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What Would You Charge To Relicense Listing Photos For A Rental?

Published: 20/04/2016
By: larry

ProtfolioStephanie recently asked the following question:

An investor who bought one of my Realtor client's listings wants to use the photos the Realtor licensed from me (that I took) to advertise the property for rental.  How do you recommend I deal with this?  I would prefer to just charge the investor for the photos, but I don't know if I should ask the same price as the realtor paid, or some kind of discounted rate. Any thoughts?

The photo licensing fee photographers charge depends on the usage of the photos. I would charge more for using the photos as a rental (at least double) because a rental property owner will use them for years. Also, I would make sure that you have them sign a license agreement that specifies how and how long they are going to use the photos and that they can't be transferred to anyone else without your permission.

What do others charge for rentals as compared to a listing for sale?

7 comments on “What Would You Charge To Relicense Listing Photos For A Rental?”

  1. I would use the amount I would charge a real estate agent for usage for marketing a home for sale as the basis for one year of usage to market the rental. Then, if the client wanted to use the photos for additional years, I would apply that same amount to each subsequent year of usage. This would be my base. I might consider charging more for this base if the property is particularly desirable, is \ of interest to an international clientele, or the photos are of particularly high quality. That is, if it is a luxury property in a very desirable location and I have done a really bang up job on the photos, I would charge a premium over an average property.

  2. I work for several property management companies and actually charge less for rentals than for "sale" shoots, and I don't charge for them being used again in the future. While some places turn over quickly, many are occupied by the same tenant for years and years. I'm not going to track that and I'm not expecting them to, either. But then again, I actually want and enjoy their business and if I charged full or made other demands I wouldn't have it because their margin is generally much smaller than a home for sale. Also, the photos are important to them not so much to rent a house or apartment, the places are going to rent if they put up a pencil sketch, but to show potential clients that they provide more than the other guys. I also charge the same for everything, while some are full sized homes and take some time, many are fairly small apartments or condos and very quick shoots, the trade-off is worth it (for me). AND, each of the agents working to manage properties also works selling houses, so this develops good will and loyalty all around and I get their other business, too, for which I do charge full price. For me, each rental gives me an opportunity to practice my craft and stay sharp, and when shoots drop off over the winter these keep me busy. Lastly, and specifically to address the original post, she has a chance, assuming she needs or wants it, to develop a relationship with a new client at absolutely no cost in time or effort by simply showing a little generosity; I'm not suggesting giving the images away, but since you've already been paid, offering the second buyer a discount leaves them with good feelings about you. If you don't want, need, or care about that then by all means, go for the green.

  3. Another timely post. Thanks Larry. I agree with David Eichler. He gets it.

    I handle scenarios similar to this all the time, mostly in the vacation rental market and not so much for long term rental. For rentals, I charge anywhere from 50-100% more of my current shooting rate for a similar project. Sometimes more depending on the caliber of the property. Here's my take based on my last 5 years as a very busy photographer in the Hawaii market.

    Re-licensing fees are based on the value of the images and not whether I have to shoot it again or drive somewhere etc. Value is determined by how the images are used, in what market, for what length of time etc. There seems to be some brand of guilt that new photographers have with getting paid more than once for their work. That's backwards thinking. The truth: If you're not getting paid over and over for your work as a photographer (singer, writer, artist) then you're doing it wrong.

    Back to the rental property: Assuming that no renovations have taken place to render the images inaccurate, then the existing images are perfectly useable. (valuable)

    My Perspective and approach:
    At its heart, it is advertising a luxury item for an "investor". Described another way: it's an extra house to make money with. Therefore there is no reason to offer any Realtor-type price breaks for advertising this purely commercial venture that is likely a one-off client. Yes, you must keep it within reason because you're probably not dealing with a commercial client familiar with licensing imagery at real-world industry advertising rates. If you aim too high or make the terms too complicated, they will likely look elsewhere, BUT you must be fair to yourself and be PROFITABLE.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that you are solving a problem for the client. A common challenge with vacation rentals is availability of the property, not to mention making sure it is clean and photo-ready. Oh, and weather! Sometimes it can take months for everything to align. That's potentially lost rental income (revenue) to a client (investor.) Everyday that rental goes unseen is money lost. If I can deliver the already excellent images to them today with a download link after a quick online payment, a problem has just been solved. In fact, it's not a problem, it's just an expense. That's a pretty compelling scenario for someone who just spent a ton of money on an extra property and wants to start getting some of their investment back ASAP. Now is not the time to go cheap on the one thing that will make your property stand out.

