How to Get Top Value When You Sell a Stock Photo

If you are active online and on photo sharing social media sites, it is quite possible you will be contacted by someone interested in using your photograph. That requested usage could be for a variety of things from buying a print to licensing the image in a magazine or brochure or a website.

First, it is my opinion if someone wants your image for an unauthorized use then they will just take it in one form or another and I am not covering that angle here. Instead, I want to look at legitimate requests to use your landscape nature photography and the steps that you should consider before agreeing to the sale.

The first good sign is that someone is asking to use your nature or landscape pictures, but that could easily be followed by “we don’t have a budget.” Granted we are all competing with free images these days and that makes it tougher, BUT…they know that and if they wanted free they would go get it. Instead they contacted you because your image caught their attention. So here’s what you do….Don’t just give your picture away without attempting to get paid for the usage. Instead get information about the use they are requesting so you can build a case as to why the requested usage is worth money and then let them respond. If they start by asking for FREE then respond by asking if EVERYONE else participating in this project is working for free, including the requester. If you don’t hear back then you won’t be wasting any more time.

Here are the steps to determining the value of an image usage:

A composite of two images: cracked mud and storm clouds, to illustrate water shortage and severe storms.Composited and processed with computer generated lightning added.
.

1)   What do they want to use the image for, so ask them how they plan to use it. What, where, when, and how long are the main considerations.

2)   Once they tell you they might immediately ask for the price right there on the phone. Don’t agree to a price on the spur of the moment! It is never a good idea, so suggest instead that you will call them back within 10 minutes and take time to figure out a price for the usage.

3) Are you using any special photography techniques that would increase the value of the image? It is pretty hard to increase the price you suggest based on a photography technique, but rare images of rare events, rare species, or rare natural phenomena are certainly worth more.

4)   Use your pricing guide to establish a price and if you don’t have a pricing guide, visit this site: http://photographersindex.com/stockprice.htm

5)   Call them back within 10 minutes to negotiate a price. Explain that the requested usage is worth $xxx and how you came to that value. Then immediately ask “how does that work for your budget?”

6)   The response might be a “that will work” response and what could be better? But in some cases you will get a less than favorable response and that can be expected. Be prepared with a comeback and my usual reply is “Tell me what does work for your budget.” Getting paid for an images usage is all about negotiation so be prepared to negotiate.

7)   Once you reach an agreement on a fee to use your image, put the agreed terms in writing on your invoice and submit it.

It’s not an easy task these days to get paid for your photography but it still happens every day. While it may not be the usage fee you wanted, if you negotiated well and are getting paid, then you can be confident that you are looking out for the best interest of your photography business.