Payment for photo reference?
April 17, 2013 5:38 PM   Subscribe

I've been contacted on Flickr by someone who wants to use a photo of mine for an illustration reference. They ask what the charge would be and offer to send me a print. I'm inclined to agree just for the print - I'd love to see it - but I don't know if photographers usually charge for this kind of thing and don't want to undervalue my work. All my photos are "all rights reserved", if that matters.
posted by Nyx to Work & Money (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Is it the kind of thing that they could get anywhere? IE, they need a picture of a cactus, and liked yours?

Then I'd just do it for the photo credit and a copy of the work.

But if it is a little more integral to their work, like the cover of a book, I'd charge something, but not too much. Maybe something with a very tiny backend- nothing for the first printing, $y for each additional printings. You don't want to miss out if they somehow create a blockbuster. But you don't want to incentivize them to find another photo.

If you aren't a pro, and your photos aren't normally for sale, then any payment, even just a copy and the ego boost, is more than you expected.
posted by gjc at 6:13 PM on April 17, 2013

What will they use the illustration (from your photo) for?

If they are planning on selling the illustration they use from your image, then you may want to figure out payment, and possibly royalties. Usually this won't happen, but if they are planning on using your photo as a source for an illustration that they plan to sell copies of for hundreds of dollars, then you want to get what you deserve.

I agree with gjc. Is this a photo they could find elsewhere or something specific that you do?

If it is something that you really specifically do, or put a lot of time into perfecting, then you may want to ask more for it.

How much will the illustration match your image?

If it is just inspiration, they may not owe you much at all, however if it is really going to be a copy of your image, it may change the money debate.

What is normally done?

Really there isn't a "normal." There may be an average price for what photographers charge for senior photos in your area, but at the same point, there are photographers who sell prints for hundreds and thousands of dollars.

Think about these things. Maybe draft up a quick contract. You also need to make sure that this photo is explicitly used for their illustration, and cannot be used to be sold by them. You need to limit the permissions and outline when you need to be cited for the work.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:27 PM on April 17, 2013

There really isn't a normal. If they're looking for stuff on flickr and contacting amatuers, they probably don't have the money to spend on expensive licensing.

If you're a pro, then please disregard what I just wrote.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 6:41 PM on April 17, 2013

My friend is a professional photographer and had an image I wanted to use on the cover of an academic book I had written. As there is no money in academic publishing, I didn't have a lot to spend, plus she's my friend, so she charged me $100. She said she would probably have charged $300 or so to a stranger.
posted by lollusc at 6:51 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Charge for this.
A good starting point for a fee would be to go to a stock agency like Getty Images and check out the pricing for a Royalty Free Image. Ultimately, it depends on what the illustrator wants to do with the final work - creating a derivative, commercially used piece would command a higher fee than something for personal use, etc.

Whatever you do, get all the terms in writing. Not just and exchange of emails. Its a pain, but it'll be worth it - particularly if your photo ends up being loosely modified and used as the logo/poster/etc for the next blockbuster film or whatever.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:59 PM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: Make sure it's a non exclusive license, meaning you can sell it again. What's the term, the distribution, the media? I find photos for documentaries, and all media, worldwide in perpetuity is around $400. I usually get a discount if I license in bulk. For a book, English only, 5 years, figure $250 or so. And I find stuff on Flickr and YouTube all the time, and trust me, I'm as pro as it gets in this field. Feel free to MeMail me if you need a license agreement sample.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:05 PM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

It varies depending on use, as others have said. I sold a (fairly ordinary not very high res) picture to a graphics company who was going to use it on a zoo's website (it was a picture of a Zebu). I asked them what they normally paid for one photo in this circumstance, she suggested $50. I went with that.
posted by clone boulevard at 8:18 PM on April 17, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. Looks like this is a deeper question than I thought! Turns out that it will be used as a source for illustration that will be available for sale on products, a little like Zazzle (but not exactly). I am in fact NOT a pro, it isn't specifically a stock picture, and you could get references elsewhere - but it is a good picture and relatively high resolution, so I have an idea of what I can ask for now.
posted by Nyx at 6:27 AM on April 18, 2013

A friend of mine wrote a book, and I was a person who lived near an example of the subject. So one day my FiL and I went and shot a bunch of pictures for him.

Some oh the photographs got used in the book as-is, and we got photo credits. (My first! Squee!) Others were used as sources/examples for an illustrator to work from -- they were interiors from which a cutaway view was created -- and we didn't get anything for those.

There were tons of other pictures in the book, mostly from U.S. Government sources (which, of course, are royalty-free).

In the initial invite, my friend had offered some smll payment, but later said the publisher withdrew the offer. I wasn't at all put out, though: we each got a copy of the book, and we had a nice day out together.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:05 AM on April 18, 2013

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