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What Do You Charge to Relicense Real Estate Photos to the Stager?

April 19th, 2018

Randy in Pennsylvania asks:

I photographed a home for a real estate agent that was professionally staged. The stager is interested in obtaining some of my photos. How much do I charge? Never done this before.

First of all, I would license the photos to the stager for a specific use and length of time and have the stager sign a license agreement.

Does the stager just want to use the photos on her website or does she want to use them in printed marketing materials? Charge more for printed use.

My guess is that if the stager just wants to use the photos on her website, you should charge at least as much as the agent; probably more because the stager will want to use them longer.

What do readers think?

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12 Responses to “What Do You Charge to Relicense Real Estate Photos to the Stager?”

  • What YOU charge may be very different from what somebody else in a different market will charge.

    How big is your market? Is the stager working by themselves or do they have a large staff? What’s the usage and how long do they want to use the images? Are you going to be making images just for them or will they be selecting from compositions you will be delivering to a RE agent? Do they want/need any additional editing to get rid of switches, outlets, cords, marks on walls, thermostats, etc. ? There are so many variables when pricing photography work from what an image takes in time and expenses to produce to how much value it brings to the client. All the market will bear is what you want to get. A tactic may be to start at a fairly high price and gauge their reaction. If they accept without haggling, you were still too low. If they come back saying there is no way they could afford your work, you can start asking them to estimate how many photos they may want in the next few months and if they might refer some work to you and then offer a lower price. If they turn out to only want unlimited rights forever for $10, you might be better walking away. You never know if they are going to call you the next week and agree to your last offer and license 6-7. Saying no to a low offer as an independent business person is one of the hardest things to do, but it’s a skill I wish I had years ago.

    Keep in mind that they aren’t likely going to be able to track usage like an ad agency will, so you have to make sure that the license you write is something they are going to stay within so there isn’t friction down the road. Don’t undervalue your work either. RE photography is already on the low end of the income spectrum so it’s not a great comparison for what you should charge for secondary licensing.

    Stagers can be a great source of referrals. Charge a fair amount up front for images and discuss options for additional images as a commission. Doing “free” work up front is a risk since you don’t know if the stager will ever bring you any work in return. Establishing a fair market price up front also gives you more bargaining power later. You may want to trade one image for each referral as the commission. You may not want to trade 10 images for each referral.

  • I have a sliding scale from around 3.5x down to 2x my ‘per image’ real estate fees, ie. the more images they buy the lower the per image cost.

  • My commercial photography fees are quite different from RE photography fees. RE photos have a “shelf life” that can vary from one day to a year, rarely longer. They are no longer useful to anyone but me after the home sells or the listing expires. Sometimes I license them to the next agent when the listing expires. If a stager or builder or cabinet company or other business wants to use them for promotion on their website, Facebook, brochures, etc. I charge $100 per image up to ten and will throw in extra images if they want more for that $1000. That is per project, an open-ended royalty-free usage license.

    I recently caught a rehab company using 34 of my images without my permission – it looks like they have been using the bulk of them for over a year on their website. I sent them a bill for $3400 and expect to have to meet them in small claims court.

  • For me, I try to make pricing as simple as possible yet fair and remunerative to me as possible.

    The average client we work with scarcely understand licensing much less the relevance of scope, impressions, duration etc. They want a bottom line price. Sure, those questions are relevant to some but realistically the average buyer of imagery is not an agency that is familiar with the conventions of usage licensing that the advertising world uses.

    The other issue is policing usage. Like most photographers I work alone. Who can realistically devote resources to tracking usage? Charge a price that covers possible usage “leakage” and sleep happy.

    When I bill a client I have a per image fee that licenses in perpetuity for certain limited uses. The uses are web and print for their company only. No other use is permitted and transfer of the images are prohibited. Realistically the images we make are time sensitive with some having marketing value beyond the sale of the property.

    The price I charge is the price I want/need to make from my labor. Not what I worry the market can bear. I am too old to start worrying about cheapskates complaining about price.

    I offer a contract that has multiple user fees options so if more than one party wishes to license the images they can get a slightly reduced fee. Thus there is an incentive to recruit more people to the project.

    To be fair to the client I charge the same fee to follow-on clients of the project. There are discounts for multiple image orders.

  • My take on this is a bit different. I would want to maintain a relationship with the stager, if they are talented and busy.

    One question though, are you the copyright holder of the images shot for the agent? If so, then I might suggest two options… one, provide these images to the home stager for free, as long as your watermark is visible. Two, provide these images to them at a lower price with a limited use license attached.

  • Chip, why would you give them away free or at a lower price than the agent paid when they probably have more value to the stager? I’m not sure how you’re going to benefit.

  • I agree with Chip. I’m more in the business of cultivating relationships. I’ve had stagers request images I’ve shot a few times, and I’ve offered to give them a handful of images (5-7) to use on their website, in exchange for a photo credit (and website link) on their site and referrals when then opportunity arises. I an already see stagers eyes glazing over when you try to explain licensing and pricing. Make a friend, get referrals, grow your business.

  • Jesus, to read these comments one would think that “Stager” is another word for “Moron”!

    We seriously believe that stagers are too stupid to comprehend or accept the concept of limited-term usage of something of value in exchange for money? Have you looked into how Stagers actually run their businesses? (Hint: they charge a fee for limited duration usage of something of value). Sometimes they even rent trucks to move furniture from the warehouse to the listing (that’s called: ‘limited-term usage of something of value in exchange for money’…and there’s a big ‘ol scary contract and everything.)
    And no, the real estate agent doesn’t own the furniture, even though “they paid for it”. And no, the real estate agent can’t just move the furniture to their next listing without paying another fee. And no, the next time the house sells, the new agent doesn’t get the same furniture as before, for free (even though the first selling agent “paid for it”. So let’s start treating these stagers with the respect they deserve…they’re adults. Why on earth should photography be the one and only thing they get for free?

