What To Charge For Neighborhood Photos For Real Estate Use

September 18th, 2016

copyrightBrad in Idaho asks:

I live in a resort town and have a couple clients that would like to use my touristy (non-real estate) photos on their listings and websites. I have a lot of questions and I’m not sure how to go about charging them. Do I charge a per listing fee? Is $25-50 too much per listing? Or do I charge a one-time fee? Is $200-500 a good range for that? Do they own the rights to those photos? For example, can other realtors buy the same photo? I assume they won’t be watermarked so there’s the chance that they could be stolen. If they are used on listings, websites, pamphlets, etc…how can I protect them without watermarking them? I have been referred to imagerights.com and fotoquote.com and I am checking them out now.

Licensing images of your local area to Realtors:
What you charge Realtors to use your images should depend on the quality and how many images they want to use. There’s no formula for charging. And you sell a license to use the photos for a given purpose and length of time. Licensing means you retain the copyright (ownership) of the photos and you are selling clients the right to use the photos for a specific purpose and length of time. You could license the photos for one listing or for many listings. For agents that have a lot of listings, it would make sense to sell them a license to use them on all of their listings. Note that Shutterstock.com charges $29 for 2 images, $49 for 5 images and $229 for 25 images for the simplest licensing.

It is important to have the terms and conditions of the photo license clear as in written down and signed by both you and the client. This doesn’t have to be complicated just clear so everyone involved understands. Clarity upfront eliminates confusion and misunderstandings down the road.

Yes, you can license your photos to many people at the same time.

Protecting your photos:
You can’t “protect” your photos. Any photo on the net that can be displayed on a screen can be copied. Watermarking can slow down or deter some copying but simple watermarks can be cropped off or easily removed in photoshop. For stock local photos, I think potential users will expect not to have them watermarked.

The only practical way to stop infringers is to use a reverse image search service like TinEye.com or others that will search the net to find everyone using your images. If you find infringers you then send a DMCA takedown notice to the site they are on.

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5 Responses to “What To Charge For Neighborhood Photos For Real Estate Use”

  • In your license, use the term “non-exclusive” which means you can license them to other people. If someone want’s an exclusive license, then charge accordingly, but beware, that usually means you can’t use them either.

    You can’t protect a photo online. If I can see it, I can copy it. To keep the casual user from right-clicking on the image, put a transparent layer on top of it. But that would only slow me down a minute more.

    Tineye.com looks like a proactive image search tool- what does it cost? I sometimes use Google Images for one-off searches.

  • I once did a “local highlights” shoot for a local broker. I visited probably 10 different locations and included stills and aerials. This was two or so years ago but I believe I charged something like $1,400 for approx. 50 images. We had a verbal agreement that I would not sell them to local competition and he could use them as long as he likes.

    Also, on that note, I have since been shooting the same local highlights whenever I get a chance. I intend on setting up a licensing program with all of my agents where they can access files on my website (or private dropbox folder) to pull images of local highlights, restaurants, landmarks, condo amenities, etc. I have no idea what I’m going to charge but I think I will set agents on with yearly accounts and charge a fee of $99-199 per year. If I could get 10-20 agents to sign up it’s well worth the effort. Has anyone done something like this before?

  • I allow my clients to use my community photos on their listings for no charge if I made the listing photos, otherwise it’s $50/image/year on a non-exclusive basis for listing use. I’ll often have time between appointments and I will sometimes visit a local park or community center to take a few photos and have lunch. It lets me offer a little extra with little cost to me. I might change up my licensing as my collection grows. I started it after a broker asked if I could get some images of a nearby park when photographing a home for him.

    I feel that charging $20-25/listing would put too many agents off.

    Tineye.com can’t search the entire web, it way too big and grows by the second. When I search for my images, mostly non-re, I find a lot of licensed-use copies and I’d hate to pay somebody to do that for me. If you intend to be very aggressive on searching out infringements and going after them, it might be worth the time and money. I tend to keep an eye out for photos I have made in the course of looking through RE mags and other places they may show up. I’ll turn over any unlicensed usage I find to my attorney, but at this point I don’t see much of an income stream there and too much looking even with an automated service.

  • I do the same as Ken and don’t charge to use area photos if I’m shooting their listings. I also let them know other agents may be using the same photos.

  • I maintain a huge library of condo amenities, local attractions and neighborhood photos. I give my current clients access to this database free of charge. A current client is a client who has ordered at least 3 shoots in the past two months and is not using another photogtapher. This has proved to be a very effective tool for client loyalty.

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