How A Single Wedding Photograph is Worth $18,000
Marketing is a critical component of the photography business that many photographers overlook. That is why more so than ever, having a multi-prong marketing approach to your business will not only help you in your genre, but may also land you clients from unexpected places. Whether it is Facebook, a photo competition, a blog, or even a guest article on our site, the more eyeballs see your work, the more you can get noticed.
If you are not a commercial or fashion photographer, you may not have worked with an art buyer before. An art buyer usually refers to the person in an advertising agency who seeks and licenses photographs for commercial use, and acts as the liaison between the photographer/agent and the client.
Depending on the client, the art buyer may look into stock images from sources like Getty Images or hire a photographer to shoot something specific. Other times, however, the art buyer may turn to the internet for ideas and may just run into one of your images.
And that is exactly what happened to Texas wedding photographer Allen Ayres, who was contacted by an art buyer from an ad agency who ran into his blog. The art buyer wanted to license one of his wedding images for one of their pharmaceutical clients.
As a wedding photographer with no experience in licensing, Allen turned to photographer and business coach John Mireles for advice. Allen’s goal was to get $1,000 for the image.
John’s article on Photographer’s Business Coach discussed the factors that go into a licensing fee, which if done right, can be more valuable and profitable compared to the shooting fee itself.
Here are the five criteria in the licensing usage rights that you need to find out:
1. Size of the image to be reproduced in the final layout
2. Nature and medium of publication
3. Geographical area of publication
4. Duration of use
If you read the article, you can see how Allen and the art buyer eventually agreed on the licensing usage fee of $18,000 for that one photograph. Not a bad pay, right?
I love John’s final thoughts in the article about how we as photographers don’t set the value of our work.
The client sets the value, we set the price. It’s our job to translate the value we’re generating into a dollar figure that accurately reflects that value.
All too often I hear photographers make excuses for why they should undervalue their work: “It only took me an hour to shoot.” “It’s only a half-day.” “I’ll do this one for cheap so that this client will give me more work later.” “It’s not my regular work so it’s not that big a deal.” “I’m not going to do anything else with the shot.”
Forget all that. It’s not about you. It’s about the value that you’re delivering to your client. There’s a lot of mediocre images out there in the world. If a client wanted one of them, they could use one for a song. If they want you, it’s because you offer something special. Don’t be afraid to charge for your specialness.
UPDATE: The license for the $18,000 wedding image was renewed twice and expanded to cover Europe. Allen has since earned $27,000 on it! Here is that photo!