The value of commissioned photography

This article was posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2014

A picture is worth a thousand … Rands? Many of our clients wonder how we charge for photography and why image prices vary so much. When sourcing photography for our clients’ campaigns and projects we typically use three types of photography:

  • Rights Managed (RM),
  • Royalty Free (RF)
  • Commissioned photography

How we choose between the three depends on the clients’ needs, production schedule and budget.

The value of commissioned photography

Apart from image exclusivity, we can ensure that the creative vision for the campaign is met, we can oversee the concept, lighting, props, models and venue and make sure we capture the essence of the client’s brand.

Depending on the agreement with the photographer, the client usually owns these images outright and therefore has unrestricted use of the image. However if models are used one needs to take into account the license agreement entered into with the model agency. Some agencies require a once-off fee (generally this includes casting agencies) while bigger modelling agencies require a licence agreement similar to that of rights managed images which includes considerations such as the time period and media use of images etc.

However the global economic fizzle of late has meant that more clients are weighing up the cost and time requirements of commissioned photography. Many opt for effective and cheaper royalty free images. However, it is important to note the restrictions and possible consequences of using rights managed and or royalty-free images.

Rights Managed images

Basically you never own a Rights Managed image; instead you purchase a licence to use it. The licence is for a specific use, time period and/or medium.

Factors that determine price:

  • Type of use (e.g. advertising or editorial)
  • The media in which the image will appear (e.g. print advert, brochure, website or billboard etc)
  • Size of reproduction (e.g. A4, A3 etc)
  • Prominence of image (e.g. Cover, inside and back)
  • Duration of use
  • Quantity of distribution
  • Frequency of use
  • Territory of distribution
  • Degree of exclusivity required

Royalty Free images

You have the right to use Royalty Free (RF) images as many times as you want, for multiple campaigns and for just about any type of media. There are no time or media limitations on the use of the image. Unfortunately anybody can buy the same Royalty Free image.

Factors that determine price:

  • Which image bank / stock photo library it’s sourced from
  • Size
  • Quality
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