    The Negotiation: I almost always expect them to have a low number in their head initially, so...

    I usually start by congratulating them on their new property and complementing of how nice it is and how much fun it was to photograph. We talk about how they want to use the images and then we get to fees, referencing a similar scenario with another client or homeowner (whether it's true or not) can be effective in establishing a precedent of how it works and what it cost. Remember that you are the expert on your business. I'm not quoting them what I charged a realtor, but rather an owner asking for the exact same use. I just planted a few numbers and can now take the temperature of the situation and see if this "relationship" has any hope. This conversation should always feel like we are collaborating on their project. I'm grateful they love my pictures and want to use them and I know my fees are fair and certainly more than my competition would charge to reshoot. If they see and appreciate the quality difference then its usually a done deal.

    Also, I can easily look up on VRBO what units in the same complex are charging per night. This is just good negotiating knowledge to have in my head if I need to help "refresh their perspective" on how my fees are actually a bargain in the grand scheme. For example: If I charge $1100 to re-license the images for VR use to the new owner for a small 1-2 bed condo that rents for $150-$300/ night. They will recover the cost by booking the place for 3-5 nights AND they can continue to use them for years to come. As long as they are the owners, they can sell the "product" over and over using the images as the foundation of their marketing campaign. It really is a bargain. This is usually the analysis that helps them realize the value of the images (and that I'm probably not charging enough.)

    If they have the time to coordinate a shoot with someone more "affordable", I will even recommend someone. I know the quality won't be the same but ultimately they will get what they need. There's plenty of low-priced competition around here, but the higher quality work stands on its own and is harder to get. I'm perfectly fine with that. I wouldn't sell a $40k car for $10k so I won't "sell" images for a fraction of their value either.

    You'll notice that nowhere in this conversation did we mention what a realtor might have paid me already, because it has no basis on the value of the images to this new client.

    The Vacation Rental License: I'm not lawyer but here's a basic license that gives them exactly what they need and nothing more.
    "Licensing Agreement: Upon receipt of full payment, a limited usage license to the digital images noted above is granted to xxxxxxx. The images may be used in all media for the sole purpose of promoting the property as a short-term vacation rental. The license is valid for as long as the property is owned by xxxxxxxx (current owner). This license is not transferrable to any third party for any purpose other than what is outlined in this agreement. Inquiries regarding usage by any third party (Realtors, designers, builders, architects etc.) shall be directed to "photographer's email address". Copyright of all images is retained by "photographer/company name" whom has the right to license the imagery to other parties for additional fees at his own discretion."

    For very high-end trophy type properties, the licensing term is for one year and renewable at the same annual rate.

    Another note: @RpBert

    I do not agree with offering a discount to the second party to use the images because "you've already been paid". That is a flawed logic if one wishes to be successful as photographer. in my opinion, goodwill is achieved by providing a consistently superior product and excellent service, not by offering lower prices. In fact, charging less to the next person could actually backfire in some cases. 1. You just lowered the bar, not only in the photographer's perception of their own value, but also with this new "client's" perception of your value. 2. The client who originally commissioned the images may not appreciate someone else getting use of the images at a discount. Especially, if they had to deal with scheduling and preparing the property to shoot.

    Bottom line: Images have value, almost always more than the value of the time you spent creating them. Charging less than something is worth is not profitable. This is why Copyright exists and why companies spend huge amounts of money licensing images exclusively for ad campaigns; because the images actually matter. In Real Estate marketing, the clientele and fees are different but the principles are exactly the same.

    Sorry for the long post. I hope my experiences can help everyone be as profitable as they want to be. Aloha

  4. @Travis, thanks for all the great information! For those that don't know Travis, he is on Maui where you've got to understand shooting rentals.

  5. @Travis, very well explained.

    Another factor is that a RE agent may be returning for pictures of more homes again and again. An apartment complex will be able to use the images of a particular floor plan until there are major upgrades. Common area photos will also have a long life time. This means that the photos will deliver more value to the property manager/owner of an apartment complex than a similar set of images has to an RE agent selling a home. If the apartment complex has very low turnover, they may not be willing to invest in professional images, but that doesn't lower the price a photographer should charge.

  6. By the way, my comments assumed long-term rentals of individual homes, not vacation rentals, for which I would charge a higher rate than what I was suggesting for long-term rentals.

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