As part of our plan to make 2016 a growth year, I’m sharing some information on how to learn about selling your work commercially. Sooner or later, every pet photographer gets asked for publication (or licensing) rights for their images, and the industry has changed so much so fast that it’s hard to know how much to charge. Most of the time a photographer’s fee is based on what the client intends to do with that image and whether or not it will be exclusive for whatever their licensing period may be. If it’s exclusive you can’t legally use it for anything else. Online publication seems to pays the least while licensing for print and packaging (think labels on pet food) generally pays the most. And don’t forget greeting cards.
Beginning photographers will sometimes fall for the “trade for advertising space” type of agreement and, although it rarely benefits the photographer, sometimes it seems worth doing. The issue is often whether THEIR audience is your target market. Better Homes and Gardens magazine may need an image for a story on pets but will that make your phone ring? Probably not. Although it looks great on a resume.
Getty Images and other stock photography sites have “calculators”, like this one that may provide some insight, but I ran across this article recently written BY PHOTOGRAPHERS (anonymously) discussing what they have sold (or licensed) their images for to various magazines. I think most were referring to editorial projects, not commercial ones (which usually pay a little more) but I think it makes some excellent points.
I’m always surprised at how few people actually consult The Photographer’s Market — a book that used to be considered the BIBLE for selling photography. It may be a little old school, but I buy one every year and it’s filled with lots of actual names and contact information for people and agencies you can contact that actually buy photography. It always gives me the inspiration to think about my work in a different way. I hope it inspires you, too.
One last warning: Be sure your work will meet their spec requirements. They want high res, properly lit, sharp images with a minimal amount of photoshop trickery. And they want a surprising amount of studio shots. In other words, shoot it right and don’t try to cover your mistakes by faking a blurry background, etc. Want to learn studio shooting? Attend our Studio Shooters Unleashed -July 8-10, 2016 in Dallas. We only take 10 people per class, so contact us and reserve your spot. 972-250-2415 or email firstname.lastname@example.org