    Then there’s the argument that seems to be saying that we have to choose between charging a fee for our work, vs. “building a relationship”. News Flash — you’re supposed to do BOTH. It’s not a one-or-the-other thing. You want to build a relationship with a stager? Try making some photos specifically for their needs – tighter compositions that feature the furniture and accsessories. And charge them a reasonable fee for it.

    What’s reasonable? It’s an interesting question. The duration of use is likely to be far longer than the RE agent needed. But arguably, the audience (how many “views” or people looking at it) is smaller (the target market is really limited to the real estate industry which is smaller than the target market for selling houses). I always charged stagers the same fee I charged the real estate agent. As time went by and my real estate photography fees increased, I would charge the “current” fee even for older photos. Value is value, and it’s calculated in the present time – not in the past.
    In retrospect, I could and probably should have charged more. But at the time, I figured that the extra lifespan of the images (with stagers) more or less evened out the smaller number of views. Everyone has to make their own calculations regarding that stuff. But a discount? For something they *might* do but haven’t yet (like a referral)? That’s silly.

  • I let stagers use a few no charge, if they give me photo credit. All have proven an excellent source of referrals. In this ‘new world’ sometimes you need to give a little to get – at least that’s my opinion.

  • @Reed, If you are making a claim for Copyright infringement, you have to file in Federal Court, not Small Claims. Since you have already sent a bill, you should get in touch with the owner/president of the company and have a discussion with them about the improper usage and how you can come to some arrangement. Also talk with a Copyright attorney about what remedies you have in this case before you threaten any sort of action. If the company has talked with their attorney they are going to know what actions you can and can’t take. Threaten them with a Small Claims action when they know that’s not possible and you will lose credence. If you haven’t already, register the images with the Copyright office. You can’t file in Federal court without the registration and their attorney should know that if they are good.

    I’ve gotten well over “photo credits” years ago. They don’t do a blind bit of good at the camera store when I want a new lens or body. Establish a price up front with a stager that shows YOU value your work and don’t give it away for free. Like I stated above, they can be great for referrals, but they may have a family member or know another photographer that they refer every lead to already. If you are making images composed just for them on a job, that takes time you will never get back. You should look at it as doing two jobs at the same location with half of the travel and set up time.

  • What Scott said. Your images have value to another revenue generating business. Charge money. Valuing the usage of your work and charging it are fundamental to a successful photography business.

    For local businesses like contractors, architects, designers I charge $200 per image to relicense for a fairly broad use in perpetuity. This licensing fee is for images that already exist, many from previously paid-for RE projects where I may have created 30-40 images. Obviously they don’t need all 40 images. At $200 per image, they are forced to actually choose the images that have value to them and their brand. Which is how a business like that should think about presenting themselves in my opinion. For larger companies, national /international, my fee varies between $275 – $325 per image for the same type of usage. I’ve had quite a bit of success with this. If this sounds expensive, then you may want to research how photography fees work outside of the RE world. It’s truly enlightening. Check this gold mine of insight for a reality check: http://aphotoeditor.com/category/pricing-negotiating/

    Yes, this is not only an opportunity to get paid properly for your imagery, it is also an opportunity to land a new client who already values your work. You might as well start the relationship off right by valuing yourself as well. That seems to be the hardest part for many photographers.

    Here’s an example of a common license I issue for architectural, interior design, contractor type clients. This would appear in the quote and on the invoice.
    -BEGIN
    “Usage License
    This License is strictly limited to the terms and conditions below, and are governed by the Copyright laws of the United States, as specified in Title 17 of the United States Code:
    Licensee: Client Name (Fill in Client Name)
    Licensor: Travis Rowan Photography
    Effective Date: April 18, 2018
    Usage Time: Perpetual
    Region: Worldwide
    Type: Non-Exclusive
    Rights Granted: Advertising All Print Publications, Editorial All Print Publications, Internet Websites, Promotional Brochure/ Collateral, Promotional Poster, Public Relations Use, Social Media, Trade Show Display, Portfolio, Wall Display, Award Submissions.
    Quantity Rights: Non-Limited
    Credit Line: Travis Rowan Photography ”
    -END

    I hope that helps you make some money.

  • “We seriously believe that stagers are too stupid to comprehend or accept the concept of limited-term usage of something of value in exchange for money?” Not too stupid, but it can sometimes be very hard for them to understand the concept of usage rights and licensing photography, and can require a lot of patience to explain it to some of them, although that can also be the case with some interior designers or builders who do not have much experience working with professional photographers. I have even experienced a few architects who claim to be unaware of this, although they really should know better, since they are typically in the business of licensing usage of their plans.

    In any case, I charge for reuse rights to stagers the same way I charge an architect, interior designer or builder, and the fees are significantly greater than what is common for mainstream real estate photography. Even if used solely on their business website, the photos will be primary marketing material for them for at least several years. How much you can charge will depend upon your market, the quality of your photography, the quality of the subject matter, and whether the client has a strong interest in using high-quality photos in their market and is willing to pay for it. I do not negotiate fees for usage at this level, since this is really the base level of usage (portfolio usage for a designer or builder), except that I might give a modest discount for substantial quantity. I tend to use a strict rights-managed approach to this kind of licensing, since the client has the benefit of viewing the finished product before they make their decision. That is, there is a specific additional fee associated with each additional usage right, whether that be an increase in the number of media or the length of usage, or in the extent of the territory of usage (local, regional, national, international).

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