Ashley Morrison's Blog

January 31, 2010

There are more any 100 different ways to shoot any subject.

Filed under: Licence fees — Ashley Morrison @ 11:18 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

When being asking to quote a fee for the use of your images which you are about to create, there are basically two parts to the equation that need to be taken into account:
1. Value to you.
2. Value to them.

And it’s the 2nd part that is often the more important part – but yet it’s often the part that most photographers don’t seem to take into account when quoting a fee.

On the Photography Ireland forum yesterday, one of the members pointed out: Clients would often argue that it is not justified to charge for Usage e.g. “does a plumber get paid more if he is putting in a shower that will be used by a family of six rather than a single person”.

Which is a fair point?

So I asked the question: Do you know the answer or how to answer this ?

For those reading this and don’t know the answer – but would like to know – the answer lies in the simple fact, that there are more any 100 different ways to shoot any subject – which basically means that no two images are the same.
So depending on how you shoot the subject, that will have an effect on the value to the person, who is wanting to use your images i.e. the ‘value to them’ part.
(Our before & after images here – Before & after – clearly shows this)

Therefore, to determine the true value of your images – and what they may be worth to others – you need to look at the 2nd part i.e. the usage value to them.

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

So it’s that value to them – in terms of what all they will want to use your images for, that will determine what they believe your images are worth to them – beforehand. And so it’s that amount that will ultimately determine what you can afford to do, which in turn will affect the true value to them – afterward.

Understanding this is important, for anyone who wants to be able to move their business forward, when negotiating the fee before the images have yet been created.

Which basically means, it usually comes down to your wording: Are you agreeing to do ‘work made for hire‘ OR are you just agreeing to ‘produce some images for them to use‘, for an agreed amount of use, to which the fee you have quoted relates to ?

If you present yourself as someone who is agreeing to do work made for hire, then you simply bill them for your time & your expenses – like the Plumber – and then once they have paid you for that, they will believe they have paid you in full. The usage doesn’t really come into it, because that’s not what you have billed them for – and so, they will believe they can do as they please with the images – after they have paid you for what you asked for (even though it may not have been what they actually asked you for in the first place).

Producing images for them to use; on the other hand, is where you just charge a fee (Licence fee) for the use of your images – which would, therefore, ​be based on their usage requirements. And so, you would then usually clearly state what the agreed usage is, to which the fee relates to.

So, if someone phoned to say they wanted (to commission) you to produce & then provide them with some images for them to use for “a one time only editorial feature in a local magazine”, then you would simply quote them a fee based on that information.

If on the other hand, ​they said, they wanted you to produce & then provide them with some images for them to use in some brochures, as well as on some billboards plus in some international magazines too, which would be good enough for them to use for the next 3 years throughout Europe – well then, naturally you would need to take the information beforehand and quote them a fee based on that information instead.

Otherwise, you could get it badly wrong here and end up failing to provide them with what they would need, to met their needs.

So it’s all very well knowing what it would cost you to ‘take some pictures’, but since it not just ‘any old pictures’ they want, then it is important to take their usage requires into account too – especially since that is the thing that will determine the amount they are prepared to pay you, before they have seen the results or you have done any work.

In other words, it doesn’t really matter how much it costs you, it more to do with how much they are prepared to spend beforehand to get what they want – as that is what you are trying to figure out here.
So for example, for £500 what will they get from you or for another £500, what more will they get from you… because usually that is what they actually want to now.
How much it costs you, is therefore neither here or there – as far as they will be concerned – as that’s like your problem, not theirs.

So it’s the usage value that’s all important and that is what they will be looking at, to determine what they feel your images are worth to them – beforehand.

And so that’s what you need to go by, when trying to determine what the fee should be – because it’s that amount that will ultimately determine what all you can afford to do afterwards, which in turn will effect the value to them – since there are more any 100 different ways to shoot any subject.

So the difference is in your wording i.e. what you are actually asking them to pay you for.


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