Pricing Photography Revisited

30 Aug
 

Last updated May 22, 2015

…or The Rental Car Analogy…

Last week, I updated about the Value of Photography. This week, I’d like to give you an analogy that has worked for me … the rental car comparison, also an updated blog.

© 2008 Arnold Zann.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail Arnie (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Don’t laugh! They are not dissimilar. An art buyer, designer, editor, or other client says to you, “Hey, I paid for it, I own it.”

“Ahhh, no. What you actually paid for is usage of that photograph,” and I go on to give this easy-to-understand explanation.

TBC: “You’ve rented a car in the past, right?”

CLIENT: “Ah, yuhhh.”

TBC: “You rent a car for two days, and it costs you twice as much as one day, yes?”

CLIENT: “Yes.”

TBC: “That’s like paying for usage for a two-time usage rather than a one-time only.

“Now, if you rent a big van instead of a little economy number, it is also going to cost you more. Right?”© 2013 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.
CLIENT: “Of course.”

TBC: “That’s like using a photograph full size rather than a quarter page or less in your publication or ad.”

CLIENT: “Oh, I never thought of it that way.”

TBC: [to herself] “I bet you didn’t!”

© 2002 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.TBC: [aloud again] “Taking that further, if you rent that sexy, vintage ‘Vette, it’s going to cost you a lot more per day than the little — what were those things called…”

CLIENT: “Of course.”

TBC: “OK, that is akin to the difference between using an image for a national magazine with a huge circulation as opposed to your local newspaper.

“When you rent that car for five days, don’t you usually get a break?”

CLIENT: “I would hope so.”

TBC: “We agree, and that is why on multiple usage, we give our clients a break.

© 2011 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.“So let’s go on with this analogy. When you get GPS, a ski rack for the back, or a car seat for your munchkin, that costs you an additional fee. If we have done a shot you want to use from a helicopter or that has a unique perspective not attained by others, it is also an extra, and thus, it is worth more, just as your GPS adds value to your car rental. Or if we have done a lot of work to put a panorama together, that is not your run-of-the-mill shot.”

CLIENT: “Hmmm,” as he/she begins to see where I am going.

TBC: “Now, you’ve paid that rental fee; you’ve used the car. Do you own it?”

CLIENT:  “No, the rental car company does.”

TBC:  “Exactly, just as we own the copyright to our photographs.

“See, it really isn’t so different. We charge based on usage, just as the rental car company does.”

CLIENT:  “Hmmm…”

TBC:  “Now, let’s see what usage you really need, not want, as we hate to see you pay for more than you actually need in the long run…”

Just about everyone has rented a car at one time or another, especially those who are interested in your photographs. That’s why this has been such a successful analogy for us over the years.

One final item. You remember the phrase “a quarter page or less” that I used above? Most people who are knowledgeable, set a quarter page as their bottom pricing. It costs more to prepare a submission than an eighth of a page would pay. No point losing money, as that doesn’t pay for that new lens. There is another point here, as noted in last week’s blog, and that is that once a client underpays for usage, he/she has absolutely no incentive to pay more. After all, there is always some other schmuck out there who is willing to give away his/her photography. It is actually why a lot of photographers have gone out of business! They don’t understand the value of photography nor how to price and negotiate.

Last week, there were some great links on pricing and The Value of Photography, so if you missed that blog, check it out.

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4 Responses to “Pricing Photography Revisited”

  1. Robert Alvarez 09-06-14 at 9:16 AM #

    Interesting explanation. I have been a photographer for 33 years and have run into this many times. But reading your rental car analogy I realized something photographers have been doing wrong all the time. Rental cars RENT cars… We “SELL” images when we should really be telling our clients we RENT images. From now on I will tell my clients that I RENT images not sell them. That will prevent the biggest misunderstanding that when you “BUY” an image you own it. When people rent they understand they don’t own.

     
    • TBC 09-06-14 at 10:50 AM #

      Robert,

      Good point, which is why I never say I sell images. I have always “leased usage rights”. Sounds better than “renting images”, as in my view, it makes it clear that rights are the issue, not the image itself. If you rent an image, people might think that the fee is the same regardless of the way it is used. Either way, better than the term “selling” images.

      Thanks for your input.

      Take care,

      TBC

       
  2. Charl 09-04-14 at 12:05 PM #

    Great analogy! I also compare photo licensing to music licensing, but do you mind if I use a summarised version of this? Would include link to this page. 🙂

     
    • TBC 09-04-14 at 12:11 PM #

      Charl,

      Thank you for asking, and yes, but please not only include a link to the page, but give me, Margo Taussig Pinkerton, credit. And please send me the link when you have done it.

      Many thanks, and thank you for respecting copyrights!

      Take care,

      TBC

       

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