Ashley Morrison's Blog

July 29, 2010

Base Usage Rate.

In their book, Beyond the Lens, the Association of Photographers (AOP) 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 AOP’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 try and produce the best images possible so that others will want to use them… and hopefully use them a lot.

Simple smile

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

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…
The George V dining room at Ashford Castle in County Mayo.
.. 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 another 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. The ‘Media use’, the ‘Period of use’ and the ‘Territory of use’ being the 3 main things that will determine the value to them – which is obviously a totally different thing to the value to me.

So both of these values need to be taken into account beforehand – and this is were the AOP’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 overestimate​ or undervalue what I am being asked to provide my clients with, to meet their needs.

The BUR figure is therefore like my starting point.

It’s the amount that I would want to be paid to produce some images that others would want to use for ‘standard use’.
(‘Standard use’ being​ for the use of the images in either 2 media for 1 year​ or 1 media for 2 years, in 1 country or region).

So I start by working-out what my basic production costs would be, to produce some 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:
Crew / Assistant:
Stylist / Hair / Make-up, etc:
Prints / Contact sheets:
Location / Studio fee:
Props, Wardrobe, etc:
Sets / Expendable:
Actors / Models, etc:
Travel expenses (Fuel, Flights, Hotels, etc):

(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).

And so that would be my base rate or my starting point… and therefore the first quote that I would send to them.

(Added note: In their book, Beyond The Lens, the AOP 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 an ‘hourly rate’ figure which has already taken the client’s usage into account – because the client’s actual 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 online​ usage calculator – which can be found on their website here: Usage Calculator – I can work out 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 year​ 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.

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 ensure​ I get it right.)

Because there are more than 100 different ways to shoot any subject.

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

Little use = Little value to them. 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.

So I would send them 2 Quotes to start with.

If 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, then the 1st Quote would be to let them see what the fee would be for ‘Standard use’…
1st Quote
.. and the 2nd Quote would be to let them see what the fee would be for the amount of use that they said they would like.
Which, in this example, I would calculate out like so: BUR (£210) +50% for the additional media (£105), +50% for each additional years use (£210), equals the total (£525 per image).
2nd Quote

So the agreed Licence fee would then become my budget to meet this client’s needs.

Please note: the ‘Licence fee based on the above information’ – which means 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 would use, to help me raise the bar, to meet their additional usage requirements.)

So I use the BUR figure to work out​ 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.


July 25, 2010

Oyster Photo Fakeouts

Are these “Fakeouts” misleading Hotel ads… or is it just good creative photography ?
The Huffington Post is currently doing a poll on this, to see what people think: Worst Photo Fakeouts.

Every hotel want’s to present itself in the best possible way – no different to every other business out there – and what you are seeing here is simply the difference between images that were created for advertising versus images that were taken for a news story.

We have a section on our website about this titled Test shots.
There are more than 100 different ways to shoot any subject… and that’s all we are seeing here, which is nothing new but can be fun to see.

July 14, 2010

Ashford Castle in County Mayo.

Filed under: Photography,Web links — Ashley Morrison @ 11:29 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

In 1228 – Ashford was founded by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family following their defeat of the native O’Connors of Connaught.
In 1589 – after more than three and a half centuries under the de Burgo’s, Ashford passes into the hands of a new owner – the English Lord Bingham, governor of Connaught – who adds a fortified enclave within its precincts.
In 1715 – the Ashford estate was established by the Oranmore and Browne family and a fabulous French-style chateau was added to the architectural splendor of the castle.
In 1852 – Ashford’s new owner, Sir Benjamin lee Guinness, extends the estate to 26,000 acres, building new roads, planting thousands of trees and adding two large victorian style extensions.
In 1868 – Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness bequeaths Ashford to his son, Lord Ardilaun, an avid gardener who oversees the development of massive woodlands and rebuilds the entire west wing of the castle.
In 1915 – Ashford is retained by the Iveagh trust on behalf of the Guinness family.
In 1939 – Ashford was bought by Noel Huggard who established the castle as a “First Class Hotel”.
In 1951 – The director John Ford comes to the west of Ireland to film what would become a movie classic “The Quiet Man” – starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Victor McLaglen and Barry Fitzgerald.
In 1970 – Ashford Castle is bought by John A. Mulcahy who oversees its complete restoration and expansion, doubling its size, building the golf course and developing the grounds and gardens.
In 1985 – A group of Irish American investors purchase Ashford. In the 16 years since, Ashford has been voted not only one of the best hotels in Ireland by the most discerning guidebooks, but also one of the top 50 resort properties in Europe.
In 2008 – Ashford Castle was bought outright by Galway Entrepreneur and Hotelier Mr Gerry Barrett.

And last week – Marie, Stuart & myself were honoured to be invited down to Ashford Castle

.. by Paula & Niall, to photograph part of this luxurious 5 Star hotel.

The amazing Oak Hall lobby area was a challenge to light …
One of the first pictures taken of the Oak Hall at Ashford Castle.
.. as the Castle was busy too; however, we were very pleased with this final result:
The Oak Hall in Ashford Castle which is located near to the village of Cong in County Mayo.

The George V dining room also took a while to set-up…
setting up the dining room shot
.. and light too..
setting up the dining room shot
.. but what an amazing room:
The George V dining room at Ashford Castle in County Mayo.

So we were slow on this one…
setting up one of the bedrooms
.. but then again…
Room 422 in Ashford Castle which is located near to the village of Cong in County Mayo.
.. this is one of Ireland’s most prestige Hotels we were being asked to capture…
.. so we wanted it to look just right
The Presidential Suite in Ashford Castle which is located near to the village of Cong in County Mayo.
.. by producing a set of images that would complete the dream – of what 5 Star living is all about.

So thanks again to everyone for making this happen – and hopefully, we will be back soon, to produce more images for them to use.

From Marie, Stuart & me.

July 10, 2010

You are your images…

Filed under: Web links — Ashley Morrison @ 9:51 am

… and image is (almost) everything:
How can you achieve the best ROI from your Hotels Marketing Budget ?

“If your target market is the male business traveler, keep in mind that in general, males take approximately 2.5 seconds to make a decision to continue reading (or not) when visual imagery is involved”.

“Interestingly, for leisure travel, women are the predominate decision makers – taking an average of 29 days and performing 12 searches and visiting 22 different travel sites prior to making their vacation bookings. With this sort of detailed evaluation, you will want to be sure that your visual imagery matches or exceeds that of your competitive set. According to the TIA (Travel Industry Association), the vast majority of reservations are still made at the visual gallery or one click later.”

Blog at