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How Do You Price Resale Images?

Published: 14/09/2016
By: larry

upperendThomas asked:

I have just started my architecture and high-end real estate business (still working on my portfolio; business website in progress) and recently had my first paid shoot with an architect. That shoot involved a two-day session at a $7mm house with the client playing an extremely active role in the photography process. Some shots took 2hrs to complete. I charged on a project basis (creative fee+ digital processing+ admin) which, on a pre-tax basis, cost the client $190/image.

This includes unlimited, non-exclusive usage rights. She is thrilled with the results and the cost of the project and wants to do more with me. Her needs are purely marketing; she is building her website and needs professional images to show-off her work. She recently indicated that the builder she worked with on this and other remodels would like to use the images for his website. However, as with the first session, for future shoots she would play art director onsite to ensure she gets what she is looking for. He would not participate in this way. Assuming that $190/image is the right price given the market and given the usage rights included, I'm wondering how to price the photos for the builder for subsequent shoots. On the one hand, he will presumably receive the same economic benefits as the architect (ie brand development through web usage of professional images of his work). On the other, he will have no involvement in the process and direction of making the images. So, in that sense, the images aren't "custom made to (his) taste." He's getting the same product but not the extreme customer service experience she is.

Am I over-thinking this? Do I charge the same for everybody (for same usage rights)? Or, would it make more sense to charge X minus some discount for the builder?

To me, it seems your logic is sound. Charge less to the builder because the image is not customized for the taste of the builder.

What do others think?

5 comments on “How Do You Price Resale Images?”

  1. It seems customary to never charge less for secondary licensing than what you charged the commissioning client, assuming the same usage terms. Actually, since the party wanting secondary licensing has the benefit of seeing the finished product before they decide to purchase usage rights, I think there is a good argument that fees for relicensing to secondary parties should actually be higher for the same usage rights than what the commissioning client paid. Obviously, pricing will vary according to the usage rights the client wants.

    Also, I would suggest not giving an architect or interior designer "unlimited rights" in terms of media at those rates. All they normally need is usage for their website, print handouts, unpaid publicity and awards submissions. Paid advertising should normally be an optional extra, on an as needed basis. I don't require the client to pay for usage of the photos in published articles or books featuring the client's work, as long as the publication will pay me a reasonable rate. If the publication won't pay, then the client must.

  2. The builder also didn't take the risk and time to hire the photographer which is another argument for subsequent licensing parties to pay more just based on that.

  3. As an architectural photographer who also does real estate I know from experience you can not charge different rates unless those differences are agreed to in advance and to all parties understanding.
    I would like to charge on a per image basis as has been discussed here and on other sites. However, everyone in South Florida that shoots architecture and interiors shoots on a day rate. We've been doing this for over 20 years in the region. Everyone pays the same rate on a per project basis. This saves everyone from contention and saves you from dealing with angry clients who may never use you again.
    Working with interior designers is very similar to working with your architect. The designer directs the interior shots but the builder and architect benefit from those photographs as well.
    I affirm what David and Tony above have stated. Wishing you the best.

  4. Assuming the architect and builder are both local businesses, their usage rates would be similar. I agree with David that the builder is getting to pick and choose the images they want but not putting the effort in that the architect is by being the art director on the session so the builder should be paying more. If the builder is taking all of the images that the architect does, you could give them a quantity discount.

    You should limit the rights. You can still offer broad rights, but you might want to hold back on things like billboards and especially any resale or transfer. Putting a time limit on the license gives you a great excuse to check in with them each year or two (or five) which could lead to more work. You could offer unlimited time on their website and, of course, any prints they do wouldn't be subject to a time limit.

    You are registering your Copyright, right? If you don't and your customer violates any of the license terms you allow to them, you can't take them to court for infringement.

    High quality photos are very valuable to a builder/architect. I've worked with some contractors whose "book" is stunning and those with really nasty office inkjet printed snapshots with the cell phone border still on (oriented the wrong way on the paper too). The contractor with quality photos also decorated their front reception with 16x20's of the best images and it's very impressive when you walk in their office. There are enough horror stories about people going cheap when remodeling that price isn't always deciding factor when choosing a contractor. Somebody that makes a good first impression and conveys a strong sense of competence will get the job so what may seem a high price for good images is not that high after all.

  5. Regarding what Ken said, you can register your images with the US copyright office after you discover an infringement; however, you will not have the full range of remedies available to you that you would have had you registered the copyright before an infringement.

    That said, if a client violates your terms and these terms are legally enforceable, perhaps you might be able to bring the matter to small claims court, not as a copyright infringement, but as a breach of contract. This remedy might vary from state to state in the US.

    Please bear in mind that I am not a lawyer and I strongly suggest checking with a lawyer before trying to pursue any legal remedies.

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