

        As far as I’m concerned, ‘marketing opportunities’ haven’t really changed over the years – other than we now have the Worldwide web.
        What has changed, is what ‘we’ are providing our clients with – which now makes it easier for them to use in various ways to market themselves.

        You see, back in the days of ‘film’, the ‘film’ which we provided our clients with, in many ways limited their use.
        So we usually didn’t have to state what the use was – as that would have already been taken into account beforehand, when we decided what camera system to use (35mm, 6×6, 6×7, 4×5, 10×8, etc), what film type to use (Black & white, transparency film, colour negatives, etc) or what iso to use (100, 200, 400, etc), etc, etc. And as there was often only one original, then that in away also limited how much they could use it, as they had to wait for it to be returned before they could send it of to the next person/magazine/newspaper/or whoever. Plus at some point the ‘film’ would probably get lost or damaged – so that would be the end of it.
        All of this meant they needed new images on a regular bases – and those images where usually shot with X amount of use in mind – which we would have known about, but possibly never actually stopped to mention, as it was usually very obvious.

        Today however, all that has changed, as we now provide our clients with something very different.
        A digital file – which can be used over and over again, in many different media at the same time. Perfect copies can be made and it can be email to hundreds of people around the world at the click of a button. The file won’t wear out and therefore can be used for years to come. And if it’s a really good file i.e. produced using a digital back for example – then the use is almost unlimited, as it will look great at any size and/or in any media.

        Brilliant.

        But if you don’t somehow control the use – and charge accordingly – then it may not be so brilliant of us.
        Because your current clients could start becoming old clients real fast – who are just continuing to use your images for years to come – if what you provide them with is ‘really good’. Which is what happen to me about 6 or 7 years ago, when I started to go the extra mile for them – which resulted in me losing a lot of regular clients, because they are still using those same images to this very day.

        So basically you have two options, if you want to keep them as a regular client (i.e. someone who pays you money on a regular bases, for what you are providing them with):

        1. Control the use by providing them with images that they will not want to use that much, so as they keep asking you back to shoot more.
        2. Control the use by charging for what all they want to use your images for – and then try to provide them with images which they will want to use a lot more, so as you don’t have to keep shooting more.

        No.2 means you may be able to retire someday.
        No.1 means you need to keep at it.

        Your call – but I know which one I prefer – as I’m not getting any younger :)

        Comment by Ashley Morrison — November 5, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

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The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

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