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Stock Photography – Part 2

In an earlier article, Stock Photography – Part 1, I discussed the basics in getting started in business of stock photography. Deciding what topics or areas in which you what to specialize, and the requirements around performing commercial or editorial photography.

Here in Stock Photography – Part 2, I will cover how you may want to provide and control the use of your images, Royalty-Free (RF) or Rights-Managed (RM). Naturally, you want to make the most from your hard work and effort so make this decision wisely. RF and RM have many differences, be sure you understand the distinctions.Stock Photography

Should you decide that Royalty-Free is the route you prefer then here’s what you need to know. Unlike many professionals, I have no problem with RF licensing, long as you price the image properly. In the RF model, you will normally set the price by the size and resolution of the image. Small, low-res images which are used typically for websites are priced at the lowest rate. These images run in the sub-1MB range at 72 DPI, with longest side somewhere in the range of 6 inches. High-Resolution licenses will provide your customer with a image that is somewhere in the 8-20MB or larger at 300 DPI with the longest side being whatever your camera produces.

Royalty-Free licenses for stock images are normally used for commercial purposes and you will be required to produce the proper releases. Also be aware that when your client requests an RF license, they can basically use that image in any manner that they wish and can publish it as many times as they desire. As long as you understand that in essence you have lost a good deal of control and potential revenue from that image, then providing RF licenses is a good way to go.

Let’s take a look at a few pro’s and con’s of RF license.

Pro’s: With RF licenses you have the ability to re-license a stock image as many times and as often as you like. There are no exclusive rights issued, so a image could be used by several publications or people at the same time.

Con’s: Since you cannot provide any form of exclusivity with RF, the amount you can charge for a license is normally much less than what you can for a Rights-Managed license. So, as I indicated earlier, be sure that you price appropriately. Lack of image control is the main con for RF licenses. One other con, once you have decided that you are going to offer an image as RF then you cannot at a later date decide to make it Rights-Managed. How come? In most cases, RM licenses provide some form of exclusivity. Your client would rather upset if they paid you for rights to usage, then saw the image in another publication. Remember, in RF, anyone could have downloaded the image many months prior to use and can publish it as many times as they want.

Moving on to Rights-Managed licensing for stock images. Pricing is quite a bit different in this model. RM can be used for both commercial and editorial. Where RF is normally priced by image size, RM on the other hand is priced by type of usage and production run. You can provide special usage rights to your client, exclusive or non-exclusive, in the case of editorial usage a release may not be required. Typically, most professionals will use some form of RM calculator to determine the proper rate to charge for a license.

For a example, the rate you would charge for a publisher wanting to use an image exclusively for 6 months, ¼ page, with a production run of 50,000 would be much higher than a publisher having the same requirements with non-exclusive rights. Why? That image is now locked up and cannot be used by anyone else for 6 months.

This is the biggest difference between RF and RM, you have much more control in the manner in which your image is used and you can charge more for the license.

So, here’s the decision you will have to make, offer up your Stock Photography at a lower cost via RF in hopes that you can license the image multiple times or be select on how the image can be used, charge more, but license less.

For the most part quantity does not always win out.

In the final two installments, I will be discussing workflow and how do you plan to go to market.

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April 28, 2009 - Posted by | Stock Photography | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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