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After-The-Fact Unpaid Usage Conversation


A local city magazine used images from another client’s project without permission and even made one image on their cover. The client alerted me and apologized profusely. They know third-party rights are not in their contract. What’s the best way to have an after-the-fact payment conversation? And should I ask the magazine or my client?


My way of handling any unpaid usage or third-party sale without our approval is to have a conversation informing them that this will need to be paid for immediately. Usually, clients are afraid of prosecution and will eagerly respond to settle this immediately. I will discuss the fair price and often set an additional “penalty” fee for using images without licensing rights. Both clients are involved in sharing high-resolution images without your permission.

Defining Usage Rights and NOT Leaving Anything Open to Interpretation


I photographed musicians now asking for permission to use the images without credit in perpetuity on their social media when the job I was paid for was for “promotional material.” I expected the images to be used across socials when they’re playing shows, etc., but I’m now feeling spooked by their large usage request. Do you think they’re just covering themselves by asking for general social media usage?



When setting your licensing usage rights terms, DO NOT leave anything open to interpretation. Spell out all usage terms by saying too much vs. too little. Never rely on clients to understand your assumptions. IMMEDIATELY see the AMA USAGE GLOSSARY and stick to it! Do not risk losing your fair income and lower usage pricing for all photographers

Additional Usage Pricing Options

Additional usage pricing options are the one client request which gives us more flexibility than the other bid costs since they do not add to the bid total. My approach is to come in higher on these since it won’t make or break a bidding situation, allowing the wiggle room to be lowered after we get the job.

Discussing the benefits of pricing oneself for additional options for usage when negotiating a photography job. By having control over additional usage terms, a photographer can negotiate for more options and flexibility in their fee. This allows for more negotiation and freedom, as photographers are not held to a strict usage amount in their fee. Furthermore, additional usage terms are optional and can be used as a bargaining tool to ask for more money or benefits. This approach can provide more financial security and opportunities for photographers in their industry.

Digital Usage Rights and Billboards


I saw how one of my clients used my images on an electronic billboard after I gave them “digital usage rights.” I had no idea a billboard could be considered DIGITAL. How are we supposed to monitor usage like this?


Usage definitions are constantly changing as new developments creep up quickly. The best way to stay ahead of the curve is by carefully defining specifics to limit each purchased usage category.


1. Excluding billboards

2. Limited to 48 X 70-inch bus shelter-sized poster displays

3. Not including paid ad placements

4. Client name website only

5. Not including electronic media or video

(For more info see AMA Usage Glossary:

Non-Discussed Usages


After delivering agreed-upon images as a trade, the client wants to use them for other non-discussed usages. Is it too late to have them sign a contract?


Any job without a contractual agreement will most likely lead to confusion because clients do not understand copyright and licensing image rights. I know the goal is to be casual and create a friendly relationship with clients, but if they love the images, this turns back on us making a miscommunicated mess. It’s never too late to offer them a contract, but the risk outweighs the gains of handling this after the fact. I recommend Blink Bid – or @blinkbid.

After a Campaign Shoot


Hi Andrea, how do you charge clients after a campaign shoot, after they made the agreed amount of selects, they ask for additional images with no edits for them to have extra content for product pages, emails, etc? Thank you!


This is your golden opportunity to create some package deal options for them to buy more image usage.

Image Licensing Rights With No Contract


My long-time restaurant client plans to publish a cocktail book showcasing their cocktail recipes, all of which I have shot. She asked me about image licensing rights because I was so green when this started and did not send them contracts (I know, big fail). Ideally, I would like to send her a new contract for the images she’d like to use in the cocktail book, and I was wondering if this was the best course of action.


The root of the issue with no contracts is how you and the client were both green. Uncontracted clients may assume they own the copyright without needing your usage approvals. The overall solution is to follow up with all uncontracted clients before an issue arises, verifying your image ownership and assuming usage rights. Talk to your clients, make this a two-way conversation asking what they’d like to use the images for in the future and become part of their long-term solution… for a price, of course.

Low Rate Job


I shot an event for a startup event company at a very low rate and included a “no third party usage” term in the contract. A top five ad agency working with the new alcohol brand requested rights for unlimited usage in perpetuity for the images. What is the tactful, business-savvy way to respond?


You hit the jackpot! The goal of shooting a low-rate “favor” job is to have it open doors leading to a higher payoff. 

Business savvy responses:

  1. Use this opportunity to develop a long-term relationship by warming it up with a phone conversation.
  2. Position yourself for shooting future projects for this client by asking if they’d like to negotiate a recurring package standard rate deal. 
  3. Clients asking for general usage like this will often reciprocate your offer by reducing their requests to bring your costs down. Prepare for that by starting with higher prices and optional cost groupings (amount of images, duration of usage, etc.).

Video Usage

Be Aware: A usage term getting overlooked right now is VIDEO usage. It’s standard to see “no broadcast usage,” but we cannot assume that means no video or motion usage. 

The two are no longer interchangeable. Price accordingly.